Cesca Trench

Cesca Trench was born in Liverpool, England but had a passion for all things Irish and was strongly influenced by her cousin.  She was an artist trained in Paris, active in promoting the Irish language, and illustrated the Gaelic League magazine.  Her version of Ireland was based on the traditions and mythology of the past and even her clothes resembled Celtic dress. Though she belonged to various movements, including Cumann na mBan, Cesca did not like the violent approach of the Rising to bring about an Ireland run by the Irish and during the Rising week enjoyed a picnic with her husband-to-be Diarmuid, and did some gardening as a distraction. She wrote in Irish, English and French, producing letters and diaries.

Diary Page with Drawing



Cesca's definition of Nationalism: "a spiritual faith that lay under all arguments for & against & might be proved illogical again & again but couldn't be killed by reason so that you could beat a person a hundred times in an argument about some particular point & prove that all who ever had to do with nationalism were wicked & wrong (though that'd be hard) & still it wouldn't touch the faith."

"Won't it be heavenly when our Irish Ireland book gets written & everyone is wondering who wrote it & thinking how good the characterization is & all the Gaelic Leaguers are thinking what an inspiration it is to them & it will be you and me."

"They are frightfully pleased at the idea of being able to overthrow the British Empire & of getting notorious somehow it doesn't matter how."

"I would be a Nationalist . . . but how am I to know that I will be governed fairly & properly . . .?"

Miss Ferguson couldn't believe Cesca was a Nationalist because she was "far too nice" and spoke so well.

"I shall cease to believe in Ireland when I shall cease to believe in anything, not before."

"It is perfectly awful to have relations in the service of the Empire, one can't map out an attitude."

Cesac attended a missionary meeting. The speaker called her audience English women, corrected herself to British women & Cesca wanted
to say, "we're neither English nor British you blithering saxon."

"I try & work in Cumann na mBan because I can't see any other organisation that will organize Irish women to do what I think 
they ought to do."


During a journey from the UK to Ireland, Cesca was stuck in Crewe: "I have occupied my time very profitably so far in              
eating ginger nuts . . . & reading a most melodramatic novel, entitled the Knave of Diamonds which I can thoroughly 
recommend for a railway journey or what is even more harassing, a railway wait."

She described Crewe as "an agreeable railside resort full of life & movement abundant in penny-in-the-slot machines &
pork pies & boasting a never ending supply of salubrious smoke . . . the town . . . is chiefly remarkable for the cheapness of its fruit . . . & the extremely circuitous route by which you are recommended to attain it from the station."

"I love crowds in Dublin, it's so exciting & high raising to the spirit."

"I go & eat my lunch in Stephen's Green on Mondays & Tuesdays, it's delicious in the sun & you feel at peace with all the world."

For "the afternoon I went out by myself & the Oxford Book of English Verse."

Michael Dwywer was Cesca's cat whom she found it comforting to stroke when her English mother was exhulting over her
alleged British victories.

Easter Rising

"I've got some first aid things . . . if the thing is serious, I ought to help perhaps."

"This mad affair has done irreparable damage to the cause of Irish freedom which it is meant to serve, as it can only succeed by a miracle which isn't likely to occur."

"God help us, I think it will break all our hearts."

In case you are anxious about my share, I had none."

"This whole affair is disastrous & mad."

Her husband to be, Diarmuid Coffey, said " It seems almost incredible . . . that there should be a revolution going on in Dublin that you & I should be having a picnic on Killiney Hill."

"I gardened when I came back, the only tolerable occupation."

SourceCollection List No. 153 Coffey & Chenevix Trench Papers (MSS 46,290 – 46,337) (Accession No. 6669) National Library of Ireland.  Shown by kind permission of National Library of IreIand.