TRAVELLING IN IRELAND.

A Visit to an Irish racecourse had for years been an ambition of my life. We arranged to go to a meeting at the Curragh. We were to lunch with some great friends there first, and we were looking forward to it immensely. My husband took a day off, and, dressed in our best,we went down about nine o'clock to the waiting taxi. It actually was there, too. As a rule, it was we who did the waiting. The driver, however, when I told him to drive to Kingsbridge Station, was discouraging. "It is no use going there, the trains are off;you won't get to the races today ." However, he did not give any reason, and thinking he was talking nonsense, we said we would go and see. The station looked very much as usual. The train was waiting, and there were a few people sitting in the carriages, and a large crowd on the platform. I did not see any engine, but I did see a dozen men of the R.I.C. carrying their rifles. I feared the worst, as I had heard that the railwaymen were refusing to carry armed police or soldiers. But I thought surely the Irish were too sporting to let just a few men spoil a race meeting, and we went to take the tickets. No good. The train would not start. The engine-driver would not bring back his engine until the R.I.C. went home. We asked the officer in charge of the party if he did not think that he could take his men home ; but he said it would be impossible, and that he would stay there all day if necessary. He did stay there all day. We heard afterwards that the first train left the station about five o'clock in the afternoon.

We extracted a little mild amusement from seeing a few cabs and cars drive up late, laden with luggage, in a wild hurry to catch the trains, which we knew were not going to start; and after waiting dismally about we left. I went home by tram, and my husband back to barracks. I despatched a gloomy telegram to my friends at the Curragh. For once I did not care what I wrote or said, or who heard me. It was an expensive telegram, but it was a slight relief to my feelings. This was my only attempt to attend races in Ireland: I was too disgusted to try again. Next time I was asked to the Curragh,it was to play tennis. In spotless white serge I sat in the railway carriage, waiting for the train to move. It apparently was going to start this time, and I felt quite cheerful and hopeful. A horrid-looking old man approached me, and said, " Are you going to emigrate ? If so, you must go home." I put out an immaculate white shoe and silk-clad leg, and very nearly kicked him. Did I look like an Irish emigrant ? I was quite speechless with wrath.My friends shrieked with laughter when I arrived and told them the story, but for once I could not see a joke against myself. The I.B.A. were endeavouring to stop the emigration of all able-bodied men and women. They needed them all in their army, for the women are almost as useful as the men. So they watch the railway stations, and question all likely-looking people, of whom, apparently, I was one. Awful thought !

Our next journey by train was from Dublin to Belfast. We were going on ten days' leave to Scotland. We were very doubtful if we should get away, as the Lord Mayor of Cork was then hunger-striking, and we knew that, if he died, it was probable that all leave would be stopped. But he had been dying for so long ; every plan we had made for weeks was always made with the proviso that, if he died, the arrangements would be cancelled. So we determined to start at any rate, and to trust to luck and to the Lord Mayor not to be recalled. the train stopped at a small station, and, to our disgust, about fifty armed R.I.C. boarded the train. There was a fierce and prolonged altercation, in which every one took part. We had allowed ourselves one hour and a half to get from one station to the other at Belfast. We were catching the boat from Larne to Stranraer, and motoring from Stranraer to our destination, where there was a big shoot the next morning. With dismay we saw the minutes slipping away, while the engine-driver argued as to whether he would, or would not, remove his engine. At last he decided to go on. We were very late by then, but when we did arrive at Belfast, more trouble awaited us. About a mile from the station I looked out of the window, and saw soldiers guarding the line with fixed bayonets, one soldier about every fifty yards. What could they want ? We were in Ulster , Union Jacks waved from almost every building, and I really felt safe at last. What they did want was some one on our train. The station was crowded with troops, and the porter said it was no good moving our luggage, as neither passengers nor luggage would be allowed to leave the train. Truly the woes of unfortunate people who travel by train in Ireland are many.The boats to Scotland only leave every twenty-four hours , and twenty-four hours in Belfast out of only ten days' leave was not an inviting prospect. But the soldiers were Scotch. The officer was kind, and accepted my husband's word that he was an officer on leave, and that I was his wife.It seemed to be a woman the soldiers were particularly looking for. I implored them to let me go through. I said I was myself Scotch, that I was going to Scotland, and that I simply must get away from this hateful country. And they smiled, and let me pass. So, walking through lines of bayonets, we eventually left the station, with about seven minutes to get across the city. We did it at a gallop, with our luggage piled on to an outside car. I had rather hated those cars till then ; but it is wonderful what they can carry, and what they can do. No one but an Irish jarvey would have galloped through those crowded slippery streets. One large trunk apparently rested on the horse's tail. The driver was perched on my hat-box, and we clung on at the back. Not that I ever did anything else but cling on an outside car. I never did acquire the art of lolling gracefully. We caught the train, and I sank into a seat, with my legs feeling like cotton-wool. I did not really recover till I stood on Scotch soil, where I nearly hugged the porter, with his heavenly Scotch voice. It was good to be there

While we were in Scotland, the Lord Mayor of Cork did die, but my husband, to our surprise, was not recalled. Other officers who were on leave from England had to return, because of the railway strikes ; but as we explained, a railway strike or so was nothing to us. They were not noticed among the other disorders in the country we came from. I was amazed at the interest taken in Ireland by the country people where we were staying. Even the old keeper who took me fishing had a great deal to say on the subject. He explained that it was not the murdering he minded so much, as the fact that no one lifted a hand to help the unfortunate victim; and he quoted the case of the poor man who was dragged out of a tram in a crowded Dublin street, without the slightest effort being made by any one to stop the murderers.That, he thought, was very cowardly. I agreed with him it was. I found people in England at this time were very apathetic about Ireland ; there was far more feeling in Scotland. There is no doubt that the religious question has got a good deal to do with it; Ulster and the West of Scotland are very near akin, and they detest the Roman Catholic Church. There is no doubt, also, that the sympathies of Roman Catholic countries are largely with the south of Ireland. Even in Belgium, which owes nothing to Ireland, and so much to England, there is a considerable party who actively support the Sinn Fein cause, both with sympathy and with money. This can only be owing to the influence of the Church, which assists the vigorous Sinn Fein propaganda in that country and others. A friend of ours in Brussels, a Belgian lady, took a photograph of my husband to a shop to be framed, shortly after the murders of 21st November. She explained to the woman in the shop that he had been nearly killed in Dublin in the massacre of the previous Sunday. The woman replied, " I am sorry if he was a friend of yours, but what a splendid thing it was ." To me, if I did not know it to be true, this remark would be absolutely unbelievable. I was in Brussels with my husband just after the Armistice, and I shall never forget the enthusiasm of the people for every British soldier.When we got into a tram, every one got up to give us seats, and everybody said something nice about the English General.Two years later, when that same officer is the victim, with many other British officers, of a brutal attack, a Brussels shopkeeper says, " How splendid !"

We got back to Ireland without incident about 5th November. I believe in presentiments, and in no other way can I account for the horrible feeling of depression I felt during the next fortnight. Naturally I did not like going back, but it was more than that. I felt absolutely and utterly miserable. I missed one officer who had a flat in the house, and was told that he had gone on leave. Later on, when I went to see my husband in hospital, I found that, far from being on leave, he had been badly wounded in a raid while we were away. I must own that,at this time, I did feel rather nervous occasionally. There were four Secret Service men living in the house, and two others came in to meals, and I did wonder sometimes if it was safe for them and for us. My husband very frequently slept in barracks. Nearly every night there was firing now, usually just a shot or two, but sometimes a regular volley. The whole atmosphere of the place was more than ever hostile,and I struggled with my depression, and told myself it was only because I had been so thoroughly spoiled in Scotland.But it was no good.I was just miserable . Even the servants in the house seemed different; certainly one of them did. I thought,too,that I was followed home once or twice, and could not understand why such an unimportant person as myself should be watched.But I realise now that they watched every one who went to and from that ill-fated house.

Mrs Woodcock's Story