The Diary of Elizabeth Dillon

Edited by Brendan O Cathaoir
650 PP
ISBN: 9781782189107

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Elizabeth Mathew is remembered chiefly as the wife of John Dillon, a leading advocate of the Irish cause for Home Rule at Westminster for nearly 40 years. However, her diary is a testament of her own unique unfolding as a spirited young woman, as a member of a family of distinguished pedigree and as an Irish Catholic living in England.

As the daughter of an Irish Catholic judge in England and the wife of an Irish nationalist leader, her diaries kept from the age of 14 until her death aged 42 in 1904 portray both a public world that has vanished and a private self that endures. The diaries are spiced by sharp observation of her fellow humans and illuminate with immediacy the several interesting worlds in which she passed her tragically short life. Furthermore, while displaying an acute political consciousness, her accounts shed light on an upper middle-class family in late-Victorian England; a vibrant social history.

This book has been meticulously edited from an estimated 800,000 words in her 38 journals, preserved among the Dillon papers in Trinity College Dublin, by Irish Times journalist and historian, Brendan O Cathaoir.

About the Author

Dr Brendan Ó Cathaoir is a former Irish Times journalist, historian, and student of theology. He is best known for his Famine Diary column, written weekly through 1995 to the end of 1997 as a commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Great Famine. The series was published as a collection by Irish Academic Press in 1998.

Dr Brendan passed away on 29th December, 2019 following a long illness.

Additional Information

The author’s feature in The Irish Times (2015)

An Irishman’s Diary on Elizabeth Mathew, wife of John Dillon

Reviewed in The Independent (2020)

The Diary of Elizabeth Dillon: Candid memoirs of a 19th-Century nationalist with a beautiful mind

Reviewed in Irish Examiner – Weekend (2019)

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