HEADLINE: Northern Standard. November 2, 1918. "Influenza in Monaghan" All over the country the influenza epidemic has scourged the population, in some places worse than others, but we believe it is now abating.

Our own community has suffered and in one family two little ones have been taken away within a day or two of each other, children of Mr. Frank Whelan, of the Toll Bar, with whom there is deep sympathy. These, we believe, have been the only cases in which there was a fatal result. Dublin and Belfast have also suffered badly, and there have been a good many fatal cases in Newry. There is still need for precaution and the use of disinfectants.

Northern Standard. November 16, 1918.

The Influenza. The epidemic has been in Clones for about a fortnight, hundreds of people being prostrated in the town and district. It seemed, however, to be a mild type, and until the week-end there was scarcely a single fatal case. Now, however, it appears to be at its worst, and from Saturday to Monday there have been at least four deaths from pneumonia following influenza, the last being Mr. John McCauley, wine and spirit merchant, who has been taken away in the prime of life at the age of 33, leaving a young widow and baby. Many people are suffering from pneumonia, and in a serious condition. Some shops are closed owing to the whole family being prostrated. The two local doctors are unable to cope with the demand on their services, and nurses cannot be got. Nine of the Clones police are ill, also two at Scotshouse, and at Rockcorry a constable named Jamieson died from the disease. The local national schools are still closed.

At a meeting of the Board of Guardians at Clones Workhouse, the Clerk, Hugh Maguire said the Master, Robert Murtagh, the Wardsman, Wardsmaid and his own assistant, Joseph Travers were all down with the illness. The following week a recovered assistant clerk, Mr. Travers informed the board that the Medical Officer, Dr. William Henry, the Charge Nurse, Matron, Master, Clerk, Porter, Wardsman, two Wardsmaids were ill with influenza. The only officers left on duty were one night nurse and a wardsmaid, who might also be victims at any moment. Michael E. Knight, solicitor to the Board said that Dr. Edward Tierney, who formerly acted as substitute was overwhelmed with work and could not take up Dr. Henry’s duties. Dr. Pringle, Dublin informed Mrs. Henry that he might be able to get a doctor, and it was absolutely necessary one should be got at once, as there were a large number of patients dangerously ill from pneumonia in the Fever Hospital and also in the Workhouse Hospital. It was suggested that the Guardians telegraph Dr. Pringle and at the same time secure a motor for whatever doctor was secured, in order to go round and attend the sick poor, who were many and in urgent need of medical relief.

The assistant clerk then read a report from Nurse Nora J. Quigley, who had very kindly come in to render assistance at the Workhouse Infirmary during the progress of the epidemic. The report of Nurse Quigley stated that the infirmary was crowded and owing to Dr. Henry being ill and two wardsmaids down, the patients were almost delirious. They were imploring assistance upstairs and downstairs, so that she begged that some assistance be sent for. The Nurse even asked for voluntary assistance of any sort, and added that there was no use sending in patients there to die. The Chairman and members of the Board expressed alarm at the state of things, and said that assistance would have to be had at once regardless of expense. However efforts to get a doctor were unsuccessful and Mr. Knight personally went to Belfast and succeeded in getting Dr. Stewart who arrived on Saturday evening, the 16th November and took up duty. Some female assistance was also procured to assist the nurses in the Infirmary, where the mortality was very high, averaging three or four deaths each day. A Corporal and eight men from the Royal Army Medical Corp was also sent from Belfast to give their services in the overcrowded male infirmary wards.

Northern Standard. November 23, 1918.

The Influenza Epidemic. The past week has been a very sad one for many families in Monaghan and district. We were hoping that the comparatively mild form of the of the influenza epidemic experienced previously would be the worst of the visitation, but unfortunately the hope has not been realised, for the alarming number of cases, and the numerous deaths, show that the disease has assumed a very serious form, and has taken dreadful toll of the inhabitants. Day after day there have been funerals to the many graveyards in the district, young and having succumbed, usually to pneumonia following an attack of influenza. The medical men in town have had a heavy demand made upon their services, and it is greatly to their credit that they responded to every call, often, we are sure, when physically almost unable to do so. There was a good deal of sickness among the patients in the Asylum, and many of the nurses and attendants were laid up. Several of the patients, we are informed, succumbed to the disease.

There is very little reference in the local press about the ‘Spanish Flu’ Pandemic of 1918-19. It is believed to have acquired the name because reference to it first appeared in the Spanish press which was not under War-time restrictions on what it could report, as Spain was not a participant in the Great War 1914-18. Newspaper journalist James Sherry of Drumacoon, Newbliss leaves these few reports on the Influenza epidemic of 1918. His wife Bridget Sherry nee O’Shea was appointed midwife for Newbliss, Killeevan and St. Tierney districts by the Clones Board of Guardians in 1907, and who was acknowledged by the Board for her services given voluntarily, when after nursing her own family, who were all laid up, went out at great personal risk to herself, and nursed and assisted the poor and others needing assistance in her district. In January 1919 the board also acknowledged the assistance of Dr. Edward Tierney, Clones who it was said, “for weeks never lay on a bed”. The Chairman, Mr. Hugh Gordon stated, “He was completely run off his feet. After very hard work round a district of almost twenty miles, he took up duty for the Guardians in addition to his own, when he should have been in bed. No vote of thanks passed to Dr. Tierney, or any pecuniary payment made, would compensate him. But for his fine constitution he might have been a martyr to duty. Mr. Michael E. Knight, solicitor, Mrs. Knight and Mrs. Henry , wife of Dr. Henry were also honoured as I think they were responsible for establishing a soup kitchen in the Town Hall.

Northern Standard. November 30, 1918. I

nfluenza at Newbliss. Newbliss has been visited with a very virulent and dangerous form of influenza for the past few weeks and numerous deaths have occurred. The saddest cases were those of two brothers, Patrick and James Quigley of Kinturk, reported in another column; other remarkably sudden and sad deaths were those of Patrick Graham, Annamakiff; Francis Sherry, Drumacoon; Francis Rock and Hugh Duffy, Newbliss; Edward Graham, R.D.C., Conaghy; a son of James Curran, Dernaroy; a son of Mrs. Scott, Garrison; Miss S. A. Bullock,Guardhill; Miss Hall Lissarley; and Miss Quigley, Lisnagore.

The Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 came in three waves and it was the second wave from Oct-Dec 1918 that appears to have affected the Clones area most severely.

The Superintendent Registrar’s District (SRD) for Clones included Roslea, Aghadrumsee, Magheraveeley, Newtownbutler, Drummully in Co. Fermanagh and Clones, Scotshouse, Killeevan, St. Tierney, Newbliss, Aghabog (part), and after 1914, the Drum and Rockcorry area which was previously part of Cootehill.

In the Annual Report for the Registrar General for Ireland in 1918, there were 39 deaths in the Clones (SRD) from Influenza, and 28 deaths from Pneumonia. For the whole of Ireland in 1918 deaths from influenza amounted to 10,651 as compared to an average of 1,234 for the preceding ten years, those from pneumonia numbering 6,120 as against an average of 4,067.

The Annual Report for the Registrar General for Ireland in 1919, there were 42 deaths in the Clones (SRD) from Influenza and 33 deaths from Pneumonia. For the whole of Ireland in 1919 deaths from influenza amounted to 9,406 as compared to an average of 2,119 for the preceding ten years, those from pneumonia numbered 5,425 as against an average of 4,627.

It has been estimated that over 800,000 people in Ireland were infected by the ‘Spanish Flu’ which was identified in 1934 as H1N1 and that 23,000 people died as a consequence. The peak of the most virulent second wave which was experienced throughout the world, coincided with the end of World War 1 and the 1918 General Election which would see the establishment of the first Dail Eireann. There was no social distancing or restrictions and the policy of the British Government of ‘Stay Calm and Carry On’ is said to have its origins from the tragic Pandemic which claimed over 50 million lived worldwide. (Information, Sean Slowey)