the rundles of drogheda


georgina frances rundle

29.11.1911               -                     4.7.2000




       Ena Rundle aged 5 months and six years. 

         (These are the earliest photos in existance)


Ena's handwriting in 1926 was identical to that of her mother's

Georgina Frances Rundle was born on the 29th. November 1911, in 6 St. Mark's Terrace, Drogheda, the first child of Walter and Agnes. She was named after her mother Agnes' brother George (Graham), and her father Walter's mother, Eliza Frances. She was commonly known as "Ena"

Ena's life spanned almost ninety years that witnessed two world wars, the Irish war of independence, the Irish civil war, and other political events in which she took an active part. All through her life she took a stance on women's liberation that influenced all who met her.

In her early teens she attend St. Louis' Convent Boarding School in County Monaghan, to train as a schoolteacher. There, she studied all subjects on the curriculum through the medium of the Irish language (Gaelic/Gaeilge). She became very competent in French, Irish and English, and her school reports were very complimentary. On a postcard (see below left) from the boarding school in Monaghan, she showed an awareness of current affairs (a coal strike), or was her writing influenced by the nuns (who scrutinised all letters)?

The fact that she was in St. Louis' Catholic Boarding School, Monoghan, regarded as the best and most expensive in Ireland at the time, is a reflection on her presbyterian father's commitment to his principles and integrity. Her time in Monaghan and her academic life came to an abrupt end during the christmas break in 1927 (a month after this postcard was written), when she discovered that her father had left home and her life. Her education could no longer be financed. For a time after that, she helped her mother with the job of work at home with 9 other children. Shortly afterwards, she found herself in the Bury St. Edmund's Infirmary training to be a nurse. Her uncle, George (Graham) took an active role in the family's upbringing and took Ena over to England to alleviate Agnes' dilemma and provide Ena with a future source of income. Ena came back after the short course, qualified as a state registered nurse (S.R.N). a short while after that she attended Holles Street Maternity Hospital in Dublin and qualifiled as as state certified midwife (S.C.M.). During this time her education and family were supported by George Graham and the wider Graham family.

It was during her time in Holles Street, that she indulged in autograph-hunting and met, and got autographs from Eamon de Velera (a future President of Ireland, whose son was a doctor there) and The Mahatma Ghandi. She also had an autograph of Michael Collins (a friend of her mother's family) in the same book. Sadly the autograph book was stolen from her when she lived alone in her old age. It may surface in the future, or it may be lost forever.

Ena (as she was called) had a pet name, as did all the Rundle children. She was called "Bee" and this reflected her character as a busy person. This comes from an old saying "As busy as a bee"




                         Ena Rundle and Tommy Cumiskey

                                 (taken approx 1932).

When Ena returned to Drogheda she started a relationship with Tommy Cumiskey, a city councillor on Drogheda Corporation, an accountant and political activist with "The Blueshirts". They married around 1931, and lived at 38, Trinity Gardens, Drogheda. They had two children, John Raymond (Ian) and Marie Teresa Gertrude (Trudy).

Sadly, their marriage was short-lived. On October 11, 1934 Tommy Cumiskey died "by misadventure", in a drowning incident. Apparently he had got involved in what seemed to be an embezzelment of funds, and 'insanity' and 'mental disorder' were ruled out at his inquest. The account of his death and inquest is well documented in the "Drogheda Independent" of the time.

Ena was asked to take her late husband's seat on the corporation, as was the custom and legitimate procedure at the time, and subsequently run as a candidate for Dáil Éireann (Parliament of Ireland). She declined due to her commitments to her two young children, her siblings, and her grief for Tommy.





                      Counillor Thomas Owen Cumiskey.

                     (a studio portrait without a cigarette)



Ena Rundle (seated) 
with her future husband, Tommy Cumiskey
and his brother and sister (names unknown)

Thomas Owen Cumiskey was born in 1905. Not much is know about his life other than the fact that he was a formidable figure in political circles in the 1920's. he was highly regarded in the party that first came to power in the early days of "Saorstat Eireann" (the Irish Free State). With the advent of a new political trend in Europe he joined "The Blueshirts" movement in the 1920's. The Blueshirts were a party aligned to Michael Collins who was assassinated in 1922 and who was also a close friend of Agnes (Graham) Rundle (his mother-in-law). It seems that Tommy formed a friendship with Michael Collins during his many visits to Drogheda and it is likely that he and Ena met through the organisation. In his fast-rising career things went sadly wrong for "Tommy" in his 27th. year.

In October 1934, Tommy drove out of Drogheda to a bridge near the site of the Battle of the Boyne, known locally as "The Boyne Viaduct", left his watch, wedding ring and a note in his car, with the simple words: "For my beloved wife", and drowned in the river.

The inquest into his death some time later was reported in the "Drogheda Independent" and reflects the diplomacy and spirit of the time. His death was due to "misadventure" and it was mentioned that there were "irregularities" in accounts of the Drogheda Corporation.

When he died, he left a widow aged 22 and two young children, John Raymond (Ian) aged 2 and Marie Teresa Gertrude(Trudy) aged 10 months.What is unusual about this whole event is that Tommy didn't leave a letter!




Tommy, was a heavy smoker. Any casual photos show him with a cigarette in his hand or in his mouth. The only photos found of him without a cigarette were those taken in a photo studio (such as these on the left). Another studio photograph found was one with his two brothers, sister-in-law and nieces but Tommy's image was cut out of the photograph. This 'cut-out' was used for his memoriam card.

He is buried in the 'old part' of The Lourdes catholic cemetary, Drogheda, alone, about 3 meters from his mother-in-law, Agnes Rundle




Ena (Rundle) Cumiskey

One of her creative photographs  
the void in her life after  
her husband's suicide


Ena was an enthusiastic and competent photographer. She won a prize in the national newspaper (1933) for the best photo. It was a photograph of her son in the sea at Clogherhead, near Drogheda.


She was also artistic with her photographic ability and in her time of mourning for Tommy Cumiskey she directed others to take photos to convey her emotions. An example of her art can be seen in the photograph on the left, taken in the back of 38 Trinity Gardens, Drogheda shortly before she moved back to her mother's house in St. Mark's Tce. after the tragic death of her husband. The empty space to her left indicated the void in her life at the time.



The children of Ena Rundle and Tommy Cumiskey were; their son, Ian who lived in Limerick city, and their daughter, Trudy, who lived in London and was the first Irish citizen to be awarded the Freedom of the City of London. This award is today proudly displayed on the livingroom wall of her only daughter Kathleen and son-in-law Ian (McKenzie) in Yorkshire, England. Trudy married Bob Chesney in the 1960's, and later, Allan Smith in the 1970's. Allan was a formidibale, sharp-witted man with a distinguished military career. I hope to have more about Allan at some time in the future.

               Trudy Cumiskey and her mother Ena Rundle (Oct. 1975)

A copy of Trudy Cumiskey's cerftificate of the Freedom of The City of London
(With kind thanks to her daughter Kath for permission to use this)




Mary Rundle, Tom O'Rourke,Ena Rundle and John Joe Martin.

       the rundle and o'rourke link

Some time after 1934, Ena travelled to Ballinamore in County Leirim to visit her Aunt Mary (Graham) O'Rourke who had been married to a widower James O'Rourke who had three sons. Ena married the eldest of the sons Tommy O'Rourke in April 1939, five months before world war 2 started. This is the beginning of a most interesting tale that has been waiting to be told for a long time.

The pages after this are being drawn up and no doubt some of you reading this may be in a position to contribute with stories and photograph. ( The next page will be about Tom O'Rourke ).

Please feel free to contact me with any contribution by clicking on the red box below.







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