Anthony Fletcher (b. 1941)
7.0015.00 Select options

Anthony Fletcher (b. 1941)


Want unlimited access to the Irish Life and Lore Oral History Archive? Subscribe by purchasing Gold Subscription, Silver Subscription or Bronze Subscription!

Track 1: Anthony Fletcher is a retired historian who has taught at various English universities. His great-aunt Cesca Trench was in the GPO during Easter Week 1916 and her brother, his grandfather Reggie, served in WWI. Anthony provides some detail about the Chevenix Trench family history and also the family houses. The Chevenix Trenches were a great Anglo-Irish family who owned several large houses. The senior branch was based at Woodlawn, Co. Galway, with the junior branch at Lawton, Moneygall and Cangort Park in Co.Offaly. His grandfather Reggie regarded himself as Irish though Anthony explains that he lived most of his life in England. The family had located to Hampshire in England around 1800 but still moved between the two islands. Anthony feels that they regarded themselves as part of the Irish Ascendancy but also wanted to identify with England. He believes that the Irish element is now only a memory within the family, but the irony is that his great-aunt Cesca Trench, who died of the Spanish flu in 1918, was a leading Sinn Féiner. Anthony describes her as being very radical and explains that she believed in freedom for Ireland. He mentions Hilary Pyle’s book ‘Cesca’s Diary’. Cesca married Diarmid Coffey who was also active in Sinn Féin at the time, but the marriage was short-lived due to her early death. Anthony thinks that the family connection with Ireland would have continued if she had not met such an untimely death. Anthony explains that Cesca and Diarmid met through their interest in the Irish language and that Diarmid, though also involved with the Dublin Volunteers, was more cautious. The senior branch of the family and the house in Moneygall, Co. Offaly is discussed. Track 2: Anthony’s grandfather Reggie’s education and his military career in England are recalled. He grew up in various places in England and took some holidays in Ireland. Anthony talks about his early training in the Officer Training Corps at the Inns of Court. At the outbreak of war Reggie was involved in recruitment and was not permitted to join a regiment until March 1916 when, by chance, he was sent with the Sherwood Foresters to Dublin rather than to continental Europe. Reggie knew at this point that his younger sister, Cesca, had been radicalised. Their mother Isabella was very pro-British and very anti-German, and was worried about Cesca’s radical and nationalist views. Cesca’s diary survives, in which she wrote about her excitement at the prospect of a new Ireland. Anthony explains that the two sides of his family were on both sides of the struggle for Irish independence. He details Reggie’s movements in Ireland during 1916 and his posting to France in 1917. Track 3: Anthony describes the context of the time when Reggie arrived in Ireland, and explains that in charge of a company, he marched across France in early 1917 towards the new front. He talks about his grandfather’s first engagement at Le Vergier in some detail, and the relationships which evolved between comrades are described. Reggie became a specialist in catering and Anthony has written about the detail of organisation required behind the lines. It is fortunate that Reggie’s correspondence, which provides much detail about this, has survived. His wife also collected accounts, written by his comrades, which describe Reggie’s death in 1918, and Anthony used these accounts in his research for his book ‘Life, Death and Growing up on the Western Front’. The story is told of Reggie’s batman, Albert Lane, who recovered his body and who saved Reggie’s wristwatch for later return to his widow. Track 4: The location, in France, of the command dugout has been identified by Anthony and his brother. Anthony considers that Reggie had a brave death and he explains that when news came through to his wife, Clare, that he was missing she travelled to Ireland so that she could be with his mother Isabella and sister Margot when the telegram arrived confirming his death. Cesca’s letter to her brother, which was returned following his death, is described. Anthony is the oldest of his siblings and he spent a lot of time with his grandmother. Although she never discussed her husband, Anthony remembers the memorabilia in the house. It was only after her death in 1989 that items were discovered and his interest was sparked. His grandparents were married in January 1915, his mother Isabel was born in November 1915 and Reggie saw her only twice when he came home on leave. Anthony is intrigued that Reggie’s contemporaries described him as having an Irish accent although he had not spent much time in Ireland. Possible likenesses between Reggie and other Trench family members are considered.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

11.49 MB, 10.84 MB, 12.55 MB, 9.12 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



The Chevenix Tench family of Galway and Offaly

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore