Grattan de Courcy-Wheeler
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Grattan de Courcy-Wheeler


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Track 1: Grattan de Courcy-Wheeler’s grandfather and granduncles, and the parts they played in WWI, are discussed. His grandfather, Robert, was the fifth of six sons, five of whom were in the British Army during that war. Grattan explains that the eldest son disappeared from family history owing to being disinherited by his father. The second son was Henry (Harry) who served in the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, and in 1916 he was stationed at the Curragh. Grattan details his activities during the Easter Rising (Grattan de Courcy-Wheeler provides more detail about Harry and his life in Irish Life and Lore’s Oral History series ‘The 1916 Rising Oral History Collection’.) The next son was Gerald who joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and who fought in the Boer War and in WWI. Grattan explains that Gerald, the officer in charge of the Officer Training Corps of Trinity College, Dublin, became a regular soldier. Grattan’s grandfather, Robert, was the fifth son and he qualified as a medical doctor and joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. His activities at Malta during WWI are detailed. He returned to Ireland and was one of the founders of Monkstown Hospital where he was Chief Medical Officer. Grattan reflects on how his grandfather may have received the nickname ‘Diamond’, and his tenancy of Monkstown Castle and its former occupants are discussed. Grattan explains that Robert inherited Drummin from Anne Grattan in 1915, and his own memories of his grandfather are described. Track 2: Grattan explains that the de Courcy-Wheelers were Home Rulers who were loyal to the Crown and he says that most of the Irish people were Home Rulers before WWI, and that there was no animosity towards the family at that time. He explains that his granduncle Harry was against the executions carried out after the Rising in 1916. He gives further details about his uncle Gerald’s life and his return to Ireland after retirement from the British Army. The fourth brother in the family was William (Billy), who was also a medical doctor and who served in the RAMC in France. Billy rose to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, became Surgeon-in-Ordinary to the Lord Lieutenant and was knighted. He served again in WWII with the naval rank of Rear-Admiral and Grattan details more of his uncle’s career in the inter-war period. He reflects on the sale of the Ashford estate by Ernest Guinness in the late 1930s and the resulting effect on the local area. Track 3: Harry de Courcy-Wheeler’s position at the outbreak of WWII is described, and it is explained that his brother Robert made over Drummin to Grattan’s father, Cecil, who became a farmer. Grattan describes Robert’s life as a medical doctor before the Great War, and his marriage to Mabel Hunter-Craig of Ayrshire. He talks about Mabel’s father, who was a Liberal MP of comfortable circumstances. Mabel was very interested in farming and she financed and ran Drummin. Grattan remarks that the de Courcy-Wheeler brothers were keen on shooting and fishing, and he suspects that there was little discussion between them about the war. He says that his grandfather was always careful to keep out of politics and he suspects that in general the brothers were Home Rulers within the Empire. The lack of memorials to the brothers is discussed and Grattan mentions the fact that Sir William’s name is inscribed at the RCSI as he was president there. He recalls that his grandfather Robert’s name was on a plaque at Monkstown Hospital. His father Cecil’s relationship with his father, Robert, is remembered, as is the fact that it was affected by the difference of opinion between his parents concerning any use of alcohol. Grattan reflects on his father’s attitude towards the part played by his father and his uncles in the British Army. Track 4: Grattan displays and discusses some photographs of Robert, Harry and Billy de Courcy-Wheeler.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The Irish Country House and the Great War


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

12.67 MB, 8.41 MB, 17.76 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



The long military service of the de Courcy-Wheeler family

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore