Troubador The Viceregal Microbe

Released: 28/06/2018

ISBN: 9781789014006

Format: Paperback

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The Viceregal Microbe

Lady Aberdeen and the Politics of Ireland's Battle Against Tuberculosis


By the start of the 20th century many Irish people were living in squalor: the country's infant mortality rate was the highest in Europe and tuberculosis was rampant. The daunting and tireless Lady Ishbel Aberdeen, wife of the British Viceroy to Ireland, devoted herself to social changes that could save lives. But she often faced ridicule because of the contrast between her own high status and her concern for the common man. Arthur Griffith, future president of Ireland, publicly nicknamed her The Viceregal Microbe.

This book tells the story of the friction between the struggle for Irish independence and the 'good works' of the Anglo-Irish elite. The mainly Protestant and upper-class women who gathered around Lady Aberdeen through the Women's National Health Association she founded were all fine people with good hearts. But Irish Nationalists treated them with suspicion, and progress in the war against tuberculosis was the casualty.

Lady Abderdeen became ever more radical in her campaign for better living conditions for Ireland's poor. The Chief Medical Officer of the Guinness Brewery, John Lumsden, was one of her close allies. By the end of her decades of work (most intensely 1906-1915) in Ireland, Ishbel Aberdeen became as out-spoken as the trade union rebel 'Big Jim' Larkin. She was a strong woman and often alienated people by her relentlessness. She drove herself to exhaustion and her family almost to bankruptcy in her campaign for a better life for Ireland's poor. But in the end she was doomed to be viewed as part of the system of British rule over Ireland. And history belongs to the victor. The contribution of Lady Aberdeen and her volunteers to the welfare of Ireland's poor and sick was largely forgotten in the wake of the country's independence and its nationalist fervour.

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Dr. Frances Carruthers and Martin Duffy

The late Dr. Frances Carruthers (1956-2006) wrote her PhD thesis for Maynooth University on 'The Organisational Work of Lady Ishbel Abderdeen, Marchioness of Aberdeen and Temair'. She also worked for Schizophrenia Ireland as Facilitator and as a Senior Workshop Supervisor/Trainer for Cheeverstown Mental Handicapped Services.

Martin Duffy is an award-winning Irish director, writer, film editor and script consultant who has been living in Berlin since 2002. Awards for his films include the Celtic Film and TV Festival Jury Prize, Audience Award at the Berlin Film Festival, President's Award at the Fort Lauderdale Film Festival, and selection for the Deauville International Film Festival.

His family comedy 'Welcome to Earth' has been optioned with plans for a German-UK-Canada co-production and multiple-award winner Georg Maas attached as director. His romantic comedy screenplay 'Pants on Fire' has been optioned with director Mandie Fletcher ('Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie', etc) attached. He co-wrote the family comedy 'Teddy Bear Spring' which is being set up for production in Vienna. His series concept 'Freedom Strasse' has been optioned as an Irish-German co-production and is now in active development.

After years of experience writing and editing for television, Martin wrote and directed his first feature film 'The Boy from Mercury' in 1996: the semi-autobiographical story of an 8-year-old boy with an over-active imagination. Martin has directed three other feature films since then while continuing his writing output. This has ranged from children's novels ('Mothership', 'Peg Leg Gus' etc) and non-fiction history (such as 'The Trade Union Pint' and 'Barney and Molly' and radio plays ('The Apollo', 'Tricks of the Trade') to his sitcom 'This Thing' which almost went into production in a German version, but is now being developed through the BBC's 'writersroom'.

Martin has been writing for children's comedy programmes and animation for decades, his work ranging from Irish classics like 'Bosco' to the animation series 'Inis Cool'.

Martin acts regularly as script consultant for film companies in Ireland and Germany. He also translates German screenplays to English for such companies as Constantin Films.


Dr. Frances Carruthers

Martin Duffy
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