Elizabeth Richards was born in Wexford to Thomas Richards and Martha (nee Redmond). The family lived on the Rathapeck estate in Wexford. Her mother’s family oscillated between Protestantism and Catholicism.
Her family had connections with the United Irishmen and a liberal reputation, giving them protection during the rebellion of which she writes in her diary. Her father was dead by the time the rebellion began.
She married Count Frederik Willem Van Limburg Stirum in 1802. They had 10 children between 1803 and 1820. They felt they would do better in her husband’s homeland. Rathaspeck, the family’s estate in Wexford, unfortunately had to be sold - much to the sorrow of Elizabeth.
The diary was handed down through a handwritten copy made in 1917 by Elizabeth’s granddaughter. The diary then was in the possession of her grandson and a fellow soldier of his made a transcript of the diary around 1919.
I was fascinated as I read through the pages of Elizabeth Richard’s diary. She wrote about a period of time which is still of interest today. On these pages she recalls the events as they unfold on a daily basis over the period of a couple of months. She reveals her feelings about people and what is happening around her.
Reading the diary helped me to look back to my life at the same age – a 20 year old Protestant and at a time when the Troubles were still going on in Northern Ireland.
She speaks about her faith and how she will not convert to Catholicism even though her mother and sister do. She also shares about a time now gone, when the gentry lived in large houses with servants.
Elizabeth Richards could not help being born into her family just as I had no control over my heritage. She is human like us all and it is wonderful to still have this document today to see how life and attitudes have changed. Conflict is still with us just as it was with her and it was great to see how she came through the rebellion and lived well into her 60’s.
Researcher: Ashley Luke
PRONI Reference for Diary: T3254/4
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