On 13 July, Pat Armstrong sat down to write a letter to his father. Things had not been easy on the farm at Moyaliffe. Since the end of January, Ireland had been plagued by a series of outbreaks of foot and mouth disease in Kildare, Dublin, Cork and Tipperary. Over 4,000 animals had been slaughtered, and trade restrictions, which were not removed until 9 September, limited the transport of livestock to England.
‘Ulster’s Appeal to the British People’
Things were also alarming on the political front. The contentious Home Rule Bill, which granted Ireland greater freedom in self-government, had recently passed through the House of Commons and was about to become law. As a consequence, the gulf between the unionists and nationalists was deepening and Ireland was verging on the edge of civil war. Such issues did not occupy the minds of Pat’s three sisters in Folkestone. With a car at their disposal they spent the week making daytrips to local beauty spots within a 40-mile radius of Folkestone. Although Mrs Armstrong had made cautious forays into learning to drive, it was the adventurous Ione who most eagerly took to the wheel. In 1914, cars remained something of a novelty, and motorised excursions invariably caused great excitement and a sense of occasion.
Monday 13 July
Did the flowers, then did some tidying, & then worked in the garden for a bit. After lunch Muz & I went & called on the MacGregors, but we didn’t stay long. Then we went down to the de Hoghtons , & had tea with them. Then we took them in the car to do some shopping. Then they took us for a drive in the car to Elham, & we looked at an old church there. Wrote letters, then went to bed at about eleven.
I was awfully pleased to get your nice long letter last night when I got back. It is awfully good of you to give me “Frank”1. I should love to have him. It is most awfully good of you to give him to me. I think we get about a week’s leave sometime in August but the dates aren’t settled yet. I’ll write & let you know as soon as they are. It would be great fun to shoot a grouse again. It is splendid you being able to sell the cattle it has been dreadful this foot & mouth disease holding everything up so long. I wonder how things will go off in the north to-day. I do hope they don’t have a lot of blood shed. It looks rather bad doesn’t it? But I suppose it will be pritty [sic] quiet all round the south won’t it? I don’t know of a good groom at the present moment but may be able to hear of one. I have got an awfully good man now but he’s a Baptist or some odd religion like that. I don’t know if he would do alright? I’ll send him over to you if you like as I expect I could get somebody else here. Anyhow I’ll look out for a man if you don’t think Clarks would suit you. He’s married & has got one son about 10 I think he is. The ponies are awfully well & are playing beautifully. They keep us awfully busy in this place but it’s really great fun & the work is very interesting. We start at 7 o’c every morning & go on to 1 o’c with a break for breakfast & then work from 2-4 on non polo days. So it means we get a good deal done in the day. I went up to Lords on Friday & Saturday & met them all in London & we had great fun. We went to a theatre on Friday & had great fun. I saw hundreds of people who I hadn’t seen for years. I have just got to dash off on a tactical scheme.
Best of luck.
Hoping to see you soon.
Your loving Maurice.
Tuesday 14 July
Settled the drawingroom, then went down the town with Muz, in the car. We brought Mrs Brinkley back with us, & then took her round to the laundry. Ione came back from Camberley by the 3 train, & Harry came down from Ashford with her. Muz, Heppie, Tom & I went off in the car, & picked Mr. Davison up, in Hythe & went for a picnic to Bilsington. We got into an awfully nice wood, & it was very pretty. We didn’t start for home till eight. Tom & Heppie came back by the bus, & we stayed & had dinner with Mr Davison, Mr O’Donivan was there too. We didn’t get back for dinner till after nine! & Mr O’Donivan had been there since eight. It was all great fun, & we didn’t leave till after eleven, Mr O’Donivan came back in the car with us. We asked Mr Penrose to come, but he was orderly officer. Ione went to the Collinses.
Wednesday 15 July
Settled the flowers, then Ione helped me to put in a few of my photographs. It rained hard all morning. After lunch, I did some washing & tidying, & then wrote letters. Mr Wright came at about 3-30, as we had asked him for tennis, but it was too wet to play. The others were out when he came, so I talked to him. He went at about 5-30. I did some tidying & then read for a bit.
Thursday 16 July
Cricket Ball. Did the flowers, then did some mending. After lunch I tidied some of my drawers. Then went round to Mrs Lucas to get more tickets, & took them down to Sandgate. We have sold more than anyone else, we sold 32. We didn’t have anyone to dine, we just went to the dance by ourselves. Harry wasn’t allowed to come. They had Joyce’s band, which was lovely, & there was quite a good crowd, but I don’t think as many as last year. We kept it up till about three, & went to bed at about four.
Friday 17 July
Did the flowers, but we stayed in bed very late. After lunch, Muz, Ione & I went off in the car to Frittingdon [sic, Frittenden]. Harry was playing cricket over there, but we didn’t get there till late, so didn’t go in. It was nearly forty miles there. At 3-30 we went up to the Grand, to sell chocolates & programmes at Mrs Blake’s entertainment. The room was very full, & we made a lot of money, but it wasn’t a good show. Mr Davison came in, & then came back here, with us afterwards. Mr Wright was coming on afterwards, but he went to the theatre with the Brinkleys. We went to bed at about twelve.
Saturday 18 July
Did the flowers, & then did some tidying. Harry came over from Hothfield for lunch, & then Mr Olphert & Miss Tweedie came & played tennis. Muz & I went off in the car, to Sibton [Park]2 , to ask how Mrs Howard was. We met Roger riding. Harry had to go at six, so the others went down to the near grounds & played. I went down & watched them, it was very cold down there. After dinner I read for a bit, & finished “The Toilers of the Sea”3.
Sunday 19 July Muz, Ione & I went up to the open air Service at the camp. The Archbishop of Canterbury was preaching. The others went out on the front, & I did the flowers. After lunch Melvin Tracey & Syril Stuart came & Tom & Ione took them for a drive. Muz & I went out & sat at the band. Muz went to tea with Mrs Ritchie. Mrs Vandeleur is staying with her – she used to be Hester Beresford – we had tea alone, & then Muz & Ione went down to see the Blakes. I read for a bit. After dinner, Muz sang, & I sat there & listened.
Mrs Armstrong with Melville Tracy and Cyril Stewart at Folkestone