Queen Victoria’s Reign and Legacy: Mixed Reactions in Limerick and Significant Events in British History

Queen Victoria was one of the most significant British monarchs in history. She ruled for 63 years, making her the longest-reigning monarch at the time of her death. Victoria’s death on January 22, 1901, was a significant event that caused mixed reactions in different parts of the world, including Limerick. Loyalists in Limerick deeply mourned the passing of Queen Victoria, while the nationalist faction attempted to ignore the event. The conflicting sentiments were evident in the city’s newspapers. For instance, the Limerick Leader, owned by Nationalistic Jeremiah Buckley, highlighted the suffering that Ireland endured during Victoria’s reign. The editorial acknowledged her qualities as a mother and woman, but it asserted that her lack of personal interest in Ireland’s struggles did not warrant deep mourning for her death.

Victoria’s reign was marked by significant events that shaped the history of the United Kingdom and the world. During her reign, the British Empire expanded, with Britain acquiring new territories and resources. However, her reign was also marked by significant social and political changes that had far-reaching consequences. It was during her reign that the Industrial Revolution brought significant changes to British society, including the growth of cities, the rise of the middle class, and the emergence of new technologies.

Victoria’s reign was also marked by significant political changes, including the emergence of democracy and the growth of political parties. The Reform Acts of 1832, 1867, and 1884 extended voting rights to more people and helped to democratize British society. However, these changes were not welcomed by everyone, and there were significant social and political tensions during her reign. In Ireland, Victoria’s reign was marked by significant suffering, including famine-related deaths and high emigration and eviction rates. The Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s was one of the most significant events of her reign and had a devastating impact on Ireland. It led to the deaths of approximately one million people and the emigration of another million.

The famine was a result of a combination of factors, including a potato blight, poor government policies, and the export of food from Ireland to Britain. In conclusion, Queen Victoria’s death in 1901 was a significant event that caused mixed reactions in different parts of the world, including Limerick. Her reign was marked by significant events that shaped the history of the United Kingdom and the world. However, her reign was also marked by significant suffering, including famine-related deaths and high emigration and eviction rates in Ireland. The conflicting sentiments about her death in Limerick highlight the complex legacy of Queen Victoria and her reign.

The Limerick Chronicle, representing the city’s loyalists, eulogized Queen Victoria in contrast to the Limerick Leader’s depiction. They praised her dignified and regal demeanor, referring to her as a “queenly Queen” and “motherly mother.” The Chronicle also fondly recalled her musical aptitude and shared an anecdote about her requesting the removal of a parrot before performing one of Mendelssohn’s compositions. Mendelssohn himself praised the Queen’s singing of the Pilgrim’s Chorus, commenting on her faultless execution and beautiful expression. Following her performance, Queen Victoria noted the difficulty of a particular phrase’s long breath.

After news of Queen Victoria’s demise, the Limerick Chronicle disseminated placards throughout the city and reported that conversations were saturated with the topic. Numerous people expressed relief that she did not undergo an extended, lingering illness. The Union Jack was flown at half-mast at various locations, including St. Mary’s Cathedral, the barracks, and the City and County Prisons. Multiple establishments drew their blinds, and the Protestant Young Men’s Association and the Limerick Boat Club draped their flags in black.

Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth I are two of the most celebrated monarchs in English history. Their reigns were marked by significant events and developments that shaped the course of the nation. Queen Elizabeth I, also known as the Virgin Queen, reigned from 1558 to 1603, while Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, ruled from 1837 to 1901. Despite the significant differences in their time periods, both queens have been compared for their leadership qualities. Queen Elizabeth I’s reign is characterized by her triumph over the Spanish Armada, her support for the arts, and the establishment of the Church of England as the national church. She was known for her intelligence and willpower, her unwavering commitment to her people, and her ability to lead the country during times of crisis.

However, the Limerick Chronicle suggests that she lacked the charming qualities that endeared Queen Victoria to the public. Queen Victoria, on the other hand, was known for her warm and approachable nature, her love for her family, and her steadfast commitment to her duties as monarch. She was the longest-reigning monarch in English history, and her reign saw significant changes in the country, including the abolition of slavery and the growth of the British Empire. She was also a patron of the arts and sciences, and her reign saw the rise of great thinkers and inventors such as Charles Darwin and Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

Despite their differences, both queens have left a lasting legacy in English history. Queen Elizabeth I is remembered for her strength, resilience, and unwavering devotion to her country, while Queen Victoria is celebrated for her compassion, warmth, and dedication to her people. Both have inspired generations of English men and women to strive for greatness and to lead with courage and compassion. Their stories remind us that leadership comes in many forms, and that it is the combination of these qualities that make a great monarch.

Queen Victoria, with an annual income of £385,000, was one of the wealthiest women worldwide. Her subjects often included her in their wills, further contributing to her wealth. Her reputation as an exemplary mother was often cited to justify the adjournment of meetings held in her memory. At the Ennis Board of Guardians, a heated debate arose regarding whether to adjourn the meeting out of respect for the departed queen. Similarly, the Limerick Harbor Board passed a vote of condolence after a similar debate. Such debates illustrate the varied reactions to Queen Victoria’s death, with some lauding her as a remarkable queen, mother, and wife, while others, particularly strong Irish nationalists, perceived her 63-year reign as a time of hardship and misery for Ireland.

Captain O’Brien’s proposal to adjourn a meeting at the Limerick Board of Guardians did not receive a seconder, leading to his departure from the meeting. A fellow member, Mr. O’Regan, reaffirmed his support for not adjourning the meeting and criticized Queen Victoria for not doing any good for Ireland during her reign.

The Limerick Chronicle criticized board members who voted against adjournments and failed to show sympathy for the late Queen. Despite this, several boards with nationalist majorities, such as the Limerick Harbour Board, continued to refuse adjournments. Judge Adams, a well-known and witty justice, openly displayed mourning for the Queen by wearing weepers with mourning bands. During a sitting of the Petty Sessions, the chairman, Mr. Ambrose Hall, delivered a eulogy that emphasized Queen Victoria’s virtues as a mother, wife, and friend before adjourning the session. On the day of the funeral, most of the city’s predominantly Protestant-owned businesses closed. Appeals were made to local publicans to close their establishments, which were later enforced by a government edict. All sports fixtures in England were canceled for the following weekend, including the Ireland vs. England rugby international match that was scheduled for the next week.

Hundreds of people attended the funeral service for Queen Victoria at St. Mary’s Cathedral, which was draped in black. The congregation and garrison troops were present, with the Yorkshire Light Infantry’s band. The choir consisted of 50 members and additional amateurs. In his eulogy, the Lord Bishop stated that the Queen’s personality would be remembered as long as the British nation exists, taking his text from Genesis 9:14. The Bishop acknowledged the dark cloud of mourning but suggested finding the “bow” in the cloud as a symbol of hope. He quoted Queen Victoria’s sayings, including “I shall be good” from her princess days. The Bishop concluded that the Queen’s legacy would live on among her people, even more so in death, and her personality would remain tied to the British nation.

The funeral service at St. Mary’s Cathedral included anthem “Blessed are the Departed” and hymn “Now the Labourer’s Task Is O’er,” along with the Dead March in Saul and Beethoven’s Grand Funeral March. Afterward, “God Save the King” was played as the royal colors were hoisted to full mast. Although memorial services were not held in the Catholic churches, bells were tolled during the hours of the memorial service at Windsor, and several attendees wore emblems of mourning.

A notice declared King Edward VII as the new monarch of the United Kingdom. The Limerick Chronicle applauded its stop-press edition that swiftly informed locals of the historic event and its special edition that aimed to provide Limerick readers comparable news advantages to bigger cities like Belfast, Dublin, and Cork. The newspaper aspired to gain sustained support from their readers, enabling Limerick to feature daily and evening papers. The Limerick Leader received news of Queen Victoria’s passing through a telegram, signifying the first utilization of this method to communicate a significant event in Britain.


Aberdeen Press and Journal – Wednesday 23 January 1901
Manchester Courier – Wednesday 23 January 1901
Western Times – Wednesday 23 January 1901
Belfast News-Letter – Wednesday 23 January 1901

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