Stephen Lucius Gwynn was born on 13 February 1864 in St Columba’s College, Rathfarnham, Dublin, where his father was a warden. He was educated at St Columba’s College and at Brasenose College, Oxford.
After graduating Gwynn moved to France where he worked as a schoolmaster for ten years. In December 1889 Gwynn married his cousin Mary Louisa Gwynn; they had four sons and two daughters. Having dabbled in journalism since his student days he moved to London in 1896 to pursue a career as a writer. He soon became a prominent figure in literary and journalistic circles.
In 1904 the Gwynns returned to Ireland to live in Raheny, Co. Dublin. In November 1906 he won a seat for Galway City, which he represented as a nationalist until 1918. During this time he also became active with the Gaelic League and the Irish literary revival.
At the outbreak of the First World War, Gwynn gave his support to Redmond that Irishmen should enlist in the British forces. At the age of fifty-one he enlisted as a private in the Leinster Regiment and was later commissioned lieutenant in the 6th Battalion Connaught Rangers, attached to the 16th (Irish) Division. He was promoted to captain in 1915 and served with his battalion at the battles of Ginchy and Guillemont during the Somme offensive and also at Messines in 1917, leaving the front line shortly afterwards.
He was appointed to the Dardanelles Commission in 1916 – an investigation into the unsuccessful 1915 Gallipoli campaign.
After the war he continued with his writing and political life. He received honorary doctorates from the NUI and TCD in 1940 and 1942, respectively. He died on 11 June 1950 at his home in Dublin and was buried at Tallaght cemetery.
Below are extracts found in the Stephen Gwynn Papers in the manuscript collection in the National Library of Ireland. While they are not his accounts, they document a soldier’s experience as a part of the August Offensive, more specifically at Chocolate Hill from August to October 1915. They may have been in Stephen Gwynn’s possession as part of his research for the Dardanelles Commission.
The full account can be read at the NLI.
National Library of Ireland, Ms 33701. Click to view account in full.
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