The Shegog family in Skerries

Stephanie Bourke

The name Shegog is one that is bound to catch your attention, at least in this country. It hardly sounds Irish. But the May presentation to Skerries Historical Society by Stephanie Bourke, ‘The Shegog Family in Skerries’, proves that Shegogs have been living in Ireland long enough for them to be Irish, even if they don’t count as dyed in the wool Skerries people. Shegogs were certainly living in Ireland in the 17th century. In the early nineteenth century there was an Alderman in Drogheda by the name of Shegog while Frederick York Shegog was an army doctor who died of cholera in 1854 during the Crimean War.

The first to arrive in Skerries was Richard Wellington Ashe Shegog who was appointed rector of Holmpatrick parish in 1886 where he remained until ill-health forced him to retire some thirty years later in 1916. Stephanie found many references to his efforts for the parish both in the select vestry minutes and the local papers. Within the select vestry he was closely concerned with such temporal matters as installing a new heating system in 1889 – and subsequently new boilers to serve it – as well as introducing electric lighting to the church in 1915.

Rev Shegog wasn’t long in becoming a known and respected member of the wider Skerries community. Within two years of his appointment to Holmpatrick parish, he was involved in discussions to increase Skerries’ tourist appeal – the town was already welcoming around 1500 summer visitors. No doubt he was aware that raising Skerries profile in this way would bring more money to the town and so benefit the Skerries locals. Another important aspect of Skerries life then, as it is today, was the maintenance of the Skerries lifeboat and Rev Shegog was present at the launch of a new lifeboat, William Maynard, in 1903.

Stephanie’s presentation was not confined to the rector’s life and interests but also looked at his family. All were sports enthusiasts, belonging to the Skerries Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club and, later, Skerries Golf Club. But they were clever too. Eldest child, Averina, known as Ina, attended Trinity College where she studied mathematics and was one of the first three women who, in 1904, were admitted to the college and allowed to take their degrees. Next oldest was Richard, known as Dick, who followed in the footsteps of Frederick York Shegog and became a medical doctor who joined the army as soon as he graduated. He was wounded while treating soldiers in a battlefield hospital at Ypres on 31 July 1917 and died from his wounds the following day. Youngest son, Wellington, followed his siblings to Trinity and became a civil engineer.

The research, based on documents, letters and photographs donated to Skerries Historical Society archive by Rev Shegog’s grandson, also Richard, covered many more members of this fascinating family and the connections they formed while living in Skerries.