Dr George St George
Following his service with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers, Davis was transferred to the 16th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles, the Pioneers. In May and June 1916 the battalion was kept busy repairing railway lines and reinforcing trenches, preparing for the Battle of the Somme. Wounded in late June 1916, Davis recuperatd in Lisburn under the care of Dr George St George, at the County Antrim Infirmary. Sometime between this and Dr St George’s death in 1922, Davis gifted the flag to Dr St George. In his own handwriting and on notepaper head with the St George family crest, Dr St George recorded that the flag was: ‘Captured by British troops at the G.P.O. Dublin, April 1916 and given to Dr. George St George by an old war veteran, Sgt Davis’ (see Image 2).
Davis remained in Lisburn after the war, and was employed as the gatekeeper at the Island Spinning Mill. Active in a number of local organisations, including the Apprentice Boys and the Orange Order (LOL 195), it was in his role as a prominent member of the Lisburn British Legion that he formed a guard of honour for King George VI when he visited Market Square, Lisburn, in 1937. Davis can be seen on the far right, possibly wearing his Military Medal (see image, above).
Captain Samuel Waring and the Sweetman Family
On Dr St George’s death in 1922, the tricolour passed to his daughter, Ethelreda, who was married to Captain Samuel Waring of Lisburn. A well-known amateur jockey, he had served with the 11th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles, the South Antrim Volunteers, winning a Military Cross. Settling in County Meath, the tricolour remained with him until 1951 – the year Ethel died – when it was passed to the descendants of John Sweetman, a prominent nationalist MP, author and founder member of Sinn Fein.
In 2010 the flag was put up for auction New York, where it was valued at well over £350,000, and it is now on display in Manhattan at the American Irish Historical Society.
Learn more about Lisburn’s Easter Rising Story
To discover more, visit the Irish Linen Centre & Lisburn Museum’s new exhibition, ‘Rising Voices: Lisburn at Easter, 1916’.
A version of this story appeared in the Ulster Star, April 28th 2016.