Ellen ‘Ellie’ McLoughlin (1899-1984)

The following story is about Ellen, the daughter of Thomas McLoughlin and Mary Ellen Devins who resided in Ballure, Calry, Co. Sligo. Thomas and Mary were married on the 25th February 1877 in the Roman Catholic Church in Sooey, not far from where the Devins family originated. Thomas and Mary had nine children (Patrick, Anne, Mary-Kate, John, James, Bridget, Thomas, Elizabeth and Ellen) all of whom were born and raised in Ballure, Calry.

Ellen McLoughlin, affectionately know as ‘Ellie’ was the youngest of Thomas and Mary’s nine children. Ellie was born in Ballure, Calry on the 9th of May 1899.

In 1917, at the young age of seventeen years old, Ellie left Calry, Co. Sligo and headed over to London on a boat to meet up with one of her older sisters Bridget and Anne McLoughlin. After arriving in London on a Sunday afternoon, Ellie heard that a job was available with the Canadian Government in Victoria Street. After enquiring about the job, Ellie started work the following Tuesday. One of Ellie’s initial roles was Secretary to the Canadian High Commissioner Sir George Perley who subsequently went on to become Secretary of State for Canada in 1926.


The image is a portrait of Ellen ‘Ellie’ McLoughlin that was sent to Mary-Kate McLoughlin in the United States in 1919.

In 1922, Ellie married Ernest Wilson in St. George Hanover Square, London. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot of information about their marriage. Ellie and Ernest never had any children. Sadly, when reviewing the 1939 Register, Ellie was already a widow.

The 1939 Register was a record for the United Kingdom that took place on the 29th September 1939. The purpose of this record was to provide identity cards and ration books to the civilian population at the outbreak of World War II.

In 1925, under the guidance of the then High Commissioner Peter Larkin, Ellie McLoughlin with all the other Canadian Government staff moved to the famous Canada House on Trafalgar Square where the High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom resides to this very day.

During the London Blitz in 1940 and 1941, Ellie described the chaos that ensued as a result of the bombings, there were only two stages in your life – warning and all clear. Ellie was lucky to snatch a couple of hours sleep before hurrying back to work.

After World War II, the volume of Canadian visitors passing through Canada House increased. Ellie was assigned the newly created post of Social Secretary. Over the years Ellie developed many Canadian friends through her work and many of whom wrote to her personally.

Ellie described the busiest time in Canada House was in 1953 for Queen Elizabeth’s Coronation. Over six thousand people passed through the doors of Canada House at the time.


An image of Ellen ‘Ellie’ McLoughlin taken in Canada House around the time of her retirement in 1960

Throughout her career Ellen ‘Ellie’ McLoughlin worked with many important dignitaries at Victoria Street and Canada House. In the image below, taken in 1960, Ellie is sitting between Sandra Drew, daughter of the then High Commissioner George Drew and his wife Fiorenza Johnston Drew. Sandra Drew had just married a gentleman by the name of David Scholey. This couple are now know as Sir David Scholey and Lady Alexandra Scholey of London. Sir David Scholey is a merchant banker and has held such roles as Director of the Bank of England and Governor of the BBC. Fiorenza Johnston Drew was the daughter of the famous Canadian operatic tenor Edward Johnston.


Sandra Drew (Lady Alexandra Scholey of London), Ellen ‘Ellie’ McLoughlin and Fiorenza Johnston Drew at the High Commissioner’s Residence in 1960

Did Ellie ever return to Calry? Yes she did, my mother Elizabeth Twomey (niece of Ellie) remembers a number of stories about Ellie in her childhood. In one such story, Ellie was visiting her sister Elizabeth Hargadon in Ballinamona, Calry. Ellie brought a very large container of sweets which was subsequently placed in the parlour of the home out of reach of all the children. My mother remembers as Ellie and Elizabeth drank tea in the kitchen, her two eldest brothers John and Patrick Hargadon lifting her up and passed her through the window of the parlour in order to steal some sweets for them all.

On another occasion, my mother remembers Ellie sending Elizabeth beautiful fox fur coats, dresses and handbags in various colours from London. Elizabeth was lucky as both Ellie and Elizabeth were of similar size and build. Elizabeth Hargadon used to wear these beautiful clothes down to the Ursuline College in Sligo when the time came to pay any tuition fees for her daughters.

In December 1960, after 43 years of service, a record at that time, Ellen ‘Ellie’ McLoughlin retired as Social Secretary to the High Commissioner George A. Drew.


An image of Ellen ‘Ellie’ McLoughlin and the Canadian High Commissioner George A. Drew at Ellie’s retirement party in December 1960.


An image of Fiorenza Johnston Drew, Ellen ‘Ellie’ McLoughlin and the Canadian High Commissioner George A. Drew at Ellie’s retirement party in December 1960.

To recognise the significant long service achievement a number of Canadian Newspapers ran an article written by Alan Harvey of the Canadian Press in December 1960 titled “​Miss Mac of Canada House Ends 43 Years’ Service”​ . Below is one such publication in the Brandon Sun Newspaper on the 29th December 1960

After retiring, Ellie moved to Herefordshire, where she lived until her death in 1984 at the age of 85 years.

Contributor​: Conor Twomey (grandson of Patrick Hargadon and Elizabeth McLoughlin)

References​:
Irish Civil Birth, Marriage and Death Records
England and Wales Civil Marriage and Divorces
England and Wales Civil Deaths and Burials
Canada House Wikipedia
Brandon Sun Newspaper – 29th December 1960
Elizabeth Twomey (granddaughter of Thomas McLoughlin and Mary Ellen Devins) Dessie Lindsay (grandson of Mary-Kate McLoughlin)
Linda Boyle (granddaughter-in-law of Mary Kate McLoughlin)