September 2014: "David the dolphin"

PRONI’s document of the month for September relates to a dashing dolphin.

David Beatty, a naval officer, was promoted to Commander of the Grand Fleet in 1916 and Admiral of the Fleet in 1919. It is a little known fact, however, that as ‘David the Dolphin’ he was also a member of Lady Londonderry’s Ark Club.

Illustration of David Beatty, known as 'David the Dolphin' Commander of the Grand Fleet in 1916 and Admiral of the Fleet in 1919
Papers about the Ark Club are held in PRONI as part of larger collection known as ‘The Londonderry papers’. The Ark was established in 1915 by Lady Edith, the charismatic wife of the 7th Marquess of Londonderry. The club acted as a refuge for those involved in the war effort. Members of the Ark read as a roll call of the great and the good in society at the time. Membership was eclectic with the likes of Winston Churchill (‘Winston the Warlock’) mingling with society beauty Lady Diana Cooper (‘Diana the Huntress’).

Lorraine Bourke who selected Lord Beatty’s Ark caricature as the Document of the Month said:

“I love the fact that Lord Beatty’s ‘Ark’ caricature captures his dashing style and his well-known tendency of wearing his naval cap at a jaunty angle. PRONI is holding children’s workshops based on the Ark Club as part of our programme of events for European Heritage Open Days and Culture Night. Children of all ages can enter the weird and wonderful world of the Ark by inventing their own Ark name and making an Ark hat”.

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