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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

27‭ ‬July‭ ‬1261:‭ ‬The Battle of Callan was fought on this day.‭ ‬The battle site is located a few miles from Kenmare County Kerry,‭ ‬near where the Roughty and Slaheny Rivers converge and close by the castle of Ardtully.‭ ‬Callan is near Kilgarvan in the barony of Glanarought,‭ ‬Co.‭ ‬Kerry.

It came about as a result of an attempt by the Anglo-Norman Fitzgeralds‭ (‬supported by the Barrys‭) ‬to wrest control of territory from the Gaelic McCarthy’s of Kerry.‭ ‬But the expedition met with disaster and was sorely defeated by the Irish.‭ ‬The head of the McCarthy’s,‭ ‬Finghin MacCarthaigh,‭ ‬selected a battleground suited to the fighting tactics of his men.‭ ‬They were mostly lightly armed but mobile troops who used correctly could be very effective against the better armoured but slower moving soldiers and Knights of the Colony.

The leading men of these invaders were the Fitzgerald’s of Munster,‭ ‬led by John fitz Thomas and his son,‭ ‬Maurice fitz John.‭ ‬Another of the Norman leaders was‭ '‬the son of Richard‭’ ‬probably Walter de Burgo,‭ ‬Lord of Connacht and later Earl of Ulster.‭ ‬The Colonists were also supported by a few would be hopefuls from amongst the Irish themselves led by one Domhnall‭ ‬Ruadh‭ ‬-‭ ‬ a claimant to the McCarthy Lands.

In the event when battle was joined John Fitzthomas FitzGerald and his son Maurice were killed together with fifteen knights and more than‭ ‬300‭ ‬men.‭ ‬The survivors fled and Finghin MacCarthaigh was able to sweep all before him.‭ ‬But he overextended his reach and was in turn defeated and killed only a short while later.‭

1261.4‭ ‬A great war was waged,‭ ‬and numerous injuries were committed,‭ ‬by Finghin,‭ ‬son of Domhnall Mac Carthaigh,‭ ‬and his brothers,‭ ‬against Foreigners in this year.

1261.5‭ ‬A great hosting by the Clann-Gerald into Des-Mumha,‭ ‬to attack Mac Carthaigh‭; ‬and Mac Carthaigh attacked them,‭ ‬and defeated them,‭ ‬and Fitz-Thomas‭ (‬John proprium nomen‭)‬,‭ ‬and his son,‭ ‬and fifteen knights and eight noble barons along with them,‭ ‬were slain there,‭ ‬besides several young men,‭ ‬and soldiers innumerable.‭ ‬And the Barrach Mór was also killed there.‭ ‬Finghin Mac Carthaigh was subsequently slain by the Foreigners,‭ ‬and the sovereignty of Des-Mumha was assumed after him by his brother,‭ ‬i.e.‭ ‬the Aithchleirech Mac Carthaigh.

Ironically after many vicissitudes of Fortune it was Domhnall‭ ‬Ruadh,‭ ‬-‭ ‬the would be claimant who fought alongside the men of the Colony on the day‭ ‬-‭ ‬who was the one who emerged as the chief beneficiary of these wars.‭

After the deaths of Finghin Reanna Ró and Cormac na Mangartan,‭ ‬he seems to have assumed and held the kingship of Desmond until his death in‭ ‬1302--he reigned‭ ‬40‭ ‬years,‭ ‬according to A.I.--though not without opposition.
The Battle of Callan‭ ‬By Diarmuid Ó Murchadha in 'Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society‭ ‬1961'.

As a result of the deaths of John fitz Thomas and his son,‭ ‬Maurice fitz John,the power of the Geraldines was curtailed and the MacCarthys ruled on in their own lands for another‭ ‬300‭ ‬years.‭ ‬The Battle of Callan was thus one of the most decisive clashes of arms in the History of Ireland.‭

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

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26‭ ‬July‭ ‬1914:‭ ‬Erskine Childers landed‭ ‬900‭ ‬Rifles and‭ ‬29,000‭ ‬rounds of ammunition at Howth from the yacht‭ ‬Asgard‭ ‬on this day.‭ ‬He was helped by his wife Molly Childers and Mary Spring Rice.‭ ‬Further to the south another‭ ‬20,000‭ ‬rifles and more ammunition were landed at Kilcoole,‭ ‬County Wicklow.

Dublin Castle made strenuous efforts to block the distribution of these weapons but the cargo was eventually spirited away by Irish Volunteers after evading the Constables of the DMP.‭ ‬Over a thousand members of the Irish Volunteers later paraded down O’Connell St in Dublin’s City Centre in defiance of the orders issued by the DMP.‭ ‬A clash seemed likely between the two sides but none took place.‭

But later that evening British troops from the Kings Own Scottish Borderers‭ (‬KOSB‭) ‬were drawn up across the narrow thoroughfare of Bachelors Walk in Dublin’s City Centre.‭ ‬A confrontation ensued between the soldiers and local people.‭ ‬What happened after that is a matter of some dispute.‭ ‬The British Military claimed their men were the subject of stones being thrown.‭ ‬Other observers claimed that the soldiers opened fire without warning.‭ ‬Three people,‭ ‬including a woman,‭ ‬were shot dead and almost‭ ‬40‭ ‬were wounded.‭ ‬A man died later in hospital and two of those injured were bayoneted as well.

Some days later John Redmond MP and the Leader of the Irish Nationalist Party rose in the British House of Commons to give his considered response to this Massacre.

Let the House clearly understand that four fifths of the Irish People will not submit any longer to be bullied,‭ ‬or punished,‭ ‬or shot,‭ ‬for conduct which is permitted to go scot free in the open light of day in every County in Ulster by other sections of their fellow Countrymen.‭

The situation in Ireland was at a Crises point and daily an outbreak of fighting was expected between those who supported Home Rule and those who were opposed to it.‭ ‬Throughout Britain and Ireland Politicians and People expected Ireland to descend into Civil War.

But two days after the events at Bachelors Walk the Austro‭ ‬-‭ ‬Hungarian Empire issued a Declaration of War upon Serbia and within a week the Bosnian Crises had sucked the Continent into a World War.‭ ‬The affairs of Ireland were relegated to the back pages and Irish History took a new and entirely unexpected turn.

Friday, 22 July 2016

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23‭ ‬July‭ ‬1803:‭ ‬Robert Emmet’s Rising took place on this day.‭ ‬Unfortunately the whole affair was a fiasco due to a series of unforeseen circumstances.‭ ‬Emmet quickly lost control of the situation and he called it off to avoid a massacre of his followers.‭ ‬Due to an accidental explosion of an arms depot in Patrick St Dublin the week before the date for the Rising was brought forth to‭ ‬23‭ ‬July.‭ ‬Emmet felt that Dublin Castle was on to him and he dared not wait any longer before striking for Ireland’s Freedom.

On the day of the Rising Robert Emmet stood in Thomas Street Dublin and issued a Proclamation of Independence:


You are now called on to shew to the world that you are competent to take your place among nations, that you have a right to claim their recognizance of you, as an independent country, by the only satisfactory proof you can furnish of your capability of maintaining your independence, your wresting it from England with your own hands

But on the day nothing went right.‭ ‬Not nearly enough men turned up and Emmet could not bring any order upon enough of those that did.‭ ‬The only blow struck was when Lord Kilwarden haplessly drove into the assembled crowd of insurgents and was hacked to death for his part in suppressing the‭ ‬1798‭ ‬Rising.‭ ‬This attack troubled Emmet greatly as he gave no orders for it.‭ ‬To him it was clear that at least a faction of those assembled would turn violent of their own accord and bring a bloody mayhem to the streets of the City rather than the ordered seizure of military points of importance around the Capital.‭ ‬Reluctantly that very night he called the enterprise off by the launching of a single rocket into the sky above Dublin.‭ ‬He immediately made for the Wicklow Mountains but returned to Rathfarnham some days later and went into hiding.

Notwithstanding the overall failure there had been some heavy fighting by armed insurgents against the British garrison in the Coome and scores of men died there,‭ ‬forcing the British back before the word was given to disperse.‭ ‬Around the City there were numerous smaller clashes and roads blocked.‭ ‬Amazingly Dublin Castle was caught completely on the hop and had no counter plan ready on the night.‭ ‬It was only the next day that they began to move and by that stage the insurgents had gone their separate ways.‭ ‬It was close run thing and the British had a lucky escape from having a full-blooded Insurrection on their hands.

Robert Emmet was arrested in Dublin on‭ ‬25‭ ‬August of the same year.‭ ‬He was put on trail and sentenced to death.‭  ‬At his trial he made a brilliant speech from the dock that inspired Revolutionaries both at home and abroad for years to come.‭ ‬He was executed the following day,‭ ‬20‭ ‬September‭ ‬1803,‭ ‬at Thomas St.‭ ‬A huge crowd of onlookers and well wishers gathered to witness his final moments.‭ ‬The whereabouts of his last resting place remains unknown.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

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20‭ ‬July‭ ‬1398:‭ ‬The Battle of Kellistown/‭ ‬An Cath‭ ‬Cell Osnadha‭ ‬was fought on this day.‭ ‬The battle was fought between the forces of the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles,‭ ‬and the English of Leinster led by Roger Mortimer,‭ ‬the‭ ‬4th Earl of March.
The O’Byrnes and O’Tooles were surrogates for Art Mac Murrough Cavanagh who was the most powerful Chieftain in Leinster and recognised as a King amongst his own people.‭ ‬He used them to fight a proxy war against the English and thus avoid a complete break with them.‭ ‬Kellistown is situated in‭ ‬County Carlow‭ ‬between the towns of Carlow and Tullow.
‭ ‬"Here fell the heir presumptive to the English crown,‭ ‬whose premature removal was one of the causes which contributed to the revolution in England a year or two later.‭" ‬
Mortimer was none other than the heir to the Throne of England.‭ ‬He was also dignified with the titles‭ ‘‬Earl of Ulster‭’ ‬and‭ ‘‬Lord Of Connaught‭’‬.‭ ‬Ironically he was a direct descendant of Aoife Murchada,‭ ‬whose father had let the English in.‭ ‬Thus he was a distant relation of his nemesis Art Mac Murrough Cavanagh‭!
Mortimer had been created the King of England’s Lieutenant in Ireland in‭ ‬1396‭ ‬and held this position until the Irish killed him.‭ ‬His body was cut to pieces during the battle but whether this as a result of combat or mutilation after his death is not recorded.‭ ‬Curiously enough he had decided to engage in the combat dressed in the Irish style - that is without body armour.‭ ‬There was at least enough of him remaining for his corpse to be brought back home to England where he was interred‭ ‬amongst his own people in Wigmore Abbey,‭ ‬Herefordshire.
King Richard II of‭ |‬England was so upset by the news he resolved to return to Ireland and settle matters once and for all with Art Mac Murrough.‭ ‬But his departure from his own Country in‭ ‬1399‭ ‬cost him his Kingdom as his domestic enemies took the opportunity to topple him from his throne. On return in the month of August he was compelled to give up his crown and submit to the advances of his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke. An embarrasment to the new King Henry IV he was allowed to wither away in captivity and ‘died’ - probably in early 1400.
An Cath‭ ‬Cell Osnadha‭ ‬was thus a battle of great importance in the history of two countries‭ – ‬England and Ireland.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

19 July 1210: King John of England arrived before the Castle of Carrickfergus in Ulster and besieged it on this day. It soon fell into his hands and in the days following he received a visit from the King of Tyrone Tir Eoghan, Aed Meith O Neill. His visitor brought a large contingent of troops with him, perhaps 2,000 warriors to impress the Anglo-Norman Monarch. The Ulster king agreed to render John service but the two kings drew different conclusions as to what that actually meant. The King of Connacht was also a somewhat reluctant part of King John’s host and actively helped him in suppressing the Anglo-Norman De lacy family that had upset the King of England’s temperament.  

Johannes, grandson of the Empress, king of the Saxons, came to Erinn, with a great fleet, in this year.

After arriving he commanded a great hosting of the men of Erinn to Ulidia, to apprehend Hugo de Laci, or to expel him from Erinn, and to capture Carraic-Fergusa.

Hugo left Erinn, and the persons who were defending the Carraic abandoned it, and came to the king; and the king put men of his own company into it.

Annals of Loch Cé


Monday, 18 July 2016

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18 July 1938: Douglas Corrigan  -‘Wrong way Corrigan’ - landed at Baldonnel Aerodrome  Co Dublin after flying across the Atlantic solo in his aircraft Sunshine on this day. His arrival was totally unexpected and on being asked from whence he came he answered ‘New York’ - much the incredulity of those who had gathered around him.

Despite his assertion that he had simply lost his way on take off and instead of turning west for California he had  inadvertently headed east for Ireland no one really believed him. He had started his working life as a mechanic and had caught the Flying Bug when he took a ride up in a plane some years previously. He got his pilots license & took up stunt flying to earn a living. But he always hankered to do something out of the ordinary and settled on Ireland (the Homeland of his ancestors) as a place he would like to fly to.

He saved up his salary and spent $300 on buying a second hand 1929 Curtiss Robin OX-5 monoplane and flew it home, where he returned to work as an aircraft mechanic and began to modify the Robin for a transatlantic flight. Having installed an engine built from two old Wright Whirlwind J6-5 engines (affording 165 hp (123 kW) instead of the 90 hp (67 kW) of the original) and extra fuel tanks, Corrigan applied to the Bureau of Air Commerce in 1935, seeking permission to make a nonstop flight from New York to Ireland. The application was rejected; his plane was deemed unsound for a nonstop transatlantic trip, although it was certified to the lower standard for cross-country journeys.

But Corrigan was nothing if not a tryer and on 17 July 1938 he took off at 5:15 in the morning with 320 US gallons (1,200 L) of gasoline and 16 US gallons (61 L) of oil on board. Corrigan headed east from the 4,200-foot (1,300 m) runway of Floyd Bennet Field New York to begin his epic journey.

He landed at Baldonnel Aerodrome  on July 18, after a 28-hour, 13-minute flight. His provisions had been just two chocolate bars & two boxes of fig bars, and 25 US gal (94.64 L) of water.

Corrigan's plane had fuel tanks mounted on the front, allowing him to see only out of the sides. He had no radio and his compass was 20 years old, but somehow he made it. His daring flight alone across the Atlantic Ocean made headlines across the World. Back in the USA he was nicknamed ‘Wrong Way Corrigan’ when he claimed to have flown East instead of West on take off. It was said that his tickertape parade through the streets of New York City outshone that of his great hero Charles Lindbergh - who curiously never acknowledged his achievement.

The journalist H.R. Knickerbocker who met Corrigan in Ireland after his arrival, wrote in 1941:

You may say that Corrigan's flight could not be compared to Lindbergh's in its sensational appeal as the first solo flight across the ocean. Yes, but in another way the obscure little Irishman's flight was the more audacious of the two. Lindbergh had a plane specially constructed, the finest money could buy. He had lavish financial backing, friends to help him at every turn. Corrigan had nothing but his own ambition, courage, and ability. His plane, a nine-year-old Curtiss Robin  was the most wretched-looking jalopy.

As I looked over it at the Dublin airdrome I really marveled that anyone should have been rash enough even to go in the air with it, much less try to fly the Atlantic. He built it, or rebuilt it, practically as a boy would build a scooter out of a soapbox and a pair of old roller skates. It looked it. The nose of the engine hood was a mass of patches soldered by Corrigan himself into a crazy-quilt design. The door behind which Corrigan crouched for twentyeight hours was fastened together with a piece of baling wire. The reserve gasoline tanks put together by Corrigan, left him so little room that he had to sit hunched forward with his knees cramped, and not enough window space to see the ground when landing.

The following year, he starred as himself in The Flying Irishman, a movie biography. The $75,000 he earned was the equivalent of 30 years income at his airfield jobs! During the War he flew planes for the US Transport Command and then went back to California where he bought an Orange Farm. He died there in 1995. To the end he never admitted to anything other than flying ‘the wrong way’.

Sunday, 17 July 2016

17 July 1579: James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald, the cousin of the 15th Earl of Desmond arrived off Smerwick/ Ard na Caithne in County Kerry on this day. The Catholic adventurer had arrived back from Spain with high hopes of re launching the Catholic Cause in Ireland and in particular in Munster. He brought with him one Nicholas Sanders - an exiled priest and holding the position of Papal Nuncio to the Irish. Within days a few hundred men joined them in two Spanish galleys but this small force was only enough to garrison a little fort. Fitzmaurice knew that he would have to raise the flag of revolt and rely on the resentment of the Catholics of Munster against English Protestant encroachments to carry the day.However many of the local chieftains had reached an uneasy peace with the English and did not want to risk all they had in a revolt in which the odds would be stacked against them. One such was Fitzmaurice’s own cousin Theobald Burke. Within days of the landing Fitzmaurice departed on a series of raids but his depredations turned many against him including his own cousin.

Mac-I-Brien sent a body of galloglasses and soldiers to Theobald. These then went in pursuit of those heroic bands, and overtook James, who had halted in a dense and solitary wood to await their approach. A battle was fought between both forces, in which James was shot with a ball in the hollow of the chest, which afterwards caused his death. Notwithstanding this, however, he defeated his lordly pursuers. In this conflict a lamentable death took place, namely, that of Theobald Burke, a young warrior, who was a worthy heir to an earldom for his valour and military skill, and his knowledge of the English language and the law. James, the son of Maurice, had not passed far from the scene of this battle when the languor of death came over him; upon which, in a few words, he made his will, and ordered his trusty friends to cut off his head after his death, in order that his enemies might not discover him, so as to recognise or mangle him.
The killing of James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald should have been the end of the matter. But while his return home to Ireland was cut short by his death in battle his actions had been enough to trigger off what became known as the 2nd Desmond War that proved to be a long and bloody affair.