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Tuesday, 26 August 2014


26 August 1913 The Great Strike and Lockout of 1913 in Dublin began on this day

It was a clash between the forces of Capital and Labour on the streets of Dublin that was to enter into the folklore of Dublin’s working class. Basically the workers in certain companies wished to exercise the right to be a member of a Union of their own choosing. The Employers in return were prepared to accept that – so long as it was not the Irish Transport & General Workers Union (ITGW)!

Matters between Murphy and the ITGWU came to a head in the summer of 1913. Murphy refused to employ ITGWU members on the staff of his Irish Independent newspapers and in July 1913, he forbade staff in the Tramways Company to join the Union. On Saturday, 27 July 1913 Murphy called a meeting of his employees in the Tramways Company. He warned his workers of the consequences of strike:

'I want you to clearly understand that the directors of this company have not the slightest objection to the men forming a legitimate Union. And I would think there is talent enough amongst the men in the service to form a Union of their own, without allying themselves to a disreputable organisation, and placing themselves under the feet of an unscrupulous man who claims the right to give you the word of command and issue his orders to you and to use you as tools to make him the labour dictator of Dublin. ... I am here to tell you that this word of command will never be given, and if it is, that it will be the Waterloo of Mr. Larkin.'

The following month, on 21 August, about 100 employees in the Tramways Company received a dismissal notice:

‘As the Directors of the Tramways Company understand that you are a member of the ITGWU whose methods are disorganising the trade and business of the city, they do not further require your service’.

This was a direct challenge to the ITGWU. There could only be one reply to Murphy. He and his fellow directors had started a lockout: the workers could only respond with a total withdrawal of labour. Larkin carefully chose the moment to strike in order to cause the maximum impact. Shortly after 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 26 August 1913—the first day of the Dublin Horse Show, one of the city’s busiest events—drivers and conductors stopped their trams and abandoned them in protest. About 700 of the 1,700 Tramways Company’s employees went on strike. The city was filled with tension on the days following. Strikers resented the workers who continued to operate the trams, and fights often took place between them. Workers who usually distributed the Irish Independent—[owned by Murphy] though not employed by Murphy—refused to handle it in protest. Messrs. Eason and Co., the large city newsagents, were asked by Larkin not to sell the paper. They refused. As a result dock-workers at Kingstown (Dún Laoghaire) refused to handle any Eason and Co. goods from England or addressed to England.ultitext.ucc.ie/d/Dublin_1913Strike_and_Lockout#6TheBeginningoftheLockout

Monday, 25 August 2014


25 August 1580: The Battle of Glenmalure/ Cath Ghleann Molúra was fought on this day. Lord Deputy Arthur Grey de Wilton led an English army into the fastness of the Wicklow Mountains to seek out and kill or capture the Irish Chieftain Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne. This battle was fought during the 2nd Desmond War as the Catholics of Ireland united to stop the encroachments of the English Protestants. O’Byrne was joined in this campaign by Viscount Baltinglass, a member of the old Anglo-Irish colony of the Pale. Before the Reformation began the Gaels and the Palesman would have been traditional enemies but force of circumstance threw them together at this time.

The English leader brought his army of about 3,000 men down from Dublin through the flat Countryside of Kildare before proceeding to strike up into the rugged and wooded mountains of Wicklow in his pursuit of the Irish forces in revolt. But many of his men were raw levies from across the water, unused to the hardships and dangers involved in such an enterprise. As they entered the fastness near Feagh's residence of Ballinacor in the Glenmalure Valley they were attacked and harried from the dense woods thereabouts. The Irish used arquebuses, darts and spears to pick them off one by one. Eventually the English levies began to break and all cohesion lost fled back down the way that they came.

they [the Irish] were laied all along the woode as they shoulde passe behind trees, rocks, crags, bogs, and in covert.

Sir William Stanley

Once the Irish realised the tide of battle had turned in their favour they launched a furious counter attack and massacred any of the fleeing Englishmen they could lay about.

 
the enemy charged us very hottlye ....

Sir William Stanley
 

When the insurgents had heard of the approach of such an overwhelming force, they retreated into their fastnesses in the rough and rugged recesses of Glenmalure. The Lord Justice then selected the most trustworthy and best tried captains of his army, and despatched them, at the head of eight or nine companies of soldiers, to search and explore Glenmalure; but they were responded to without delay by the parties that guarded the valley, so that very few of these returned without being cut off and dreadfully slaughtered by the Irish party. On this occasion were slain Peter Carew Master Moor (John), and Master Frans, with many other gentlemen who had come from England in the retinue of the Lord Justice. When this news reached the Lord Justice, he left his camp.
 
Annals of the Four Masters

 
It is estimated that over 800 of the invaders fell in battle that day, around 25% of the total force that had left Dublin some days previously. It was England’s greatest defeat of the Desmond Wars. Amazingly the Irish fielded less than a thousand men on the day itself and were heavily outnumbered but still won the Battle! However this Victory over the Crown Forces did not trigger any nationwide revolt. The resistance to the Tudor Conquest at that time was too disparate and too local in effect to overthrow English Rule. Within a year the War was over and Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne had made his peace with the Crown while Baltinglass sought exile on the Continent.
 



 


 


 



Sunday, 24 August 2014


24 August 1103: Magnus ‘Bare Legs’, the King of Norway, was killed by the Irish in battle on this day. Magnus Barelegs or 'Barefoot’ got his name apparently by dressing like the Gaels of Scotland and Ireland who kept their legs uncovered. To the Irish though he was Manus Mór - ‘Big Manus’.



King Magnus reigned as King of Norway from 1093 until his untimely death in 1103. He was an ambitious man who sought to emulate his famous grandfather Harald Hardrata, the Viking warrior king. He had died at the battle of Stamford Bridge, fighting the Anglo Saxons in 1066, rather than his more placid father Olaf the Peaceful. His military campaigns were fought in Sweden, Wales, Scotland, the Isle of Man and along the eastern coastline of Ireland. He was described as being very tall with bright yellow hair and bright blue eyes.

Magnus in his western campaigns moved along the coasts of the North Channel and the Irish Sea through Galloway, to the isle of Man and to the island of Anglesey enforcing his sway of the Norsemen in those places. He then sailed across to Dublin and took the submission of that city. At that time the most powerful man in Ireland was Muirchertach O'Brien, King of Munster and High King of Ireland (1086 - 1119). He played a long game with Magnus. He knew that outright opposition would be dangerous on a king who had naval supremacy and could strike anywhere. On the other submission to him was out of the question. Muirchertach therefore struck up an alliance with Magnus that saw them campaign together against Muirchertach’s Irish enemies. By 1103 his greatest enemy was King Domhnall Ua Lochlainn whose base was at Aileach, just outside Derry.

Their sanguine arrangement being formalised by the marriage of Magnus’ son Sigurd (12 years old) to O'Briens' 5 year old daughter, Blathmin. The deal was for Magnus to supply man power to O'Brien to assist him in his on going local wars, and in return Magnus was to receive cattle, to feed his men and to provide much needed provisions for his homeward to Norway.

But by August of 1103 Magnus and Muirchertach had parted ways and it looks like Magnus was on his way home to Norway, stopping off in stages to draw in supplies. Whether he met his end through treachery or an opportunist ambush by the local Ulaid (Ulster) cannot now be known. Though no doubt the news was greeted with a sigh of relief in Muirchertach’s camp. His only loss being that the marraige of his daughter to the son of Magnus was broken as the boy was brought back to Norway.

Having sailed his long boats in from Strangford Lough, up the river Quoile, and beaching them on Plague Island to the present day Down Cathedral along the Ballyduggan Road, Magnus impatiently waited for the cattle to arrive on the agreed day St. Bartholomew's Day, 23rd August 1103. Evening came and no cattle had arrived, and against the advice of his commander Eyvind Elbow he decided next morning to leave the safety of his ships and seek out the missing cattle, believing that O'Brien had broken his promise.

Marching along the side of the tidal marshes he came to a high hill, possible to site where Dundrum Castle now stands, looking west-wards he saw a great dust cloud, the cattle were on their way and soon he and his men would homeward bound. Perhaps in a joyous mood and letting their guard slip, suddenly 'the trees came alive,' they had been ambushed, by the 'men of Ulster.' However it is possible that Magnus expected a battle and just hoped that the dust cloud was indeed the cattle he was supposedly promised.But in the ensuring battle that raged across the mud flats of the Quoile Estuary, now in total confusion, the Vikings, led by Magnus were slaughtered. Some of the Vikings made it back to their boats, leaving King Magnus and a few of his loyal guard to fight to the death.

"King Magnus had a helmet on his head; a red shield, in which was inlaid a gilded lion; and was girt with the sword of Legbiter, of which the hilt was of tooth (ivory), and handgrip wound about with gold thread; and the sword was extremely sharp. In his hand he had a short spear, and a red silk short cloak, over his coat, on which, both before and behind, was embroidered a lion in yellow silk; and all men acknowledged that they never had seen a brisker, statelier man."
Magnus before the battle acc to Snorri Sturluson
 

The Norse King receiving a javelin thrust through his body and then struck in the neck with an axe, he died. However his famous sword 'Legbiter,' was retrieved and brought home to Norway, but the remains of its Loyal Master, and those of his loyal guard lie in a common grave on the marshes of Down.

King Magnus believed "That Kings are made for honour and not for a long life". He was right for he was not thirty years of age when he died.



Saturday, 23 August 2014

23 August 1170: Richard De Clare aka Richard fitz Gilbert aka (Strongbow) ,the Earl of Pembroke and Strigul, landed at Waterford on this day. Perhaps more than any man he saw to it that the Anglo Norman Invasion of Ireland gained a momentum that the Gaelic kings could not subsequently undo.

From an Earldom of some substance in Wales he found him self out of favour with the Angevin King Henry II who ruled England. However the King of Leinster Diarmait Mac Murchada had been kicked out of Ireland by the High King Ruari O’Conner and had appealed to Henry to help him. Henry could not leave France due to his commitments and issued a Royal appeal for his subjects to help the Irish king in any way they could. Richard De Clare saw his chance and offered to help Diarmait regain his kingdom and set about raising an expedition to send to Ireland. In return Strongbow would gain the hand of Diarmait’s daughter Aoife and then succeed to the kingdom of Leinster when Diarmait died.

In August 1170, he landed at Waterford, captured the city, and his wedding to Aoife [above] was celebrated almost immediately in Reginald’s Tower which still stands in the city. Together with the forces of Diarmait Mac Murchada, Strongbow then set out to take the city of Dublin and, having done so, embarked on expansionist raids into Meath. In May 1171, Diarmait Mac Murchada died at Ferns, and Strongbow’s control of Leinster was secured.

From 1172 onwards, Strongbow was titled "earl of Strigoil," which, however, brought him no additional lands. When Henry II came to Ireland to settle its affairs in his favour he removed control of Dublin, Waterford, and Wexford from Strongbow, retaining them for his own use. After military servive in France Strongbow returned to Ireland and campaigned again against the Irish kings. He was appointed Henry’s principal agent in Ireland, and, in that capacity, he issued charters on behalf of the king relating to the now royal city of Dublin. He died unexpectedly in April 1176 from an injury to his foot and was buried in Christ Church Cathedral (the tomb there that is traditionally associated with him is of later date). His funeral presided over by Lorcan Ua tuathail (Laurence O’Toole), archbishop of Dublin. He left as his heir a three-year-old son, Gilbert, and a daughter, Isabella but his wife Aoife wielded power in her own name for a number of years thereafter. The current Monarch of England, Queen Elizabeth II, counts Strongbow amongst her ancestors.

"His complexion was somewhat ruddy and his skin freckled; he had grey eyes, feminine features, a weak voice, and short neck. For the rest, he was tall in stature, and a man of great generosity and of courteous manner. What he failed of accomplishing by force, he succeeded in by gentle words. In time of peace he was more disposed to be led by others than to command. Out of the camp he had more the air of any ordinary man-at-arms than of a general-in-chief; but in action the mere soldier was forgotten in the commander. With the advice of those about him, he was ready to dare anything; but he never ordered any attack relying on his own judgment, or rashly presuming on his personal courage. The post he occupied in battle was a sure rallying point for his troops. His equanimity and firmness in all the vicissitudes of war were remarkable, being neither driven to despair in adversity, nor puffed up by success."
Giraldus Cambrensus


Friday, 22 August 2014



22 August 1922: General Michael Collins was shot dead on this day. He was killed in an ambush at Béal na mBláth (Mouth of the Flowers) near Macroom in Co. Cork by a party of the local IRA.


Michael Collins had been the main driving force within the IRA that had helped to fight the War of Independence against the British Crown Forces in 1919-1921. It was a War of the Shadows in which Collins wore no uniform but stayed in Mufti. But he had been one of the signatories of a Treaty with the British in December 1921 that had split the IRA into pro and anti Treaty camps. By the Summer of 1922 he thus found himself leading a new war against many of his old comrades in arms, dressed as the General in Chief of the new National Army of the emerging Irish Free State.


He was in his native Cork to inspect the local military forces. He travelled out to White’s Hotel (now Munster Arms) in Bandon on 22 August 1922. On the road to Bandon, at the village of Béal na mBláth (Irish, “the Mouth of Flowers”), Collins’ column stopped to ask directions. However the man whom they asked, Dinny Long, was also a member of the local Anti-Treaty IRA. An ambush was then prepared for the convoy when it made its return journey back to Cork city. They knew Collins would return by the same route as the two other roads from Bandon to Cork had been rendered impassable by Republicans.
 

The ambush party, allegedly commanded by Liam Deasy, had mostly dispersed by 8:00 p.m. as they had given up any hope of an ambush so late in the day. So when Collins and his men returned through Béal na mBlath there was just a rear-guard left on the scene to open fire on Collins’ convoy. The ambushers had laid a mine on the scene, however they had disconnected it and were in the process of removing it by the time the Collins convoy came into view.
 

Collins was killed in the subsequent gun battle, which lasted approximately 20 minutes, from 8:00 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. He was the only fatality in the action. He had ordered his convoy to stop and return fire, instead of choosing the safer option of driving on in his touring car or transferring to the safety of the accompanying armoured car, as his companion, Emmet Dalton, had wished. It is said that when the first shots were fired at the convoy, Emmet Dalton had ordered the driver to "drive like hell" out of the ambush. Collins himself countermanded the order and said "Stop! We'll fight them". He was killed while exchanging rifle fire with the ambushers. Under the cover of the armoured car, Collins’ body was loaded into the touring car and driven back to Cork. Collins was 31 years old.
 

There is no consensus as to who fired the fatal shot. The most recent authoritative account suggests that the shot was fired by Denis (”Sonny”) O’Neill, an Anti-Treaty IRA fighter and a former British Army marksman who died in 1950. He later emigrated to the USA. This is supported by eyewitness accounts of the participants in the ambush. The general consensus at that time was it was a ricochet that took him out but that has been challenged in recent years.
 

Collins’ men brought his body back to Cork where it was then shipped to Dublin for a State funeral. His body lay in state for three days in Dublin City Hall where tens of thousands of mourners filed past his coffin to pay their respects. His funeral mass took place at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral where a large military and civilian presence. He is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery Dublin.

 

Thursday, 21 August 2014


21 August 1879: The Apparition of Knock on this day. A number of witnesses of various ages reported that they had seen the Virgin Mary, St Joseph and St John the Evangelist appear on the wall of Knock Church. As a result Knock became a major centre of Pilgrimage.
 
On a wet Thursday evening, 21st August 1879, at about 8 o'clock, a heavenly vision appeared at the south gable of the Church of St. John the Baptist in Knock, Co. Mayo. Fifteen people - men, women and children - ranging in age from six years to seventy-five, watched the Apparition in pouring rain for two hours, reciting the rosary. Though they themselves were soaked, no rain fell in the direction of the church gable, where the ground remained perfectly dry.
 
Our Lady wore a large white cloak, fastened at the neck. Her hands and eyes were raised towards heaven, in a posture of prayer. On her head was a brilliant crown and where the crown fitted the brow, was a beautiful rose. On her right was St Joseph, head bowed and turned slightly towards her as if paying her his respects. He wore white robes. On our Lady's left was St John the Evangelist, dressed as a bishop, with a book in his left hand and right hand raised as if preaching. His robes were also white. Beside the figures and a little to the right in the centre of the gable was a large plain altar. On the altar stood a lamb, facing the West and behind the lamb a large cross stood upright. Angels hovered around the lamb for the duration of the Apparition
 
Most Rev. Dr. John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam, only six weeks after the Apparition, set up a Commission of Enquiry. Fifteen witnesses were examined and the Commission reported that the testimony of all taken as a whole, were trustworthy and satisfactory.
 
There was a 2nd Commission of enquiry in 1936 when, Mary Byrne, one of the last surviving witnesses, was interviewed. 

The commissioners interviewed her in her bedroom, as she was too ill to leave. She gave her final testimony and concluded with the words: 

'I am clear about everything I have said and I make this statement knowing I am going before my God' 

She died six weeks later
.

 

 

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


20 August 1845: Phytophthora infestans, a fungal infection that rots the tubers of potatoes, was recorded in Ireland on this day. David Moore, curator of the Botanic Gardens in Dublin noted that leaves of some of the potato plants in the institution were showing signs of blight. His was the first known scientific observation in Ireland of this fungus.

Phytophthora infestans (pronounced fy-TOF-thor-uh in-FEST-ans) is a rather common pathogen of potatoes wherever they are grown, but it is usually not a problem unless the weather is unusually cool and wet. The water is necessary for the spores to swim to infect the leaves of the potatoes; the tubers and roots of the potato are more resistant to the pathogen. The name, meaning "infesting plant destroyer" is especially appropriate, because under the right conditions and with the correct susceptibility genes in the host, Phytophthora can kill off a field of potatoes in just a few days!

Phytophthora infestans is so virulent in wet weather because it produces enormous numbers of swimming spores called zoospores in zoosporangia. The zoosporangia crack open and release dozens of zoospores. These zoospores have two flagella; a whiplash flagellum faces the back and pushes the spore through the water and a tinsel flagellum points forward and pulls the spores through the water.
http://botit.botany.wisc.edu/toms_fungi/m2001alt.html


From such mundane sequences in the life of a fungi did the fate of a People hang in the late summer of 1845. Within weeks the Blight had swept the land and millions of Irish men women and children knew that at least a year of hardship lay ahead of them. In fact the Blight was to come back each year until 1849 and in its wake leave at least a Million dead from starvation and disease and another Million forced to flee abroad.