Google+ Followers

Thursday, 30 October 2014


30 October 1651: Bishop Terence Albert O'Brien Dominican, was hanged and beheaded at Gallow's Green, Limerick on this day. He was born into a well-off farming family near Cappamore in east Limerick in 1601. He became a Dominican in 1621 taking the name Albert. He studied in Toledo, Spain, where he was ordained in 1627. Returning to Ireland, he served as prior in Limerick and Lorrha near Portumna before becoming Provincial of the Irish province in 1643. He attended the general chapter of his order in Rome in 1644. After the siege of Limerick in 1651, O'Brien, who had encouraged citizens to resist, was captured as he tended the sick in the plague house. Tried by court-martial, he was condemned to death.

As he went to the gallows, he spoke to the people:

"Do not weep for me, but pray that being firm and unbroken in this torment of death, I may happily finish my course."

Two other Dominicans, Fathers John Collins and James Wolf, were executed at the same time.

After his death by strangulation his body was left hanging for three hours and treated with indignity by the soldiers. They cut off his head and spiked it on the river gate where it remained fresh and incorrupt, because, people said, he had preserved his virginity throughout his life. His headless body was buried near the old Dominican priory of Limerick, a wall of which still stands in the grounds of St Mary's Convent of Mercy.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014



29 October 878 AD: A solar eclipse on the fourth of the Kalends of November [29 October] the twenty-eighth of the moon, on the fourth feria, about the seventh hour of daylight, fifteen solar days having intervened.

The Annals of Ulster 878 AD

This celestial phenomenon was seen as a total eclipse in central and northern Scotland and as a deep eclipse in all of Ireland as well as in parts of England and Wales. It was also recorded in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Regino of Prüm, and annals from Iceland and Fulda in Germany, of which only the last compare with the Annals of Ulster record for accuracy.

Monday, 27 October 2014


28 October 1588: The Girona, a 700 ton Neopolitan gallass was wrecked off the north coast of Ireland at Lacada Point [above], Co Antrim on this day. The Lacada/Liach Fada (the long stone) is a rock promontory that juts into the ocean a few hundred yards west of the Giant's Causeway. The Italian built ship had been part of the ill fated Spanish Armada which Philip II had dispatched from his dominions to restore England to the Catholic Faith.

The Girona was a galleass - an oared fighting ship, designed for Mediterranean warfare. But she performed extraordinarily well in northern waters, and survived the coast of Ireland with need of only slight repairs. On board were the survivors of two shipwrecks that had been washed upon the Irish shore. The Girona had picked them up at Killybegs, County Donegal.

The Commander of the vessel was a brave and charismatic Spanish Don Alonso de Leyva.

He was described by an Irish sailor (James Machary) as:

Don Alonso for his stature was tall and slender

of a whitely complexion

of a flaxen and smooth hair

of behavior mild and temperate

of speech good and deliberate

greatly reverenced not only of his men

but generally of all the whole company

The Downfall of the Spanish Armada in Ireland

Ken Douglas

Don Alonso decided that overladen as she was the best plan was to make for neutral Scotland and pick up more shipping there for the dash back to Spain. With over 1,300 men inside the ship she was sluggish in the stormy waters and despite having over 200 oars to guide her passage was vulnerable to any contrary turns of weather. In a storm the oars would have been useless.

Initially her luck held and she made progress towards the Scottish coast. But the wind turned to the north west and pushed her back onto the rocky Antrim shores. Disaster struck when her rudder snapped off and she drifted a helpless hulk upon the waters. In despair the crew and passengers, including some of the noblest names in Spain, could only pray for Eternal Salvation as they were cast to their doom upon the rocks of Lacada Point. Just a handful survived the ordeal and were rescued by the Irish of that coast.

While nothing now survives of the wreck, over the last 40 years the place where she sank, has yielded a rich haul of treasure - pathetic gold and jewelled trinkets, badges of rank, religious charms, tenderly inscribed love-tokens, money chains and nearly 1,200 gold and silver coins. A testimony to the riches in the possession of some of Spain's best families on the night that they perished. Much of this recovered haul is now on display at the Ulster Museum in Belfast.

Thus perished some of the scions of the noblest families of Spain on that terrible night all those years ago.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

 

26 October 1771: John MacKenna was born in County Monaghan, Ireland on this day. He died 43 years later as one of the foremost men in Chile's struggle for Independence from Spain.

At an early age he was sent to Spain and joined the Irish Brigade of the Spanish Army. and joined the army fighting in Ceuta in northern Africa, under Lieutenant Colonel Luis Urbina, and was promoted to Second Lieutenant. In 1791 Mackenna resumed his studies in Barcelona and acted as liaison with mercenaries recruited in Europe. The following year he was promoted to Lieutenant in the Royal Regiment of Engineers. In the War of the Pyrenees against the French, Juan Mackenna fought in Rosselló under General Ricardos and there met the future liberator of Argentina, José de San Martín. For his exploits in defence of the Plaza de Rozas, he was promoted to captain in 1795.

In October 1796, Juan Mackenna left Spain for South America. He arrived in Buenos Aires and then travelled to Mendoza and to Chile across the Andes and then to Peru. Once in Lima, he contacted Ambrosio O'Higgins, another Irishman, at that time Viceroy of Perú, who named him Governor of Osorno and put him in charge of the reconstruction works for this southern Chilean town.

After the Declaration of Chilean Independence in 1810, he adhered to the Patriot side and was commissioned by the first Chilean government to prepare a plan for the defense of the country and oversaw the equipment of the new Chilean Army. At this juncture he trained the first military engineers for the new army.

The following year he was called to the defence committee of the new Republic of Chile, and in 1811 was appointed governor of Valparaíso. He was a firm ally of Bernardo O'Higgins, who appointed him as one of the key officers to fight the Spanish army of General Antonio Pareja. Mackenna's major military honour was attained in 1814 at the Battle of Membrillar, in which the general assured a temporary collapse of the royal forces.


As a reward for his victory, he was appointed commandant-general by Bernardo O'Higgins, but after a coup d'état led by Luis Carrera he was exiled to Argentina in 1814, when Carrera took over power. Juan Mackenna died in Buenos Aires late in 1814, after a duel with Luis Carrera.

In 2010, the Irish and Chilean Postal Service jointly issued stamps jointly celebrating Juan MacKenna and Bernardo O’Higgins for their parts in the Liberation of Chile.

Saturday, 25 October 2014


25 October 1920: IRA Volunteer Joseph Murphy [above] died in Cork Jail, on this day. He had been on a Hunger Strike for 76 days. For decades his fast was the longest on record anywhere in the World. He is buried in the Republican Plot in St. Finbarr's Cemetery in Cork City.

He was an avid sportsman who played hurling for the old Plunketts club in Togher and also enjoyed a game of road bowling on most Sunday mornings.

His life changed dramatically when he, along with many of his friends, joined the local company of the Irish Republican Army in the early stages of the War of Independence. Following a raid on his home on the night of July 15, 1920 he was arrested and imprisoned at Cork County Jail.

Two months later, he was one of a group of sixty Cork republicans - including Terence MacSwiney - who embarked on hunger strike. The mass protest captured the sympathy of the general public and large crowds congregated outside the jail gates each day, many reciting the rosary. However, after a fast lasting seventy-six days, twenty four year old Joe Murphy died.

Thousands attended his removal to the Lough Chapel. The funeral ceremonies were dominated by a strong British military presence and no more than a hundred people were allowed to follow the hearse to St. Finbarr’s Cemetery.

http://homepage.eircom.net/~corkcounty/murphy.html

Thursday, 23 October 2014


24 October 1878: Paul Cullen, Ireland’s first Cardinal and the most formidable man in the 19th Century Church died on this day. He was given the titular Roman church of San Pietro Montorio as his cardinality– a Church with Irish associations. He was born in Co Kildare in 1803. Paul Cullen himself was named after an uncle executed by crown forces in May 1798. Cullen's father was also involved with the United Irishmen, was arrested, and narrowly avoided court-martial and a probable death sentence. He was released in 1801. His family were prosperous Tenant Farmers.

Educated locally, incl time spent in a Quaker School he thereafter spent many years in Rome studying. He took his Doctorate in Theology in 1828, and defended it in the presence of Pope Leo XII. He was ordained there in 1829. He was later the Rector of the Irish College in the Holy City and was also appointed Rector of the College of the Propaganda of the Faith/Congregatio de Propaganda Fide – a most senior appointment. Due to his position as head of the Irish College he was the conduit for correspondence between the Irish Bishops and the Holy See for many years and became intimate with all aspects of the Church at home in Ireland.

When the revolutionary events of 1848 swept through Rome Cullen offered sanctuary to a number of clerics and cardinals wanted by the republican regime. He secured the protection of the United States Consul over his palace in Rome, which then flew the flag of the USA. The sight of that emblem precluded the Revolutionaries from setting foot inside. This act of some cunning earned Cullen the eternal gratitude of Pope Pius IX. His status in the eyes of this long lived and very conservative Pope was further enhanced in 1859 when he helped to organise an Irish Brigade that was sent to Italy to fight alongside the Papal troops in defending the Papal Estates from Garibaldi.

He was appointed Archbishop of Armagh in 1849 and returned home the following year. He convened the Synod of Thurles (1850), the first national synod held with due public solemnity in Ireland since the beginning of the Reformation period. The main purpose of the synod was to restore the authority of ecclesiastical order in Ireland, and this was in the fullest measure attained. The synod none the less marked the introduction of distinctly Roman devotional forms across the island. Cullen considered the synod's decrees to be his greatest achievement and worked hard to secure their implementation.

A noted conservative in politics he was opposed to the Young Irelanders and also the Fenians. He wanted the Irish Catholic Church to stay aloof from politics unless there were specific Catholic issues involved. His lifelong ambition was to see established a Catholic University in Ireland. While one was established in 1854 under John Henry Newman it never really got off the ground and limped on for years in a sort of educational limbo. He also wanted the Protestant Church of Ireland to be disestablished. While only partially successful in the 1st the Church of Ireland was disestablished in 1869 – much to Cullen’s satisfaction.!

He became Cardinal on 22 June 1866 and his motto was ‘Ponit Animam Pro Amicis’. He attended the Vatican Council in 1870 where he was a staunch defender of Papal Infallibility. His definition the Pope’s Authority on Theological matters infallibility was the one that was adopted with just minor modifications. He was Rome’s Representative to Ireland and ensured that the Church here was run under disciplined and regimented lines. The squabbles and localism of earlier times were suppressed and the Catholics of Ireland were ‘Romanised’ in a way that was not there before Cullen took over.

He was first and foremost a Roman. His allegiance to Rome, in the person of the pope and his authority, temporal and spiritual, was uncompromising. How Rome stood … on any question was Cullen’s point of departure.

Emmet Larkin

Cullen died suddenly at Eccles Street, Dublin on 24 October 1878. His funeral was a great public event. He was buried, according to his wishes, below the high altar in Holy Cross College, Clonliffe the college he had done so much to have founded.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

22/23 October 1641: The Rising of 1641/ Éirí Amach 1641 began prematurely on this night. The uprising had been long planned and was aimed at securing the religious and civil liberties of the Catholics of Ireland. It was to have started in Dublin the previous day but the plan to seize Dublin Castle was betrayed and it remained in English hands. The planners of the rising were a small group of Irish landowners, mainly Gaelic Irish and from the heavily planted provinces of Leinster and Ulster. Hugh MacMahon and Conor Maguire were to have seized Dublin Castle, while Sir Phelim O’Neill was to raise the North.

However in Dublin the plot to seize the Castle was betrayed:

On the evening of the 22nd of October, when the preparations had been completed in Dublin, a man named Owen O'Connolly, to whom MacMahon had confided the secret, went straight to Sir William Parsons one of the lords justices, and told him of the plot. Parsons at first gave no heed to the story, for he perceived that O'Connolly was half drunk. But on consultation with his colleague Sir John Borlase, they arrested Maguire and MacMahon on the morning of the 23rd: these were subsequently tried in London and hanged. Rory O'Moore and some others then in Dublin escaped. Instant measures were taken to put the city in a state of defence.

The plan was to use surprise rather than military force to take their objectives and to then issue their demands, in expectation of support from the rest of the country. As for why things came to head when they did the reasons are legion.

This great rebellion was brought about by the measures taken to extirpate the Catholic religion; by the plantations of Chichester and Strafford; and by the non-confirmation of the graces, which made the people despair of redress. There were complaints from every side about religious hardships. As to the plantations, no one could tell where they might stop; and there was a widespread fear that the people of the whole country might be cleared off to make place for new settlers. Besides all this, those who had been dispossessed longed for the first opportunity to fall on the settlers and regain their homes and farms.

A Concise History of Ireland

by P. W. Joyce

The Irish in the North had the greatest initial success, taking numerous strategic places, incl Charlemont Fort, Co Armagh, (one of the most modern in Ireland) by a ruse. This was Lord Caulfield's house, which became the chief fortress of the Irish in Ulster. They also captured the forts of Mountjoy, Dungannon, Castlecaulfield, Salterstown and Lissan. In the days that followed the Revolt grew and grew and most of the Protestants who had been planted in the northern counties were forced to flee.

Lurid prints and accounts (The Depositions) were spread in London and other English cities at the indignities and sufferings visited upon the Protestant settlers who were forced to flee for their lives.While much exaggerated the stories were widely believed and they laid the foundations of the terrible vengeance visited upon Ireland when Oliver Cromwell landed here in 1649. Many Catholics were also assaulted and cut down by the Crown forces who were also at work against anyone they deemed as ‘Rebels’.

Thus was opened one of the bloodiest and vicious wars Ireland has ever experienced as Death, Famine, War, and Plague [above] were visited upon her People. A War that did not fully abate for another twelve long years.