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Sunday, 1 March 2015


1 March 1965: Roger Casement's body was re-interred in Glasnevin Cemetery on this day. The Taoiseach Sean Lemass only announced this surprise move some days previously when he stated in Leinster House that:


I am very glad to announce to the Dáil that I have been informed by the British Prime Minister that his Government have recently decided to meet our request for the repatriation of the remains of Roger Casement.

As Deputies are aware, it was Casement's express wish that he should have his final resting place in Ireland, and it has long been the desire of the people of Ireland, shared by successive Irish Governments, that this wish be fulfilled.

A State funeral was immediately organised. Thus on a cold and sleety day Casement’s remains were brought out to Glasnevin for burial. President Eamon De Valera, against Doctors orders, took the stand to deliver a televised address to the Nation. He said that:


It required courage to do what Casement did, and his name would be honoured, not merely here, but by oppressed peoples everywhere, even if he had done nothing for the freedom of our own country.

He spoke that those assembled were privileged to be there and we were glad that Casement was back amongst us and that in future his grave would be a place of pilgrimage.

While this was something of a coup to get the British to release Casement’s body his dying wish was actually that he should be laid to rest in his beloved County Antrim and not in Dublin City. But the British Government had only released his remains on condition that they were re interred in Dublin and not in the North of Ireland. One day perhaps his favourite county in Ireland will indeed become his final resting place...



Friday, 27 February 2015


28 February 1921: Six IRA men were executed in Victoria Barracks, Cork on this day. The men were shot by firing squad. They were Sean Allen, Timothy McCarthy, Thomas O’Brien, Daniel O’Callaghan, John Lyons and Patrick O’Mahony. All bar the first (Sean Allen from Tipperary) had been captured at Dripsey, outside Cork City on 28 January. As they laid in wait to ambush a British convoy the men were surrounded and captured by the 1st Manchester Regiment. A local Loyalist Mrs Lindsay had given their position away. The IRA seized her and James Clarke (her Chauffer) as hostages to hold them against the execution of the men. The local British Commander, General Strickland, [above] was informed by letter of the consequences. The letter he received read:


To General Strickland…

We are holding Mrs Mary Lindsay and her Chauffeur, James Clarke as hostages. They have been convicted of spying and are under sentence of death. If the five of our men taken at Dripsey are executed on Monday morning as announced by your office, the two hostages will be shot.

Irish Republican Army

 
Strickland and General Macready, the British Commander in Ireland, dismissed the idea that the threat was real. They did not believe that the Cork IRA would push it that far. Both men doubted that the IRA would kill a woman in cold blood and decided that the sentences should be carried out.

On the morning of the executions a large crowd gathered outside and prayed for the souls of the dead men who were executed in batches. That night the Cork IRA launched a number of attacks against British forces at different locations throughout the City. Six British soldiers were killed and four were seriously wounded.

Two other men captured at Dripsey were still detained in military custody: Captain James Barrett and Volunteer Denis Murphy. Barrett died in captivity on 22 March 1921. Murphy stood trial in Victoria Barracks on 9 March, he was found guilty and sentenced to death but this sentence was later commuted to one of 25 years' imprisonment.

Following the trial of Volunteer Denis Murphy the Cork IRA executed Mrs. Lindsay and James Clarke.




 

Thursday, 26 February 2015


26 February 943: The Vikings of Dublin got a lucky break, when they ambushed the heir apparent to the High King, ‘Muirchertach of the Leather Cloaks/ Muirchertach na Cochall Craicinn’ and slew him on this day.


Muirchertach son of Niall, i.e. Muirchertach of the Leather Cloaks, king of Ailech and the Hector of the western world, was killed by the heathens, i.e. by Blacair son of Gothfrith, king of the foreigner, at Glas Liatháin beside Cluain Chaín, in Fir Rois, on the first feria, fourth of the Kalends of March [26 Feb]


Ard Macha was plundered by the same foreigners on the following day, the third of the Kalends of March…

ANNALS OF ULSTER


Muirchertach was the son of Niall Glundubh who had himself been killed fighting the Vikings at Dublin in 919 AD. He had fought and won many battles and in one report is mentioned as leading a naval expedition against the Norsemen of the Hebrides. However he suffered an embarrassing episode in 939 when in a surprise raid his enemies’ ships raided his fortress of Aileach (outside Derry) [above] and carried him off. He was forced to ransom his own release to regain his freedom. Muirchertach, under the ancient rule of the kingship of Tara alternating between the northern and southern O’Neills, was due to replace King Donnachadh on the latter’s demise. Sometimes though ambition got the better of him and he clashed with his senior colleague and at other times co-operated with him. Muirchertach married Donnchad's daughter Flann, but relations between the two were not good. Conflict between them is recorded in 927, 929, and 938.




His most remarkable feat came in 941 when he carried out a Circuit of Ireland with a picked force of 1,000 men and secured pledges from all the principal kingdoms and carried away with him hostages as security. The Dalcassians (Brian Boru’s people) alone refused to submit. But Muirchertach eventually handed over all his hostages to Donnachadh as a mark of respect.



But his luck ran out in 943 when he was taken by surprise by the Vikings of Dublin somewhere near Ardee, Co Louth. It looks like Muirchertach was attempting to fend off a raid by them that was heading north towards Armagh when he was taken off guard:



Muirchertach son of Niall, heir designate of Ireland, was killed in Áth Firdia by the foreigners of

Áth Cliath, and Ard Macha was plundered by the heathens.

Chronicon Scotorum
 
 



Wednesday, 25 February 2015


25 February 1570: Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth of England on this day. He issued a Papal Bull called Regnans in Excelsis (‘ruling from on high’) that absolved all her subjects from any obligations of allegiance to her. As Elizabeth claimed Ireland as part of her inheritance this Papal decree released by inference the Catholics of Ireland from any sense of obligation to her they may have felt.

While the excommunication was of no personal interest to Elizabeth - who had long since abandoned the Catholic Faith - the political ramifications were profound. The Excommuncation made her dealings with the Catholic Powers of Europe more problematical and difficult and increased the chances of Spain under Philip II in particular lending his support to revolts within these islands.




In response she increased anti-Catholic persecution and set out to eliminate the presence of the Jesuits from her Realms. The position of the ‘New English’ Protestants in Ireland was made even more precarious as the Catholics here saw that the Pope himself was now openly opposed to her rule. The English Monarch did not have a high opinion of the Irish anyway as she expressed in a Letter to Sir Francis Walsingham in that month of February 1570:


We have heard and knowne it to be true, that certain savage rebells, being men of no valour, had fled out of our realme of Ireland into Spaine, and to cover their lewdness, and procure both reliefe for themselves and for such like as they are in Ireland, they do pretend their departure out of the land for matter of religion, where indeed they be neither of one nor other religion, but given to beastiality, and yet have they writt enough to shewe hypocrisy for their purpose.



 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015


24 February 1943: Thirty five girls and their 80 year old cook were killed when fire swept through their dormitory at St. Joseph's Orphanage & Industrial School in Cavan Town on this day.



In the early hours the morning a fire broke out in the basement laundry of the Orphanage. The Institution was run by the enclosed order of Poor Clare nuns who were charged with the protection of the girls.The fire spread very rapidly and quickly took hold. Local people did their best to try and rescue those within. When entry was finally gained it was too late to reach many the terrified screaming children trapped in the top floor dormitories.



The local fire service was totally overwhelmed and by the time they had brought their inadequate equipment to bear the flames had taken hold, the roof had caved in and the building was soon firmly ablaze. Thirty five children and an elderly lay woman were burned to death.  The following day the remains of the thirty six bodies were recovered from the blackened ruins. They were put in just eight coffins and buried subsequently in a mass grave.



The children who died were:



Mary Harrison -15 years of age from Dublin

Mary Hughes - 15 years of age from Killeshandra

Ellen McHugh -15 years of age from Blacklion
Kathleen & Frances Kiely - 12 & 9 years of age from Virginia
Mary  & Margaret Lynch - 15 & 10 years of age from Cavan
Josephine & Mona Cassidy - 15 & 11 years of age from Belfast
Kathleen Reilly – 14 years of age from Butlersbridge
Mary  & Josephine Carroll – 12 yrs & 10 years of age from Castlerahan
Mary & Susan McKiernan - 16 & 14 years of age from Dromard
Rose Wright – 11 years of age from Ballyjamesduff
Mary & Nora Barrett - 12 years of age -Twins – from Dublin
Mary Kelly - 10 years of age from Ballinagh
Mary Brady – 7 years of age from Ballinagh
Dorothy Daly – 7 years of age from Cootehill
Mary Ivers – 12 years of age from Kilcoole Wicklow
Philomena Regan – 9 years of age from Dublin
Harriet  & Ellen Payne - 11 & 8 years of age from Dublin
Teresa White – 6 years of age from Dublin
Mary Roche - 6 years of age from Dublin
Ellen Morgan – 10 years of age from Virginia
Elizabeth Heaphy - 4 years of age from Swords
Mary O'Hara – 7 years of age from Kilnaleck
Bernadette Serridge - 5 years of age from Dublin
Katherine & Margaret Chambers - 9 & 7  years of age from Enniskillen
Mary Lowry – 17 years of age from Drumcrow, Cavan
Bridget & Mary Galligan - 17 & 18 years of age Drumcassidy, Cavan

&

Mary Smith 80 years of age employed as Cook



Monday, 23 February 2015



23 February 1886: Lord Randolph Churchill of the Conservative Party spoke at a meeting in Belfast in which he uttered the fateful phrase ‘Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.’

Lord Churchill was anxious to undermine the rapport that had developed between the Liberal Party under the British Prime Minister William Gladstone and the Irish Parliamentary Party under Charles Stewart Parnell. The Liberals had won the General Election the previous year but had not secured an overall majority. They then relied on Parnell to secure their hold on the House of Commons. The price for such support was Gladstone committing himself to bring forward a Bill for Home Rule for Ireland in the current session of Parliament.

Churchill was fundamentally opposed to Home Rule and planned to use his name in Ulster to give heart to those within the ranks of the Orange Order that were prepared to resist by any means the bringing in of such a measure. He had written to a friend some days previously what his plan was:

I decided some time ago that if the G.O.M.* went for Home Rule, the Orange card would be the one to play. Please God it may turn out to be the ace of trumps and not the two.
* Grand Old Man – Mr Gladstone

The revitalised Orange Order had sponsored meetings for all who were against Home Rule. It arranged the meeting in the Ulster Hall at which the main speaker was to be Lord Randolph Churchill himself. He gave, to a wildly enthusiastic audience, a slogan that was to become their rallying cry in the years ahead:

Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.

Thus began the close association between the Conservative Party and the Unionists in Ireland that was to such a feature of Anglo-Irish relations for decades to come.


 




 
 



 
 

Sunday, 22 February 2015


22 February 1832: Glasnevin/ Reilig Ghlas Naíon Cemetery, Dublin opened its gates to the dead on this day. This place of burial was established to allow the Catholic population of the City to have a place to bury their dead without impediment. The old Penal Laws had meant that all bodies had to be interred in Protestant graveyards.


With the coming of full Catholic Emancipation in 1829 the imperative to establish a graveyard free from religious connotations took hold. When Glasnevin opened it was for the use of every person of regardless of Religion. The establishment of Prospect Cemetery coincided with burial reform and the rise of the 'garden cemetery' movement in Britain and Europe.


Glasnevin Cemetery was consecrated and opened to the public for the first time on 21 February 1832. However the first burial, that of eleven year old Michael Carey from Francis Street in Dublin, took place on the following day in a section of the cemetery known as Curran's Square. The cemetery was initially known as Prospect Cemetery, a name chosen from the townland of Prospect, which surrounded the cemetery lands. Originally covering nine acres of ground, the area of the cemetery has now grown to approximately 124 acres.


It now holds the graves of some 1.2 million people including those of many famous Irishmen and women. Amongst those were laid to rest within its walls are Daniel O'Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Eamon De Valera, James Larkin, Maud Gonne MacBride, Countess Markievicz, Ann Devlin, Brendan Behan, Michael Collins, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and many victims of the Great Famine. The round tower [above] near the entrance is a monument erected in memory of Daniel O’Connell ‘The Liberator’ whose sealed coffin is held in the vault of the tower.