Google+ Followers

Friday, 28 October 2016

Image result for marie drumm+Photo

28 October 1976: Marie Drumm, Republican activist, Cumann na mBan member and Ard-Chomhairle of Sinn Fein was shot dead by a Loyalist Death Squad in Belfast  on this day.

In one of the most dramatic assassinations of the Conflict in the North during the 1970s the death of Marie Drumm made headlines across the World. She was a thorn in the side of the British Crown Forces and faced huge levels of harassment for her stance against what she saw as the Occupation of part of Ireland by a Foreign Power.

Born Máire Drumm (née McAteer) in Newry Co Down in 1919 she grew up in the village of Killean Co Armagh. A keen Camogie player she came from a strong Republican family and she was from an early age interested in all things Irish: Language, Music and Culture. She moved to Belfast in 194. While visiting republican prisoners there she met James Drumm whom she married on his release in 1946. The Drumms had five children: Séamus, Margaret, Seán, Catherine and Máire óg. When the IRA renewed the armed struggle in the late 50’s, James was again interned without trial from ‘57 to ‘61. When the civil rights movement began in the late 60s Maire was actively involved in the efforts to rehouse the thousands of nationalists forced from the homes by Unionist intimidation.

As things spun out of control Marie Drumm became more and more involved in opposing British Rule. While a good organiser she found her forte in public speaking and no one could doubt that her speeches were direct and fiery at getting her message across. She was twice imprisoned by the British for making ‘seditious speeches’. Her house in Belfast became a focal point of Resistance and as a result was a target of constant raids and harassment by the British Army and RUC. This constant singling out of her and her family took its toll however. Her health declined and in October 1976 she was admitted to the Mater Hospital for an cataract eye operation. However the admittance of such a high profile figure to a public hospital could not escape notice. A Loyalist  hit team was put together to kill her.

Ironically her health was so bad by that stage that her husband had to announce her standing down as Vice President of Sinn Fein on October 18. She planned to move South on 30 October to a Nursing Home. But on the evening of 28 October her assassins struck. Two men entered the grounds of the Mater Hospital to scout ahead and at approx. 10.30pm that night another two men dressed as hospital doctors s made their way up to the second floor and into the six bedroom Ward 38 where Marie Drumm was re-cuperating. Without warning one of them opened fire hitting her three times in the chest. They then turned and fled. Ten minutes later she died on the operating table. Her killers were never caught and no group claimed responsibility. But it generally accepted that it was a Loyalist Terror Gang that carried it out.

Her death though was a blow to the Republican Movement as she was a high profile figure who gave as good as she got against her enemies. She was buried in the family plot in Milltown cemetery, Belfast on 1 November in a huge Republican Funeral.

"The only people worthy of freedom are those who are prepared to go out and fight for it every day, and die if necessary."

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Image result for st john's castle limerick

27‭ ‬October‭ ‬1651‭ ‬Aodh Dubh O'Neill surrendered the city of Limerick on this day.‭ ‬He capitulated under pressure from sections of the populace who were suffering from starvation and want.‭ ‬In addition some of his own troops had had enough too. The townsmen were granted quarter for their lives and property,‭ ‬but were warned that they could be evicted in the future. Over 2,000 English Parliamentary soldiers died at Limerick, mostly from disease. Among them was Henry Ireton, who died a month after the fall of the city. About 700 of the Irish garrison died and an unknown, but probably far greater number of civilians – usually estimated at about 5,000.The soldiers of the garrison were disarmed and allowed to march away to Galway.‭ ‬Several of the leading defenders of Limerick were executed for prolonging the siege,‭ ‬though O'Neill was reprieved because he was a subject of the King of Spain,‭ ‬having been born in Flanders.‭

His father was  Art Og O'Neill, and was among those exiles who made careers for themselves in the Spanish Army of Flanders. Aodh was, as a result, born in Brussels in 1611 and grew up  there, becoming a professional soldier and serving in the Irish regiment of the Spanish Army Of Flanders against the Dutch Revolt.

In 1642, his uncle Owen Roe O’Neill  organised the return of 300 Irish officers in the Spanish service to Ireland to support the Ulster Catholics regain their lands from the Scots and the English. O'Neill's men became the northern branch of the Army of Confederate Ireland which was based at the city of Kilkenny in the south of the Country. He was captured early in the fighting but was released after his Uncle’s great Victory of the Scots at Benburb in 1646. He subsequently rose to prominence after the death of his commander, Owen Roe O'Neill, in 1649.

Later that year he was sent south with 2,000 veteran Ulster troops to defend southern Ireland. He distinguished himself at the Siege of Clonmel in May 1650, inflicting the worst casualties ever experienced by Cromwell’s Army and their only military defeat.  He was then made commander of the defenders at the Siege of Limerick fighting off the  first attempt to take the city in late 1650. However, the following year, Cromwell’s son in law Henry Ireton besieged the city again, eventually forcing the city to surrender when the city's population was dying of hunger and plague, and part of his garrison threatened a Mutiny.

Aodh Dubh's imprisonment was cut short by the intervention of the Spanish Ambassador to England, who argued that he was a Spanish subject. He was subsequently released into Spanish custody on condition that he would not serve in campaigns against English forces ever again. He did not, therefore, return to Flanders, but was posted to Spain, where he became a General of Artillery.  He became the Spanish recognised 5th Earl of Tyrone upon the death of his first cousin, Aodh Eugene. In around 1660 he wrote to Charles II and asked for his family's ancestral lands to be restored, and that he be made recognised as the Earl of Tyrone. However Charles did not grant the request and Aodh Dubh died of disease later that year.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

26 October 1588: The Girona, a 700 ton Neapolitan gallass was wrecked off the coast of Lacada Point, Co Antrim on this day. The Lacada/Lia Fada (the long stone) is a rock promontory that juts into the ocean a few hundred yards from 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 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 a thousand 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. 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, now known as Port na Spaniagh, 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. [above]

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Image result for IRA Volunteer‭ ‬Joseph Murphy


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.

That same day Terence‭ ‬MacSwiney [below],‭ ‬T.D. , Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Cork City and Brigade Commandant‭ ‬1st Cork Brigade Irish Republican Army also died on Hunger Strike after 73 days.‭ ‬He had been arrested that August in Cork and charged with possession of:‭  ‬Documents the publication of which would be likely to cause disaffection to His Majesty.‭ He was summarily tried by court martial on 16 August and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in Brixton Prison London.

He refused to recognise the Court and immediately decided to embark on a Hunger Strike.‭ ‬Three days afterwards in an effort to isolate him from the other prisoners,‭ ‬he was deported from Cork Jail to Brixton Prison,‭ ‬London.‭ ‬MacSwiney's hunger strike gained world attention.‭ ‬The British government was threatened with a boycott of British goods in America,‭ ‬and four countries in South America appealed to the Pope to intervene. ‭ ‬Protests were held in Germany and France as well.‭ ‬As the pressure mounted on the British government to release him,‭ ‬MacSwiney said:‭  ‬I am confident that my death will do more to smash the British Empire than my release.‭

On the‭ ‬20th of October he fell into a coma,‭ ‬and died five days later at‭ ‬5.40‭ ‬am on this day.‭ ‬His last words to a priest who visited were:‭ ‬ I want you to bear witness that I die as a Soldier of the Irish Republic.‭

Though his most famous words are:‭ ‬It is not those who can inflict the most,‭ ‬but those that can suffer the most who will conquer.

That same day the IRA raided the RIC barracks at Tempo,‭ ‬Co.‭ ‬Fermanagh with the help of insiders. ‭ ‬It resulted in the death of one RIC member‭ (‬Sgt Wilfred Lucas‭)‬. ‭ ‬It was only a partially successful raid though as some‭  ‬local loyalists came to the assistance of the garrison. ‭ ‬Subsequently,‭ ‬a local Republican‭ (‬Philip Breen‭) ‬was shot down and killed on his doorway in retaliation.

Monday, 24 October 2016

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 spent many years in Rome studying.‭ ‬He took his Doctorate in Theology in‭ ‬1828,‭ ‬and defended it in the presence of the Pope.‭ ‬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 COI 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.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Image result for cj haughey

23 October 1970: In one of the most dramatic and controversial trials of in the history of Modern Ireland Charles J. Haughey, Captain James Kelly, John Kelly and Albert Luykx were all acquitted of the charges against them of attempting to illegally import Arms into the State. This marked the end of an extraordinary series of political and legal events, which had begun on 6 May that year when Cabinet Ministers Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney were sacked from Jack Lynch’s Government. Their summary dismissal was over alleged improprieties in the importation of weapons through Dublin. It was believed that these were for use by the Catholics in the North against further sectarian attacks.

Though they vehemently denied the allegation they and others were put on trial on 28 May. The charges against Blaney were dropped in the District Court July 2, 1970 and as a result he was not tried. The main trial got underway under Justice Aindrias O'Caoimh. The trial collapsed a week later after allegations of bias. A 2nd trial began but no concrete evidence was ever presented that could secure a prosecution against the defendants. Following a second trial the other four defendants were cleared on October 23.

The involvement of Haughey in all of this remains decidedly murky but he would seem to have had good grounds for believing that certain rivals within Fianna Fail shafted him. There were definitely political opponents who wished to stop his rise to power within the Party and his expected takeover one day.

If so they were to be disappointed. Though it took Haughey nine long hard years to climb his way back to the top he achieved his life long ambition and unseated Jack Lynch as Taoiseach in December 1979. But the shadow of 1970 was to haunt his political reputation forever....

Saturday, 22 October 2016

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 (as related in 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 did contain kernels of truth and were widely believed. 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 in the aftermath of 1641 as they initiated counter atrocities against anyone they deemed to be ‘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. The Revolt in Ireland acted as a catalyst for the start of the English Civil War the following year that spread throughout the islands of Britain & Ireland - ‘The War of the Three Kingdoms', - A War that did not fully abate here for another twelve long years.

* Albrecht Durer