Saturday, 25 January 2020


25‭ January 1356: Maurice FitzThomas Fitzgerald, the 1st Earl of Desmond, died in Dublin Castle on this day. He was the first in a long line of the holders of this powerful name that ruled over much of south and southwest Ireland during the late Middle Ages. [above] The name Desmond derived from the Gaelic name Deasmhumhain, which means south Munster.

‭An ambitious Anglo-Irish Freebooter at a time when Ireland was divided between the Gaels and the English he led a mixed force of English and Irish soldiers and into which Force he accepted any man willing to fight on his side. These bands were known as ‘MacThomas’s Rout’ and terrorised the towns and the countryside wherever they made their appearance.

‭ He was later accused by other Colonialists that he:
‘had filled his heart with such pride and ambition that he thought to obtain the whole of Ireland for his own and to crown himself a false king‭’

There is at least a fair level of plausibility that he wished to rule if not all of Ireland then at least a substantial chunk of it by carving the Country up between the most powerful magnates,‭ ‬both Gaelic and of English stock, and to pretty well ignore the King of England’s writ if that could be done.
In the turbulent‭ 1320’s Maurice FitzThomas made war upon his enemies across Munster and especially with the powerful De Poer family based at Kilkenny. To placate him and also hopefully to reign in his depredations he was created by the Crown the 1st Earl of Desmond in August 1329.

However the new Earl was determined to remain his own master and he resented the overbearing interference of Crown Officials sent over from England.‭ His ambition though exceeding his ability to do so for in 1331 he was forced to submit to the Justicar and remained a prisoner of the Crown for almost two years.

In‭ ‬1341 he was the primary hand in the letters of complaint issued by the ‘Kilkenny Parliament’ that were sent to King Edward III. Yet despite his proto Anglo-Irish Patriotism his continued ability to alienate the Colonial townsfolk of the various urban settlements such as Clonmel and Tipperary led to further complaints against him.

His most dangerous moments came in‭ 1345 when the new Justicar, Ralf Ufford, a man as ruthless as Maurice FitzThomas himself, launched an expedition from Dublin down to Limerick and Kerry to bring the obstreperous Earl to heel. Gathering an Army of over 2,000 men, both Foreign and Gaelic, the Justicar quickly took the Earl’s Castles of Askeaton in Limerick and Castleisland in Kerry. The Earl had to flee and go into hiding to avoid capture.

‭But a stroke of Fortune paved the way for his recovery when Ufford died the following year. The Earl then made his way to England on issue of a summons to plead his case in person before King Edward III. Eventually after an enforced stay of some five or so years he was allowed to return home and restored to his lands.

Despite further tribulations in July‭ 1355 he achieved a full acceptance by the Crown when he was made the Justicar of Ireland, that is the King of England’s right hand man here. It was the pinnacle of his vicious and bloody career and no doubt of immense satisfaction to himself to have reached such high office and to be at last in the King’s favour. On the other hand the appointment of such a man to that position must have filled his most ardent enemies, chiefly the townsfolk of the English Colony and the Magnates of the other great Lordships with foreboding and not a little anger that such an individual would be trusted to rule in the King’s name.

However his enjoyment of such new found power was to be of short duration for he died in Dublin Castle on‭ 25 January 1356 just months after acceding to the position. He was interred in the Church of the Friars-preachers in Tralee and succeeded in the Earldom by his son Maurice, the 2nd Earl of Desmond.






Friday, 24 January 2020












24 January‭ ‬1957:‭ ‬Sir Alfred Chester Beatty became the first Honourary Irish Citizen for his distinguished service to the Nation on this day.

Born in New York in‭ 1875 Chester Beatty made his Fortune as a Mining Engineer. He set up a highly successful mining consultancy firm in that city in 1908. By pioneering a new method of extracting copper from low-grade ore he made a Fortune in international mining operations. He was known as 'the king of Copper' and was a millionaire by his early '30s.

However tragedy struck in‭ 1911 when his wife died and he then moved London where he began anew. He remarried in 1913 and visited Egypt on the eve of the Great War where his already considerable interest in Oriental artefacts was whetted when they bought ancient Koranic scripts in the bazaars of Cairo. The dry climate there suited Beatty and he wintered in Egypt on many occasions.

In‭ 1917 he went further East and developed a deeper interest Chinese and Japanese paintings. In the inter war years he became one of the World’s greatest collectors of non western fine arts and was renowned for his great collections of Objects de Art that he amassed. He became a naturalised British in 1933.  During the Second World War he materially helped the Allied cause by ensuring that vital supplies of raw materials were shipped to the relevant destinations where they could be used in the War Effort. For these services he was Knighted by the British.

In‭ 1950 he decided to move to Ireland and it was here he decided to set up a museum for his collection of priceless artefacts. In 1953 he purchased a large house on Shrewsbury Road in Dublin and it was here that the collection stayed for many years. He was made an honourary Citizen in 1957 and when he died in 1968 was accorded a State Funeral. His great collection is today housed in the grounds of Dublin Castle where it is permanently open to the Public.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Image result for arthur guinness statue
23 January 1803: The death of Arthur Guinness on this day. He founded a Brewing empire in 18th century Dublin whose products have spread around the World. 

At 27, in 1752, Guinness's godfather the Archbishop of Cashel, bequeathed him £100 in his will. Guinness invested the money and in 1755 had a brewery at Leixlip,  just 17 km from Dublin. He married his wife Olivia Whitmore in Dublin in 1761 and they had 21 children, 10 of which survived till adulthood. He wrote years later that:
"..one of my sons* is grown up to be able to assist me in this Business, or I wd not have attempted it, tho' prompted by a demand of providing for Ten Children now living out of one & twenty born to us, & more likely yet to come..."
* Arthur - his 2nd son

His big break came in 1759  when he came to Dublin City and set up his own business. He took a 9,000-year lease on the 4-acre brewery at St. James's Gate Dublin for an annual rent of £45. Dublin was then one of the great cities of Europe and expanding rapidly. There was a growing population of thirsty souls and a demand for cheap good ale to slake their thirst and drown their sorrows in a city of great wealth and abject poverty. Ale was overwhelmingly a drink of the lowers orders though. A good businessman had to come up with a product that would attract the attention of its customer base and sell at a price they could afford to spend on it. Ten years later, on 19 May 1769, Guinness first exported his ale: he shipped six-and-a-half barrels to Great Britain.

At the time Red Ales were all the rage and at first that is what Arthur Guinness produced. But a beverage dubbed ‘porter’ was becoming increasingly popular. It was a  beer the company has become most famous for – porter stout – which was based on a London ale, a favourite of the street porters of Covent Garden and Billingsgate markets in that city. Arthur tried his hand at it from 1778 and it took off - it made Arthur a very wealthy man. 

Arthur Guinness was not just a businessman though but took an active if not prominent part in the commercial and local government of the city of Dublin. He was one of the four brewers' guild representatives on Dublin Corporation from the 1760s until his death. Politics in Ireland was highly volatile at the time and Arthur Guinness steered a middle path through the dramatic and eventually bloody events of those years. He favoured Catholic Emancipation - but opposed the United Irishmen who wanted a complete break with Britain through Revolution. 

When he died in 1803 he left a thriving business that continues to this day. But the direct involvement of the Guinness family came to an end in the 1980s and it is now part of an international conglomerate known as Diago. It is still produced at St James Gate Brewery Dublin and the Guinness Visitor Centre there is the most popular tourist attraction in the Country.




Wednesday, 22 January 2020


22 January 1902: The death of Queen Victoria on this day. She died at her Royal home at Osborne on the Isle of White, England. Her playboy son, Edward The Prince of Wales, Earl of Dublin etc, succeeded her as King Edward VII.

Her relation with Ireland was always problematical. She became known as the ‘The Famine Queen’ after the disastrous events of 1845-1849 and during which she appeared so detached from the terrible sufferings of so many of her ‘Subjects’. She donated the miserly sum of just £2,000 towards Relief out of her ample personal Fortune. Queen Victoria visited Ireland three times in the early part of her reign: firstly in 1849 during the Great Famine; again in 1853 when she attended the Exhibition of Art and Industry at Leinster Lawn, Dublin, and the third time in 1861 when the royal family stayed at Killarney. It was to be 39 years before she returned again to visit this part her Realm!

Her last visit in April 1900 was a three week affair and generally considered a success. On each of these visits she was greeted with great enthusiasm by large crowds of well wishers as well as idle curiosity seekers. However it would seem there was a direct correlation between those who welcomed her presence and those who held political and social power in this Country at the time. The Ascendancy, the Gentry, the Protestant Churches and the followers of those denominations were the most enthusiastic. Amongst the Catholics of Ireland her reception was more lukewarm but not actively hostile either, at least at a personal level. The ‘Castle Catholics’ and certain sections of the Hierarchy were eager to ingratiate themselves but most kept their distance or were there for appearances only.

While she had affection for the Irish People as individuals she never seemed able to comprehend Ireland’s desire to manage her own affairs. Though reasonably tolerant in religious matters she was a reactionary in politics, viewing for instance the members of the Irish Parliamentary Party as ‘low disreputable men, who were elected by order of Parnell.’ As regards the Repeal of the Union she opposed it on the grounds that to countenance it would be repugnant to her Coronation Oath.

Her death was greeted in Ireland with regret by some but indifference by most. The Victorian Era was not one in which Ireland’s lot had improved but if anything declined - while there was no doubt that the converse had happened in her Other Island.

Tuesday, 21 January 2020



21‭ ‬January 1919: The Declaration of Irish Independence on this day. The first meeting of Dáil Éireann was held in Dublin to bring together all the T.D.s still at liberty to attend. Assembling in the Round Room of the Mansion House, those members elected the previous month in the General Election and not held prisoners by the British or on the run unanimously voted in favour of the Independence of Ireland. Of the 73 Sinn Féin MPs elected only 27 TDs present, 36 were “Fé ghlas an Gallaibh” (prisoner of the Foreigner) including Eamon De Valera and Arthur Griffith.

The Declaration was as follows:
''Whereas the Irish people is by right a free people:‭ And Whereas for seven hundred years the Irish people has never ceased to repudiate and has repeatedly protested in arms against foreign usurpation: And Whereas English rule in this country is, and always has been, based upon force and fraud and maintained by military occupation against the declared will of the people: And Whereas the Irish Republic was proclaimed in Dublin on Easter Monday, 1916, by the Irish Republican Army acting on behalf of the Irish people: And Whereas the Irish people is resolved to secure and maintain its complete independence in order to promote the common weal, to re-establish justice, to provide for future defence, to insure peace at home and goodwill with all nations and to constitute a national polity based upon the people's will with equal right and equal opportunity for every citizen...

We claim for our national independence the recognition and support of every free nation in the world,‭ and we proclaim that independence to be a condition precedent to international peace hereafter: In the name of the Irish people we humbly commit our destiny to Almighty God who gave our fathers the courage and determination to persevere through long centuries of a ruthless tyranny, and strong in the justice of the cause which they have handed down to us, we ask His divine blessing on this the last stage of the struggle we have pledged ourselves to carry through to Freedom.''

A‭ ‬Ministry pro tempore [Temporary Cabinet] was then selected to run the Country for the time being and attempt to bring effect to the Independence of Ireland so proclaimed:

Cathal Brugha was the First President,‭ ‬Professor Eoin MacNeill was Minister of Finance, Michael Collins of Home Affairs, George Noble Count Plunkett of Foreign Affairs and Richard Mulcahy  in charge of National Defence.

21‭ ‬January 1919: Dan Breen and Sean Treacy carried out an ambush on an RIC escort at Soloheadbeag, Co. Tipperary. They were members of the South Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Volunteers (IRA). The cart the RIC were escorting was carrying gelignite for a quarry in the Soloheadbeag area (about four miles from Tipperary Town and about one mile from Limerick Junction).  In the ambush, the two RIC men, guarding the consignment, Constables James McDonnell and Patrick O'Connell, were shot dead. It was the start of the Irish War for Independence.

We expected there would be an escort of about six armed police and vie had the full intention
not alone of taking the gelignite they were escorting but also of shooting down the escort, as an assertion of the national right to deny the free passage of an armed enemy.
The moral aspect of such a decision has been talked about since and we have been branded as murderers, both by the enemy and even by some of our own people, but I want it to be understood that the pros and cons were thoroughly weighed up in discussion between Treacy and myself and, to put it in a nutshell, we felt that we were merely continuing the active war for the establishment of an Irish Republic that had begun on Easter Monday 1916.
DAN BREEN
http://www.bureauofmilitaryhistory.ie/reels/bmh/BMH.WS1739.pdf







Monday, 20 January 2020


20‭ January 1973: A Loyalist no warning bomb went off in Sackville Place Dublin on this day. The bomb killed a bus conductor and injured 17 other people. It exploded at 3.20 pm on a Saturday afternoon, as Ireland were playing the All-Blacks Rugby team at Lansdowne Road. The man killed was Thomas Douglas (21), originally from Stirling, Scotland. He had been living in Dublin for just four months. His mother was a native of Achill Island, Co. Mayo.

The car used in the bombing had been hijacked at Agnes Street,‭ Belfast. While no organisation claimed responsibility for this attack it was generally accepted that a Loyalist gang carried it out. The location of the explosion was almost at the same spot of a bomb the previous month, which killed two other members of Dublin’s bus service. A man with an English accent telephoned a warning to the main telephone exchange stating that a bomb would explode on O'Connell Bridge. But the warning given was ten minutes before the actual explosion and the Gardaí concluded afterwards that it was a diversionary tactic.

The car, a Vauxhall Victor, which had been hired, was hijacked from its hirer that morning at Agnes Street, off the Shankill Road in Belfast. The driver was reported to have been held until shortly after 3 pm, about the time the bomb exploded. In almost all the details, the hijacking of the car that exploded in South Leinster Street, Dublin on 17th May 1974, resembled this earlier hijacking. There was a report that the car had been seen passing through Drogheda at about midday. However, many Northern registered cars were travelling south that day on their way to the rugby international.
http://www.dublinmonaghanbombings.org/home/20jan73.html

‭No one was ever caught for this crime but it followed a pattern of attacks on Dublin which bore the hallmarks of operators acting in the pay of agents of another State - ie Britain. But ‘deniability’ was the modus operandi of this operation  and to this day the identities and whereabouts of the perpetrators are unknown - as is who it was who sent them here.‬

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Image result for mary aikenhead

Image result for mary aikenhead


19 January 1787: Mother Mary Frances Aikenhead was born  on this day at Daunt's Square off Grand Parade, Cork, Ireland. She was a frail child and was adopted out in her native city of Cork to a woman called Mary Rourke. Though baptised into the Church of Ireland it is thought that Mary was secretly baptised a Catholic from this early age by Mary Rourke who was a devout Catholic. However she was not formally received into the Catholic Faith until she was 15 years old on 6 June 1802. From an early age she was a devout disposition and wished to pursue a religious Life. 

In 1808, Mary went to stay with her friend Anne O’Brien in Dublin. Here she witnessed widespread unemployment and poverty and soon began to accompany her friend in visiting the poor and sick in their homes. From this experience she believed it would be her vocation to help the sick and the poor as a member of a religious Community. She trained for 3 years (1812-1815) in a convent in York, England in order to become a Nun. When she returned to Dublin she set up the Religious Sisters of Charity in Ireland. 

On 1 September 1815, the first members of the new institute took their vows, Sister Mary Augustine being appointed Superior General. Added to the traditional three vows of poverty chastity & obedience, was a fourth vow: to devote their lives to the service of the poor. For the next 15 years Mother Mary worked very hard to alleviate the sufferings of the less well-off but it took a terrible toll on her own Health.

However she did not let her own personal misfortune get her down:
“Low spirits and dreads of evil to ourselves or Congregation, or even to the church, are actually the beginnings of despair. If all the rest of the world goes wrong, we should still persevere in trying to serve our God with faith and fervour.” (7 November 1834)

Confined to bed or a wheelchair she continued to direct her charges and set up new institutions both at home and abroad. Her Sisters were particularly active during the great Cholera outbreak in 1832. She died in Dublin, aged 71 on 22 July 1858 in Our Lady’s Mount Harold’s Cross and was buried in in the cemetery attached to St. Mary Magdalen's, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.