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Monday, 30 November 2015




30 November 3340 BC: The world's oldest known recording of a solar eclipse was made on stone.
The illustrations are found on the “Cairn L,” on Carbane West, at Loughcrew, outside Oldcastle, in County Meath. The landscape of rolling hills is littered with Neolithic monuments. Some say that originally there were at least 40 to 50 monuments, but others say the figure was more like 100.


They write that the Irish Neolithic astronomer priests recorded the events on three stones relating to the eclipse, as seen from that location. The date November 30th 3340 is the only one that fits with what could have been observed from that site in that age.

To the ancient Neolithic farmers of Ireland the observance of the changing skies was an important tool in determining the passage of the year and when to plant and harvest crops and stage their festivals to honour the Gods. An event like a Solar Eclipse would have been a fantastic event to them and something of a shocker to their calculations. No doubt that they would have seen this as an evil portent. Whether it proved so or not we of course do not know. However it proved an important enough event for them to carve a depiction of this celestial wonder in stone on the top of one of their most sacred sites.

Note: Irish archaeo -astronomer Paul Griffin has announced the confirmation of the world's oldest known solar eclipse recorded in stone, substantially older than the recordings made in 2800 BC by Chinese astronomers. This finding was made at the world's oldest lunar eclipse tracking multi cairn site at the Loughcrew Cairn L Megalithic Monument in Ireland, and corresponds to a solar eclipse which occurred on November 30, 3340 BC, calculated with The Digital Universe astronomy software.

Sunday, 29 November 2015


29 November 1641: Battle of Julianstown/ Baile Iúiliáin in County Meath was fought on this day. Julianstown is situated on the River Nanny, which flows into the sea at Laytown about 3 km away. It was along this way that a relief force from Dublin was dispatched by the Lords Justice Borlase and Parsons to help relieve the town of Drogheda, which was in danger of encirclement by the Irish insurgents of Sir Phelim O’Neill.



He directed a force led by Colonel Rory O'More / Ruairí Óg Ó Mórdha to prevent this column from ever reaching Drogheda and O’More kept close to the main road north from Dublin to enable him to strike at a moment of his own choosing. The Irish troops actually engaged though were under the tactical command of one Colonel Plunkett on the day apparently. As luck would have it the weather this day was cold and foggy and the English, even though warned beforehand by Viscount Gormanstown that they were in immediate danger, stumbled into what was in effect an ambush. The Irish waited until the moment was ripe and then they uttered a great shout of their war cries and rushed out of the mists to fall upon the hapless enemy cutting them to pieces. Some 600 of the enemy were left dead on the road and surrounding fields while the few survivors fled back in the direction they came.




...the rebels forces who now furiously approached with a great shout and a lieutenant giving out the unhappy word of counter march all the men possessed as it were of a panic fear began somewhat confusedly to march back; but they were so much amazed with a second shout given by the rebels, who, seeing them in disorder followed close on, as not withstanding that they had gotten into a ground of great advantage, they could not be persuaded to stand a charge, but betook themselves to their heels, and so the rebels fell sharply on, as their manner is, upon the execution.
Bellings in Gilbert’s Irish Confederation


Prisoners were taken but according to Temple the attackers ‘spared very few or none that fell into their hands, but such as were Irish whose lives they preserved’

Sir John Temple The Irish Rebellion (London, 1646)



The commander of the Royalist force was Sir Patrick Wemyss, Scottish born but his mother was related to the Earls of Desmond. He was Captain-Lieutenant in the Army of King Charles I and was a close associate of the Earl of Ormond. He has left us the only known eye witness account of the battle. He wrote to Ormond on the following day:




I will now tell you of our misfortune. We lodged last night at Balrederie (Balrothery,), as my officers could not make the men march to Drogheda. We were informed that the enemy were upon us, but they did not fall on us. Next day on the march, we sent out scouts and saw a few rebels, but after crossing the Julanstowne bridge, I saw them advancing towards us in as good order as ever I saw any men. I viewed them all, and to my conjecture they were not less than 3,000 men....



I drew up the troops on their front, and told the captains that we were engaged in honour to charge them, and that I would charge them first with those horse I had. They promised faithfully to second me. But when I made the trumpet sound, the rebels advanced towards us in five great bodies of foot; the horse, being on both wings, a little advance before the foot; but just as I was going to charge, the troop cried unto me and told me the foot had left their officers, thrown down their arms, and took themselves to running. It was useless to fight, so I withdrew as best I could and escaped with a loyal remnant to Drogheda.



Two of my troop whose horses went lame were left behind. I hear however that they are safe, except for their clothes, which were taken from them, not by the rebels, but by natives as they passed through the village. All our arms and ammunition are in the rebel's hands. We can get no food here for man or horse.
Calendar of State Papers Ireland 1641

The defeat of the troops sent from Dublin was a powerful factor in influencing the Catholic Old English of Meath to throw in their lot with their fellow co religionists to halt any further encroachments upon their Civil and Religious Liberties by the English Protestants. This was a real catalyst in the history of Ireland as it was the first time that the people descended from the English colonisers of the 12/13th centuries had come together in a common cause with the native Gaelic Irish.

Saturday, 28 November 2015


28 November 1920: The Kilmichael Ambush on this day. Commandant Tom Barry, of the West Cork No. 3 Brigade Column led the IRA in an ambush on the Auxiliaries near the village of Kilmichael in Co Cork. It was a pre planned operation which Barry organised with the intention of inflicting maximum casualties on the Auxiliaries who had quickly acquired a notorious reputation on their deployment here. The targets were packed into two Crossley tenders, each with nine cadets of the Auxiliary Division of the RIC on board - all ex officers - who were travelling from their base in Macroom towards Dunmanway when they were ambushed about one and a half miles south of the village of Kilmichael.



After the Column had waited since dawn in the biting cold the Auxiliary unit was spotted approaching the ambush position just after 4 pm. Barry in a uniform stood in the road as the enemy column approached to slow it down and when the lead vehicle halted a mills grenade was lobbed at it to open the ambush. Then the IRA men opened a ferocious fusillade of rifle fire and swept both vehicles end to end. The first tenders’ occupants were all dealt with and left either dead or dying. However the second one had time to react and its members were able to gain cover and return sustained fire. Some of the Auxiliaries called out ‘We surrender’ but when men rose to take them in they were cut down. Barry had by this time worked his way around to the rear of the pinned down group and let them have it. He shouted orders that there was to be no let up until he gave the word. No prisoners were taken. Amazingly only about half the Column had actually fired upon the British as the fight was over in minutes with many of the men out of the line of fire before Barry called a halt.



With dusk falling he reassembled his party and as some of the men were a bit shook up he decided to jerk them back into a proper frame of mind so as to be able to face the rigours ahead on that night. After giving orders to fire both the tenders he drilled them on the road there and then by the light of the burning vehicles. He then led his victorious column away to safety. 16 of the Auxiliaries lay dead on the roadside and although the IRA lost three men killed in action the Auxiliaries power had been broken.



The Kilmichael Ambush was a propaganda coup for the IRA. Never again would the Auxiliaries prowl the country roads of Ireland with impunity. As far as they were concerned in a fair fight they had been shown not to be supermen but mere mortals who when taken unawares and in close combat were found wanting.



The names of the men who died for Ireland that day were:



Roll of Honour:



Michael McCarthy



Jim O’Sullivan



Pat Deasy




Friday, 27 November 2015



27 November 789 AD: Saint Vergilius (Fergal) the Irish missionary and astronomer died at Salzburg, Austria on this day. He was said to have been a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages. His original Christian name was Fergal. In the "Annals of the Four Masters" and the "Annals of Ulster" he is mentioned as Abbot of Aghaboe, in County Laois. He left Ireland, intending to visit the Holy land, but he made it no further than Paris where Pepin, then mayor of the Palace under Childeric III, received him with great favour. After spending two years at Cressy, near Compiegne, he went to Bavaria, at the invitation of Duke Otilo, and within a year or two was made Abbot of St. Peter's at Salzburg. Out of humility, he "concealed his orders", and had a bishop named Dobdagrecus, a fellow countryman, appointed to perform his episcopal functions for him. It was while Abbot of St. Peter's that he came into collision with St. Boniface. A priest having, through ignorance, conferred the Sacrament of Baptism using, in place of the correct formula, the words Baptizo te in nomine patria et filia et spiritu sancta", Vergilius held that the sacrament had been validly conferred. Boniface complained to Pope Zachary. The latter, however, decided in favour of Vergilius.



Later on, St. Boniface accused Vergilius of teaching a doctrine in regard to the rotundity of the earth, which was:



"Contrary to the Scriptures". Pope Zachary's decision in this case was that "if it be proved that he held the said doctrine, a council be held, and Vergilius expelled from the Church and deprived of his priestly dignity"



Unfortunately we no longer possess the treatise in which Vergilius expounded his doctrine. Two things, however, are certain: first, that there was involved the problem of original sin and the universality of redemption; secondly, that Vergilius succeeded in freeing himself from the charge of teaching a doctrine contrary to Scripture. It is likely that Boniface misunderstood him, taking it for granted, perhaps, that if there are antipodes, the "other race of men" are not descendants of Adam and were not redeemed by Christ. Vergilius, no doubt, had little difficulty in showing that his doctrine did not involve consequences of that kind.

After the martyrdom of St. Boniface, Vergilius was made Bishop of Salzburg (766 or 767) and laboured successfully for the up building of his diocese as well as for the spread of the Faith in neighbouring heathen countries, especially in Carinthia.. In 1233 he was canonized by Gregory IX. His doctrine that the Earth is a sphere was derived from the teaching of ancient geographers, and his belief in the existence of the antipodes was probably influenced by the accounts, which the ancient Irish voyagers gave of their journeys.




Thursday, 26 November 2015



26 November 1972: Dramatic and bloody events occurred in the City of Dublin on this day: A Bombing was carried out on a crowded City Centre cinema. There was also the arrest and imprisonment for contempt of Court of one Kevin O’Kelly, a well known RTE journalist, plus an unsuccessful attempt by the IRA to rescue one of their top men, Seán Mac Stiofáin [above], from the Mater Hospital in the north inner City.


At 1.25 a.m. a bomb exploded in a laneway connecting Burgh Quay to Leinster Market. It was placed beside the rear exit door of the Film Centre cinema, O’Connell Bridge House. A late film was in progress: there were 3 staff and approximately 156 patrons in the cinema at the time of the explosion. No one was killed in the blast, but some 40 people were taken to hospital for treatment. It is believed that agent provocateurs sent over from Britain were responsible for this attack.


The events leading to O’Kelly and Mac Stiofáin’s arrests had begun on Sunday 19 November when RTE Radio broadcast a report based on an interview by Kevin O'Kelly with the IRA Chief of Staff, Seán Mac Stiofáin. The leading Republican figure had been apprehended soon afterwards and brought before the Courts. O'Kelly was found guilty of contempt of Court when, during the conduct of the trial of Mac Stiofáin, he refused to identify the defendant as the subject of that interview.



The IRA Leader had embarked upon a Hunger Strike soon after he was arrested. He was convicted of being ‘a member of an unlawful organisation’ and as his condition was deteriorating he was sent to the Mater Hospital where he was to be placed under observation. That Sunday afternoon a crowd of about seven thousand people had gathered outside the GPO and marched to the hospital to demand his release. Later that night a rescue party of eight IRA men, two disguised as Priests and the others as Hospital Doctors tried to free Mac Stiofáin but were themselves captured. Two of the men had guns, and shots were exchanged with Special Branch detectives, resulting in minor injuries to a detective, two civilians and one of the raiders. The Prisoner was then transferred by helicopter to the Curragh General Military Hospital to serve the rest of his six month sentence while his erstwhile rescuers were each sent down for seven years for their audacity when they in turn faced the Courts.


Wednesday, 25 November 2015



25 November 1913: The foundation of the Irish Volunteers in the Rotunda, Dublin on this day. The aim of the new organisation was to counter the Ulster Volunteers in providing a similar force for Irish nationalists in the event of an armed confrontation over Home Rule. The first President was Eoin MacNeill but it drew support from a wide spectrum of Irish nationalist opinion.



The idea arose from an article he wrote some weeks previously in An Claidheamh Soluis, an Irish language newspaper. His proposal was called ‘The North began’. In it MacNeill put forward the idea that a Force be established that would counter the formation of the UVF in the North. He intended to ensure that Irish Nationalism was not left unarmed and vulnerable as the political situation developed. It estimated that some 7,000 people went to the Rotunda’s Large Concert hall that night, with some 4,000 inside and another 3,000 outside. The meeting was called with the specific intention of raising a National Volunteer Force to be called ‘The Irish Volunteers’. In the Notices issued around Dublin in advance of the meeting it was stated that:




The purpose of the Irish Volunteers will be to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland.


The new organisation quickly mushroomed and by April 1914 it was estimated to have around 80,000 members and by July that year some 160,000 men had signed up but only a few thousands had any weapons with which to fight. Nevertheless such a formidable body of public opinion could not be easily ignored by the British Government and all the indicators were that a bloody clash of arms was imminent in the late summer of 1914 between the Nationalist and Unionist armed camps over the thorny issue of Partition.



Only the outbreak of the Great War precluded what otherwise would have been a Civil War here. The Irish Volunteers then split on the question of involvement in the Conflict with most though by no means all following John Redmond’s call for enlistment in the British Army while a core membership remained under MacNeill’s nominal control.



 


Tuesday, 24 November 2015



24 November 1865: The dramatic rescue of James Stephens of the IRB from the Richmond Prison [above], Dublin on this day. The Fenian Leader was rescued from Richmond Prison in Dublin after only a few weeks captivity. He had been held only a few weeks when his escape was organised from without and within the prison itself. Inside the Richmond were John J. Breslin who was a hospital warder and a Daniel Byrne, an ordinary warder. The two men were sworn members of the I.R.B. and willing to help. On the outside the acting leader of the Organisation was Colonel Thomas Kelly and he helped put together a support team from within the Fenians to ensure that once on the outside Stephens remained free. At great risk Breslin managed to take wax impressions of the two keys he needed, one for Stephens cell, which was held in the Governors office and another for one of the outer doors. On the night of the actual rescue everything went according to plan. Only one other prisoner (a common criminal) was incarcerated on the same wing as Stephens and he wisely kept his mouth shut.


Once outside Stephens was ushered away to a safe house in the Summerhill area of the City where he remained for a number of months. The British put a price of £1,000 on his head but even this amount did not yield any informer willing to betray him. He eventually he made his way to Paris where he lived for many years and after a brief stay in Switzerland he returned home in 1891 and was left undisturbed by the Castle. He died in 1901.

It is curious to note that his escape from incarceration was an event that many Irish People at the time erroneously believed to have been acquiesced in by the British Government of the day. It was certainly an easy triumph for Irish Republicans that hugely embarrassed the occupying power.

The locale of Richmond Prison later became Wellington Barracks and after Independence was known as Griffith Barracks. Today the site is occupied by Griffith College on the South Circular Rd, Dublin.



Monday, 23 November 2015



23 November 1867: Execution of the Manchester Martyrs William Philip Allen, Michael Larkin and Michael O’Brien. They were publicly hanged for their alleged role in the rescue of Fenian prisoners in which a Constable Brett was fatally wounded. Although neither Larkin, Allen and O’Brien had fired the fatal shot nor had they had any intention to kill anybody, they were hanged as accessories to the death of the policeman.


The martyrs were hanged in front of the New Bailey prison in Salford, Manchester. Part of the wall was removed so that the public could witness the event. The morning of their execution was a cold and foggy one. Large crowds, marshalled by police and troops had assembled to witness the spectacle. Shortly after 8 O’Clock the men were led out and hanged, the bodies dropping out of sight into the pit below and out of sight of the onlookers.


They were buried in quicklime in Strangeways Prison. Today they rest in a mass grave in Blackley Cemetery, Plot number C.2711. Manchester. Their noble stand in the dock and on the gallows inspired T. D. Sullivan to pen the famous ballad ‘God save Ireland’.


When the news of their execution reached Ireland, solemn funeral processions were held, and three coffinless hearses proceeded to Glasnevin Cemetery, followed by 60,000 mourners. Allen was a native of Tipperary, O'Brien came from Ballymacoda, Co. Cork, and Larkin from Lusmagh, Co Offaly.


It was widely felt amongst the Irish both at home and abroad that these men were wrongly hanged as it was not their intention to kill and nor had they. The brave and courageous stand they took in the Dock and upon the Gallows inspired Irish People around the World and helped to restore morale in the wake of the abortive Rising of 1867.

Ironically the first prisoner to utter these immortal words was one O'Meagher Condon who had his death sentence commuted to Life Imprisonment while another man Thomas Maguire was released from captivity as the case against him was so poor even the English Media felt he should be set free.

Numerous monuments were erected to the Martyrs in the wake of their deaths across Ireland incl a symbolic grave to these brave men in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.


The famous song, which their sacrifice gave birth to, opens with the lines:
 
 
High upon the gallows tree, swung the noble-hearted three,
By the vengeful tyrant, stricken in their bloom.
But they met him face to face with the courage of their race,
And they went with souls undaunted to their doom.

"God save Ireland," said the heroes.
"God save Ireland," said them all.
"Whether on the scaffold high, or the battlefield we die,
No matter when, for Ireland dear we fall!"



 

Sunday, 22 November 2015



22 November 1963: President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was killed by an assassin's bullets as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas on this day. Kennedy was the youngest man elected President and he was the youngest to die. He was hardly past his first thousand days in office. His great grandparents hailed from Co Wexford and had fled Ireland in the 1840s to Boston, Massachusetts.


His Inaugural Address offered the memorable injunction: "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country."



His untimely and brutal death triggered a wave of shock and grief throughout Ireland that very night as word rapidly spread across the airwaves and by word of mouth that the President had succumbed to his wounds. He had visited this Country only a few months previously and had been met with a huge and ecstatic welcome. His election as President in 1960 was a source of great pride to the Irish People and of some advantage to the Country in its International relations.

Saturday, 21 November 2015



21 November 615 AD: The death of St Columbanus at Bobbio in northern Italy on this day. Columbanus was the greatest of the Irish Apostles to preach the Faith on the Continent. He founded a string of monasteries that acted as bases from which his disciples spread the Word amongst the new Germanic kingdoms that emerged in the wake of the collapse of Roman power. Columbanus (the Latinised form of Columbán, meaning ‘the white dove’) was born in Ireland in 543, Prior to his birth, his mother was said to have had visions of bearing a child who, in the judgement of those interpreting the visions, would become a "remarkable genius".Columbanus was well-educated in the areas of grammar, rhetoric, geometry, and the Holy Scriptures.



Columbanus left home to study under Sinell, Abbot of Cluaninis in Lough Erne. Under Sinell's instruction, Columbanus composed a commentary on the Psalms. He then moved to Bangor Abbey on the coast of north east Ireland, where Saint Comgall was serving as the abbot. He stayed at Bangor until his fortieth year, when he received Comgall's permission to travel to the continent.
So after many years there as a leading member of the community he felt the call to go abroad and spread the Gospel amongst the Heathens. With some reluctance he was allowed to depart by his mentor and took twelve followers with him. Proceeding through Scotland and England they made their way to eastern France to the Court of the King of Burgundy. Here Columbanus was well received and given the old castle of Annegray in the isolated Vosges Mountains upon which to found a Monastery. Here the abbot and his monks led the simplest of lives, their food oftentimes consisting of nothing but forest herbs, berries, and the bark of young trees. So great was the devotion to Columbanus and so great were the numbers who flocked to witness his Piety and Sanctity that soon another site was required to cope with the influx of followers and penitents. Thus a new site was established at Luxeuil just a few miles away and Columbanus ruled his religious domain from there. However his great success evoked jealousy amongst the Frankish bishops and they conspired against him.



Forced to flee he made his way down the Loire to catch a ship home to Ireland but a great storm swept the vessel back into the Bay. Columbanus then decided that he would make his way back across France to the Rhine Valley in order to reach the Suevi and Alamanni, to whom he wished to preach the Gospel. After a couple of years of mixed success in what is now Switzerland his small band of followers reached northern Italy and the Court of King Agilulf at Milan in the year 612 AD. The King although a follower of the heretical Arian viewpoint was favourably disposed to Columbanus and gave him a plot of land on the Bobbio river near Genoa in which to establish himself. Here the Saint passed the last years of his life.



Columbanus is best known in monastic circles for his set of ‘Rules’ which governed the way each monk within the community had to conduct themselves. The Rule of Saint Columbanus embodied the customs of Bangor and other Celtic monasteries. It consisted of ten chapters, on the subjects of obedience, silence, food, poverty, humility, chastity, choir offices, discretion, mortification, and perfection.


However Columbanus did not lead a perfect life. According to his biographer Jonas and other sources, he could be impetuous and even headstrong, for by nature he was eager, passionate, and dauntless. These qualities were both the source of his power and the cause of his mistakes. His virtues, however, were quite remarkable. Like many saints, he had a great love for God's creatures. Stories claim that as he walked in the woods, it was not uncommon for birds to land on his shoulders to be caressed, or for squirrels to run down from the trees and nestle in the folds of his cowl. Although a strong defender of his Celtic traditions, he never wavered in showing deep respect for the Holy See as the supreme authority.



It possible that Columbanus had travelled to Rome at some stage in his life to meet Pope Gregory to discuss various matters but he also communicated with his successor Pope Boniface on the Paschal question over when exactly Easter should be celebrated. The Celtic Church still followed the old ways of observance and Columbanus was eager to ensure that he did the right thing. He wrote to the Pontiff Theodore I that:




We Irish though dwelling at the far ends of the earth, are all disciples of St. Peter and St. Paul. . . Neither heretic, nor Jew, nor schismatic has ever been among us; but the Catholic Faith. Just as it was first delivered to us by yourselves, the successors of the Apostles, is held by us unchanged . . . we are bound to the Chair of Peter, and although Rome is great and renowned, through that Chair alone is she looked on as great and illustrious among us…


By this stage Columbanus was over 70 years old and his end was approaching. He prepared for death by retiring to his cave on the mountainside overlooking the Trebbia River and when he died his remains were interred in the Abbey Church in Bobbio. His final resting place became a site of pilgrimage and was famed throughout Western Europe as the site where one of the Christianity’s greatest advocates lay buried. It still exists today. [above]




Thursday, 19 November 2015


19 November 1807: The sinkings of the Prince of Wales & the Rochdale Packet ships * in Dublin Bay on this day. A convoy of British troop transport ships set sail from Dublin. It comprised five ships: the Sarah, the Lark, the Albion, the Rochdale and the Prince of Wales. Two of the ships, the Rochdale and the Prince of Wales did not make it to their destination. They ended up being wrecked on the South Bull in Dublin Bay, with the loss of approximately 380 lives. Public outcry was one of the key factors that brought about the construction of what is now known as Dun Laoghaire East Pier.


The Prince of Wales

The Prince of Wales, the Parkgate packet ship, was a 103-ton wooden brig of Chester, originally built in Wales. It was en route to Liverpool with recruits from the South Cork and South Mayo Militia for the 18th and 97th Regiments.

The stormy weather prevented the Prince of Wales from anchoring in Dublin Bay and it was forced to anchor off Bray Head in an attempt to gain some shelter. The wind direction changed and went SE, driving the Prince of Wales across Dublin Bay. It eventually ran ashore at Blackrock House. Captain Jones, the crew, two soldiers, a steward and his wife managed to get on board one of the ship’s boats and got ashore safely. The Prince of Wales started to break up soon afterwards and became a total wreck, with the loss of 120 lives.

The Rochdale suffered a similar fate near Seapoint, just 20 feet from the shore. The ships were part of a military fleet bound for Liverpool that had left Dublin that morning. Snow and sleet showers backed by a heavy wind developed as the ships made their way out of Dublin Bay and as night came on they were blown onto the sandbanks just off shore where the ships capsized and foundered. It is estimated that some 120 were lost from the Prince of Wales and about 265 from the Rochdale.

The Rochdale

The Rochdale, a brig of Liverpool, was also en route with some passengers and 265 soldiers of the 97th Regiment. It encountered an easterly gale and a snow storm shortly after leaving Dublin Bay and was driven back into Dublin Bay by strong winds and could be seen from both Dalkey and Dun Laoghaire as it burned blue lights and fired guns as signals of distress.

In an attempt to prevent the vessel from being blown ashore, several anchors were dropped, but these failed when the cables snapped. The vessel was driven helplessly past Dun Laoghaire Pier and went ashore on rocks under the Martello Tower at Seapoint, half a mile from where the Prince of Wales had gone ashore.

Even though the wreck was only yards away from the shore all 265 aboard, including 42 women and 29 children, perished as the poor visibility and darkness of the night prevented them from comprehending their exact position. The next day the lower hull of the Rochdale was found to be completely smashed out, but the decks were relatively intact.

 
* like above


Tuesday, 17 November 2015



17 November 1974: Erskine Childers, the President of Ireland, died suddenly on this day. He collapsed just after making a speech to the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin, when he suffered a massive heart attack. He died that same day at the Mater Hospital Dublin. He is the only President to have died in Office.



He was born in London in 1905, the son of patriot and author Robert Erskine Childers, who was behind the Asgard gun-running in 1914. Childers junior followed in his father’s republican footsteps. In 1922, when Childers was sixteen, his father was executed by the new Irish Free State on politically inspired charges of gun-possession. The pistol he had been found with had been given to him by Michael Collins. Before his execution, in a spirit of reconciliation, the older Childers obtained a promise from his son to seek out and shake the hand of every man who had signed the death warrant.

He was first elected to the Dáil as a Fianna Fáil TD for Athlone-Longford in 1938 and held several ministerial offices. He was Minister for Posts and Telegraphs (1951-54) and oversaw the liberalisation of Radio Éireann in 1960. He served as Minister for Lands (1957), Minister for Transport and Power (1959-69) and Tánaiste and Minister for Health (1969-73). 4.

Erskine's period as a minister was controversial. One commentator described his ministerial career as "spectacularly unsuccessful." But mostly he was a middle of the road politician who did not rock the boat. Others praised his willingness to make tough decisions. He was outspoken in his opposition to CJ Haughey in the aftermath of the 1970 Arms Crises when Haughey and another minister, both having been sacked, were sent for trial amid allegations of a plot to import arms for the IRA.

For the Presidential Campaign of 1973 Childers was nominated by Fianna Fáil at the behest of Eamon de Valera, who pressured Jack Lynch in the selection of the presidential candidate. He was a controversial nominee, owing not only to his British birth and upbringing but to his Protestantism. However, on the campaign trail his personal popularity proved enormous, and in a political upset, Childers was elected the fourth President of Ireland on 30 May 1973, defeating Tom O'Higgins of Fine Gael by 635,867 votes to 578,771.

Childers had ideas to change the nature of the Presidency but in this he met opposition from Liam Cosgrave of Fine Gael who had just been elected Taoiseach. He wanted the President to stay out of as much a possible and remain merely a figurehead. A role that Childers felt uncomfortable in and it is believed he contemplated resigning on more than one occasion. However fate intervened and Erskine Childers tenure as President was to be a short one.

On 17 November 1974, just after making a speech to the Royal College of Physicians in Dublin, Childers suffered a heart attack. He died the same day at the Mater Hospital Dublin. His funeral was in St Patrick's Cathedral Dublin.* He was buried in the grounds of the Church of Ireland Derralossary church in Roundwood Co Wicklow.

His daughter Nessa Childers has continued his family’s involvement in Irish Politics and is today an MEP in the European Parliament.
 
* Where his bust is displayed as above




Monday, 16 November 2015


16 November 1965: The death occurred of William Thomas Cosgrave, 1st President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State on this day. He became Head of the Provisional Government following the deaths of Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins in August 1922. Born in Dublin in 1880 and educated by the Christian Brothers he joined Sinn Fein in 1905. He was elected to Dublin City Council in 1909 and joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and was actively involved in the 1916 Easter Rising. He was sentenced to death but this was commuted to Life Imprisonment and he was interned in Frognoch Camp. In 1918 he was elected in a bye-election for Kilkenny and in January 1919 took his seat in Dáil Éireann. He was appointed as Minister for Local Government but had only a political role during the War of Independence. When the Treaty was debated in the Dáil he voted in favour of accepting its terms and sided with those who were prepared to implement its conditions across the Irish Free State. On succeeding to the position of President he was ruthless in crushing armed opposition by the IRA to the Treaty. He implemented a series of official executions and the rounding up of suspected political opponents. In the spring of 1923 the Civil war fizzled out as the effects of repression and the lack of support for violent opposition to the new State became apparent.



Once the War was over Liam Cosgrave was able to focus on building an Irish State that could show the World and Britain in particular that the Irish could govern themselves in an effective manner. He had some success here and he established the Irish Sugar Company and the Electricity Supply Board as well as the Agricultural Credit Corporation. He also exercised a prudent control over State’s Finances that paid dividends in ensuring that the balance of payments deficit was kept within limits.



However it was in the political sphere that Cosgrave had the most to contend with and here he had more mixed results. He formed a new Party in 1923 called Cumann na nGaedhael but in the same year he had limited results in a General Election though he held on to power. He gave up any claim to the North following the Boundary Commission fiasco in 1925 in return for a financial agreement with Britain. He also had to deal with a recurrent low intensity campaign by the IRA and widespread political agitation by Republicans in general. The biggest post Civil War Crises he had to face was the assassination of Kevin O’Higgins in 1927 and that almost led to truly draconian measures being introduced. This was averted by Mr De Valera leading FF into Leinster House in September of that year and taking the Oath under protest. Cosgrave then narrowly avoided being forced to relinquish power to his new Parliamentary rival but survived as a result of the Mr Jinks affair.


A general election was not necessary until the end of 1932. However Cosgrave called one for February of that year. There was growing unrest in the country and a fresh mandate was needed for an important Commonwealth meeting in the summer.

In the event Cumann na nGaedhael lost it and Dev took over. Cosgrave then became the Leader of the Opposition. In 1933 three groups, Cumann na nGaedhael, the National Centre Party and the Army Comrades Association came together to form a new political force – Fine Gael. Cosgrave was retained as the head of the Party in the Free State Parliament but was given overall control when Eoin O’Duffy was persuaded to step down as President of Fine Gael. He then led the Party until 1944 when he retired from politics alltogether and he never held Office again.





Sunday, 15 November 2015


15 November 1985: The Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed by the Irish and British Government at Hillsborough, Co. Down on this day. The Agreement was the most important development in Anglo-Irish relations since the 1920s. Both Governments confirmed that there would be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of a majority of its citizens. But it also saw recognition by the British that the Irish State had a legitimate interest in the affairs of the North and would be consulted on a regular basis as to what policies would be followed in relation to its governance.

So the Irish Government, through the Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference and Maryfield Secretariat, was provided with a consultative role in the administration of Northern Ireland for the first time. It was this consultative role, accompanied by the continuing conditional nature of the British claim to Northern Ireland, that caused strong opposition to the Agreement from the unionist population of Northern Ireland. Republicans also opposed the Agreement as falling short of their demands for immediate British withdrawal and a united Ireland.

While the Irish Leader An Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald was chuffed to pull off what in his eyes was a diplomatc coup his co signatory Mrs Thatcher the British Prime Minister was not so sure. She saw the Agreement more as a security issue to get the southern government to crack down on the IRA rather than as a means towards a full political settlement. She also rightly forsaw that Unionist opposition to the Agreement would be strong and ferocious.

In retrospect the Agreement had mixed success. There was increased co operation in security issues between the police forces in both juristictions and the rise of Sinn Fein was temorarily stalled. But it was to be another 13 long years before the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 laid the foundations for the current political settlement - something that most would consider to be still a ‘work in progress’...

"I had come to the conclusion that I must now give priority to heading off the growth of support for the IRA in Northern Ireland by seeking a new understanding with the British Government, even at the expense of my cherished, but for the time being at least clearly unachievable, objective of seeking a solution through negotiations with the Unionists."
Garret FitzGerald in his autobiography All in a Life (FitzGerald, 1991).

"I started from the need for greater security, which was imperative. If this meant making limited political concession to the South, much as I disliked this kind of bargaining, I had to contemplate it."
Margaret Thatcher in her autobiography The Downing Street Years (Thatcher, 1993).




Saturday, 14 November 2015



14 November 1180 AD: The death occurred of St Laurence O’Toole / Lorcan Ua Tuathail at Eu in Normandy on this day. He is the patron Saint of Dublin. He was born in Kildare in about the year 1128 and was educated at the Monastery of Glendalough where he became a prominent member of the religious community there. Being the brother in law of the King of Leinster, Diarmait Mac Murchada, further enhanced his status.

In 1161 he obtained the key ecclesiastical appointment of Archbishop of Dublin and in the following year was consecrated as such in a great ceremony at Christ Church in the city by Gilla Isu the Primate of Armagh. O’Toole’s elevation was a novelty in that he was the first Gaelic leader of the Church in Dublin and that he owed his position to the See of Armagh and not that of Canterbury in England. The Archbishop was a man of great piety and charity and he founded a number of religious houses including the one of All Hallows where Trinity College now stands. Once a year he retreated to Glendalough where he entered a cave for 40 days to fast and pray.




However when Henry II crossed into Ireland and set up Court in Dublin he was a deft enough operator to ensure that he stayed in the Kings’ good standing. He acted as a go between in the delicate negotiations with Rory O’Connor the King of Ireland and Henry in his role as King of England. Indeed he was one of the signatores of the Treaty of Windsor in 1175 which recognised Henry as ‘Lord of Ireland’ but not as its King. In April 1178 he entertained the papal legate, Cardinal Vivian, who presided at the Synod of Dublin. He also attended the great Third Lateran Council in March 1179. Pope Alexander III had summoned it with the particular object of putting an end to the schism within the Church and the quarrel between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Papacy. About three hundred fathers assembled from the provinces of Europe and some from the Latin east, and a single legate from the Greek church. Laurence O’Toole returned home with the title of Papal Legate, which was a mark of the influence he had gained in Rome.



However his further term in office was to be a short one as in the following year he left Dublin to track down the peripatic Henry in his wanderings across his patchwork quilt Empire of polities. His mission was to bring urgent matters in Ireland for his consideration. After three weeks of detention at Abingdon Abbey, England he followed Henry II to Normandy. Taken ill at the Augustinian Abbey of Eu, he was tended by Abbot Osbert and the canons of St. Victor in his confinement and it was there that he breathed his last. His tomb is in the crypt, under the Collegial Church at Eu. Many people still go there to pray. Laurence was canonized in 1225.



Friday, 13 November 2015


13 November 1647: The Battle of Knocknanuss in Co Cork was fought on this day. The opposing armies were those of the Irish Protestant, Murrough O’Brien (the later Lord Inchiquin), who was commited to support the English Parliament and those of the English Catholic, Viscount Theobald Taafe, leading a Confederate Army loyal to the Supreme Council of Kilkenny. Viscount Taafe was given the task by the Council of raiding into the lands under the control of Inchiquin’s troops. This was in retaliation for the attacks launched by the Parliamentry forces on Cashel and Callan in the previous months and the numerous atrocities they had carried out. The Catholic commander was able to assemble a force of about 6,000 infantry and some 1,200 cavalry. Amongst this force was a contingent of Scottish ‘Redshanks’ mercenaries under the legendry warrior leader Alasdair MacColla (Alistair McDonnell). However Viscount Taafe owed his appointment to political intrigue rather than any natural military abilities. It appears his heart was not really in the enterprise anyway and his conduct of the campaign reflected poorly on him.


His initial dispositions on the day of the battle were good in that he held the high ground but he fatally deployed his army in two separate wings divided by a hill that essentially cut one off from the other. Despite having a slight numerical advantage he did not utilise his force in a co ordinated manner but allowed each local commander to decide his own course of action. Alasdair MacColla’s men were the first into battle as they charged down upon the enemys’ flank opposite their own, broke their lines and routed them. Thinking the battle won they then fell to plundering Inchiquin’s Baggage Train and took no further meaningful part in the affair.

Murrough O’Brien however kept his cool throughout all of this. Sensing the moment was ripe he launched his own troopers uphill at the charge upon the Confederates left flank and put their cavalry to flight. The Munster infantrymen situated towards the centre of the line gave one ragged volley and then promptly fell back. The whole Confederate line then began to buckle and retreat developed into Rout. The Parliamentry Cavalry pursued their opponents for miles putting many to the sword as they did so. Meanwhile Alasdair MacColla and what remained of his men were surrounded and captured before being put to death on the spot. The defeat at Knocknanuss was a mortal blow for the Confederacy in the Province of Munster and was a defeat from which they never recovered.




Wednesday, 11 November 2015

 
11 November 1583: The death occurred in a skirmish of Gerald Fitzgerald the 15th Earl of Desmond on this day. One of the Great Earls of Ireland Gerald Fitzgerald inherited his vast estates in the southwest when he succeeded to the earldom in 1558. He at first was friendly with the Butler family who held the Earldom of Ormond as they were related by marriage. However he fell out with them and in 1565 he fought a pitched battle against Thomas Butler at Affane in which he was wounded and captured. Detained in England as a result of this personal affray his control of his estates slipped away. His cousin James Fitzmaurice Fitzgerald then led an open revolt against the English and Protestant encroachment of the lands held by the Fitzgeralds. In this enterprise the captured Earl’s brothers also took part. Allowed to return home in 1573 Gerald Fitzgerald soon went into open warfare against the Crown but submitted in late 1574. The years following were relatively peaceful but when his cousin James Fitzmaurice arrived back from the continent in 1579 with a small expeditionary force the delicate situation was upturned once again. The Earl dithered over what to do and the English suspected him of playing a devious hand in his cousin’s adventure. However on being attained in November of that year his hand was forced and he reluctantly led an uprising that was to lead to much bloodshed and terrible famines.



The English Poet Edmund Spenser witnessed at first hand these grim events and recorded:

Out of every corner of the woods and glens they came creeping forth upon their hands, for their legs could not bear them. They looked like anatomies of death; they spake like ghosts crying out of their graves; they did eat the dead carrions, happy where they could find them; yea, and one another soon after, insomuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape out of their graves. And if they found a plot of watercresses or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast for the time…

 


The English, with more financial resources to field armies and bribe and cajole the local chiefs slowly gained the upper hand. Eventually the Earl was reduced to just a small band of sorry followers when he was cut down in a minor skirmish against a raiding party of Moriartys at Glenagenty, 5 miles east of Tralee off the Bóthar an Iarla. His last hiding place “Teach an Iarla ” can still be seen cut into a glen in the heart of the Sliabh Luachra mountains near the source of the river Blackwater. His title, along with the enormous estates of his family, were forfeit to the English Crown. Thus was extinguished one of the great Houses of the Anglo-Irish Lords who had dominated much of the south west of Ireland for over 200 years and that traced lineal descent back to one Maurice Fitzgerald who had accompanied Strongbow himself in the original Conquests of the late 12th Century.


Tuesday, 10 November 2015



10 November 1798: The Court Martial of Theobold Wolfe Tone commenced on this day. A court was assembled consisting of General Loftus, who performed the functions of President, Colonels Vandeleur, Daly, and Wolfe, Major Armstrong, and a Captain Curran; Mr Paterson performed the functions of a Judge Advocate. At an early hour, the neighbourhood of the barracks was crowded with eager and anxious spectators. As soon as the doors were thrown open, they rushed in and filled every corner of the hall. Wolfe Tone was brought in and appeared before the crowd dressed in the in the uniform of a Chef de Brigade of the Army of the French Republic [above]. This created quite a stir and Tone was allowed to address the Court as to his motivations for the actions he had undertaken. On balance he did pretty well in getting his case heard at all. His noble and open admission of his role of been found in arms against the soldiers of the King of England in his native country of Ireland was admired by some but removed any small chance that he might escape execution. He concluded his defence (if it may be called that) with the words:

As to the connection between this country and Great Britain, I repeat it, all that has been imputed to me, words, writings, and actions, I here deliberately avow. I have spoken and acted with reflection, and on principle, and am ready to meet the consequences. Whatever be the sentence of this Court, I am prepared for it. Its members will surely discharge their duty; I shall care not to be wanting to mine.


Tone’s last request was that he would be shot by shot by a platoon of grenadiers in the uniform of a Chef de Brigade in the French Army. This plea along with his statement to the Court was conveyed to Lord Cornwallis for consideration but quickly rejected. Wolfe Tone was then sentenced by the members of the Court Martial to die the death of a traitor within 48 hours on the 12 of November 1798.

Monday, 9 November 2015


9 November 1920: The British Prime Minister David Lloyd George gave his infamous speech at the Guildhall Banquet in London on this day. His remarks were taken as a public acceptance that the Crown Forces were using ‘Terror’ as a weapon of war against the IRA. In fact they were using it as a means of intimidation against the Nationalist population, especially in areas where armed resistance to British rule was most active. In his address to the distinguished members he stated that:

We have murder by the throat, we had to reorganise the police. When the Government was ready we struck the terrorists and now the terrorists are complaining of terror.

However the Prime Minister’s words came to haunt him as it became increasingly apparent his taunts were hollow when in the following weeks as the IRA struck even further blows against British agents and paramilitary units.

The following year 'The Welsh Wizard' was sitting at the table in No 10 Downing Street in London negotiating face to face with those very same Irish 'Terrorists'!


Sunday, 8 November 2015


8 November 1987: A no warning bomb planted by the IRA exploded in Enniskillen just as a memorial service to honour Britain’s War dead was about to get underway. This attack caused shock and outrage throughout Britain and Ireland and caused grave disquiet even amongst some supporters of the IRAs Campaign. Eleven members of the crowd who had gathered there that morning were killed and many injured. One death in particular in the days that followed touched the hearts of many – that of Marie Wilson a 20 year old nurse. Her father Gordon Wilson recalled afterwards that:

 
 
We were both thrown forward, rubble and stones and whatever in and around and over us and under us. I was aware of a pain in my right shoulder. I shouted to Marie was she all right and she said yes, she found my hand and said, "Is that your hand, dad?" Now remember we were under six foot of rubble. I said "Are you all right?" and she said yes, but she was shouting in between. Three of four times I asked her, and she always said yes, she was all right. When I asked her the fifth time, "Are you all right, Marie?" she said, "Daddy, I love you very much." Those were the last words she spoke to me.

Those who died were:


William Mullen 72 yrs

Angus Mullen 70 yrs

Kitchener Johnson 70 yrs & Jessie Johnson 70 yrs

Wesley Armstrong 62 yrs & Bertha Armstrong 53 yrs

John Megaw 68 yrs

Edward Armstrong 52 yrs (RUC Reserve).

Georgina Quinton 72 yrs

Marie Wilson 20 yrs

Samuel Gault 49 yrs

All of the dead were Protestants and civilians apart from one man who was a member of the RUC Reserve.



 

Saturday, 7 November 2015


7 November 1980: The death on this day of Frank Duff, Founder of the Legion of Mary.

Frank Duff was born in Dublin, Ireland, on June 7, 1889. In  1917 Frank Duff came to know the Treatise of St. Louis Marie de Montfort on the True Devotion to Mary, a work which changed his life completely.

He entered the Civil Service at the age of 18. At 24 he joined the Society of St. Vincent de Paul where he was led to a deeper commitment to his Catholic faith and at the same time he acquired a great sensitivity to the needs of the poor and underprivileged. Along with a group of Catholic women and Fr. Michael Toher, a priest of the Dublin Archdiocese, he formed the first branch of what was to become the first presidium of the Legion of Mary on September 7, 1921. The first meeting was attended by 13 women and 2 men. The Legion of Mary is a lay catholic organisation whose members are giving service to the Church on a voluntary basis in almost every country.

Its twofold purpose is the spiritual development of its members and advancing the reign of Christ through Mary. The first legionnaires were women. Using his skills as a draftsman picked up from his days in the Civil Service, Duff compiled a handbook that defined the legion as a voluntary body "at the disposal of the bishop of the diocese and the parish priest for any and every form of social service and Catholic Action which these authorities may deem suitable to legionaries and useful to the welfare of the church". But Duff was a man with a mind of his own. He kept his distance but knew where the lines were - anyway his quite diplomacy worked and the Legion went from strength to strength.

In 1925 he was instrumental with the assistance of General WRE Murphy of the DMP in getting the notorious Red Light district of ‘The Monto’ in Dublin closed down and in helping many of the girls who worked as prostitutes there to start a new life. He spent a lifetime in devotion to Mary the Mother of Christ and through that inspiration in helping others less fortunate than himself. He and his dedicated helpers built up a huge Catholic organisation that was not controlled by the Hierarchy but worked with it to spread the Word.

In 1965 Pope Paul VI invited Frank Duff to attend the Second Vatican Council as a Lay Observer, an honour by which the Pope recognized and affirmed his enormous work for the lay apostolate.

By the time of his death Duff, a life-long bachelor committed to celibacy, presided over a worldwide spiritual empire. He died at his home in Brunswick St Dublin and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.

Today, the Legion of Mary has an estimated four million active members -- and 10 million auxiliary members -- in close to 200 countries in almost every diocese in the Catholic Church.





Friday, 6 November 2015


6 November 1649: General Owen Roe O’Neill/Eoghan Rua Ó Néill died at Cloughoughter/ Cloch Uachtar Castle in County Cavan on this day. He was the leader of the last Gaelic Army of the North and one of Ireland’s greatest Generals. He was born circa 1585/90 and was the son of Art Mac Baron O'Neill and the nephew of the Great Aodh O'Neill, the Earl of Tyrone, who led the Catholics during the Nine Years War (1594-1603). He was sent to Spain at an early age and joined the Irish Brigade of the Spanish Army. He was an able and talented soldier and destined to command at a high level. He never forgot his Homeland though and kept in contact with those in Ireland who wished to overthrow the religious and civil persecutions that the Irish Catholic People suffered under. His greatest test came in 1640 when he was in command of the City of Arras (then part of the Spanish Netherlands) that was besieged by an overwhelming French Army. With just 1,500 men he held out against the odds for eight long weeks despite many assaults on the Citadel. Forced eventually to ask for terms he was allowed to march out with the Honours of War.




But the following year the Rising of 1641 erupted and he decided that his place was back in Ireland and the head of Irish soldiers. Accompanied by a cluster of trusted officers he sailed in a tiny fleet to make it back here in July 1642. Shocked by the mayhem and indiscipline he encountered he quickly reformed the men placed under his care into a cohesive and efficient armed force. Despite this he was defeated at the Battle of Clones in 1643 but he learnt his lesson of never again meeting the enemy on anything less than favourable terms. In 1645 the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Rinuccini, arrived with Arms & specie to breath life into the Confederate Armies, of which O’Neill’s force constituted a semi autonomous component. This was to be a turning point in the struggle to gain mastery over the North.




In the early summer of 1646 he achieved his greatest Victory when he took the field against the Anglo-Scots of Ulster under the command of Sir Robert Monro. At the Battle of Benburb on 5 June of that year he defeated and overwhelmed a British Army led by Monro. It was the biggest set-piece battle of the Confederate War and a major setback for the British in Ulster, but, split by internal divisions and engaged in futile negotiations with the Duke of Ormond, the Confederates failed to follow up the military advantage of O'Neill's victory. The Catholics were hopelessly divided between those who wished to reach an agreement with King Charles I to allow for a level of toleration for the Catholic religion and those who would settle for nothing less than the removal of all impediments to the open practise of Catholicism.



Such internal pressures eventually led to what was in effect an internal Civil War in which Owen Roe O’Neill was called upon to move south to back the Papal Nuncio in his implacable opposition to the Peace Treaty with the Protestant Viceroy Ormond. In September 1646, O'Neill marched to Kilkenny to support Rinuccini, who then forced the Supreme Council to agree to a Confederate attack on Dublin with the Ulster and Leinster armies. Owen Roe O’Neill’s Ulster Army swept down upon the plains of Meath, burning homesteads and destroying the crops in an effort to hamper the Royalist War effort. But the two pronged assault on Dublin fizzled out as the City was well protected by strong walls and a determined garrison. The onset of Winter then put a stop to any chance of a prolonged Siege.



During 1647, moderate members of the Supreme Council succeeded in relegating O'Neill to service in Connacht and relied upon Preston to protect Kilkenny with the Leinster army. In 1648 the Confederates again fell out amongst themselves. O'Neill remained loyal to Rinuccini. In June 1648, he declared war on the Supreme Council and marched against Kilkenny. Although he failed to capture the Confederate capital, he spent most of the summer pillaging the surrounding country and manoeuvring against Inchiquin and Confederate forces in Leinster. In January 1649 Archbishop Rinuccini departed from Ireland in despair. O'Neill refused all approaches to join the Royalist-Confederate coalition because Ormond would not commit himself to promising the restoration of Irish lands in Ulster as O'Neill demanded.



By then King Charles I had been executed and Oliver Cromwell was ready to lead a well equipped army to Ireland to attempt a Re Conquest. Despite negotiations O’Neill was wary of the shaky coalition of Catholic Confederates and Protestant Royalists led nominally by the Duke of Ormond - a rather shady character. Neither side trusted the other and O’Neill was effectively isolated from events in the rest of the Country. Indeed so weak had become O’Neills position and so starved was he of supplies that he made an arrangement with the Parliamentarians Colonel Monck and later with Sir Charles Coote in order to stop the lands he held been overrun by the Ulster Scots, who now fought under the King’s Charles II banner. General O’Neill, perhaps unwisely, took up an invitation to dine in Derry with Sir Charles Coote, the Governor of the City. Soon afterwards he became ill, took a fever and died. His followers quickly suspected treachery and perhaps they were right. If so it was devious but effective way of the English Parliament to rid itself of one of the most able soldiers this Country has ever produced. He is buried in an island in Lough Oughter in Cavan.



Wednesday, 4 November 2015


4 November 1846:


The Great Irish Famine/An Gorta Mor swept across the land of Ireland. The direct cause of the calamity that the Country experienced in those times was the failure of the Potato crop, whose tubers were left rotten by a blight. However an Act of Nature was compounded by acts of folly and nay indifference by those acting on behalf of the British Administration here.

By November 1846 it was clear that the poorest of the people faced another Winter of complete hardship as the blight returned to haunt the land. The effects of prolonged malnutrition on weakened bodies proved too much for many of those so afflicted by the want of necessities to sustain human life. The deaths of two such unfortunates was reported in the Cork Examiner on this day.

November 4, 1846

TWO MORE DEATHS FROM STARVATION.

IN the letter of an "Out-Door Pauper" from Macroom, will be found the recital of the death at Sleaven, from famine, of a poor woman, returning from the Workhouse, where she and her children had received their daily meal. The Tallow Relief Committee, in a resolution just forwarded to the Lord LIEUTENANT and which we give elsewhere, announce the death of another man, named KEEFFE, of Kilbeg, who also perished for want of food.

We know not what to say. We have already expressed, with the most indignant vehemence, our horror of the negligence which permitted our fellow beings to perish in the midst of us. We leave these last instances to speak for themselves-- for murder speaks with a most miraculous organ-- and these are scarcely less than a murder. We trust in GOD we shall be shocked no more by such recitals. There is a promise of general employment, at last; and to this we turn from the prolonged horror of Irish suffering and despair.

Cork Examiner


Monday, 2 November 2015



2 November 1815: George Boole Professor of Mathematics University College Cork 1849-1864 & father of digital thought was born on this day. He was a child prodigy, self-taught linguist and practical scientist, philosopher and teacher.


He was born in Lincoln, England, the son of a struggling shoemaker. Boole was forced to leave school at the age of sixteen and never attended a university. He taught himself languages, natural philosophy and mathematics. After his father’s business failed he supported the entire family by becoming an assistant teacher, eventually opening his own boarding school in Lincoln. He began to produce original mathematical research and, in 1844, he was awarded the first gold medal for mathematics by the Royal Society.



Boole was deeply interested in the idea of expressing the workings of the human mind in symbolic form, and his two books on this subject, The Mathematical Analysis of Logic (1847) and An Investigation of the Laws of Thought (1854) form the basis of today’s computer science and electronic circuitry. Much of the ‘new mathematics’ now studied originated in his ground breaking studies – set theory, binary numbers and Boolean algebra were areas wher he led the way.

In 1849, Boole was appointed first professor of mathematics in Ireland’s new Queen’s College (now University College) Cork and taught and worked there until his tragic and premature death in 1864.

Boole was a creative and unorthodox thinker who found a way to write logical questions as algebraic equations. He thought of himself as a logician rather than a mathematician yet, in a series of publications in the 1840s and 1850s, he opened a whole new direction for mathematics.

A century later, the American mathematician and engineer Claude Shannon, himself acknowledged as the ‘father of information theory’, used Boole’s concepts, and especially his ‘Boolean algebra’, to design the first digital circuits. By reducing answers to x and y as set out by Boole it was possible for Shannon to develop the concepts to build the first digitally based machines. Today these are more commonly known as 0 & 1 binary numbers which are used to reflect true or false values in computer systems. 

However in late 1864 Boole one day walked for miles in the pouring rain to get to the Cork College and came down with pluersy. His wife tried to help but made matters worse by pouring cold water over him to cure him! He died on 8 December of that year.

Boole’s funeral took place on December 12th, to St Michael’s Church of Ireland in Ballintemple, Co Cork and according to a report in the Cork Examiner the following day, his cortege was followed by “serried files of students” in their gowns and caps.

Today, UCC lays claim to be Boole’s academic home. There’s a library named in Boole’s honour and, in the Aula Maxima, a fine stained-glass window erected in his memory by public subscription shortly after his death.


As one of the most important scientists to have ever worked in Ireland, Boole effectively laid the foundations of the entire Information Age while working from UCC. So it’s fair to say that without George Boole, there’d be no Google!
https://www.google.com/doodles/george-booles-200th-birthday




Sunday, 1 November 2015


1 November 527 AD: After Muircheartach [Muirchertach Mac Erca] … had been twenty four years in the sovereignty of Ireland, he was burned in the house of Cleiteach, over the Boyne, on the night of Samhain [the first of November] after being drowned in wine.


Annals of the Four Masters
 

 
Muirchertach Mac Erca was one of the greatest of the early Irish Kings. His first great victory was at the Battle of Ocha in County Meath in circa 483 AD. There he helped defeat and kill Ailill Molt, the King of Connacht. Muirchertach was the great grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages and from the Northern Uí Néill branch of that family. Initially he ruled most of the North from his royal site at Ailech (near Derry). But after the death of King Lugaid of Tara from the Southern Uí Néill (and the joint victor of Ocha) Muirchertach succeeded him to the title of ‘King of Tara’ and moved his power base south. He was clearly a king of some military ability and after Ocha he was victorious in 11 further battles over his enemies in the course of a long career.


These were the battles of: Cenn Losnada, Inne Mór, Segais, Cenn Eich, Áth Sige, Éblenn, Mag Ailbe, Aidne, Almuin, and the 2nd battles of Cenn Eich and Áth Sige.




King Muirchertach came to a bizarre end, being drowned in a vat of wine. This strange event took place somewhere about the location of those ancient Neolithic passage tombs, Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange. It would appear that this was a planned royal assassination in which the King’s body was to be left unblemished but his soul sent to eternity. Possibly his death was due to an internal family rivalry due to him taking a much younger mistress - a woman by the name of Sín!


Sín is the woman that killed thee,

O, Mac Earca, as I perceive;

Numerous will her names be here—

She will set one astray.




Chronicon Scotorum


It must be said though that the various Annals differ as to the year of his death it would appear to have been circa 530 AD and on the night of Samhain [31 October/1 November]