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Tuesday, 31 May 2016


31 May 1941 – German bombing of North Strand, Dublin on this day – 28 dead, 90 + injured and over 300 houses were destroyed or damaged. Smaller bombs damaged the American Embassy and Áras an Uachtarain the official home of President Douglas Hyde. The bombing was in all probability accidental and the German Government apologised in June 1941 for the attack. After the War the post war Government of Germany paid compensation for the destruction and damaged caused. The bombings were the worst experienced in the Irish Free State during the War or ‘The Emergency’ as those times were called here.

The first fifteen burials took place on June 4th with the internment of the tragic Brown family in their native Drumcooley, outside Edenderry and the burial of eight more in Glasnevin and in Dean's Grange cemeteries in Dublin. Twelve of those killed were buried by Dublin Corporation at a Public Funeral on 5 June, at which Government members including Eamon De Valera attended. The service took place in the Church of St. Laurence O'Toole, Seville Place and was presided over by Archbishop McQuaid.

An Taoiseach Eamon De Valera made the following statement:

Members of the Dáil desire to be directly associated with the expression of sympathy already tendered by the Government on behalf of the nation to the great number of our citizens who have been so cruelly bereaved by the recent bombing. Although a complete survey has not yet been possible, the latest report which I have received is that 27 persons were killed outright or subsequently died; 45 were wounded or received other serious bodily injury and are still in hospital; 25 houses were completely destroyed and 300 so damaged as to be unfit for habitation, leaving many hundreds of our people homeless. It has been for all our citizens an occasion of profound sorrow in which the members of this House have fully shared.

The Dáil will also desire to be associated with the expression of sincere thanks which has gone out from the Government and from our whole community to the several voluntary organisations the devoted exertions of whose members helped to confine the extent of the disaster and have mitigated the sufferings of those affected by it. As I have already informed the public, a protest has been made to the German Government. The Dáil will not expect me, at the moment, to say more on this head.








Sunday, 29 May 2016


29 May 1914: The loss of the passenger liner Empress of Ireland on this day. The ship sank within minutes of being involved in a collision with a Norwegian SS Storstad in the St Lawrence river, Canada. The vessel had only left port in Quebec a few hours previously, but it was under a new Captain and sailed into a bank of fog where after spotting the approaching Storstad it tried to avoid contact but was unable to do so. Both skippers blamed the other but a subsequent Court of Inquiry blamed the Norwegian for the impact. A verdict that the Norwegians never accepted.


Of the 1,477 persons on board the ship, 1,012 (840 passengers, 172 crew) died. The number of those who were killed is the largest of any Canadian maritime accident in peacetime.


Empress of Ireland was built by at Govan on the Clyde in Scotland and was launched in 1906.The liner had just begun her 96th sailing when she sank.

There were only 465 survivors, 4 of whom were children (the other 134 children were lost) and 41 of whom were women (the other 269 women were lost). The fact that most passengers were asleep at the time of the sinking (most not even awakened by the collision) also contributed to the loss of life when they were drowned in their cabins, most of them from the starboard side where the collision happened.


One of the survivors was Captain Kendall, who was on the bridge at the time, and quickly ordered the lifeboats to be launched. When Empress of Ireland lurched onto her side, he was thrown from the bridge into the water, and was taken down with her as she began to go under. Swimming to the surface, he clung to a wooden grate long enough for crew members aboard a nearby lifeboat to row over and pull him in. Immediately, he took command of the small boat, and began rescue operations. The lifeboat's crew successfully pulled in many people from the water, and when the boat was full, Kendall ordered the crew to row to the lights of the mysterious vessel that had rammed them, so that the survivors could be dropped off. Kendall and the crew made a few more trips between the nearby Storstad and the wreckage to search for more survivors. After an hour or two, Kendall gave up, since any survivors who were still in the water would have either succumbed to the freezing cold or had drowned by then.

While the ship had an Irish name there was no specific Irish connection other than she was based in Liverpool and sailed weekly back and forth across the Atlantic. However outside of Ireland it was the case that Liverpool was the most ‘Irish’ city on Earth, and at that time one, if not the greatest Shipping Port in the World. Many of the crew would undoubtedly have had Irish links.

Sadly this terrible disaster has been almost forgotten, wedged as it is between the far more well know maritime disasters of the Titanic [1912] and the Lusitania [1915] which resonated with the public conscious down the years.

The wreck lies in 40 metres (130 ft) of water, making it accessible to divers. Many artifacts from the wreckage have been retrieved. Some are on display in the Empress of Ireland Pavilion at the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père in Rimouski, Quebec. The Canadian government has passed legislation to protect the site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Empress_of_Ireland#Passengers_and_crew




Saturday, 28 May 2016


28‭ ‬May‭ ‬1798:‭ ‬The Wexford insurgents,‭ ‬amounting to several thousand people,‭ ‬marched northwards to Camolin on this day.‭ ‬By midday they were at Ferns and by the early afternoon they had reached the outskirts of Enniscorthy.‭ ‬They now numbered about‭ ‬7,000‭ ‬people.‭ ‬The Crown Forces that opposed them there were supplied with small arms but had no artillery and numbered only about‭ ‬300‭ ‬soldiers.‭ ‬The Wexfordmen were without artillery too and mostly carried pikes and homemade weapons.‭ ‬Nevertheless they stormed the town and drove the British southwards toward Wexford Town.‭ ‬Enniscorthy was left more or less a blackened ruin.‭ ‬As a result the United Irishmen made Vinegar Hill [above],‭ ‬just to east of the town their headquarters.

Members of the Crown Forces under Sir James Duff slaughtered‭ ‬350‭ ‬insurgents at the Curragh,‭ ‬Co Kildare.‭ ‬They had gathered there to surrender their weapons on agreed terms.‭ ‬Once they had laid down their arms the massacre began.‭ ‬The chief culprits in this were‭ ‬Roden's Light Dragoons,‭ ‬including the Monasterevan cavalry along with other militia units.‭ ‬Many others were wounded and others either fled on realising what was‭ ‬happening or feigned death till the troops departed.

At Enniscorthy the released captives Edward Fitzgerald and John Henry Colclough,‭ ‬arrived from Wexford Town with a message from the British Commander there.‭  ‬They gave a message that they should disperse and return to their homes or face retribution.‭ ‬Fitzgerald and Colclough had both been arrested two days before as suspected members of the United Irishmen.‭ ‬The British seemed to have assumed they might have enough influence with the Insurgents to persuade them to call off their campaign.‭ ‬In a dramatic moment though,‭ ‬the crowds in the town persuaded both men to join them and the Leadership decided to lead the thousands of armed men they now had under their control,‭ ‬southwards to attack Wexford Town.




Thursday, 26 May 2016


26 May 1315: Edward de Bruce the Earl of Carrick (the younger brother of Robert de Bruce of Scotland) and his fleet (estimated at in excess of 6,000 men) landed on the Irish coast at points at and between Olderfleet Castle at Larne and Glendrum on the north east coast of Ireland. This was the start of his ultimately futile bid to seize Ireland from the English – an attempt that was to cause much bloodshed and suffering here for three long years.


Edward knew there was much dissatisfaction with English Rule in Ireland. He had helped his brother fight the Sassanach in Scotland and defeat their attempts to secure that Kingdom. But he was also a man of ambition and pride. He did not want to spend his life in his brother's shadow. King Robert in turn did not want is ambitious sibling as a thorn in his side either. He steered his focus onto freeing the Gaels of Ireland from English Rule. If he could achieve that then he would be shot of him and would have also diverted the attentions of King Edward II of England away from Scotland and onto Ireland.


Edward the Bruce intended from the start to rely on the Gaels of Ireland to provide support, both in men and material, to the Scots. In this the Scotsman met with a measure of success but as he moved south the number of Irish Chieftains ready to throw in their lot with the newcomers diminished considerably.


At first the Irish/Scottish alliance seemed unstoppable as they won battle after battle, in less than a year they had most of Ireland in their control. However by the beginning of 1317 famine had stricken the country making it difficult for either side to undertake military operations. The Famine was of unusual intensity and struck right across Europe, killing countless numbers as crops failed and the weather turned much colder.


Then in the late summer of 1318, Sir John de Bermingham with his army began a march against Edward de Brus. On 14 October 1318, the Scots-Irish army was badly defeated at the Battle of Faughart by de Bermingham's forces. Edward was killed, his body being quartered and sent to various towns in Ireland, and his head being delivered to King Edward II. The Annals of Ulster summed up the hostile feeling held by many among the Anglo-Irish and Irish alike of Edward de Brus:


Edward de Brus, the destroyer of Ireland in general, both Foreigners and Gaels, was killed by the Foreigners of Ireland by dint of fighting at Dun-Delgan. And there were killed in his company Mac Ruaidhri, king of Insi-Gall Hebrides [i.e. Ailean mac Ruaidhri] and Mac Domhnaill, king of Argyll, together with slaughter of the Men of Scotland around him. And there was not done from the beginning of the world a deed that was better for the Men of Ireland than that deed. For there came death and loss of people during his time in all Ireland in general for the space of three years and a half and people undoubtedly used to eat each other throughout Ireland."


The Annals of Ulster


Wednesday, 25 May 2016


25 May 1921- The Custom House in Dublin was burnt out by members of the Dublin Brigade IRA. In an audacious and well planned operation some 200 IRA members seized control of the Custom House building on Dublin’s North Quay and set it alight. The purpose of the raid was to destroy the Local Government records of the British Administration in Ireland in order to further undermine their ability to rule the Country.

The Operation had been decided upon by the senior members of the Republican Movement at the time incl. Michael Collins and Eamon De Valera. It was hoped that such a devastating blow would undermine British rule to such a degree that it would never recover it ability to collect taxation at local level.

The 2nd battalion Dublin IRA was tasked with carrying out the Operation.


Vinny Byrne - a member of Collins hit men unit - ‘the Squad’ - recalled:


'However a 25 May IRA attack on the Customs House in Dublin made it clear that the advocates of continued force within the Irish Independence movement were more than content to keep the fight going. The attack, waged largely by the Dublin Brigade's 2nd Battalion, marked the largest armed deployment by the rebel forces since the Easter Rising. With some 200 men involved in all, the attack in retrospect might be judged to have been as foolhardy for the IRA as it was dramatic in scale. While the objective of damaging the Customs House and destroying thousands of tax records was achieved, in all the attack resulted in the loss of some seventy-five members of the Dublin Brigade due to arrests at the scene and the deaths of six others...


The objective for attacking the Customs House in fact dated back to the end of 1918, when the Irish Volunteers devised a plan for the building's destruction if and when the British Government imposed conscription on Ireland. Vincent Byrne, a member of the execution gang attached to Michael Collins Intelligence Department, recalled his role in the attack and subsequent escape.


I got a tin of petrol and proceeded to the second floor. I opened the door and sitting inside there were a lady and a gentleman, civil servants having tea. I requested them to leave, stating that I was going to set fire to the office. The gentleman stood up and said 'Oh, you can't do that.' I showed him my gun and told him I was serious. . . The lady then asked me if she could get her coat, and I replied: 'Miss, you'll be lucky if you get out with your life.'


The Irish Revolution and its Aftermath 1916-1923 - Years of Revolt

Francis Costello


So while the immediate objective was achieved the operation was a costly one for the IRA as many of its top operatives were captured. The building was quickly surrounded by the Auxiliaries of the RIC who while ruthless were all combat experienced men. Many of the Volunteers were unable to effect their escape in time and were captured. So it was something of a Pyrrhic Victory for the men of the Dublin Brigade to burn out such an important edifice (both symbolic and real) of the British presence in Ireland that day.


Tuesday, 24 May 2016


24 May 1923: The Irish Civil War ended on this day. The newly appointed IRA Chief of Staff Frank Aiken issued the order to ‘dump arms’. It began:

To All Ranks:

Comrades
- The arms with which we have fought the enemies of our country are to be dumped. The foreign and domestic enemies of the Republic have for the moment prevailed...

The war had its origins in the Anglo Irish Treaty of December 1921 which agreed to the establishment of the Irish Free State. This State though would only govern 26 Counties and not the Six Counties of the North which would remain under British rule. More importantly it contained a commitment that anyone elected to the Southern Parliament would take an Oath of Fidelity to the King of England George V. This was anathema to those who supported the ideal of a fully independent Irish Republic. The Sinn Fein party and the IRA split on the issue and after months of haggling and negotiations the two sides were further apart than ever.

Following the June elections which saw a majority of voters backing pro Treaty candidates the war broke out on 28 June when the Free State Army (with borrowed British cannons) bombarded the Republican garrison occupying the Four Courts in Dublin.

As the months went by the FSA gained control of all the major cities and towns and the fighting degenerated into a ‘Dirty War’ with atrocities committed by both sides. A policy of Official Executions was adopted by the Free State against any men taken in arms. 77 men were shot in this manner and many more were killed out of hand in the countryside. Thousands of men were captured or interned and some women imprisoned. Most of the Irish People wanted Peace and not more War.

By the early Spring of 1923 it was obvious that the IRA could not win and attempts to bring the fighting to an end intensified as the situation became hopeless for them. Early Peace moves had failed but now the push for an end to the campaign came from within the IRA itself. The death in action of Liam Lynch, the IRA Chief of Staff on 10 April 1923 paved the way for the next move - a Ceasefire. Frank Aiken was appointed to the position and on 30 April called that Ceasefire. On 14 May a Joint meeting of the Republican Government and IRA Army Executive instructed Aiken to end the war. This was followed on 24 May by an Order to ‘Dump Arms’. The War was effectively over.

Éamon de Valera supported the order, issuing a statement to Anti-Treaty fighters on 24 May:

Soldiers of the Republic. Legion of the Rearguard: The Republic can no longer be defended successfully by your arms. Further sacrifice of life would now be in vain and the continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the national interest and prejudicial to the future of our cause. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment with those who have destroyed the Republic.

The Irish Civil War was over.

Monday, 23 May 2016


May 23-4 1798: The outbreak of the United Irishmen Rising on this day. Overnight mail coaches were attacked on the roads to Dublin to signal the start of revolutionary action. In order to give some degree of co ordination it was agreed that the ‘Rising of the Moon’ would be the hour to strike the coaches. In the City itself attempts to trigger an outbreak were thwarted as the British Army moved to seize strategic assembly points and thus nip things in the bud. Small crowds of men had set out from the poor districts of the city of Dublin to seize the Castle and other key public buildings. Agents of the Crown had infiltrated their revolutionary organization, the United Irishmen, and had already arrested several of their key leaders, Lord Edward FitzGerald being the most important of them. The Militia mobilized before the insurgents could assemble in large groups and what their leaders had hoped would be an almost bloodless coup turned into a debacle.

Outside the City though the insurgents fared better and many gathered in rural areas of County Dublin as well as southern County Meath, northern County Kildare and northern and western County Wicklow. These groups attacked towns and villages in their respective localities and stopped and destroyed some of the mail coaches that were making their way out to the provinces.


On the 23rd of May, Dublin was placed under martial law; the citizens were armed, the guard was trebled, the barristers pleaded with regimentals and swords, and several of the lamplighters were hung from their own lamp-posts for neglecting to light the lamps. The country people were prepared to march on the city, but Lord Roden and his Foxhunters soon put down their attempt. The next morning the dead were exhibited in the Castle-yard, and the prisoners were hanged at Carlisle-bridge.[now O’Connell Bridge] Sir Watkins Wynn and his Ancient Britons distinguished themselves by their cruelties.
http://www.libraryireland.com


Saturday, 21 May 2016


21 May 1981: The Third and Fourth Irish Hunger Strikers Died in Long Kesh Prison on this day

Raymond McCreesh (24), a Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoner, and Patsy O'Hara (23), an Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoner, both died having spent 61 days on hunger strike. Tomás Ó Fiaich, then Catholic Primate of Ireland, criticised the British government's attitude to the hunger strike.

The two men were preceded by Bobby Sands (5 May) and Frankie Hughes (12 May) in their struggle for political status.

Their 5 demands were:
The right not to wear a prison uniform;
The right not to do prison work;
The right of free association with other prisoners, and to organise educational and recreational pursuits;
The right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week;
Full restoration of remission lost through the protest

But perhaps best summed up in the H Block Ballad:

But I'll wear no convict's uniform
Nor meekly serve my time
That Britain may call Ireland's fight
Eight hundred years of crime.

The strike was to last until 3 October 1981 and was to see 10 Republican prisoners starve themselves to death in support of their protest. The strike led to a heightening of political tensions in the region. It was also to pave the way for the emergence of Sinn Féin (SF) as a major political force in Ireland.


Friday, 20 May 2016


20 May 1311: The Battle of Bunratty/Bun Raite on this day.

Civil War raged in north Thomond (today's Co Clare) in the year 1311, a war that had been going on and off for decades as the O'Briens of that part of Ireland fought with one another to control their own territory. The chief antagonists at the time of this battle were King Dermot O'Brien[Clan Brien] and King Donough O'Brien [Clan Turlough].

The King of England's Justicar in Dublin was worried about the situation in Thomond and in May 1311 issued instructions that:

The war in the parts of Thomond between Richard Clare and Donatus Obreen, who calls himself prince of the Irish of Thomond, disturbs the peace throughout Ire. by its continuation. ORDER to prohibit Richard and Donatus from continuing that war and cause them to keep the peace for life.
Patent Roll 4 Edward II
Patent Roll 4 Edward II | CIRCLE

Which both sides ignored!

Donough O'Brien had the support of the Anglo-Norman DeBurghs of Connacht while Dermot O'Brien had the support of Anglo-Norman Richard de Clare based in Bunratty Castle.

The DeBurghs, led by William DeBurgh himself, invaded Clare to support their protege and clashed with Richard de Clare's men near Bunratty Castle. While the DeBurghs won the tactical battle disaster befell them when William was taken prisoner and Donough O'Brien fled the field of battle as a result.

Lord William de Burgh was captured. On the day of the Ascension of the Lord lord john de Crok* was killed with many others in the battle of Bunratty with a great deal of booty given up in battle.
Annals of Ireland by Friar John Clyn

*He was deBurgh’s Standard bearer.

However the hapless Lord was most unfortunate as another account of this Battle relates:

A great hosting by William Burk into Mumha, against the Clarach;
and they gave battle to each other,
and the Clarach was worsted, and a great defeat was inflicted on him there.
William Burk was himself taken prisoner in the rere of his people, whilst he was following up the rout;
and although he was there taken prisoner,
it was he that had the triumph of that battle.

Annals of Loch Cé

None of this ended the War and even though King Donough was treacherously killed later that year and Dermot died in 1313 the dispute lingered on for many more years.

Thursday, 19 May 2016



19 May 1870: Isaac Butt founded the Home Government Association  at a meeting in the Bilton Hotel, Dublin on this day. This was the beginning of a concerted and growing campaign to gain a measure of self government for Ireland from Britain.

The meeting was attended or supported by sixty-one people of different political and religious persuasions, including six Fenians, Butt seemingly having consulted with the Irish Republican Brotherhood before launching his initiative.
Jackson, Alvin: Home Rule: An Irish History 1800—2000

An Irish Parliament sitting in Dublin with control of Ireland’s internal affairs became the ambition of those who supported Home Rule. Isaac Butt though was an unlikely choice to lead such a Movement but he did have some degree of pedigree in Nationalist politics.

He was born on September 6th, 1813 at Glenfin, Co Donegal, the son of a Protestant clergyman. He studied Law in the 1840s and he was a political opponent of Daniel O’Connell who recognised  him as a man to watch. But the Famine changed everything and Butt went from being a Conservative Unionist to being a moderate nationalist. He was an MP for various constituencies from the 1850s to the 1870s. In the 1860s he defended many of the Fenians arrested by the British for attempting to overthrow their Rule here.

As the Home Rule movement developed it went through various stages but the gentlemanly Butt remained its Leader. However he could not gain much traction at Westminster and younger and more ambitious men began to snap at his heels in particular John Connor Power and Joseph Biggar who brought into the British Parliament the tactic of ‘Obstructionism’ that is they would talk for hours to stop any legislation being passed. In July 1877 Butt threatened to resign from the party if obstruction continued, and a gulf developed between himself and Parnell, who was growing steadily in the estimation of both the Fenians and the Home Rulers.

Eventually things came to a head in 1878 over the War in Afghanistan as Butt saw this as an Imperial matter that was too important to block as it would damage the Empire. This constant infighting wore him out and he suffered a stroke. He died at his home in Clonskeagh Co Dublin and was buried in the family plot in Stranorlar Co Donegal.

While his legacy today is not much remembered it was he who reignited the Parliamentary campaign to gain Ireland a measure of independence from what was then the most powerful Empire in the World - you might say he lit a spark that is still there - flickering but not extinguished.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016


18 May 1613: The opening of Parliament in Dublin Castle on this day. This parliament had been called by King James I [above] in London in order to strengthen his rule in Ireland and to ensure that the Protestant Religion was the dominant one in that body. By doing this he would be able to get legislation passed for the raising of taxes and the enforcement of anti Catholic laws. King James created some 40 micro boroughs (mostly in Ulster) in order to be able to ‘pack’ the Houses with Protestant supporters. In 1612 six of the major Catholic Lords of the Pale had written to him to complain about this:

the project of erecting so many corporations in places that constantly rank as the poorest villages in Christendom, do tend naught else but by the voices of a few selected for the purpose…extreme penal laws should be imposed on your subjects [i.e. Catholics]

But their protest was to no avail as James (a devout Protestant) was determined to see the measure through. He had once described the Catholics of Ireland as half subjects and he did not trust their loyalty to his Throne at all.

When the members of parliament met that day they consisted of 132 Protestants and 100 Catholics - even though over 85% of the population of the Country were Catholics! Of the Catholics, 80 were Old English and only 20 Gaelic Irish. In the House of Lords, the block vote of 20 Protestant Bishops gave the British Crown control of the Upper House in which also sat 12 Catholic and 4 other protestant peers.

In the event on the day mayhem ensued as clashes erupted inside the Castle as the supporters of both religions exchanged blows as to who should have the Speakers Chair. The Catholics peremptorily installed their own nominee Sir John Everard literally into the Chair while the other side had left the Chamber to be counted. On return they then sat their champion Sir John Davies on top of him! After a scuffle Everard was rejected and the opposition withdrew.

 ‘Those within the house are no house and Sir John Everard is our Speaker, and therefore we will not join with you, but we will complain to my Lord Deputy and the King, and the King shall hear of this’ exclaimed Sir William Talbot.

The whole proceedings had turned into a Fiasco, after a series of adjournments the parliament was prorogued on 17 June to await the results of an appeal to England.

Primary Source: Chapter VII of Early Modern Ireland Volume III: Pacification, plantation and the catholic question 1603-23 by Aiden Clarke with R. Dudley Edwards



Tuesday, 17 May 2016


17 May 1974: The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings on this day. Three car bombs exploded in Dublin, immediately killing 23 people and injuring more than 100 others during the rush hour. Five more people died and another 20 were hurt in a blast, which hit the town of Monaghan an hour later. The final death toll was 34 people. The bombings were the work of a UVF gang that had links to elements within the British Army Intelligence services. No one has ever been charged with these attacks.

It was a hot day in early summer when the terrorists launched their attacks. The City centre of Dublin was full of shoppers and workers heading home that Friday afternoon, little suspecting that such a murderous deed was about to be inflicted upon them.


In the North a huge Loyalist Strike was underway with the aim of bringing down the Power Sharing Executive that had been formed in January that year. Its aim was to allow both sides a share in the Government of the North so that no side would feel excluded. It also had as one of its terms the formation of an All Ireland Council. To many Unionists this was a step too far and a possible 'foot in the door' to a United Ireland without their consent.


The perpetrators of these bombings knew that the Executive at Stormont was in grave danger of collapse. It was clear the British Government under Harold Wilson was dithering with indecision as to what to do in the face of such a massive level of civil disobedience by most of the Unionist Community in Ulster. This was backed by widespread intimidation of those who tried to go about their business regardless.


Only the Dublin Government under the Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave stood firm against any collapse of what they had tried so hard in negotiations to have set up and running. While the Troubles had claimed hundreds of lives north of the Border the south had escaped relatively unscathed up until then - but not entirely free of atrocities either.


Clearly the aim of the attackers was to jolt the people of the South, and the Dublin Government in particular, out of any sense of complacency that they could escape the consequences (as they saw it) of unwarranted interference in Ulster.


At approximately 17:30 on Friday 17 May 1974, without prior warning, three car bombs exploded almost simultaneously in Dublin's city centre at Parnell Street, Talbot Street, and South Leinster Street during rush-hour. According to one of the Irish Army's top bomb disposal officers, Commandant Patrick Trears, the bombs were constructed so well that one hundred per cent of each bomb exploded upon detonation.


The explosives used in the attacks were of the type used by the Provisional IRA and were probably from a haul that members of the Crown Forces had captured and that rogue elements had got their hands on to launch these attacks.


The first of the three Dublin car bombs went off at approximately 17:28, in a parking bay outside the Welcome Inn pub and Barry's Supermarket and close to a petrol station, in Parnell Street near its southwestern intersection with Marlborough Street. Ten people were killed in this explosion, including two infant girls and their parents, and a World War I veteran.


The second of the Dublin car bombs went off at approximately 17:30 at number 18 Talbot Street near the northwestern Lower Gardiner Street intersection, outside O'Neill's shoe shop opposite Guineys department store. At least four bodies were found on the pavement just outside Guineys.


The third bomb went off at approximately 17:32 in South Leinster Street near the railings of Trinity College, Dublin. Two women were killed instantly in that explosion; they had been very close to the epicentre of the blast.


Ninety minutes later, at approximately 18:58, a fourth bomb (weighing 150 pounds) exploded outside Greacen's pub in North Road, Monaghan. This bomb killed five people initially, and another two died in the following weeks.


On the evening of the bombings, the Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, said in a TV and radio broadcast that he wanted to express 'the revulsion and condemnation felt by every decent person in this island at these unforgivable acts.' He said it would help 'to bring home to us here what the people of NI have been suffering for five long years.' He added 'everyone who has practised violence, or preached violence or condoned violence must bear a share of responsibility for today's outrage'.


In Belfast, the UDA and the UVF denied responsibility for the explosions and in Dublin a statement issued by the Provisional IRA called the explosions 'vile murder'. Mr. Brian Faulkner, NI Chief Executive, sent a message to Mr. Cosgrave expressing 'deepest regret' from himself and his colleagues. The UDA Press Officer, Mr. Samuel Smyth, said: 'I am very happy about the bombings in Dublin. There is a war with the Free State and now we are laughing at them'.


But within days the official attitude had changed and the feeling in Government ranks was to play down this huge atrocity to avoid heightening tensions and giving credibility to the Provisional IRA. As the weeks rolled by the Garda investigations were wound down and then effectively stopped. It has been rumoured that names of the killers were known to the police forces in both parts of Ireland even if it could never be proved. The event was buried by the forces of Officialdom over the years and forgotten about. No one has ever been charged with these crimes on that terrible day.


LOST LIVES


Dublin and Monaghan Bombings - 17th May 1974:


Patrick Askin (44) Co. Monaghan


Josie Bradley (21) Co. Offaly


Marie Butler (21) Co. Waterford


Anne Byrne (35) Dublin


Thomas Campbell (52) Co. Monaghan


Simone Chetrit (30) France


Thomas Croarkin (36) Co. Monaghan


John Dargle (80) Dublin


Concepta Dempsey (65) Co. Louth


Colette Doherty (20) Dublin


Baby Doherty (full term unborn) Dublin*


Patrick Fay (47), Dublin & Co. Louth


Elizabeth Fitzgerald (59) Dublin


Breda Bernadette Grace (34) Dublin and Co. Kerry


Archie Harper (73) Co. Monaghan


Antonio Magliocco, (37) Dublin & Italy


May McKenna (55) Co. Tyrone


Anne Marren (20) Co. Sligo


Anna Massey (21) Dublin


Dorothy Morris (57) Dublin


John (24), Anna (22), Jacqueline (17 months) & Anne-Marie (5 months) O'Brien, Dublin


Christina O'Loughlin (51), Dublin


Edward John O'Neill (39), Dublin


Marie Phelan (20), Co. Waterford


Siobhán Roice (19), Wexford Town


Maureen Shields (46), Dublin


Jack Travers (28), Monaghan Town


Breda Turner (21), Co. Tipperary


John Walsh (27), Dublin


Peggy White (44), Monaghan Town


George Williamson (72), Co. Monaghan


*Baby Doherty was recognised as the 34th victim of the Bombings by the Coroner for the City of Dublin during the course of the Inquests held in April and May 2004


http://www.dublinmonaghanbombings.org/index2.html

Monday, 16 May 2016


16 May 1926: The inaugural meeting of the Fianna Fáil Party was held in La Scala theatre in Dublin on this day. Among the founding members were Seán Lemass, Gerry Boland, Countess Markievicz and Frank Aiken. The Party was founded and led by Eamon de Valera - the ex President of the Sinn Fein.

De Valera had led a walkout of his followers from Sinn Féin in the previous March. He was dissatisfied with that Party’s continued adherence to a policy of abstention from the Leinster House parliament in Dublin that was the seat of Government of the Irish Free State. Dev wanted to find a way through the ‘Oath’ that committed all members of the House to take an Oath of Fidelity to the King of England (King George V). He knew he could not do that unless he had full command of his own Party.

His gamble paid off as he led Fianna Fáil into Leinster House the following year by taking the Oath - but denying its moral force! He led it into Government in 1932. Under his continued leadership the Party held power until 1948 and again in 1951-1954 and from 1957-1959. In that year he became President of Ireland until he relinquished that Office in 1973. Known to his loyal followers as ‘the Chief’ he was the most popular yet also the most divisive figure in 20th century Ireland.

Sunday, 15 May 2016


15‭ ‬May‭ ‬1847:‭ ‬Death of Daniel O’Connell‭ ‘‬The Liberator‭’ ‬at Genoa while making his way to the Holy City.‭ ‬His heart was taken on to Rome‭ (‬now lost‭) ‬and his body was returned to Dublin for internment in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery.‭

On May‭ ‬15,‭ ‬1847,‭ ‬Father Miley,‭ ‬O'Connell's companion on his last journey,‭ ‬wrote from Genoa:‭ ‬“The Liberator is not better.‭ ‬He is worse‭ – ‬ill as ill can be.‭ ‬At two o'clock this morning I found it necessary to send for the Viaticum and the holy oil.‭ ‬Though it was the dead of night,‭ ‬the cardinal archbishop‭ (‬he is eighty-eight years old‭)‬,‭ ‬attended by his clerics and several of the faithful,‭ ‬carried the Viaticum with the solemnities customary in Catholic countries,‭ ‬and reposed it in the tabernacle which we had prepared in the chamber of the illustrious sufferer.‭ ‬Though prostrate to the last degree,‭ ‬he was perfectly in possession of his mind whilst receiving the last rites.‭ ‬The adorable name of Jesus,‭ ‬which he had been in the habit of invoking was constantly on his lips with trembling fervour,‭ ‬His thoughts have been entirely absorbed by religion since his illness commenced.‭ ‬For the last forty hours he will not open his lips to speak of anything else.‭ ‬The doctors still say they have hope.‭ ‬I have none.‭ ‬All Genoa is praying for him.‭ ‬I have written to Rome.‭ ‬Be not surprised if I am totally silent as to our own feelings.‭ ‬It is poor Daniel who is to be pitied more than all.‭”
Henry Peel OP

St Martin de Porres Magazine
,‭ ‬a publication of the Irish Dominicans.



Thursday, 12 May 2016



12 May 1916: Seán MacDiarmada and James Connolly were executed on this day. They were the last of the Leaders of the Easter Rising to be executed in Ireland. By this stage public revulsion at the continuing executions was boiling over. When the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith arrived in Dublin that day he immediately ordered that no more executions were to take place here. But it was a damage limitation exercise as the men shot became modern day heroes in the eyes of many of the Irish People. And they still are.

Seán MacDiarmada: Born in 1884 in Leitrim, MacDiarmada emigrated to Glasgow in 1900, and from there to Belfast in 1902. A member of the Gaelic League, he was acquainted with Bulmer Hobson. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1906 while still in Belfast, later transferring to Dublin in 1908 where he assumed managerial responsibility for the I. R. B. newspaper Irish Freedom in 1910. Although MacDiarmada was afflicted with polio in 1912, he was appointed as a member of the provisional committee of Irish Volunteers from 1913, and was subsequently drafted onto the military committee of the I. R. B. in 1915. During the Rising MacDiarmada served in the G. P. O. He was executed on 12 May 1916.

James Connolly (1868-1916): Born in Edinburgh in 1868, Connolly was first introduced to Ireland as a member of the British Army. Despite returning to Scotland, the strong Irish presence in Edinburgh stimulated Connolly’s growing interest in Irish politics in the mid 1890s, leading to his emigration to Dublin in 1896 where he founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party. He spent much of the first decade of the twentieth century in America, he returned to Ireland to campaign for worker’s rights with James Larkin. A firm believer in the perils of sectarian division, Connolly campaigned tirelessly against religious bigotry. In 1913, Connolly was one of the founders of the Irish Citizen Army. During the Easter Rising he was appointed Commandant-General of the Dublin forces, leading the group that occupied the General Post Office. Unable to stand to during his execution due to wounds received during the Rising, Connolly was executed while sitting down on 12 May 1916. He was the last of the leaders to be executed.
- See more at: http://www.taoiseach.gov.




Wednesday, 11 May 2016



11 May 1745: The battle of Fontenoy was fought on this day. It occurred in what was then part of the Austrian Netherlands but is now in present day Belgium. The French under Marshal De Saxe defeated the British - Dutch Army under the Duke of Cumberland.

The Allied Army was on the advance to relieve the siege of Tournai when they encountered the French under Marshal De Saxe drawn up in prepared positions. In all the French army numbered 93 battalions, 146 squadrons and 80 cannon, some 70,000 troops, of which 27 battalions and 17 squadrons were left to cover Tournai. In support of this position was a reserve of picked infantry and cavalry regiments, including the Irish Brigade, the “Wild Geese’’.

Cumberland reconnoitred the French position on 10th May and decided to pin down the French right wing by attacking with the Austrian and Dutch contingents between Antoing and Fontenoy. While these attacks were being made the British and Hanoverians would advance between Fontenoy and the Bois de Bary across what appeared to be open ground. His so called ‘Pragmatic Army’ comprised 56 battalions of infantry and 87 squadrons of cavalry supported by 80 cannon, in all around 53,000 men

The French Army however put up a formidable defence and the Allies found the advance heavy going, taking many casualties as they attempted to break their opponents line. But Cumberland pressed on and eventually forced his way into the centre of the French position. The troops opposing him began to buckle. It was the critical moment of the battle.


It was at this point that Marshal De Saxe unleashed his reserve who enveloped the flanks of the British Column. The Irish Brigade (approx. 4,000 men) and dressed in Redcoats was in the thick of it, the men fired up by thought of revenge against their Country’s Oppressor. The Irish Regiments advanced upon the British lines to the cry: 'Cuimhnigidh ar Liumneac, agus ar fheile na Sacsanach’ – ‘Remember Limerick and British faith!’


It consisted that day of the regiments of Clare, Lally, Dillon, Berwick, Roth, and Buckley, with Fitzjames' horse. O'Brien, Lord Clare, was in command. Aided by the French regiments of Normandy and Vaisseany, they were ordered to charge upon the flank of the English with fixed bayonets without firing…


The fortune of the field was no longer doubtful. The English were weary with a long day's fighting, cut up by cannon, charge, and musketry, and dispirited by the appearance of the Brigade. Still they gave their fire well and fatally; but they were literally stunned by the shout, and shattered by the Irish charge. They broke before the Irish bayonets, and tumbled down the far side of the hill disorganized, hopeless, and falling by hundreds. The victory was bloody and complete. Louis is said to have ridden down to the Irish bivouac, and personally thanked them…


George the Second, on hearing it, uttered that memorable imprecation on the penal code, 'Cursed be the laws which deprive me of such subjects.' The one English volley and the short struggle on the crest of the hill cost the Irish dear. One-fourth of the officers, including Colonel Dillon, were killed, and one-third of the men. The capture of Ghent, Bruges, Ostend, and Oudenard, followed the victory of Fontenoy."


STORY OF IRELAND


By A. M. Sullivan

It was the Irish Brigade’s most famous Victory - though it came at a high cost, with hundreds of men dead and wounded. The Pragmatic Army lost almost 10,000 men, while the French suffered between 6,000-7,000 casualties.



Tuesday, 10 May 2016


10‭ ‬May‭ ‬1318:‭ ‬The Battle of Dysert O'Dea was fought on this day.‭ ‬It took place near near Corofin,‭ ‬Co Clare.‭ ‬The battle occurred during the Bruce Invasion of Ireland.‭

The Anglo Norman Lord Richard De Clare‭ ( ‬a descendant of Strongbow‭) ‬attacked the Irish chieftain Conor O’Dea,‭ ‬chief of the Cineal Fearmaic and the ally of‭  ‬King‭ ‬Muircheartach O’Brien of Thomond.‭

De Clare made the mistake of dividing his army in three in the face of the enemy and he led the van towards Castle Dysert O’Dea‭ – ‬the home of the Irish Chieftan.‭ ‬O’Dea held them at the ford of Fergus and sent messengers out to bring up reinforcements as De Clare charged at his opponents only to be surrounded and cut down by the axe of Conor O’Dea himself.‭ 

As the rest of the Anglo Norman force came up they waded into the Irish and were on the point of extracting a bloody revenge when‭ ‬Felim O'Connor's troops charged down the hill of Scamhall‭ (‬Scool‭) ‬and cut a path through the English to join the battle.‭ ‬De Clare's son then arrived on the scene and was cut down and killed by Felim O'Connor.‭

As the two forces were locked in this deadly struggle both expected reinforcements to arrive and as King Muircheartach O'Brien’s men galloped onto the scene Conor O’Dea almost lost heart until he heard the Irish war cries and knew the victory was won.‭  ‬Soon Lochlann O'Hehir and the MacNamaras joined the fight and it was all over for the Anglo Normans who went down fighting.‭

The power of one of the great Anglo Norman families was shattered forever.‭ ‬In the wake of this victory King Muircheartach O'Brien advanced upon the environs  of Bunratty Castle,‭ ‬home of the De Clare’s to find much of it it burnt by De Clare’s widow who promptly fled to England.‭ The Castle though held out for a couple of weeks and the Irish completely destroyed it in 1322. ‬The De Clare’s never returned and Thomond west of the Shannon remained under Irish rule until the early‭ ‬17th Century.‭ ‬It was the greatest Gaelic victory of the Bruce War.


Monday, 9 May 2016


9 May 1916: Thomas Kent/ Tomás Ceannt was executed in Cork Detention Barracks on this day: Born in 1865, Kent was arrested at his home in Castlelyons, Co. Cork following a raid by the Royal Irish Constabulary during which his brother Richard was fatally wounded. It had been his intention to travel to Dublin to participate in the Rising, but when the mobilisation order for the Irish Volunteers was cancelled on Easter Sunday he assumed that the Rising had been postponed, leading him to stay at home.  In 1966 the railway station in Cork was renamed Ceannt Station in his honour.
- See more at: http://www.taoiseach.gov.

When the Kent residence was raided they were met with resistance from Thomas and his brothers Richard, David and William. A gunfight lasted for four hours, in which an RIC officer, Head Constable William Rowe, was killed and David Kent was seriously wounded. Eventually the Kents were forced to surrender, although Richard made a last minute dash for freedom and was fatally wounded.

Along with Roger Casement he was the only other person to be executed outside of Dublin for their part in the Easter Rising.

In September 2015 he was given a State funeral  after his remains were identified via DNA genetic testing thanks to samples supplied by Kent family descendants still living in the Castlelyons and Fermoy areas of north Cork. Following the requiem mass, Thomas Kent, who was 50 when he was executed, was buried in his family's crypt alongside the remains of his brothers William, Richard and David.





Sunday, 8 May 2016


8 May 1916: Con Colbert, Michael Mallin and Seán Heuston were all executed by firing squad on this day for their part in the Easter Rising. They were executed in the Stonebreakers Yard of Kilmainham Jail Dublin.

Con Colbert: Born in 1888, Colbert was a native of Limerick. Prior to the Easter Rising he had been an active member of the republican movement, joining both Fianna Éireann and the Irish Volunteers. A dedicated pioneer, Colbert was known not to drink or smoke. As the captain of F Company of the Fourth Battalion, Colbert was in command at the Marrowbone Lane distillery when it was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916.

Michael Mallin: A silk weaver by trade, Mallin was born in Dublin in 1874. Along with Countess Markievicz, he commanded a small contingent of the Irish Citizen Army, of which he was Chief of Staff, taking possession of St. Stephen’s Green and the Royal College of Surgeons.

Seán Heuston: Born in 1891, he was responsible for the organisation of Fianna Éireann in Limerick. Along with Con Colbert, Heuston was involved in the education of the schoolboys at Scoil Éanna, organising drill and musketry exercises. A section of the First Battalion of the Volunteers, under the leadership of Heuston, occupied the Mendicity Institute on south of the Liffey, holding out there for two days. Heuston Railway station in Dublin is named after him.
www.taoiseach.gov.ie

Prior to his execution Heuston was attended by Father Albert, of the Capuchin Order in his final hours. Father Albert wrote an account of those hours up to and including the execution:

“… I had told him in his cell that I would anoint him when he was shot. We now proceeded towards the yard where the execution was to take place; my left arm was linked in his right, while the British soldier who had handcuffed and blindfolded him walked on his left. As we walked slowly along we repeated most of the prayers that we had been saying in the cell... Having reached a second yard I saw there another group of military armed with rifles... A soldier directed Seán and myself to a corner of the yard, a short distance from the outer wall of the prison. Here there was a box (seemingly a soap box) and Sean was told to sit down upon it. He was perfectly calm, and said with me for the last time: ‘My Jesus, mercy.’ I scarcely had moved away a few yards when a volley went off, and this noble soldier of Irish Freedom fell dead. I rushed over to anoint him; his whole face seemed transformed and lit up with a grandeur and brightness that I had never before noticed.”


Father Albert concluded:

“Never did I realise that men could fight so bravely, and die so beautifully, and so fearlessly as did the Heroes of Easter Week. On the morning of Sean Heuston's death I would have given the world to have been in his place, he died in such a noble and sacred cause, and went forth to meet his Divine Saviour with such grand Christian sentiments of trust, confidence and love.


Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn
, Last words : letters and statements of the leaders executed after the rising at Easter 1916, Dublin: Stationery Office.


Saturday, 7 May 2016


7 May 1915: The liner Lusitania (New York to Liverpool) was torpedoed off the Old head of Kinsale by the German submarine U20 on this day. She sank within 18 minutes. (Two explosions rocked the ship. The first was clearly caused by a torpedo from U-20. The cause of the second explosion has never been definitively determined and remains the source of much controversy.) Of those on board, 761 were rescued, while 1,198 perished, including 115 US Citizens.

On the 7th September 1907 under the command of Captain James B. Watt, the RMS Lusitania sailed on her maiden voyage to New York. She carried over 3,000 passengers and crew. Her passengers were delighted with the new ship. The standards of accommodation and services were well documented. Most third class passengers enjoyed the voyage. Dinning on her was like eating in the best restaurants or hotel anywhere.

In August 1914 World War One broke out. The day of anticipation finally arrived when the British Navy needed the ship for wartime service. The Lusitania had to be refitted for the purpose. Her four funnels were fully painted black to conceal her identity from enemy ships.

On May 1, 1915, the ship departed New York City bound for Liverpool. Unknown to her passengers but probably no secret to the Germans, almost all her hidden cargo consisted of munitions and contraband destined for the British war effort. As the fastest ship afloat, the luxurious liner felt secure in the belief she could easily outdistance any submarine. Nonetheless, the menace of submarine attack reduced her passenger list to only half her capacity.

Following the loss of the Titanic, the Lusitania was fitted with 48 boats (22 wooden and 26 collapsible). Every boat was fitted with 2 chains to anchor them to the deck. This would prove disastrous when the ship sank because the chains would have to be released before the boats could be swung clear of the ship. When the Lusitania was sinking many of the chains were not released and thus preventing the boats from being launched successfully. Many boats went down with the ship.


On Friday 7th May 1915 she had reached the War Zone. The usual precautions of blackening out the portholes and doubling the watch were obeyed.


The lookouts were tentatively at their posts. At about 1.30 p.m. Leslie Morton saw the torpedo heading towards the Starboard side travelling at about 22 knots. He gave the alarm stating "Torpedo coming in the Starboard side". The Bridge was slow in reacting to his warnings.


Another lookout, Thomas Quinn also said that the torpedo and sounded the alarm. It was too late. The torpedo struck the ship and detonated before Turner could do anything. Power was suddenly lost. The watertight door could not be closed. Radio distress signals had to be sent using battery power.


At 2.10 p.m. after lunch the passengers were eagerly waiting for their desserts when they heard:


"the sound of an arrow entering the canvas and straw of a target magnified a thousand times" or and "a pearl of thunder" and "the slamming of a door".


A second explosion came within seconds. Suddenly the ship took a 15º list to Starboard, which began to sharpen to 16º then 17º etc until the list reached 25º - a point at which the ship could not survive. The list had become so severe that the Officers could not swing the lifeboats clear of the ship.


Panic had set in amongst the passengers. Some jumped into the water trying to flee for their lives. Captain Turner jumped into the water when the Bridge was flooding. He swam for three hours before finding a lifeboat to climb into.


Within 18 minutes the ship had rolled over and sunk with 1,195 passengers. Only 289 bodies were recovered. 764 people survived.


The survivors were landed at Cobh (Queenstown) in Co Cork. It was here too that the bodies were brought ashore or washed up in the days after the sinking. The corpses, men, women and children, were placed in coffins and lined up along the Cunard Line’s dock. A huge funeral procession made its way through the streets of Cobh to the cemetery. Many of the dead were buried in mass graves, marked by two crudely hewn stones. Others victims, likely the more affluent, were buried in individual graves with headstones noting their death on the Lusitania.


The loss of the Lusitania was to reverbate on the World stage as the USA was shocked and stunned by the actions of the German Navy in sinking what was to all appearances a civilian Liner engaged in peaceful commerce. It pushed US public opinion firmly in the direction of the Allies and helped to bring the USA into the War against Germany in April 1917.


RMS LUSITANIA


Friday, 6 May 2016


6 May 1882: The Assassination of Cavendish & Burke aka The ‘Phoenix Park Murders’ on this day. The Under Secretary for Ireland Thomas Henry Burke, and the newly arrived Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish, were both stabbed to death in the Phoenix Park by members of a secret organisation known as ‘The Invincibles’. Five of the assassins were later executed in Kilmainham Jail and a number of others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. This event rocked Anglo-Irish relations to the core and was the most shocking and audacious attack on members of the British Political Establishment in Ireland during the course of the 19th Century.

The Phoenix Park tragedy, as it may well be called, occurred on the evening of Saturday, May 6, 1882. Its victims were Mr. Thomas H. Burke, the under-secretary, and Lord Frederick Cavendish, the new chief-secretary. Undersecretary Burke, on that evening, was walking from the Castle to his lodge or official residence in the Phoenix Park, when he accidentally met Lord Cavendish, who accompanied him in the direction he was going.

When near the Phoenix Monument, they were surrounded by five or six men, armed with knives, who attacked them instantly. Surprised and unarmed the secretaries made scarcely any resistance, and were stabbed and hurled to the ground where they expired in a few minutes.

Cavendish – who was married to Lucy Cavendish the niece of British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, and had worked as Gladstone's personal secretary – had only arrived in Ireland the day he was assassinated! He was not the main target but Burke. He had just met by chance with him as they walked towards the vice regal Lodge and was a man of whom it could be truly said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The hunt for the perpetrators was led by Superintendent John Mallon, a Catholic who came from Armagh. He suspected a number of former Fenian activists. A large number of suspects were arrested and kept in prison by claiming they were connected with other crimes. By playing off one suspect against another Mallon got several of them to reveal what they knew.

The 'Invincibles' leader James Carey, along with Michael Kavanagh and Joe Hanlon agreed to testify against the others. Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and Tim Kelly were convicted of the murder and were hanged by William Marwood in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin between 14 May and 4 June 1883. Others were sentenced to serve long prison terms.

The chief Traitor James Carey was known to the others as No 1 of the Invincibles and he was a Dublin City Councillor. His turning Queens evidence brought him freedom but put his life in mortal danger. He was spirited off to London and with his family was dispatched by ship bound for Australia. .

His life being in great danger, he was secretly, with his wife and family, put on board the Kinfauns Castle, bound for the Cape, and sailed on July 6 under the name of Power. On board the same ship was Patrick O'Donnell, a bricklayer. He became friendly with Carey, without knowing who he was. After stopping off in Cape Town, he was informed by chance of the real identity of Carey. He went with his victim on board the Melrose in the voyage from Cape Town to Natal, and when the vessel was 12 miles off Cape Vaccas, on July 29, 1883, using a pistol he had in his luggage, shot Carey dead. This he claimed he did in self defense when he challenged Carey and a gun was pulled on him.

O'Donnell was brought to England and tried for murder, and being found guilty by an English duty, was executed at Newgate on December 17.

James Carey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, 5 May 2016



5 May 1916: Major John MacBride was executed on this day. Originally from Mayo he travelled to America in 1896 to further the aims of the I. R. B., thereafter travelling to South Africa where he raised the Irish Transvaal Brigade during the Second Boer War where he saw action against the British Army. MacBride married the Irish nationalist Maude Gonne in 1903 but it was not a success. They had one son the late Sean McBride Human Rights campaigner and winner of the Nobel & Lenin Peace prizes. The Major was not a member of the Irish Volunteers, but being in Dublin for his brother’s wedding and upon learning of the beginning of the Rising he offered his services to Thomas MacDonagh. He was at Jacob’s biscuit factory when that post was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. He freely admitted his part in the Rising and that he fought in Mufti. At his execution he asked not to have his hands tied behind his back, but this was refused. When they did cover his eyes he made a similar request, remarking to the priest: “You know, father, I have often looked down their guns before.”

5 May 1981: Bobby Sands MP for Fermanagh and south Tyrone died in captivity after 66 days on Hunger Strike. His death sparked widespread rioting.

He was born in 1954 in Rathcoole, a predominantly loyalist district of north Belfast. Initially uninvolved he was forced out of his job and in June 1972, the family were intimidated out of their home in Doonbeg Drive, Rathcoole and moved into the newly built Twinbrook estate on the fringe of nationalist West Belfast. He joined the IRA and became a full time volunteer.

In October 1972, he was arrested. Four handguns were found in a house he was staying in and he was charged with possession. He spent the next three years in Long Kesh where he had political prisoner status. Released in 1976 Bobby returned to his family in Twinbrook. He became involved again in the Armed Struggle and was caught in a car with three other men in which was found a handgun. He was held on remand for eleven months until his trial in September 1977. As at his previous trial he refused to recognise the court.

When he was moved to the H-Blocks he went ‘On the Blanket’ and became a spokesman for the prisoners. When the first Hunger Strike was broken in December 1980 and the terms the prisoners believed were promised to them never happened he became determined to lead the next one - even onto death. This was to  ensure the prisoners 5 Demands were secured. He was now O/C in the Blocks and felt compelled to show leadership to the other men in the same predicament as himself.


He began his fast on 1 March 1981. He kept a secret Diary that lasted the first 17 days but then became too weak to continue. On 30 March, he was nominated as candidate for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone by-election caused by the sudden death of Frank Maguire, an independent MP who supported the prisoners' cause. To the surprise of many he won the seat with over 30,000 votes and caused a watershed in Irish Politics. However his situation was precarious as Mrs Thatcher was not for turning and Bobby Sands knew he was probably going to die before she would give in.

The end came in the early hours of 5 May when he succumbed to the effects of his fast on the 66th day of his ordeal.

I am a political prisoner. I am a political prisoner because I am a casualty of a perennial war that is being fought between the oppressed Irish people and an alien, oppressive, unwanted regime that refuses to withdraw from our land.

Prison Diary Bobby Sands


Wednesday, 4 May 2016


4‭ ‬May‭ ‬1916‭ ‬-‭ ‬Edward Daly,‭ ‬Michael O’Hanrahan,‭ ‬William Pearse and Joseph Mary Plunkett were executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail.‭ ‬This was the second batch of prisoners to be shot and further increased public disquiet about the manner in which General Maxwell was handling the aftermath of the Easter Rising.

Edward "Ned" Daly  was commandant of Dublin's 1st battalion during the Rising. He was the youngest man to hold that rank and the youngest executed in the aftermath.

Michael O’Hanrahan was second in command of the 2nd battalion under Commandant Thomas McDonagh (executed). He fought at Jacob's Biscuit Factory.

William Pearse was Padraig Pearse’s younger brother and played only a minor part in the GPO during Easter Week. It is believed he was shot because of who he was rather than anything he did.

Joseph Mary Plunkett‭ was a seriously ill man by this stage and had only left hospital days before the Rising in order to take part in it. ‬Plunkett was one of the original members of the IRB Military Committee that was responsible for planning the Rising and it was largely his plan that was followed. He travelled to Germany to meet Roger Casement before returning home to implement the plan to initiate a Rising. ‭He famously married his sweetheart Grace Gifford hours before his execution in his prison cell. He was one of the signatories of the Proclamation.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

3‭ ‬May‭ ‬1916‭ – ‬Padraig Pearse,‭ ‬Thomas Clarke and Thomas MacDonagh were executed at dawn  by firing squad on this day.‭ ‬They‭ ‬were shot in the stonebreakers yard [above] of Kilmainham Jail,‭ ‬Dublin on the orders of General Maxwell.‭

‭Pearse, McDonagh and Clarke were all shot minutes apart by a firing squad of British soldiers drawn from the Sherwood Foresters Regiment. They were commanded by a Major Rhodes. As far as we know all died bravely but while Pearse wished to die and Clarke reckoned execution was better than imprisonment again at the hands of the British it was a different story for McDonagh as he left a wife and young family behind him.

‭After their deaths had been confirmed the bodies were quickly transported to Arbour Hill prison where their remains were buried in quicklime. They were the first of 16 men to be executed for their part in the Rising. But their deaths rather than suppressing dissent ignited it and lit the spark that turned them from ‘Rebels’ into heroes.


Monday, 2 May 2016


2 May 1882: Charles Stewart Parnell , the Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party was released from Kilmainham Jail in Dublin on this day. He was let go under the terms of what became known as the ‘Kilmainham Treaty’.

Parnell had been incarcerated there on the personal orders of the British Prime Minister Gladstone back in October of the previous year. The Irish Leader had vehemently opposed Gladstone in his attempts to implement the 2nd Land Act that was meant to alleviate the rent many Irish people had to pay to rapacious Landlords. Parnell felt that it did not go far enough and roused the people to resist it. Agrarian unrest spread through much of the countryside and ‘Captain Moonlight’ ruled the hours of darkness - that is by night the laws of the British ceased to operate in many of the villages and fields of Ireland.

Under the terms of the ‘The Kilmainham Treaty’ the British Prime Minister agreed that rent arrears due from some 130,000 tenants would be dropped and 150,000 leaseholders would be allowed the benefits of the 1881 Land Act. In return Parnell agreed to ‘co operate cordially for the future with the Liberal Party in forwarding Liberal principles and measures of general reform.’

It was seen as a triumph for Parnell as it made him the undisputed Leader of Nationalist Ireland and by daubing the agreement a ‘Treaty’ he gave people at home the impression that Ireland and Britain could negotiate as two recognisably separate political bodies - in other words as Nation to Nation.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


1 May 664 AD: Solar Eclipse seen in Ireland on this day. This was probably witnessed in central and northern Ireland as it was also recorded over northern England too.


Darkness on the Kalends of May at the ninth hour

Chronicum Scotorum

By working backwards from our times to then astronomers are able to accurately fix the time on that day that the eclipse was at its deepest - 16.50 hours.

Such an event would have startled and bewildered the people of that time. To them it would have been seen as an evil portent. And indeed so it proved to be as late that Summer the Plague struck in Ireland and devastated the Country.