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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

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28‭ ‬February‭ ‬1921:‭ ‬Six IRA men were executed in Victoria Barracks, Cork on this day. The men were shot by firing squad. They were Sean Allen,‭ ‬Timothy McCarthy,‭ ‬Thomas O’Brien,‭ ‬Daniel O’Callaghan, John Lyons and Patrick O’Mahony. All bar the first (Sean Allen from Tipperary) had been captured at Dripsey, outside Cork City on 28 January. As they laid in wait to ambush a British convoy the men were surrounded and captured by the 1st Manchester Regiment.

A local Loyalist Mrs Lindsay had given their position away. The IRA seized her and James Clarke (her Chauffer) as hostages to hold them against the execution of the men. The local British Commander, General Strickland, was informed by letter of the consequences.

The letter he received read:
To General Strickland‭…‬We are holding Mrs Mary Lindsay and her Chauffeur,‭ ‬James Clarke as hostages. They have been convicted of spying and are under sentence of death. If the five of our men taken at Dripsey are executed on Monday morning as announced by your office, the two hostages will be shot.
Irish Republican Army

Strickland and General‭ ‬Macready,‭ ‬the British Commander in Ireland, dismissed the idea that the threat was real. They did not believe that the Cork IRA would push it that far. Both men doubted that the IRA would kill a woman in cold blood and decided that the sentences should be carried out.
On the morning of the executions a large crowd gathered outside and prayed for the souls of the dead men who were executed in batches. That night the Cork IRA launched a number of attacks against British forces at different locations throughout the City. Six British soldiers were killed and four were seriously wounded.

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

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





Sunday, 25 February 2018

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25‭ ‬February 1570: Saint Pope Pius V [above*] excommunicated Queen Elizabeth of England on this day. He issued a Papal Bull called Regnans in Excelsis (‘ruling from on high’) that absolved all her subjects from any obligations of allegiance to her. It read in part as follows:

"We charge and command all and singular the nobles, subjects, peoples and others afore said that they do not dare obey her orders, mandates and laws. Those who shall act to the contrary we include in the like sentence of excommunication."


As Elizabeth claimed Ireland as part of her inheritance this Papal decree released by inference the Catholics of Ireland from any sense of obligation to her they may have felt.‭ ‬While the excommunication was of no personal interest to Elizabeth - who had long since abandoned the Catholic Faith - the political ramifications were profound. The Excommunication made her dealings with the Catholic Powers of Europe more problematical and difficult and increased the chances of Spain under Philip II in particular lending his support to revolts within these islands.

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

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

While tenuous on off relations between the Vatican and St James Palace continued in the years after Elizabeth’s reign it was not until the French Revolution that regular envoys were exchanged. Full relations were not established until April 1 1982 when Sir Mark Heath presented his credentials to Pope John Paul II and thus became the United Kingdom’s first ever ambassador to the Holy See.


Saturday, 24 February 2018

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

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

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

The children who died were:
Mary Harrison -15 years of age from Dublin
Mary Hughes - 15 years of age from Killeshandra
Ellen McHugh -15 years of age from Blacklion
Kathleen & Frances Kiely - 12 & 9 years of age from Virginia
Mary & Margaret Lynch - 15 & 10 years of age from Cavan
Josephine & Mona Cassidy - 15 & 11 years of age from Belfast
Kathleen Reilly – 14 years of age from Butlersbridge
Mary  & Josephine Carroll – 12 yrs & 10 years of age from Castlerahan
Mary & Susan McKiernan - 16 & 14 years of age from Dromard
Rose Wright – 11 years of age from Ballyjamesduff
Mary & Nora Barrett - 12 years of age -Twins – from Dublin
Mary Kelly - 10 years of age from Ballinagh
Mary Brady – 7 years of age from Ballinagh
Dorothy Daly – 7 years of age from Cootehill
Mary Ivers – 12 years of age from Kilcoole Wicklow
Philomena Regan – 9 years of age from Dublin
Harriet & Ellen Payne - 11 & 8 years of age from Dublin
Teresa White – 6 years of age from Dublin
Mary Roche - 6 years of age from Dublin
Ellen Morgan – 10 years of age from Virginia
Elizabeth Heaphy - 4 years of age from Swords
Mary O'Hara – 7 years of age from Kilnaleck
Bernadette Serridge - 5 years of age from Dublin
Katherine & Margaret Chambers - 9 & 7 years of age from Enniskillen
Mary Lowry – 17 years of age from Drumcrow, Cavan
Bridget & Mary Galligan - 17 & 18 years of age Drumcassidy, Cavan
&
Mary Smith 80 years of age employed as Cook


Thursday, 22 February 2018


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

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

Churchill was fundamentally opposed to Home Rule and planned to use his name in Ulster to give heart to those within the ranks of the Orange Order that were prepared to resist by any means the bringing in of such a measure.‭ He had written to a friend some days previously what his plan was:
I decided some time ago that if the G.O.M.‭* ‬went for Home Rule, the Orange card would be the one to play. Please God it may turn out to be the ace of trumps and not the two.
‭* ‬Grand Old Man‭ – ‬Mr Gladstone

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

‭ ‬Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.

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



22 February 1973: Elizabeth Bowen author, socialite and spy[?] died on this day. Of Anglo Irish stock she was born at 15 Herbert Place in the city of Dublin on 7 June 1899. Her parents were Henry Charles Cole Bowen and Florence (née Colley) Bowen. In 1907 her father declined into mental illness and she moved with her mother to England where they took up residence at the seaside town of Hythe in Kent. Tragedy was to strike her again though when her mother died in 1912. After that she was brought up by a committee of Aunts and shunted back and forth between them.

It was only as she grew older that she realised the chasm between the closed world of the Anglo-Irish set she belonged to and the bulk of the Catholic population of Ireland:

‘It was not until after the end of those seven winters that I understood that we Protestants were a minority, and that the unquestioned rules of our being came, in fact, from the closeness of a minority world’...
I took the existence of Roman Catholics for granted but met few and was not interested in them. They were simply “the others,” whose world lay alongside ours but never touched.'

Elizabeth Bowen, Bowen’s Court & Seven Winters: Memories of a Dublin Childhood, (London: Virago, 1984;1942)

After some time at art school in London she decided that her talent lay in writing. She mixed with the Bloomsbury Group, which contained some the most talented and outrageous (for the time) people involved in the London Arts scene. Her first book, a collection of short stories entitled Encounters was published in 1923. It was in that year she married one Alan Cameron. He had served in the Great War in which he was badly gassed. The marriage has been described as "a sexless but contented union." The marriage was reportedly never consummated! She reputedly had numerous extra martial affairs with other men though they stayed married until his death in 1952.

The great love of her life was Charles Ritchie, a Canadian diplomat of great charm and intelligence from a privileged Nova Scotia background. They first met in 1941 and continued an On-Off relationship for over 30 years until her death. She really could not live without knowing that he loved her - but to him she was a fascinating creature though not the absolute centre of his life. He later married another woman and that must have hurt Elizabeth - but there was nothing she could really do about it.

But while an author of some note its clear her personal life was an unsettled one. The loss of her parents while still a child must have had a had a huge impact on her psyche that left her reserved and unsure in human relations though with a great deal of silent perception on the frailties of the human condition. Though somewhat cryptic in style her reading of human nature was what made her novels such gems in the way she described her characters and the rarefied world that they moved through.
Strangely in Ireland she is remembered as much for her writing reports from here during the Second World War to the British Ministry of Information in London about the attitudes and feelings of the Great and the Ordinary towards Britain and the War - for which some have labelled her a ‘Spy’. A matter of opinion really.

She tried to spend as much time as possible at her beloved Bowen’s Court in Cork, the family seat she inherited in 1930. But while it was a idyll away from the drudgery of London its upkeep was a huge burden on her finances. Eventually it led her to a nervous breakdown, a string of unpaid debts and the sale and eventual demolition of Bowens Court in 1960. She returned to London and witnessed the ‘Swinging Sixties’ there. A smoker she developed Lung Cancer in 1972. That year she saw out her last Christmas in Ireland staying with friends in Kinsale Co Cork. She died in London on 22 February 1973, aged 73. She is buried with her husband in Farahy Co Cork  churchyard, close to the gates of Bowen's Court, where there is a memorial plaque to her.

Her best-known novels are The Death of the Heart and The Heat of the Day, but her own favourite was The Last September, published when she was still in her 20s; it was, she said, the work of hers “nearest to my heart”.

Her prose is so subtle and allusive that it would be a disservice to quote from her, but read almost any descriptive passage in The Last September and you will understand her greatness.
John Banville Irish Times 7 March 2015




Wednesday, 21 February 2018


21‭ ‬February 1922: A new Police Force, the ‘Civic Guard’ began its first Recruitment campaign on this day. It was intended to replace the Royal Irish Constabulary as the instrument charged with Law enforcement within the prospective Irish Free State that was due to come into full operation by the end of the year.

In January‭ ‬1922,‭ the Provisional Government had decided that the Royal Irish Constabulary was to be disbanded "as soon as possible". They decided to replace the Republican Police with a regular police force under a trained police officer. Michael Collins had reported to the Provisional Government on 28 January that a police organising committee was being formed, that would include members of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police.

The committee held their first meeting in the Gresham Hotel on Thursday,‭ ‬9 February,‭ ‬with General Richard Mulcahy, Michael Collins,‭ ‬and Michael J.‭ ‬Staines among those in attendance. Work was started immediately under Michael Staines T.D. [above] as the acting chairman. A veteran of the Easter Rising he had been active in the administration of the National Arbitration Courts and the Republican Police during the War of Independence.‭

Volunteer Brigade Officers around the Country were requested to dispatch suitable recruits for training to a temporary headquarters at the Royal Dublin Society in Ballsbridge,‭ ‬Dublin. Any candidates who attended for examination were to be at least 5' 9", unmarried and between the ages of 19 and 27. They were compelled to sit examinations in reading spelling and arithmetic to gain entry as cadets. The first man to join the Civic Guard was an ex RIC man P. J. Kerrigan.

However the name‭ ‘Civic Guard’ was not formally decided upon until 27 February and on the following 10 March, ‬Michael Joseph Staines [above] was formally appointed as its first Commissioner. In August of the following year the Police Force of the State was renamed An Garda Síochána ‭ (Guardians of the Peace) and has remained the name of the Force ever since. Michael Staines was then retrospectively recognised as the first Commissioner of the Garda Síochána. His most famous saying was that:‬

The Garda Síochána will succeed,‭ ‬not by force of arms or numbers,
but by their moral authority as servants of the people.

Tuesday, 20 February 2018


20 February 1644: The Execution of Sir Connor Maguire - ‘The Maguire’ of Fermanagh at Tyburn, London on this day*. He was hanged, drawn and quartered for ‘High Treason’. Maguire had been one of the leaders of the 1641 Rising in Ireland and was tasked with seizing Dublin Castle from the English. At the last moment the plans were discovered and the plot was aborted. He was quickly captured and eventually confessed to his role in the affair. In June 1642 he and other prisoners were sent over to London and held in the Tower under severe conditions. They were then sent to Newgate Prison and held as ‘close prisoners’ - bread and water diet in close confinement. Moved back to the Tower they were treated somewhat better. The guard loosened Maguire and others managed to escape but while waiting for a ship to the Continent they were recognised and recaptured after just a few weeks of freedom.

'The peerage in Maguire’s case made a difficulty. There were several precedents for trying in England treasons committed in Ireland. That being admitted as good law, it was easy to show that an Irish peer was a commoner in England, and as such Maguire was tried. Many points of law were raised, but the facts were patent, and he was sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. On the cart at Tyburn Maguire was cruelly harassed about religious matters, but he remained firm. He carried in his hand some curious papers, partly of a devotional character, with directions as to how he should bear himself. He declared that he forgave all his 'enemies and defenders, even those that have a hand in my death,' and that he died a Roman catholic.'
Dictionary of National Biography

On February 20 1644 Lord Maguire to whom the executioner would have shown some favour by leaving him to hang on the gallows until he should be quite dead and meanwhile the executioner was busy kindling the fire with which his entrails were to be burned after his death but so inhuman were the officers that they totally denied Lord Maguire the services of one of our Fathers on the scaffold and they waited not for the executioner but one of them cut the rope with a halberd and let the Lord Maguire drop alive and then called the executioner to open him alive and very ill the executioner did it the said Lord Maguire making resistance with his hand and defending himself with such little strength as he had; and such was the cruelty that for sheer compassion the executioner bore not to look upon him in such torment, and, to have done with him, speedily handled his knife well and cut his throat.
Letter from Father Hugh Burke, bishop of Kilmacduagh
Eyewitness to Irish History
By Peter Berresford Ellis

* Near Marble Arch



Monday, 19 February 2018


19 February 1921: Brigadier-General Frank Percy Crozier CB, CMG DSO the head of the
 ‘ Black and Tans’ submitted his resignation on this day. The General was disgusted at the undisciplined antics of many of the ‘cadets’  under his command of the Auxiliary Division of the Royal Irish Constabulary  (RIC). He had made inquiries that seemed to him to point the finger of blame at men under his nominal control in the murder of Father Griffin in Galway and the projected murder of Bishop Fogarty. He had sent back in disgrace 21 of the more outrageous members of his force to Britain only to discover that General Tudor, the overall head of the RIC, had recalled them for duty in Ireland. This proved a catalyst in Crozier deciding to resign his position. 

Following questions put to Sir Hamar Greenwood, Chief Secretary for Ireland, by the Irish MP Captain Redmond in the House of Commons this news became public and the affair became an open scandal. The notorious reputation of the ‘Black & Tans’ was further enhanced and their bloody reign was now open for all to see.

Born in Bermuda in 1879 Crozier spent a great deal of his youth in Ireland but was educated in England. He had seen active service in the Boer War and later in Northern Nigeria. He served in World War One leading the 9th Royal Irish Rifles, whose rank and file were drawn from Loyalist West Belfast. He led them 'over the top' on 1 July 1916 and displayed great bravery but also ruthlessness against those who wilted in the advance on the German positions. He was a hard man if ever there was one and an Empire Loyalist to boot. He was somewhat eccentric in his opinions and actions and not everyone found him a trustworthy character. But even he found the actions of some of his subordinates unacceptable and of course no fighting force can survive if discipline is not enforced. In this instance he really had no choice but to resign once his Authority over his men was flouted  by those above him in the Chain of Command.

Crozier drifted off into obscurity after this and spent his last years putting his energies and pen to the cause of peace,  denouncing war as a means of settling international disputes in a series of books that sought to portray war with uncompromising brutality. These included ‘A Brass Hat in No Mans Land’ about his time on the Western Front with amongst others the 36th Ulster Division and  ‘Ireland Forever’ on his time in charge of the ‘Black & Tans’. He died in 1937.





Sunday, 18 February 2018


18 February 1366: The Viceroy, Lionel Duke of Clarence summoned a Parliament at Kilkenny on this day. From this emerged in the following year the series of infamous ordinances that became popularly known as the ‘Statutes of Kilkenny’ and were designed to put a legal framework on the division of Ireland into two separate peoples: the English and the Irish. In fact it was one Statute and contained thirty-five articles of note.

It was officially entitled:

A Statute of the Fortieth Year of King Edward III., enacted in a parliament held in Kilkenny, A.D. 1367, before Lionel Duke of Clarence, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
 

For instance if any man took a name after the Irish fashion, used the Irish language, or dress, or mode of riding (without saddle), or adopted any other Irish customs, all his lands and houses were forfeited, and he himself was put into jail till he could find security that he would comply with the law. The Irish living among the English were permitted to remain, but were forbidden to use the Irish language under the same penalty. To use or submit to the Brehon law [Gaelic Law] or to exact 'coyne and livery' [extractions and billeting of soldiers on households] was treason. The Irish game of Hurling was also banned - a game which is still played today - esp in Kilkenny!

The Statute of Kilkenny, though not exhibiting quite so hostile a spirit against the Irish as we find sometimes represented, yet carried out consistently the vicious and fatal policy of separation adopted by the government from the beginning. It was intended to apply only to the English, and was framed entirely in their interests. Its chief aim was to withdraw them from all contact with the "Irish enemies"--so the natives are designated all through the act--to separate the two races for evermore.
From A Concise History of Ireland by P. W. Joyce

Lionel was the third son of King Edward III [above] and certainly was well placed to have the King’s ear on matters relating to how to rule over Ireland. Nevertheless the Duke of Clarence did not have much success in Ireland and these measures were more the result of desperation than the confident exercise of power by him. They were more an attempt to hold back the tide as the English Colony in Ireland continued to disintegrate and shrink in size and influence.

Bizarrely the noble Duke was not long to survive his sojourn in Ireland, some years later he died suddenly at Alba in the province of Piedmont in northern Italy while enjoying the comforts of his second wife, one Violante Visconti, daughter of the Lord of Pavia. He was probably poisoned by his father in Law in order to block the enormous Dowry he demanded as payment for marrying the man’s daughter!






Saturday, 17 February 2018

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17 February 1980:The finding of the Derrynaflan hoard in Killeens bog Co. Tipperary in 1980 was one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times.

Derrynaflan is a small island of mineral soil in Killeens bog Co. Tipperary. The site was an important monastery in the eighth and ninth centuries and came under the patronage of the King-Bishops of Cashel. The site is best known for the treasure discovered there in 1980, one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of modern times.

The hoard was discovered by Michael Webb and his son Michael Jr. while metal detecting at the National Monument on 17 February 1980. The hoard consisted of a highly decorated ninth century silver chalice, a large eighth century paten and stand an eighth century liturgical strainer and an eighth to ninth century bronze basin. The objects in the hoard date to different periods and did not originally constitute a single communion set. The treasure appears to have been buried in the ninth or tenth centuries to conceal it, probably from Viking raiders. The hoard is on display in the national Museum in Kildare St. Dublin.

The discovery of the hoard lead to years of legal action between the finders and the Irish state that went all the way to the Supreme Court. In the course of the legal action the law of Treasure Trove, which had operated in Ireland since medieval times, was found to be incompatible with Irish law. This resulted in the 1994 National Monuments Act that vested in the state the ownership of all archaeological objects.





Friday, 16 February 2018



16‭ ‬February 1932: A General Election held in the Irish Free State on this day. The president of the Executive Council, W.T. Cosgrave, [above top] called the election early as he wished to have it out of the way in time for the Commonwealth Conference of that year. There was growing unrest in the country and he felt that a fresh mandate was needed. He fought the campaign on a programme of bringing political stability to the State and that a change of Government would see people sympathetic to republicanism and communism in power.

Eamon De Valera [above below] on the other hand promised to free IRA prisoners,‭ abolish the Oath to the King of England and to reduce the powers of the Governor General. He also indicated that more equitable social policies would be introduced at a time when the Great Depression was in full swing.

The general election took place in 30 parliamentary constituencies throughout the Irish Free State for 153 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann. In the event there was a change of Government and Eamon de Valera won the contest.‭ Fianna Fáil received 566,498 votes and won 72 seats as opposed to Cosgrave’s Cumann na nGaedhael, which got 449,506 votes and secured 57 seats. The Labour Party returned with just 7 seats on a vote from 98,286 of the electorate. While De Valera was still five seats short of an overall majority, he struck an informal deal with the Labour Party to back him up. On that basis he was able to govern the Free State with a fair deal of parliamentary political stability over the next few years.

This change of government marked a watershed in the history of the State as De Valera went on to abolish the Oath to the King of England [that all T.D.s who entered Dáil Éireann had to take], release prisoners and to give the polity a much more Republican flavour including a new Constitution some years later.‭ ‬He remained in power through an unbroken series of election victories until 1948.



Thursday, 15 February 2018


15 February 1853:‭ ‬The loss of the paddle steamship, the Queen Victoria on this day. She went down on the rocks off the Bailey Lighthouse on Howth head on this day. Over 80 lives were lost as she struck this outcrop of the peninsula in a blinding snowstorm.

This precipitous portion of the coast was the scene of a lamentable shipping disaster in‭ 1853. The steamship Queen Victoria, on a voyage from Liverpool to Dublin, with about 100 passengers and cargo, struck on the southern side of the Casana rock during a dense snowstorm, between 2 and 3 o'clock on the morning of the 15th February. Eight of the passengers managed to scramble overboard on to the rocks, from which they made their way up the cliffs to the Bailey Lighthouse. The captain, without further delay, ordered the vessel to be backed, so as to float her clear of the rocks, but she proved to be more seriously injured than was imagined, and began to fill rapidly when she got into deep water. Drifting helplessly towards the Bailey, she struck the rocky base of the Lighthouse promontory, and sank in fifteen minutes afterwards, with her bowsprit touching the shore. The Roscommon steamer fortunately happened to pass while the ill-fated vessel was sinking, and, attracted by the signals of distress, Promptly put out all her boats and rescued between 40 and 50 of the passengers. About 60, however, were drowned, including the captain.

After a protracted inquest extending over several days,‭ the jury found that the disaster was due to the culpable negligence of the captain and the first mate, in failing to slacken speed during a snowstorm which obscured all lights, they well knowing at the time that they were approaching land. The mate was subsequently put on trial for manslaughter.

It was believed by many that if the captain had not,‭ ‬in the first instance, backed off the rocks into deep water, all on board could have been saved.
From‭ ‬:‭ The Neighbourhood of Dublin by Weston St. John Joyce.‬

A subsequent Board of Trade inquiry blamed the ship's captain and first officer, as well as the lighthouse crew. A fog bell was supposed to have been installed in the lighthouse in 1846, seven years earlier, but was delayed due to costs of other construction projects. The bell was finally installed in April 1853, as a result of the Queen Victoria shipwreck and the subsequent inquiry.
At least one attempt to raise the ship was made afterwards, which failed, and the ship was salvaged where she lay. The wreck is still in place.

Members of the Marlin Sun Aqua Club, Dublin discovered the wreck in 1983. They reported their discovery to the authorities, and were in part responsible for having the first Underwater Preservation Order placed on a shipwreck in Irish waters. They also carried out the first underwater survey on such a wreck. The wreck was the first to be protected by The National Monuments Act (Historic Wreck), when the order was granted in 1984, thanks to representations made by Kevin Crothers, IUART, and the Maritime Institute of Ireland
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PS_Queen_Victoria_(1838)

Wednesday, 14 February 2018


13/14 February 1981:48 young people died in a fire at the Stardust Night Club, Dublin on this day. The origin, source and cause of the fire still remain a mystery but what is not in doubt is that the huge loss of life was caused by inadequate safety measures. The building was not purpose built as a place of entertainment. It was in fact a converted jam factory that obviously was not designed to hold within its walls so many people for such a purpose. Even more astonishing is that many of the fire exits were chained shut, ostensibly to avoid people entering the premises without paying. The victims were all young people enjoying a night out and the fire spread so rapidly that panic ensued as the lights went out and acrid thick smoke quickly engulfed the premises.

Hundreds fled for their lives as the building went up in minutes. The failure of the lighting in the club led to widespread panic causing mass trampling as many of the patrons instinctively ran for the main entrance. Many people mistook the entrance to the men's toilets for the main entrance doors but the windows there had metal plates fixed on the inside and iron bars on the outside. Firemen attempted in vain to pull off the metal bars using a chain attached to a fire engine. Firemen rescued between 25-30 of those trapped in the front toilets.

Dublin’s Emergency Disaster Plan was implemented and the bodies of the dead and dying and those burned, some horribly, were ferried to all the City’s major hospitals. The City Morgue could not cope with so many being brought in at once and the Army had to set up tents to hold the bodies of those who died until they could be identified by their loved ones. Scenes of heart rending grief were witness in the days that followed as these identifications were carried out and the funerals took place. Thelma Frazer could only be identified by the jewellery she wore to the Stardust disco. [above]In at least five instances a formal identification was not possible as some bodies were burned beyond recognition. Recent advances in DNA though mean that at last this can now be resolved.

As it so happened the Fianna Fáil Party were holding their Ard Fheis that same weekend but once news broke of the terrible loss of life the Taoiseach Charlie Haughey cancelled the proceedings as a mark of respect. The import of such a terrible event as this was not lost upon him as the Stardust was within his own Constituency and he knew the families of many of the victims. He attended many of the funerals himself and indeed was seen in tears on at least one occasion as the internments took place.

To this day no certain cause as to how the fire started has been established - whether it was arson or accident.

The names of those who died are:
Michael Barrett, Raheny, Dublin 5.
Richard Bennett, Coolock, Dublin 5
Carol Bissett, Ringsend, Dublin 4.
James Buckley, Donnycarney, Dublin 5.
Paula Byrne, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Caroline Carey, Coolock, Dublin 5.
John Colgan, Swords, Co. Dublin.
Jacqueline Croker, Killmore West, Dublin 5.
Liam Dunne, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Michael Farrell, Coolock, Dublin 5.
David Flood, Beaumount, Dublin 5.
Thelma Frazer, Sandymount, Dublin 4.
Michael French, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Josephine Glenn, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Michael Griffiths, Killmore, Dublin 5.
Robert Hillock, Twinbrook, Belfast.
Brian Hobbs, Whitehall, Dublin 9.
Eugene Hogan, Artane, Dublin 5.
Murtagh Kavanagh, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Martina Keegan, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Mary Keegan, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Robert Kelly, Raheny, Dublin 5.
Mary Kennedy, Killbarrack, Dublin 5.
Mary Kenny, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Margaret Kiernan, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Sandra Lawless, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Francis Lawlor, Finglas, Dublin 11.
Maureen Lawlor, Finglas, Dublin 11.
Paula Lewis, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Eamon Loughman, Beaumont, Dublin 9.
George McDermott Raheny, Dublin 5.
Marcella McDermott, Raheny, Dublin 5.
William McDermott, Raheny, Dublin 5.
Julie McDonnell, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Teresa McDonnell, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Gerard McGrath, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Caroline McHugh, Artane, Dublin 5.
Donna Mahon, Raheny, Dublin 5.
Helena Mangan, Coolock,
James Millar, Twinbrook, Belfast.
Susan Morgan, Derry.
David Morton, Artane, Dublin 5.
Kathleen Muldoon Kells, Co. Meath.
George O'Conner, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Brendan O'Meara Coolock, Dublin 5.
John Stout, Coolock, Dublin 5.
Margaret Thornton, Dublin 8.
Paul Wade, Artane, Dublin 5.
and not forgetting the 215 injured...





Tuesday, 13 February 2018


13 February 1820: Leonard McNally, playwright, barrister, United Irishman and an Informer died on this day. He was born in Dublin in 1752, and became a barrister in England before returning home to practise at the Irish Bar. He was one of the original members of the Society of United Irishmen and came to and defended many of its members in the Courts. He turned informer in 1794 following the arrest of the French agent the Rev Jackson.  The general opinion is that his nerve snapped under threats during interrogation but the exact circumstances that led to his decision to become a tout remain unclear.

His play Robin Hood (1784) was playing in Dublin on the night in 1798 when Lord Edward Fitzgerald was captured on foot of information he had provided. During the Rising of 1798 and in 1803 he found himself in the bizarre situation of taking money both from revolutionary defendants before the Courts and from Dublin Castle for providing them with information that would compromise his clients. While some had their doubts, and indeed one ‘doubter’ sent him a snake in a parcel from America as a token of gratitude, his dark secret remained hidden until his death in 1820. Ironically he was given a Patriots funeral. It was only when his family demanded that his pension of £300  per annum be continued that his secret life as a traitor was exposed.

He died at 22 Harcourt-street Dublin, 13th February 1820, aged 68. Then only did his treachery appear. His heir claimed a continuance of a secret service pension of £300 a year, which his father had enjoyed since 1798. The Lord-Lieutenant demanded a detailed statement of the circumstances under which the agreement had been made; it was furnished after some hesitation, and the startling fact became generally known, not only that he had been in regular receipt of the pension claimed, but that during the state trials of 1798 and 1803, while he was receiving fees from the prisoners to defend them, he also accepted large sums from Government to betray the secrets of their defence. The Cornwallis Correspondence, Madden's Lives of the United Irishmen, and communications from Mr. FitzPatrick in Notes and Queries, 2nd Series, put all this beyond doubt.
A Compendium of Irish Biography: Richard Webb Dublin 1878
http://www.libraryireland.com/biography/index.php

Monday, 12 February 2018


12 February 1976: The Hunger Striker Frank Stagg died after 61 days on hunger strike in Wakefield Prison, Yorkshire, on this day. He had been on hunger strike in protest at the British government's refusal to transfer him to a prison in Ireland. He had been arrested in Coventry in 1973 and had been given a sentence of 10 years for criminal damage and conspiracy to commit arson. He initially went on Hunger Strike in 1974 along with others to gain repatriation to Ireland. In this strike his comrade Michael Gaughan died and Stagg felt a degree of moral responsibility for convincing him to embark upon it.

While other hunger strikers were sent back the British refused to move Stagg and he was incarcerated in Long Lartin Prison. Here he was subjected to prolonged periods of Solitary Confinement for and again went on hunger strike. Eventually the Prison Governor relented and Stagg called off his strike. In 1975 he was transferred to Wakefield Prison where he again refused to do prison work. Just before Christmas that year he and others again embarked on a Hunger strike. Their demand were: An end to Solitary Confinement; No Prison Work and Repatriation to Ireland. He died on 12 February 1976.

When his body was returned to Ireland his coffin was seized by the Government and buried under concrete so that it could not be interred in the Republican Plot in Ballina, Co Mayo. However in November 1976, a group of republicans tunnelled under the concrete to recover the coffin under cover of darkness and reburied it in the Republican plot.


Sunday, 11 February 2018

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11‭ February 1867: The abortive Fenian Raid on Chester Castle on this day. An audacious plan had been put together by the Fenian Leadership to seize the arsenal at Chester Castle in England.  The plotters would then bring the considerable stock of weapons and ammunition held there to Ireland where they would be distributed to the volunteers in order to overthrow British rule. So much for the plan - but the night before it was to be out into operation the whole scheme was betrayed to the local police by an informer from within the Movement. It had been betrayed by John Carr, alias Corydon who was a paid informer. The cache of rifles had been removed to the castle and the garrison quickly reinforced by another 70 regular soldiers from Manchester.

Despite efforts to turn their men back,‭ ‬an estimated 1,300 Fenians reached Chester, in small parties from Manchester, Preston, Halifax, Leeds and elsewhere. Mostly, they discarded what few weapons they had and melted away. The next day, with nothing now happening, a further 500 household troops arrived by train from London in time for a tumultuous reception and breakfast at Chester hotels.

The man who was the mastermind of the projected operation was John McCafferty,‭ ‬US Citizen and an ex Irish American soldier who had served in the Confederate Army in the American Civil War. Once he realised that his cover had been blown he effected a quick escape with the intention of making it back to Dublin. His accomplice was John Flood and as a result of the hunt now on for them they decided to return to Ireland by collier and not a passage steamer which were all being watched. The ship they returned home on was called the New Draper.

However,‭ ‬when the New Draper arrived at Dublin on the‭ ‬23rd February‭ ‬1867,‭ ‬the harbour was being watched.‭ ‬The two Fenians were to be put ashore from the vessel in an oyster boat,‭ ‬but were spotted by policemen,‭ ‬and their vessel was pursued in a chase across the river Liffey involving a ferry, a canal boat and a collier and the men were arrested.‭ ‬Ultimately they were tried for ‘High Treason‭’ ‬and McCafferty was sentenced to life imprisonment,‭  ‬but he was released under Amnesty in‭ ‬1871.‭ ‬He returned to the US where he kept up the Fenian Campaign against Britain. He went back to Ireland in the‭ ‬1870‭’s and became involved in Mayo bye election of 1874. After a further period of revolutionary activity when he became involved with the Invincibles he went back to America and disappeared.