Sunday, 30 September 2012

30 September 1900: Arthur Griffith [above] and William Rooney founded Cumann na nGaedheal, a cultural and education association aimed at the reversal of Anglicisation in Ireland. As a result of the success of this organisation they went on to found Sinn Fein in 1905. This movement represented a combination of a number of groups at the time including Cumann na nGaedhael, the Dungannon Clubs and the National Council.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

29 September 1979: Pope John Paul II began his visit to Ireland on this day. Ireland was the third pilgrimage of his Pontificate. The Holy Father's first visit was to the Dominican Republic, Mexico and the Bahamas, his second visit was to Poland and his third visit was to Ireland and the United States.

During his 1979 pilgrimage to Ireland, Pope John Paul undertook a hectic schedule travelling the country in order to greet the faithful in the four provinces of Ireland. Over the three days the Holy Father addressed large crowds in Dublin, Drogheda, Clonmacnoise, Galway, Knock, Maynooth and Limerick.

On that first day, September 29th, in the Phoenix Park, he met over one million people, the largest gathering of Irish people in history. He told the people why he felt called to visit Ireland and the Irish.  He reminded them how St Patrick heard the “voice of the Irish” and came back to Ireland.

Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ, Like St. Patrick, I too have heard “the voice of the Irish” calling to me, and so I have come to you, to all of you in Ireland. From the very beginning of it’s faith, Ireland has been linked with the Apostolic Sea of Rome.  The early records attest that your first bishop, Palladius, was sent to Ireland by Pope Celestine; and that Patrick, who succeeded Paladius,  was “confirmed in the faith” by Pope Leo the Great.

Your people have spread this love for the Catholic Church everywhere they went, in every century of your history.  This has been done by the earliest monks and the missionaries of Europe’s Dark Ages, by the refugees from persecution, by the exiles and by the missionaries men and women of the last century and this one.

Friday, 28 September 2012

28 September 1912: 'Ulster Day' The signing of the Solemn League and Covenant on this day. It was signed by the Loyalist men and the women signed a similar Declaration. It was taken by some 500,000 Ulster Unionists in protest against the passing of the Third Home Rule Bill by the British Parliament. Sir Edward Carson was the first person to sign as the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party.

This public avowal of repudiation of the terms of the Bill alerted the political establishments in both Britain and Ireland that a major Constitutional Crises was brewing that would split Nations and Parties apart.
237,368 men signed it and 234,046 women signed a parallel declaration.

The Covenant ran as follows:

BEING CONVINCED in our consciences that Home Rule would be disastrous to the material well-being of Ulster as well as of the whole of Ireland, subversive of our civil and religious freedom, destructive of our citizenship, and perilous to the unity of the Empire, we, whose names are underwritten, men of Ulster, loyal subjects of His Gracious Majesty King George V., humbly relying on the God whom our fathers in days of stress and trial confidently trusted, do hereby pledge ourselves in solemn Covenant, throughout this our time of threatened calamity, to stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom, and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland. And in the event of such a Parliament being forced upon us, we further solemnly and mutually pledge ourselves to refuse to recognise its authority. In sure confidence that God will defend the right, we hereto subscribe our names.
And further, we individually declare that we have not already signed this Covenant.

However the key words within that were to have such fraught consequences were 'using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland.'

However the key words within that were to have such fraught consequences were 'using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland.'

This opened the way for the importation of arms into Ireland, firstly for the Ulster Unionists and later by Irish Nationalists. The introduction of the concept of armed force to settle political affairs was to have terrible repercussions that lasted right up until modern times in this Country.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

25 September 1917: Thomas Ashe died on this day. It was the 5th day of his Hunger Strike to secure Political Status for Republican prisoners. Born in Co Kerry in 1885 he was a member of the IRB and the Irish Volunteers. He took part in the Easter Rising in 1916 and led a column that successfully engaged the Crown Forces at the Battle of Ashbourne, Co Meath that week. He was sentenced to death in the aftermath but his life was spared as public indignation rose over the executions.

Released from captivity in June the following year he was in August 1917 arrested and charged with sedition for a speech that he made in Ballinalee, County Longford. He was detained at the Curragh but was then transferred to Mountjoy Prison in Dublin. He was convicted and sentenced to two years hard labour. Ashe and other prisoners, including Austin Stack demanded prisoner of war status.

Ashe went on hunger strike on 20 September1917. He died at the Mater Hospital, Dublin after being force-fed by prison authorities. At the inquest into his death, the jury condemned the staff at the prison for the "inhuman and dangerous operation performed on the prisoner, and other acts of unfeeling and barbaric conduct". His death through being forced fed elicited widespread revulsion amongst the Irish people and his funeral acted as a catalyst to the further growth of the Sinn Fein Party and Republican ideals.

Monday, 24 September 2012

24 September 1798: The Irish Patriot Bartholomew Teeling was hanged at Arbour Hill Prison Dublin on this day. A United Irishman he was the son of wealthy linen merchant from Lisburn, County Antrim. He travelled to France with Theobald Wolfe Tone in 1796 and in August 1798 he accompanied the French General Joseph Humbert on his Expedition to Ireland.

On 5 September at the battle of Carricknagat, outside of Collooney, Co Sligo, he displayed great bravery and helped to win the battle by riding directly up to a British cannon, which had been raking their lines and killing the gunner with his pistol. He was captured in the aftermath of the battle of Ballinamuck, along with Matthew Tone, Wolfe Tone’s brother. They were both executed on the same day and are buried in the Patriots Plot aka The Croppies Acre in front of the National Museum (formally Collins Barracks) at Benburb St, Dublin.

His final testimony ran as follows:

Fellow-citizens, I have been condemned by a military tribunal to suffer what they call an ignominious death, but what appears, from the number of its illustrious victims, to be glorious in the highest degree. It is not in the power of men to abase virtue nor the man who dies for it. His death must be glorious in the field of battle or on the scaffold.

A monument to his brave deeds - the Teeling Monument [above] - was erected in his honour on the centenary of 1798 Rising  at Collooney, County Sligo.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

23 September 704 AD: The death of St Adhamhnán on this day. He passed away on the holy island of Iona [above] off the western Scottish coast. He was one of the greatest scholars of his time and a member of the same family group as the founder of the monastic site, St Columba himself, as both were descended from the powerful Northern Uí Néill dynasty.

He became the 9th Abbot of Iona in 679 AD. He was involved in both religious and political affairs in Scotland, Ireland and in the English kingdom of Northumbria. In the year 687 he secured the release of some 60 important Irish prisoners being held by the Northumbrian King Aldfrith. Ten years later in 697 AD he was the chief instigator and author of Cáin Adomnáin (Law of Adhamhnán) also known as the Lex Innocentium (Law of Innocents) that was promulgated amongst a gathering of Irish, Dal Ríatan and Pictish notables at the Synod of Birr, Co Offaly. This set of laws were designed, among other things, to guarantee the safety and immunity of various types of non-combatants in War.

 He is best known though as the biographer of St Columba in the Vita Columba, a hagioraphy based on the stories on the Saints' life passed down from those who knew him. This work is one of the most important religious and political sources for Ireland and Scotland that we have and is still extant. Adhamhnán also wrote poetry as well as a work called De Locus Sanctis, which was a study on the Christian Holy Places of Pilgrimage in Palestine.

Adamnán, abbot of Í, rests in the 77th year of his age.
Annals of Ulster 704 AD

Saturday, 22 September 2012

22 September 1920: The Rineen Ambush on this day. The 4th Battalion of the Clare IRA under Commandant O’Neill ambushed a party of Black and Tans and killed six of them without loss to themselves. They then had a lucky escape as quite unexpectedly a large party of British Military arrived on scene by chance but in the confusion all the men of the ambush party successfully got away. Men from the ambush part are pictured above on the anniversary of the encounter in 1957.

On September 22, 1920, one of the most remarkable encounters of the War of Independence took place at Dromin Hill, Rineen. The purpose of the act was to get revenge for the murder of Martin Devitt, an Irish soldier who was shot dead in an ambush in February of that year in the locality. A secondary function was to get arms for the poorly equipped volunteers in the area.

Men from several battalions took part in the ambush. The companies in question were Ennistymon, Lahinch, Inagh, Moy, Glendline, Miltown Malbay and Letterkelly. Most of these, however, were unarmed because of the lack of ammunition. The entire lot of arms consisted of 60 rounds of ammunition, eight rifles, two bombs, two revolvers and 16 shotguns.

All the RIC men in the tender were killed. The RIC men killed were an RIC Sergeant (Michael Hynes), along with five other constables (Reginald Hardman, Michael Harte, John Hodnett, Michael Kelly and John Maguire).

The ambush was carried out by men from the 4th Battalion, Mid-Clare brigade led by Ignatius O’Neill, Battalion O/C and ex-soldier with the Irish Guards, British Army. 

There were about 60 in the ambushing party but only nine had rifles. Among the men who took part were Seamus Hennessy, Peter Vaughan, Dan (Dave?) Kennelly, Steve Gallagher, Michael O’Dwyer, Michael Curtin, Pat Lehane, Sean Burke, Pake Lehane, Dan Lehane, Patso Kerin, Anthony Malone, John Joe Neylon, Owen Nestor, Tom Burke, Alphonsus O’Neill and Ned Hynes. 

Thomas Moroney was in charge of the scouts, one of whom was John Clune, who cycled into Miltown Malbay to check when the tender would return. After the attack on the tender, the IRA had not fully withdrawn when the British military, consisting of about 150 soldiers, arrived on the scene. They were on their way to the site of the capture of RM Lendrum. A running pursuit followed with no deaths on either side but O’Neill and Curtin were wounded.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

20 September 1914: John Redmond, the Leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party encouraged members of the Irish Volunteers to join the British army on this day. He did this in a speech at Woodenbridge, Co. Wicklow. He pledged his support to the Allied cause. The words he addressed to the Irish Volunteers assembled there were:

‘The interests of Ireland—of the whole of Ireland—are at stake in this war. This war is undertaken in the defence of the highest principles of religion and morality and right, and it would be a disgrace for ever to our country and a reproach to her manhood and a denial of the lessons of her history if young Ireland confined their efforts to remaining at home to defend the shores of Ireland from an unlikely invasion, and to shrinking from the duty of proving on the field of battle that gallantry and courage which has distinguished our race all through its history. I say to you, therefore, your duty is twofold. I am glad to see such magnificent material for soldiers around me, and I say to you: “Go on drilling and make yourself efficient for the Work, and then account yourselves as men, not only for Ireland itself, but wherever the fighting line extends, in defence of right, of freedom, and religion in this war”’. 

His words were a watershed in Modern Irish History as for the first time a Leader of Nationalist Ireland called upon Irishmen to enlist in the British Army. In the months that followed tens of thousands of Nationalist Irishmen took up his call and joined up. But while initially a very shrewd move by Redmond the tides of History went down other channels and Redmond’s bold stroke cost his Party dear and darkened his own legacy to Ireland.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

19 September 1836: Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin, was consecrated on this day. The name of the cemetery comes from an estate established there by the Reverend Stephen Jerome, then vicar of St. Kevin's Parish. Opened on a forty-seven acre site in Harold's Cross, by the General Cemetery Company of Dublin (which was constituted by an Act of Parliament in 1837).

Mount Jerome was the first privately owned cemetery in Ireland, when it first opened in 1836. It is one of the most impressive of Dublin's cemeteries. Mentioned in James Joyce's Ulysses, Mount Jerome was the burial ground for many of Dublin's Protestant businessmen and their families. It has witnessed over 300,000 burials but it was not until the 1920's that the first Catholic burials took place there. Mount Jerome has a large number of highly ornate crypts and memorials. A series of sunken roads throughout the grounds allows for below ground access to many of the crypts.

Many well-known people are buried there. There is a large plot to the deceased members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the remains of the French Huguenots from the St Stephens Green Cemetery, as are also prominent members of the Guinness family. Amongst its more notable internees are: Sir William Wilde, Thomas Davis, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, John Millington Synge, Æ (George Russell), Jack B. Yeats, Sir William Rowan Hamilton and George Petrie.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

18 September 1867: The rescue of the Fenian Leaders Colonel Thomas Kelly and Captain Timothy Deasy on this day. They were freed from captivity in Manchester, England. Col. Kelly was the head of the revolutionary Irish organisation, the Fenians, at the time. He was arrested with his aide de camp, Timothy Deasy. His identification by an informer led the Manchester Fenians to decide on the prison rescue.

A rescue party of some 30 men secured their release from a closely guarded Police Van. Unfortunately Sergeant Brett of the escort was shot dead when one of the assailants fired a pistol shot through the keyhole of the van to smash the lock. By misfortune Brett had put his eye to the keyhole to ascertain what the commotion was outside. The shot killed him.

As a result three men - Allen, Larkin and O'Brien (The Manchester Martyrs) - were publicly hanged at Salford on 23 November 1867 for taking part in this raid and their alleged complicity in shooting Brett dead. Colonel Thomas Kelly and Captain Timothy Deasy were never recaptured.

Monday, 17 September 2012

17 September 1860: Men of the Irish Battalion of St. Patrick of the Papal army fought a Piedmontese army under the command of General Brignone at Spoleto, Italy on this day. Spoleto is a walled city south of Florence with the fortress of Rocca on the side of a hill. Three companies of the Battalion of St. Patrick (312 soldiers & 15 officers) under the Battalion Commander, Major Myles O'Reilly (County Louth) were stationed there. Major O'Reilly commanded 645 men in total at Spoleto including 150 Italians, 160 Swiss, and 24 Franco-Belgians.

In spite of a long and heavy bombardment, the advancing Piedmontese troops were met with a withering fire by the Irish on the walls that stopped them in their tracks. However the bishop of Spoleto, distraught at the destruction and the loss of life, arranged a cease-fire. O'Reilly was nearly out of ammunition at that anyway. A Papal representative was sent to General Brignone and surrender terms were arranged. Brignone described O'Reilly as "both honourable and brave" and allowed the Irish to march out as prisoners with officers retaining their swords.

Given the task of protecting the North Wall and the vital Gate House of the majestic Castle Albornozian, the Irish performed with distinction, holding their ground and the gate for 14 hours despite heavy hand-to-hand fighting and under constant bombardment from General Brigonne's field artillery. After withstanding repeated attacks, Major O'Reilly eventually negotiated a favorable surrender when reinforcements had become unlikely.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

16 September 1945 –Count John McCormack, the great Irish Tenor died at his residence, Glena, Booterstown, Co. Dublin on this day. His remains were interred at Deansgrange cemetery. Born in Athlone in 1884 he went to Italy in 1903 to perfect his voice and enjoyed huge International success touring England, Australia, America and elsewhere. He became the most celebrated lyric tenor of his day. Famous for his extraordinary breath control, he could sing 64 notes on one breath in Mozart's Il Mio Tesoro from Don Giovanni, and his Handelian singing was just as impressive in this regard. He also made many popular recordings including It’s a Long way to Tipperary, The Wearing of the Green, The Ministrel Boy and The Last Rose of Summer.

He became a naturalized US Citizen in 1917 but returned to Ireland in the 1920’s. His last professional performance was in London at the Royal Albert Hall in 1938. He is best remembered at home though for his magnificent performance of César Franck's Panis Angelicus to the hundreds of thousands who thronged Dublin's Phoenix Park for the 1932 Eucharistic Congress. Pope Pius XI made him a Count of the Church in 1928.

His last professional performance was in London at the Royal Albert Hall in 1938. During the War he gave Concerts gratis for the Red Cross in Britain but had to stop in 1942 due to failing health. He moved back to Dublin and eventually settled in Booterstown. As his end approached he wrote in his Diary the folowing words:

I live again the days and evenings of my long career. I dream at night of operas and concerts in which I have had my share of success. Now, like the old Irish Minstrels, I have hung up my harp because my songs are all sung.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

September 15 1643: The Cessation of hostilities in Ireland was signed on this day. James Butler, the Marquis of Ormonde [above], acting in the name of King Charles I, signed a twelve month truce with his grand Uncle, Richard Butler, 3rd Viscount Mountgarrett representing the Catholic Confederation of Kilkenny. This Agreement brought a shaky Peace to most of the Country after almost two years of bloody and violent battles, sieges and massacres.

In exchange for contributions of money and supplies to the Royalists in England, the Confederates were allowed to retain control of all the lands they had secured in Ireland. In addition, the King promised to consider granting freedom of worship to Catholics and making constitutional reforms in Ireland. Confederate representatives went to Oxford to negotiate a permanent treaty, but this came to nothing because the King was reluctant to antagonise his Protestant supporters.

The Cessation allowed Crown troops stationed in Ireland to return to England to fight for the Royalists. The Scots of Ulster refused to recognise the Cessation and Sir Robert Monro's army remained active there, though the local Protestant Lagan army was divided over whether to accept the Cessation or back the Rebellion against the King that was underway in Britain.

A proclamation concerning a cessation of arms.
Agreed and concluded on at Siggings-town, in the county of Kildare, the fifteenth day of September, in the nineteenth yeer of His Majesties raign, by and between James Marquesse of Ormonde, Lieutenant Generall of His Majesties army in the Kingdom of Ireland, for and in the name of our gracious soveraign lord Charles, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, &c. By vertue of His Majesties commission bearing date at Dublin the last of August, in the said nineteenth year of His Majesties raign, of the one party. And Donogh Viscount Muskerry, Sir Lucas Dillon Knight; Nicholas Plunket Esquire; Sir Robert Talbot Baronet; Sir Richard Barnwell Baronet; Torlogh O Neale, Geoffrey Brown, Ever Mac-Gennis and John Walsh, Esquires; authorized by His Majesties Roman Catholique subjects, of whose party they are, and now in arms in the said kingdom, &c. To treat and conclude with the said marquesse for a cessation of arms, by vertue of an authority given unto them, bearing date at Cashel, the seventh day of September, in the said nineteenth yeer of His Majesties raign, of the other party. Whereunto is added, an instrument touching the manner of payment of 30800 pounds sterling by severall payments. Ordered by the Commons in Parliament, that this proclamation be forthwith printed: H: Elsynge, Cler. Parl. D. Com.

Friday, 14 September 2012

14 September 919 AD:  The King of Ireland at the time, Niall ‘Glundubh’ mac Aeda, (Niall ‘Black Knee’, son of Aed) raised an Army from amongst the the Gaels  and marched to Dublin to retake it from the Vikings. On this day a great battle was fought outside the walls, the battle of Ath Cliath/Cell Moshamog, which was probably by the banks of the river Liffey at Islandbridge. The Irish were badly defeated and lost many of their warriors, King Niall himself being among the fallen. It was the Vikings greatest military victory over the Irish.

Niall was one of the Cenél nEóġain from what is now Co Tyrone in the North of Ireland. Son of Aed Finliath, Niall is first recorded succeeding his brother Domnall mac Áedo as King of Ailech upon his death in 911. Extending his control to neighboring kingdoms, Niall defeated the Kings of Dál nAraidi and Ulaid at the Battles of Glarryford (in present day County Antrim) and Ballymena before his defeat by high-king Flann Sinna mac Maíl Sechnaill of the Clann Cholmáin Uí Néill at the Battle of Crossakiel (in present day County Meath). Following Flann's death in 916, Niall succeeded him as High King of Ireland. It was during his reign in which he would reestablish the Óenach Tailteann, a traditional gathering of Irish clans. But his reign was short lived as he met with defeat by the banks of the Liffey.

Though some place the battle at Kilmashoge, near Rathfarnham in County Dublin as a location, the Ford at Islandbridge is a more likely spot as Niall was advancing from the North and had to cross the Liffey to get around to the river's right bank to attack the city's walls. It is from him that the O'Neills of the North trace their ancestry.

Mournful today is virginal Ireland 
Without a mighty king in command of hostages; 
It is to view the heaven and not to see the sun 
To behold Niall's plain without Niall
Annals of Ulster 

Thursday, 13 September 2012

13 September 908 AD: The Battle of Belach Mugna/Cath Belach Mugna was fought on this day. (Bellaghmoon, in the south of modern County Kildare). In this engagement the Bishop-King of Cashel, King Cormac mac Cuilennáin, was thoroughly defeated while trying to exact tribute from the King of Leinster. He invaded the Leinster territory expecting an easy victory but the King of Tara, one Flann Sinna* of the southern O’Neills, was not prepared to see the land of Leinster under anyone’s thumb but his own. In alliance with the King of Connacht he led a relief expedition into Leinster and in a great battle the combined forces of Connacht, Leinster and the O’Neills of Meath routed the forces of King Cormac who was unhorsed and beheaded.

The Munster men entered the battle at a distinct numerical disadvantage of which they were acutely aware of. Information had reached their camp in the woods that King Flann Sinna of Tara had brought his army south to reinforce King Cerball. This was in order to ward of the threat to his kingdom. In addition King Cathal of Connacht came from the west with his host to support Flann Sinna, who he acknowledged as his High King. It looks like the Munstermen came out of their wooded enclosure and formed up for battle with the Wood at their backs. This may well have been a deliberate tactical decision as that way they could not be taken in the rear and such a disposition would make it difficult for their flanks to be turned.

Then the men of Munster sounded trumpets and battle cries, and proceeded to Mag Ailbe [Co Carlow]. They were waiting for their enemies with their backs to a dense wood. The men of Munster formed themselves into three equally large, equally extensive battalions: Flaithbertach son of Inmainén and Cellach son of Cerball, king of Osraige, leading the first battalion; Cormac son of Cuilennán, the king of Munster, leading the middle Munster battalion; Cormac son of Mothla, king of the Déissi, and the king of Ciarraige, and kings of many other tribes of West Munster in the third battalion.
Fragmentary Annals of Ireland 

In the event the battle quickly became a rout. When the battle was joined, many important Munstermen began to desert.  Cormac himself attempted to flee but fell from his horse and broke his neck.  King Cellach mac Cerbaill of the Osraige [Kilkenny] too was amongst the slain along with a large number of prominent nobles.

In the aftermath of the battle his Cormac's head was offered to King Flann as a trophy but the King of Tara refused to dishonour his noble opponent. He took the head and kissed it and had it brought in all solemnity to be reunited with its torso. Cormac’s mortal remains were then given to Bishop Móenach who had the body interred [presumed grave shown above] at the Monastery of Dísert Diarmata [Castle Dermot, Co Kildare]. Móenach had tried to mediate between the warring sides prior to the battle but without success.

This was one of the most important battles in Ireland for a long time as Cormac’s death severely weakened the grip of the  Eoghanachta - the extended royal family that had ruled Munster for centuries. Their power had been slipping and now the weakness of their line was out in the open. Within a few more decades their power was no more and Munster had new rulers with bigger agendas.

Battle of Belach Mugna
A battle was fought between the men of Mumu, the Leth Cuinn, and the Laigin in Mag Ailbi on the feast of Dagán of Inber Dáile, i.e. on Tuesday the Ides 13th of September, the thirteenth of the moon, and Cormac son of Cuilennán, king of Caisel, was killed there together with other distinguished kings. These are: Fogartach son of Suibne, king of Ciarraige, Cellach son of Cerball, king of Osraige, Ailill son of Eógan, superior of the Trian of Corcach, and Colmán, superior of Cenn Eitig. Flann son of Mael Sechnaill, king of Temair, Cerball son of Muirecán, king of Laigin, and Cathal son of Conchobor, king of Connacht, were victors.—The battle of Belach Mugna.
Annals of Ulster 908 AD

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

12 September 1528: James FitzGerald, 10th Earl of Desmond wrote to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V [above] requesting military assistance against the English. The Earl was a very rich and influential Anglo-Irish Magnate whose family were descended from the Anglo-Norman Lords who came over at the time of the attempted Conquest of Ireland in the 12th Century.

The Emperor commissioned his chaplain to visit Ireland. The report of his mission to Dingle, of the resources of the country, of the demeanour of the Earl, and his reasons for hostility. He reported that:

'The Earl himself is from thirty to forty years old, and is rather above the middle height. He keeps better justice throughout his dominions than any other chief in Ireland. Robbers and homicides find no mercy, and are executed out of hand. His people are in high order and discipline. They are armed with short bows and swords. The Earl's guard are in a mail from neck to heel, and carry halberds. He has also a number of horse, some of whom know how to break a lance. They all ride admirably, without saddle or stirrup.'

But in effect Charles V had too many problems of his own to deal with in Germany, Spain with France and against the Turks to be able to offer any effective aid to his co religionist in what was to him a far flung island in the Atlantic Ocean that could not really alter the Balance of Power in Europe.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

11 September 1649: The Massacre at Drogheda/ Droichead Átha on this day. It was carried out by the troops of Oliver Cromwell. The town was protected by a circuit of walls four to six feet wide and twenty feet high that were studded by a number of guard towers. Sir Arthur Aston (an Englishman) was the commander of the Royalist garrison and was convinced he could hold the town against the Parliamentary Army.

But Cromwell had shipped over to Ireland a siege train that was put to work against the walls and within days had made a breach wide enough for the besiegers to risk a storming. By noon on 11 September, the heavy siege guns had blasted breaches in the southern and eastern walls and demolished the steeple of St Mary's Church. Around five o'clock that evening, Cromwell ordered the storming to begin.
The defenders put up a spirited defense and cost their attackers dear. In a furious passion, Cromwell ordered that no quarter was to be given. Catholic priests and friars were treated as combatants and killed on sight and many civilians died in the carnage as the ‘Roundheads' ran amuck.

About 3,000 men of the Royalist garrison, both Irish and English soldiers were killed with the majority being put to the sword after they had laid down their weapons. Aston was bludgeoned to death with his own wooden leg, which the Parliamentarian soldiers believed to be filled with gold coins. In addition at least a 1,000 Catholic inhabitants of the town were massacred.

However a good number of the occupants of the town made it over the north wall that was left unguarded by Cromwell’s men and made their way to safety. There they related the horrendous events that took place in Drogheda on that infamous day.

Cromwell wrote afterwards that:
 "I am persuaded that this is a righteous judgment of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbued their hands in so much innocent blood and that it will tend to prevent the effusion of blood for the future, which are satisfactory grounds for such actions, which otherwise cannot but work remorse and regret."

Monday, 10 September 2012

10 September 1967: Donogh O’Malley the Irish Education Minister announced a scheme for free secondary education on this day. His surprise decision that he would implement free secondary education up to Intermediate Level for all students caught both his political colleagues and opponents on the hop. He announced that from 1969 all schools up to Intermediate level would be free and that free buses would bring students from rural area to the nearest school.

O’Malley seems to have made this decision himself without consulting other ministers, however, he did discuss it with An Taoiseach Sean Lemass. Jack Lynch, who was Minister of Finance at the time had to find the money to pay for it, was certainly not consulted and was dismayed at the announcement. In spite of this O’Malley’s proposals were hugely popular with the public and it was impossible for the government to go back on its word. O’Malley’s impromptu decision opened the way for free secondary education in the State that continues to this day.

O’Malley’s brilliant but flamboyant political career was cut tragically short when he was killed in a motorcar crash in 1968. He left a wife and two children behind him. He was a close colleague of Brian Lenihan and C. J. Haughey Had he lived he would undoubtedly have been a senior political player for many years more. His nephew Desmond O'Malley succeeded him as the TD for Limerick East.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

9 September circa 544/45 AD: The death of St. Ciarán (Kieran) of Clonmacnoise on this day. He was born around 512 AD in Fuerty, County Roscommon. The son of Beoit, a carpenter and wheelwright, he inherited a love of learning from his mother’s side of the family, as his maternal grandfather had been a bard, poet, and historian. Baptized by deacon Justus, who also served as his first tutor he continued his education at the monastery of Clonard, which was led by St. Finnian. After completing his studies under Finnian, he left Clonard and moved to the monastery of Inishmore in the Aran Isles, which was directed by St. Enda.

After many wanderings he eventually settled at a location in the centre of Ireland, on the east bank of the River Shannon at a place called the meadows of the sons of Noise: Cluan mac Noise as Gaeilge or in the English language: Clonmacnoise. It was here he laid the foundations of what became one of Ireland’s greatest monasteries that was to last nearly a 1,000 years through many trials and turmoils. St. Ciarán’s task was greatly eased by the help and lands he received from Diarmait mac Cerbaill, the last pagan King of Tara. However just not long after he had commenced his great work St. Ciarán died. His early demise was in all probability from the Bléfed (the Great Plague) that was sweeping across Europe at the time and had made its way to the shores of Ireland.

Due to his great learning, his sanctity and the generosity he displayed to those less fortunate in life and because of his prominence in the early Irish church, St. Ciarán is known as one of the “Twelve Apostles of Ireland.”

The panel above shows what is believed to be a representation of St Ciarán and King Diarmait mac Cerbaill planting a stake in the ground at Clonmacnoise. If so it shows the symbiotic relationship between Church & State in early Medieval Ireland - the Church gained protection and the King gained the blessing of the Church - even though in this case King Diarmait was a Pagan!

8 September 1798: The Battle of Ballinamuck was fought on this day. It was the last battle on Irish soil of the 1798 Rising. A vastly superior British force under General Lake cornered a small Franco-Irish Army under the command of General Humbert. After a desultory exchange of fire the French accepted terms and laid down their weapons. No such considerations were offered to the Irishmen who accompanied him on his march on Dublin. Armed for the most part with pikes and agricultural instruments they were shot and cut down in their hundreds as a general massacre began.

As the Irish stood defenceless on Shanmullagh Hill overlooking the village, volleys of musket shot was poured into them, followed by a cavalry charge, and an estimated five hundred souls perished in the carnage. After it was all over their bodies were gathered together and unceremoniously buried in a mass-grave, known ever since as the ‘Croppies grave.’ Their final resting place is marked by a modest cross, erected by the local people who care for the site on a voluntary basis. A memorial stone marks the spot.

96 French officers and 748 men were taken prisoner. British losses were initially reported as 3 killed and 16 wounded or missing, but the number of killed alone was later reported as 12. Approximately 500 Irish lay dead on the field, 200 prisoners were taken in the mopping up operations, almost all of whom were later hanged, including Matthew Tone, brother of Wolfe Tone. The prisoners were moved to Carrick-on-Shannon, St Johnstown, today's Ballinalee, where most were executed in what is known locally as Bully's Acre.

Humbert and his men were taken by canal to Dublin and repatriated. The British army then slowly spread out into the rebel held "Republic of Connaught" in a brutal campaign of killing and house burning which reached its climax on 23 September when Killala was stormed and retaken with much slaughter.

Friday, 7 September 2012

7 September 1948: The Taoiseach John A Costello announced in Ottawa, Canada that the Irish Free State would leave the Commonwealth by repealing the 1936 External Relations Act and declaring Ireland a Republic. This shock announcement at a Commonwealth Conference was greeted at home with some puzzlement, as he had given no indication before his departure that such an action was contemplated.

Rumour circulated that Costello had been piqued when at a Dinner hosted by Earl Alexander, the Governor General of Canada and dyed in the wool Ulster Unionist, the Taoiseach had looked down the barrels of table top sized miniatures of the guns that had held Derry in 1689! Chagrined at this insult he had called an a hastily arraigned press conference and announced his momentous decision.

Whatever the truth of the matter (and Costello denied this tale) when he returned home he brought forward a Bill that he claimed:

Was not conceived nor is it brought into this House in a mood of flamboyant patriotism or aggressive nationalism, nor in a spirit of irresponsible isolationism

The Bill was passed and the Republic of Ireland came into being on 1 January 1949 with the State leaving the British Commonwealth as a result.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

6 September 868: The Battle of Cell ua nDaigri on this day. This clash of arms was fought between the forces of the King of Tara, Aed Finnliath of the northern Uí Néill, and his dynastic rivals the Uí Néill of Brega [east Meath] who had as allies the Vikings of Dublin and the men of Laigin [south Leinster]. King Aed had for support King Conchobor of Connacht who seems to have contributed the bulk of the warriors. The northern king appears to have brought south with him just a picked force of about one thousand men. Aed was faced with what was an alliance by the kings of greater Leinster against his hegemony
 – as they all feared dominance by a king as powerful and as skilful as he.

In the event he defeated his enemies in what was probably a hard fought battle. It looks like the men of the East were the ones who opened the battle but were held in check. As both sides had more or less equal numbers its probable that the contest was a long drawn out affair. It certainly was a bloody one as the King of Brega and his ally Diarmait mac Etarscéle, the King of Loch Gabor were amongst the fallen. Many of the Vikings were also put to sword. But King Aed lost from amongst his own one Fachtna mac Mael Dúin, (the man selected to succeed him in the North) when he launched his own counter assault upon his enemies that day.

King Aed was one of the most successful kings to rule in Ireland in the 9th Century. He drove the Vikings out of the North and checked their power in north Leinster. He was also adept at keeping Irish rivals from usurping him from his throne. He died a peaceful death at the Monastery of Dromiskin in what is now Co Louth in the year 879.

Aed son of Niall, king of Temair, and Conchobor son of Tadc, king of Connacht, won a battle at Cell ua nDaigri on the 8th of the Ides [6th of September] against the Uí Néill of Brega and the Laigin, and a large force of foreigners, i.e. three hundred or more. 

Flann son of Conaing had five thousand and Aed Finnliath had one thousand, 
Flann son of Conaing, king of all Brega, and Diarmait son of Etarscéle, king of Loch Gabor, fell in this battle. 
Very many of the heathens were slaughtered there and Fachtna son of Mael Dúin, heir designate of the North, fell in the counterattack of the battle.
Chronicon Scotorum 868 AD

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

5 September 1926. The Drumcollogher/ Drom Collachair Cinema Tragedy on this day. The village of Dromcollogher is nine miles south-west of the town of Charleville, Co Cork but situated just to the north of the Limerick/ Cork border in the County of Limerick. On the night in question 48 people lost their lives when a candle overturned and caused film to ignite during a showing of The Ten Commandments. A room in the centre of the town, which was being used as a temporary cinema in Dromcollogher, caught fire when the candle ignited a reel of film carelessly left nearby.

'This was on the upper floor of a building used for storing hardware and access to it was by an external timber ladder, fixed to the wall to form a stairs. The hall, which had been used for meetings and entertainments for a number of years, was a rectangular room with a separate small dressing room area in the right-hand rear corner. The show began about 9.15pm after Benediction had finished in the local church, at which many of the audience had been present. Estimates of the attendance varied but it appears that at least 150 people crowded into the hall, many of them children. At around 10.00 pm as the second film was showing, one of the reels, which lay unprotected on a table near the door, went on fire when a candle on the table overturned and set it alight. The people immediately rushed to the single narrow door from which the ladder/stairs descended. Those seated nearest the exit escaped as the fire spread rapidly. Others fled to the rear of the hall where the two windows were located and crowded into the small dressing room area. Some got out through the window here but unfortunately it was blocked when a woman became trapped in it. Within min- the floor of the hall collapsed and the victims were hurtled to the ground where they died from the combination of burns, asphyxiation and shock. Forty six people were dead within 15 minutes. Two survivors later died from their injuries.'

The fire spread rapidly resulting in the deaths of 46 people, which included a family of six, with two more dying later in hospital. The 46 original victims of the tragedy—often referred to locally as ‘the Dromcollogher Burning’—and are buried in a large grave in the grounds of the local church. The bodies of the victims were buried in a communal grave in the local churchyard. A large Celtic cross was erected as a memorial to the victims of this tragedy.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

4 September 1828: The Annaghdown/Anach Cuain Boat Tragedy. Eleven men and eight women were drowned in Lough Corrib aboard an old and decrepit boat the Caisleán Nua. The tragedy was the subject of a poem by Anthony O’Rafferty Anach Cuain. On September 4th, 1828 a boat left Annaghdown Pier bound for a fair at Galway City. On board were some sheep, which were for auction at the fair, and some thirty men and women who had intended to make a holiday out of the visit to Galway.

Its not quite certain what caused the boat to sink, but the story is told that one of the sheep on board got restless and poked his hoof through the floor of the boat. One of the men on board tried to stuff the hole with a piece of clothing but only succeeded in knocking a plank out of the boat which caused the water to pour in. Nineteen men and women on board drowned in the ensuing panic and scarcely a family in the village of Annaghdown remained unaffected by the tragedy.

The boat and passengers proceeded without obstruction until they arrived opposite Bushypark, within two miles of the town, when she suddenly went down and all on board perished except twelve persons who were fortunately rescued from their perilous situation by another boat.

Galway Advertiser 6 September 1828

Monday, 3 September 2012

3 September 1513: Gerald Mór FitzGerald, aka 'Gearóid Mór', 8th Earl of Kildare died on this day from wounds he received while on campaign. Known to his contemporaries as ‘Garret Mor’ - Garret the Big - he was the most powerful man in Ireland in his heyday.

Gerald FitzGerald, 8th Earl of Kildare was born circa January 1455/56 He was the son of Thomas FitzMaurice FitzGerald, 7th Earl of Kildare and Lady Joan FitzGerald. He married, firstly, Alison Eustace, daughter of Rowland Eustace, 1st and last Baron of Portlester and Genet Bellew, circa 1478. He married, secondly, Elizabeth St. John, daughter of Oliver St. John and Elizabeth Scrope. He succeeded to the title of 8th Earl of Kildare [established 1316] on 25 March 1477.

He was the Lord Deputy of the Kings of England on a number of occasions and despite backing the House of York both before and after the accession of Henry VII he was too powerful and able a character to be ignored by the Crown of England.

His base was the Castle of Maynooth in County Kildare.  He had a great library at Maynooth Castle with books of English, Irish, Latin and French. He also made plans for a college to be founded in Maynooth which was eventually built by his son, Garret Óg in 1518. It was only opened for a few years  until it was shut down by Henry the 8th during the Reformation.

He ruled with an armoured fist over both English and Irish alike and was as much akin to an Irish Chieftan as an Anglo Irish Lord in his methodology of governance. Such methods made him feared but not loved and he had to deal with many domestic rivals during his time in Power.
His greatest Victory came at the Battle of Knockdoe in 1504 in Connacht when he defeated the Anglo-Norman Burkes of that Province. It was probably the largest and bloodiest battle fought in Ireland for hundreds of years. However he did not always get his own way on the field of battle and in the year 1510 came off 2nd best at the Battle of Móin na mBrathar in County Limerick, when his army & that of his allies met that of Turloch lord of Thomand and was defeated.

In 1512, after entering O'Neill of Clandeboye's territory, capturing him and then taking the castle of Belfast, FitzGerald then for reasons now unknown proceeded through to utterly ravage the Bissett family's lordship of the coastal Glens of Antrim.

While on an expedition against the O'Mores of Laois, he was seriously wounded by a gunshot while watering his horse near Kilkea/Cill Cathaigh in Co Kildare. He was conveyed back to Maynooth Castle but never recovered. He died there on or around 3 September 1513. He was buried in Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.

Garrett, Earl of Cill-dara, i.e. the Justiciary of Erinn, i.e. the man of greatest fame, greatest in power and dignity, (and who achieved the greatest conquests over the Gaeidhel, and broke down the greatest number of the castles of the Gaeidhel—whose authority, law, and rule were the best—and who gave the most of his own property in presents to the men of Erinn), that had ever come of the Foreigners in Erinn, died after unction and penitence, in Cill-dara, and was buried in Christ-Church in the town of Ath-cliath, to the heavy grief of the majority of the Foreigners and Gaeidhel of Erinn after him.
Annals of Loch Cé 1513

Sunday, 2 September 2012

2 September 1022 AD: The death of the King of Mide, Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, on this day. His passing marked the end of an era in Irish History. Since the Battle of Ocha in circa 483 AD the southern and northern O’Neill’s had shared the title of King of Temair (Tara) between them on a more or less continual basis. This made the holder of the title the most influential king in Ireland - if he had the wherwithal to make use of the status the title gave him. For it was believed that in ancient times Ireland had been ruled from the Royal seat of Tara. The O’Neills believed that any man who held that hallowed ground was the heir to a lost Kingdom. However Brian Boru of Munster in 1002 had pushed aside King Máel and had himself recognised as the superior king in his stead.

It was only with the death of King Brian at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 that Máel Sechnaill had regained his position. But by then he was an old man and Ireland had changed greatly since his predecessors had established their dual kingdoms all those centuries before. After him Mide(Meath) would no longer be the force it was in Irish Wars and Politics.

Mael Sechnaill son of Domnall son of Donnchad, overlong of Ireland, pillar of the dignity and nobility of the western world, died in the 43rd year of his reign and the 73rd of his age on Sunday the fourth of the Nones 2nd of September, the second of the moon.
1. (Nine score prime seats had the king— 
A lord in the abundance of cloaks and food bestowed— 
A weighty ól-measure for the King of the Elements 
Was in the middle of each of these citadels.
2. You are mistress for a splendid seven times six years, 
A king who draws from the foreigners a cry of fear; 
The supreme ruler of Cronn's stronghold 
Shall never die from a spear-point.)
Annals of Ulster 1022 AD

Mael Sechnaill son of Domnall, son of Donnchad, overking of Ireland, the
flood of honour of the western world, died in Cró-inis of Loch Aininne in
the forty-third year of his reign on the 4th of the Nones 2nd of September,
that is, on Sunday, the second day of the moon, the one thousandth and
twenty-second year after the Lord's Incamation, and died penitent and at
peace, with the successors of venerable saints Pátraic and Colum Cille and
Ciarán present and assisting him.

            1. Three hundred forts has the King,
               From which he gives clothes and food;
               There are guests from the King of the elements
               In the middle of each fort of them.
            2. The vat of the man of the Tulach in the west—
               If the King of Midhe feels any desire
               On Sunday, he quaffs a drink of it
               On Monday morning in Midhe.
Chronicon Scotorum

Saturday, 1 September 2012

1 September 1701: The Irish Brigade in the service of France fought in the Battle of Chiari on this day. This clash of arms took place in Italy during the War of the Spanish Succession. The French Army was under the command of Marshal Villeroy who was opposed by Prince Eugene of Savoy who was in the service of the Austrian Empire. Villeroy decided to attack the town of Chiari as he felt it was his duty to fight for King Louis rather than just observe the enemy.

Villeroy ignored Catinat's warning that Eugene was in a strong position, remarking that the King, had not sent so many brave men just to look at the enemy through their spy glasses

The attack was however a fiasco as the French were cut down in droves. Amongst the regiments leading the attack was the Irish regiment of Galmoy (Its Colonel was Pierce Butler, 3rd Viscount Galmoy), which suffered heavily in the assault. Eventually the attempt was called off and the surviving troops were told to retire.

The French losses were over 2,000 men killed or wounded while their enemies sustained a loss in the low hundreds. Some of the Irishmen who survived were badly wounded. Felix MacNamee, aged 35, a native of Armagh, had had his left arm taken off by a cannon ball and, put out of service, was admitted into the military hospital of Les Invalides, dying at Arras in 1726. The ensign of the Colonel’s company, Terence Sweeny, aged 33, was hit in the right thigh by cannon shot and across the body by a musket ball. He too, was admitted to Les Invalides and survived until 1750. Also hit by a cannon shot in the right leg was the reformed Lieutenant Thomas Meade, aged 31, a native of Kilmallock, who survived until 1736. John Conor, aged 31, a Kerryman and the sergeant of grenadiers, lost his right arm though a musket ball but lived until 1721.