Friday, 31 May 2013

31 May 1941 – The German bombing of the North Strand, Dublin – 27 dead, 90 + injured and over 300 houses were destroyed or damaged. Smaller bombs damaged the American Embassy and Áras an Uachtarain. The bombing was in all probability accidental and the German Government apologised in June 1941 for the attack. After the War the post war Government of Germany paid compensation for the destruction and damaged caused. The bombings were the worst experienced in the Irish Free State during the War.

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

The Taoiseach Eamon De Valera made the following statement:

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

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

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

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

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

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

Sunday, 26 May 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Annals of Ulster

Saturday, 25 May 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 23 May 2013

23 May 1798: The Battle of Prosperous and the outbreak of the Rising of 1798.

The Rising was fixed for the night of 23rd May 1798. The signal was to be the simultaneous stopping of the mail coaches that left Dublin General Post Office daily for Belfast, Cork, Athlone and Limerick.  On the 23rd of May the mail coaches were to be seized and burnt at Santry, Naas, Lucan and the Curragh, and the rising began.

In the City itself attempts to trigger an outbreak were thwarted as the British Army moved to seize strategic assembly points and thus nip things in the bud. Small crowds of men had set out from the poor districts of the city of Dublin to seize the Castle and other key public buildings. Agents of the Crown had infiltrated their revolutionary organization, the United Irishmen, and had already arrested several of their key leaders, Lord Edward FitzGerald being the most important of them.

The Militia mobilized before the revolutionaries could assemble in large groups and what their leaders had hoped would be an almost bloodless coup turned into a debacle. Outside the City though the insurgents fared better and many gathered in rural areas of County Dublin as well as southern County Meath, northern County Kildare and northern and western County Wicklow. These groups attacked towns and villages in their respective localities and stopped and destroyed some of the mail coaches that were making their way out to the provinces.

From 24 May there was fighting at Prosperous, Clane, Kilcock, Maynooth, Rathangan, Timahoe, Monasterevan, and other places.

But it was at Prosperous, Co Kildare that the first military engagement began at 2 a.m on 24 May 1798 by a United Irishmen force about 600+ strong which targeted the British garrison consisting of Cork militia and a detachment of a Welsh regiment, the "Ancient Britons".

The garrison consisted of 35 of the City of Cork militia and 22 ancient Britons who were housed separately near the barracks. Captain Richard Longford Swayne, commander of the militia, had terrorised the area at free-quarters, since his arrival on the 20th May. Throughout Wednesday the 23rd, the locals gathered in the woods. At 2 o' clock the following morning, around 500 of them under Dr. John Esmond and Andrew Farrell. Their entry into the town was preceded by the infiltration of a small vanguard who, possibly aided by female sympathisers within, scaled the walls of the Militia barracks, killed the sentries and opened the gate.

At the barracks, they forced their way into Swayne's quarters where he was piked and shot before the troops could secure the building. Lighted faggots and furze were thrown through the windows of the underground office and the barracks was engulfed. Many of those who tried to escape were piked to death in the streets. Of the 57 soldiers in the garrison, nearly 40 were killed. Swayne's body was burnt in a tar barrel.

Thus was gained the first victory over the hated forces of the British Government.

But the next day, other members of the Ancient Britons, hearing of the death of their fellow soldiers, participated in the retaliatory massacre of 34 Irish prisoners at Dunlavin Green, Co. Wicklow.

Prosperous remained under United Irishmen control until 19 June when it was retaken by troops under the command of Colonel Stewart who boasted of destroying "this receptacle of rebellion".

By the end of the Summer of 1798 some 25,000 - 30,000 people lay dead across 11 counties of Ireland and the Rising was Crushed.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

21 May 1981
The Third and Fourth Hunger Strikers Died in Long Kesh Prison

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

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

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

But perhaps best summed up in the H Block Ballad:
But I'll wear no convict's uniform
Nor meekly serve my time
That Britain may call Ireland's fight
Eight hundred years of crime.

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

Monday, 20 May 2013

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

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

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

Which both sides ignored!

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

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

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

*He was deBurgh’s Standard bearer.

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

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

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

Sunday, 19 May 2013

19 May 1798: Lord Edward Fitzgerald was shot and arrested at the home of the Merchant Nicholas Murphy at whose house (now 151 Thomas Street, Dublin) he was taking refuge in.

Lord Edward Fitzgerald was a most unlikely 'Rebel'. He was born on 15 October 1763 at Carton House, Co Kildare, one of the most prestigious stately homes in the Country. He was the son of the Duke of Leinster, the most senior Aristocrat in Ireland. He was later brought up at Frascati House, Blackrock, Co Dublin.

He received a Commission in the British Army at an early age and served with the distinction in the American Revolutionary War, taking part in the Battle of Eutaw Springs (1781) where he was wounded.

In 1783 FitzGerald returned to Ireland, where his brother, the 2nd Duke of Leinster, had procured his election to the Irish Parliament as a Member for Athy, a seat he held until 1790. He represented then Kildare County from 1790 to 1798.

He continued his Army career and served in Canada and then travelled extensively across eastern Canada and down the Mississippi before sailing for home through New Orleans.

However it was the events of the French Revolution that proved the turning point in his life. In 1792 he went to Paris and stayed with Thomas Paine. He sat in the observers gallery to listen to the debates of the French Convention and was impressed with what he heard. While there he married Pamela, who was the love child of Madame de Genlis herself by Louis Philippe II, Duke of Orléans. The future King of the French, Louis Phillipe, was among the witnesses.

At a convivial gathering on the 18 November, after the French victory at Jemappes, he offered at a public dinner a toast to: ''The armies of France: may the example of its citizen soldiers be followed by all enslaved countries, till tyrants and tyrannies be extinct.'' He also proposed a toast to “the speedy abolition of all hereditary titles and feudal distinctions”, and gave proof of his zeal by expressly repudiating his own title.  For his actions in Paris he was cashiered from the British Army.

On his return to Ireland his views both private and public became more Radical. However he did not join the revolutionary United Irishman until 1796 when he quickly immersed himself in the military plans for a Rising. He travelled as far as Hamburg to secure funds and military assistance from the French. Some of the United Irishmen wanted to wait until this was guaranteed but Lord Edward was of the opinion that it was better to strike sooner rather than later.
By early 1798 it was obvious that further delay would prove fatal and a Rising must come soon. The British Government was using forceful methods to disarm people of any weapons they might have that could used against them. However Martial Law had not yet been declared.

The forces of the State also ran a very effective network of spies and informers that had infiltrated the United Irishmen or those who were on familiar terms with them.

On 23 March the military swept on the Dublin Committee of the revolutionaries and captured nearly all of them. Forewarned Lord Edward escaped the net but was now a hunted man.

In the aftermath the British declared Martial Law and it could be only a matter of time till things exploded. In response the date for the Rising was brought forward to be launched on 23 May 1798. However on 9 May, with Lord Edward till at large, a bounty of £1,000 was put on his head for information leading to his capture - a huge sum in those days.

Lord Edward was hiding in Thomas Street, Dublin but had just been involved in a skirmish with his pursuers and it was decided that his original place of refuge must have been compromised. He then moved on the night of the 18th to the home of  the Feather Merchant Nicholas Murphy at what is now 151 Thomas Street. He was ill and under the weather but at breakfast the next morning was seen to recover. Murphy was apprehensive of having such a well known fugitive under his roof and (rightly) feared that his betrayal and arrest was only a matter of time.

That evening, at around 7pm Murphy went to Lord Edward's room to call him down for tea and remembered:

He was in bed. It was, at this time, about seven o’clock. I asked him to come down to tea. I was not in the room three minutes when in came Major Swan and a person following him with a soldier’s jacket, and a sword in his hand; he wore a round cap. When I saw Major Swan, I was thunderstruck. I put myself before him, and asked his business. He looked over me and saw Lord E. in the bed. He pushed by me quickly, and Lord E., seeing him, sprang up instantly and drew a dagger which he carried about him, and wounded Major Swan slightly, I believe. Major Swan had a pistol which he fired without effect; he immediately turned to me and gave me a severe thrust of the pistol under the left eye, at the same time desiring the person that came in with him to take me into custody. I was immediately taken away to the yard ; there I saw Major Sirr and about six soldiers of the Dumbarton Fencibles. Major Swan thought proper to run as fast as he could to the street, and I think he never looked behind him till he got out of danger, and he was the parading the flags, exhibiting his linen, which was stained with blood. Mr. Ryan supplied Major Swan’s place and came in contact with Lord E., and was wounded seriously. Major Sirr at that time came upstairs and keeping a respectful distance, fired a pistol shot at Lord E., in a very deliberate manner, and wounded him in the upper part of the shoulder. Reinforcements coming in, Lord E., surrendered after a very hard struggle. Lord Edward was imprisoned in Newgate....
Account of Nicholas Murphy

Lord Edward had fought like a lion against those sent to lead him into captivity, killing Capitan Ryan and wounding Major Swan. However with him badly outnumbered by men in arms his heroic defense could only last but a short time.

Desperately wounded in the struggle he lingered for a number of days in agony as septicemia took its toll. He died on the 4th of June 1798 as the Rising he had so long planned for was well underway. 

Thus died one of the bravest of men, from a conviction, I believe, that he wished to ameliorate the condition of his country

Lord Edward’s remains were placed in a vault under the East end of St. Werburgh’s Church in Dublin, near to the house he was taken in.

Years later the outcome that Murphy had feared was finally revealed - Betrayal!

The two informers implicated in the betrayal of Lord Edward were Francis Higgins (proprietor of ‘The Freeman’s Journal’), at that time a paper in the interest of Dublin Castle, the seat of British rule in Ireland, and Francis Magan, M.A., Barrister at Law. On the 20th of June 1798, Francis Higgins was paid his reward of £1,000 for Lord Edward’s capture (Fitzpatrick’s “Secret Service under Pitt”) 

Friday, 17 May 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Dublin and Monaghan Bombings - 17th May 1974:

Patrick Askin (44) Co. Monaghan
Josie Bradley (21) Co. Offaly
Marie Butler (21) Co. Waterford
Anne Byrne (35) Dublin
Thomas Campbell (52) Co. Monaghan
Simone Chetrit (30) France
Thomas Croarkin (36) Co. Monaghan
John Dargle (80) Dublin
Concepta Dempsey (65) Co. Louth
Colette Doherty (20) Dublin
Baby Doherty (full term unborn) Dublin*
Patrick Fay (47), Dublin & Co. Louth
Elizabeth Fitzgerald (59) Dublin
Breda Bernadette Grace (34) Dublin and Co. Kerry
Archie Harper (73) Co. Monaghan
Antonio Magliocco, (37) Dublin & Italy
May McKenna (55) Co. Tyrone
Anne Marren (20) Co. Sligo
Anna Massey (21) Dublin
Dorothy Morris (57) Dublin
John (24), Anna (22), Jacqueline (17 months) & Anne-Marie (5 months) O'Brien, Dublin
Christina O'Loughlin (51), Dublin
Edward John O'Neill (39), Dublin
Marie Phelan (20), Co. Waterford
Siobhán Roice (19), Wexford Town
Maureen Shields (46), Dublin
Jack Travers (28), Monaghan Town
Breda Turner (21), Co. Tipperary 
John Walsh (27), Dublin
Peggy White (44), Monaghan Town
George Williamson (72), Co. Monaghan
*Baby Doherty was recognised as the 34th victim of the Bombings by the Coroner for the City of Dublin during the course of the Inquests held in April and May 2004

Thursday, 16 May 2013

16 May circa 583 AD: Saint Brendan of Clonfert/Brénainn of Cluain Ferta aka 'St. Brendan the Navigator', early Atlantic voyager, died on this day. In the liturgical calendar, today is St. Brendan's Feast Day.

Saint Brendan/Bréanainn is one of Ireland's most famous saints, a man whose exploits on the High Seas have become legendary and whose fame spread throughout western Europe in the Middle Ages. He is reputed to have sailed far out into the Atlantic and discovered isles unknown to Europeans at that time. The Brendan Voyage/Navigatio Brendani was included in maps of Columbus’ time, which often showed an island called 'St. Brendan’s Isle' that was placed in the western Atlantic ocean. 

Map makers of the time had no idea of its exact position of this island but did believe it existed somewhere out in the Atlantic. It was mentioned in a Latin text dating from the ninth century called Navigatio Santi Brendani Abatis (Voyage of Saint Brendan the Abbot). It described the voyage as having taken place in the sixth century. Several copies of this text have survived in monasteries throughout Europe. It was an important part of folklore in medieval Europe and may have influenced Columbus when he planned his great voyage to the Indies.

The account of Brendan’s voyage contained a detailed description of the construction of his boat which was not unlike the currachs still made in Ireland today.

Skeptics could not accept that such a fragile vessel could possibly sail in the open sea. Several passages in the legend also seemed incredible—they were “raised up on the back of sea monsters”, they “passed by crystals that rose up to the sky”, and they were “pelted with flaming, foul-smelling rocks by the inhabitants of a large island on their route”.

Brendan and his companions finally arrived at the beautiful land they called “Promised Land of the Saints.” They explored until they came to a great river that divided the land. The journey of Brendan and his fellow monks took seven years. The return trip was probably the longest part of the odyssey.

The evidence that we have points to Brendan sailing North, possibly along the western coast of Scotland and onto Iceland and maybe as far as Greenland.

It is a story full of wonderful and strange adventures that while physically improbale in the way they have been handed down to us have enough information in them to point to actual happenings embelished by later medieval storytelling.
It is a story full of wonderful and strange adventures that while physically improbale in the way they have been handed down to us have enough information in them to point to actual happenings embelished by later medieval storytelling.

In the 1970's the Explorer Tim Sevrin embarked in a specially built Currach based on tehe one described as used by Saint Brendan and proved that it could survive a long sea voyage on the Atlantic.

He encountered whales who swam alongside and even underneath his ship. Saint Brendan's Voyage described the ancient mariners landing on a whale!

Sevrin encountered icebergs - St Brendan saw 'towering crystals'

The foul smelling rocks could well be from an Icelandic volcano that the poor monks thought was been thrown at them by the 'natives' of that fiery island!

St Brendan while one of the most famous of Irish Saints both at home and abroad is also one whose Life we can only reconstruct from the tales and legends about him. His fame meant that many Abbies and monastries wanted his name associated with him and which ones would (if it were possible) hold up to examination and which would not we now alas cannot determine.

St. Brendan,The Navigator - World Cultures European

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

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

On May 15, 1847, Father Miley, O'Connell's companion on his last journey, wrote from Genoa:

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

Daniel O'Connell died at Genoa, in Italy, at 9.35 p.m. on the evening of May 15th, 1847, on his way to Rome

Born near Cahirciveen, County Kerry and adopted at an early age by his uncle Maurice ‘Hunting Cap’ O’Connell. His family had strong trading links with the Continent and he was educated at Saint-Omer and Douai; entered Lincoln’s Inns in 1794 and was called to the Bar in Dublin in 1798. A co-founder of the Catholic Association in 1823, he realised the movement’s enormous potential with the creation of the Catholic rent, enabling ordinary Catholics to become members for one penny a month and creating a substantial reserve of funds for a political campaign. A series of election victories culminated with O’Connell being returned as MP for Clare in 1828 and the Government introducing Catholic emancipation the following year. At the same time, however, they disenfranchised the forty-shilling freeholders who had been the bedrock of the Association’s success.

Giving up his immensely successful practice at the bar, O’Connell now turned his prodigious energy to the campaign to repeal the Act of Union. The 1830s saw swings in his political fortune and the momentum of the movement generally, the Irish Repeal MPs on occasion holding the balance of power at Westminster and some reform being effected on matters such as tithes and municipal administration. He was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1841 and with subscriptions to his Repeal Association reaching enormous proportions, he began to organise monster rallies throughout Ireland, a meeting at Tara being attended by an estimated 750,000 people. A meeting scheduled for Clontarf on 8 October 1843 was proscribed and, to the dismay of his followers, O’Connell called it off. He was subsequently arrested, tried for conspiracy, convicted, fined £2,000 and sentenced to one year’s imprisonment. He was released after five months but emerged from his imprisonment physically and mentally weakened. His influence over a fragmented movement continued to wane and the Great Famine removed the last of the popular fervour for repeal. He set out for Italy in March 1847 and died in Genoa on 15 May.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

12 May 563: Saint Columba and his twelve companions crossed the sea from Ireland in a currach of wickerwork covered with hides.

Columba was in his forty-fourth year when he departed from Ireland. He and his twelve companions crossed the sea in a currach of wickerwork covered with hides. They landed at Iona on the eve of Pentecost, 12 May, 563. The island, according to Irish authorities, was granted to the monastic colonists by King Conall of Dalriada, Columba's kinsman. ... It was a convenient situation, being midway between his countrymen along the western coast and the Picts of Caledonia. 

He and his brethren proceeded at once to erect their humble dwellings, consisting of a church, refectory, and cells, constructed of wattles and rough planks. 

After spending some years among the Scots of Dalriada, Columba began the great work of his life, the conversion of the Northern Picts. 

But mystery surrounds why exactly did Saint Columba, a powerful and influential man in Ireland, depart the land of his birth for such a bleak and remote spot far from any place of influence in this World.

Columba was like many other Irishmen of the Faith motivated by a desire to convert as many Pagans to Christianity as he could in order to save their souls from Damnation. But what exactly was the catalyst that pushed him over the edge to leave here? The idea of pilgrimage, or peregrinatio, which was central to Irish monks and to Columba, involved a permanent sense of exile, renunciation and searching for one's own place of resurrection; one's desert. But it did not necessarily mean a complete seperation from the World, rather as search to find a place where solitude and reflection were needed they were readily at hand.

The Battle of Cúil Dreimne 560/561 AD was considered in later years to be the event that triggered Columba's peregrinatio

Saint Columba, also known as Colum Cille, is the greatest of the Irish saints. His involvement is considered central to the subsequent story of this battle. It is probably the only one in Irish History in which the copyright to a book was remembered as one of the reasons for a battle! However that was not the only factor involved and indeed it is only fair to mention that whether the dispute over a copywrite was one of the real reasons cannot be traced to a contemporary written source. We know that historically Columba fell foul of the Church authorities in the wake of this battle and the copywrite story became accepted in later times as the reason for his subsequent exile.

The High King at the time was Diarmait Mac Cerbhall ,a descendant of the great Niall of the Nine Hostages. Saint Columba was himself of the Uí Néills of Cenel Conal and thus of Royal blood. However he was also a man of ambition and drive. He made the mistake of copying a holy book belonging to another saint and was caught red handed. He appealed to the High King for judgement, possibly hoping that familial ties, however distant, would swing things in his favour. The King decided otherwise and in a famous judgement declared that: to every cow its calf and to every book its copy.

Much incensed Columba returned home to the North and raised the issue with his immediate kinsmen, of Royal blood themselves, against the High King. They brought the King of Connacht into their alliance, who seems to have become involved due to the treacherous death of his own son by King Diarmait, despite being under the protection of Saint Columba. He also owed his position as King of Connacht to the northern Uí Néills, who had helped him win the throne in 550 AD at the battle of Cuil Conaire.

No doubt land and power played a huge part in all this too that we are unable to trace in an exact path in the historical accounts. It is probable though that the northern Uí Néills viewed Diarmaid of the southern Ui Neills with some suspicion. He was certainly a character who was hard-hitting and ruthless and who brooked no opposition. He in turn felt that by siding with St. Columba in this dispute the northern Uí Néills were interfering in his affairs.

This great and important battle of Cúil Dreimne was fought at the foot of Ben Bulben, just above the Columban Church of Drumcliff in County Sligo. From the location it looks like it was Diarmait who initiated the Campaign by marching north to meet his enemies in battle. He probably wished to place himself between his opponents in Connacht and Ulster and defeat them in turn. While a good strategy his plan of campaign backfired and the High King was soundly defeated with a great loss of life to both sides. It is recorded that 3,000 men fell that day. As it turned out neither the northern Uí Néills nor the king of Connacht followed up their success, and Diarmait lived to fight another day. However the defeat of Diarmait was to have far reaching consequences that were not readily apparent at the time.

Columba was full of remorse afterwards. He was too good a man not to realise the enormity of what he had unleashed, however unwittingly. The Church too was less than impressed with his involvement in all this. He had foolishly allowed his personal pride to be used as a catalyst for War between the various branches of the Ui Neills, his own kinsmen. This in turned had pulled in the kingdom of Connacht so that three of Ireland’s five ancient provinces were involved in a bloody encounter that he had played a large part in starting. As a result of the battle of Cúil Dreimne St. Columba was banished from Ireland by his peers in the Church and made to swear he would never put his feet on the ground here again. Thus in the year 563 AD he made his momentous decision to sail for the island of Iona off the west coast of Scotland. From here his missionaries and their successors were one day to spread the word of the Gospel to the heathen Picts and the Pagan English of Northumberland.

They landed at the little island of Iona off the east coast of Scotland on the eve of the Feast of Pentecost. The island, according to Irish sources, was probably granted to the monastic colonists by King Conall of Dalriada, Columba's kinsman. It was a convenient situation, being midway between his countrymen along the north western coast of Ireland and the Picts of Caledonia. He and his brethren proceeded at once to erect their dwellings, consisting of a church, refectory, and cells, constructed of wattles and rough hewn wood.

However not only was Saint Columba to have great influence on the development of Christianity in Scotland but it is believed that it was here and in this year that the first Annals of contemporary events back home in Ireland were recorded on a regular basis.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

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

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

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

The French Army however put up a formidable defence and the Allies found the advance heavy going,‭ ‬taking many casualties as they attempted to break their opponents line.‭ ‬But Cumberland pressed on and eventually forced his way into the centre of the French position.‭ ‬The troops opposing him began to buckle.‭ ‬It was the critical moment of the battle.‭ ‬It was at this point that Marshal De Saxe unleashed his reserve who enveloped the flanks of the British Column.‭ ‬The Irish Brigade was in the think of it,‭ ‬the men fired up by thought of revenge against their Country’s Oppressor.‭  ‬The Irish Regiments advanced upon the British lines to the cry:‭  ‬'Cuimhnigidh ar Liumneac,‭ ‬agus ar fheile na Sacsanach‭’ – ‘‬Remember Limerick and British faith.‭’

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

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

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

By A.‭ ‬M.‭ ‬Sullivan

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

Friday, 10 May 2013

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

The Anglo Norman Lord Richard De Clare ( a descendant of Strongbow) attacked the Irish chieftain Conor O’Dea, chief of the Cineal Fearmaic and the ally of King Muircheartach O’Brien of Thomond. De Clare made the mistake of dividing his army in three in the face of the enemy and he led the van towards Castle Dysert O’Dea – the home of the Irish Chieftain. O’Dea held them at the ford of Fergus and sent messengers out to bring up reinforcements as De Clare charged at his opponents only to be surrounded and cut down by the axe of Conor O’Dea himself.

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

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

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

Thursday, 9 May 2013

9 May, 1766 - Thomas Arthur Lally, Comte de Lally was executed for losing Pondicherry in India to the English. The General was convicted of ‘treason’ as a result. He was decapitated by sword before a huge crowd at the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville in Paris on this day.

He was born at Romans-sur-Isère, Dauphiné, the son of Sir Gerald Lally, an Irish Jacobite from Tuam, County Galway, who married a French lady of noble family, from whom the son inherited his titles.

Entering the French army in 1721 he served in the war of 1734 against Austria; he was present at Dettingen (1743), and commanded the regiment de Lally in the famous Irish brigade at Fontenoy (May 1745). He was made a brigadier on the field by Louis XV.

He had previously served the Jacobite cause, and in 1745 accompanied Prince Charles Edward to Scotland, serving as aide-de-camp at the battle of Falkirk (January 1746). Escaping to France, he served with Marshal Saxe in the Low Countries, and at the capture of Maastricht (1748) was made a maréchal de camp.

When war broke out with Britain in 1756 Lally was given the command of a French expedition to India. He reached Pondicherry in April 1758, and at the outset met with some measure of military success.

He was a man of courage and a capable general, but the desperate situation he found himself in -short of troops, money and supplies, and been put in charge of what was really a pretty hopeless task made him take severe measures to raise cash from both natives and Frenchmen alike. He tried to enforce rigid discipline on those who were slow at obeying. His relations with the Admiral of the east Indian French Fleet were disastrous and he he felt abandoned when the fleet departed for Mauritius.

In consequence everything went wrong with him. He was unsuccessful in an attack on Tanjore, and had to retire from the Siege of Madras (1758) owing to the timely arrival of the British fleet. He was defeated by Sir Eyre Coote at the Battle of Wandiwash (1760), then besieged in Pondicherry. On January 16 1761, Lally was forced to capitulate at Pondicherry where he had been besieged for months. The fortress was razed and Lally was sent to Great Britain as a prisoner of war.

On arrival in London in September 1761 he heard that he was accused in France of treason, and insisted, against advice, on returning on parole to stand his trial. He was kept prisoner for nearly two years before the trial began; then, after many painful delays, he was sentenced to death on May 6, 1766, and three days later beheaded. Louis XV tried to throw the responsibility for what was undoubtedly a judicial murder on his ministers and the public, but his policy needed a scapegoat, and he was probably well content not to exercise his authority to save an almost friendless foreigner.

The son of an Irish Jacobite exile The Count de Lally was 64 years old when he was beheaded and had been a loyal servant of the Ancien Regime throughout his lifetime. This execution was one of the worst inequities of the government of Louis XV. Lally was eventually pardoned and his Name restored to the honourable position it had held before these unfortunate events unfolded. His judicial murder is one of the most infamous cases in French legal History.