Tuesday, 30 July 2019

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30 July 1990: The assassination of Ian Gow MP on this day. The eccentric British politician was blown up in his own car in the driveway of his home  in the village of Hankham, 40 miles south of London by an IRA bomb.

Gow had taken a strong stand against the IRA and indeed anything that weakened the position (as he saw it) of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom. During a period of national service from 1955 to 1958 he was commissioned in the 15th/19th Hussars and served in Northern Ireland, Germany and Malaya. He subsequently served in the territorial army until 1976, reaching the rank of Major. After completing national service he took up a career in the law and qualified as a solicitor in 1962.

He entered politics in 1966 but failed to be elected. In this campaign he was described by The Times  in the following terms: "He is a bachelor solicitor, aged 29, wearing his public school manner as prominently as his rosette. Words such as 'overpowering', 'arrogant', and 'bellicose' are used to describe him."

After failing to take Clapham, he continued his quest to find a seat. He eventually succeeded at Eastbourne in 1972 after the local Party de-selected its sitting member, Sir Charles Taylor. Sir Charles had represented Eastbourne since 1935 and did not take kindly to Gow.

He admired Margaret Thatcher greatly and became a loyal follower of her brand of politics. However the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 proved a step too far for him as he saw it as the interference of a foreign Government in the internal affairs of the UK.But his open enmity to Irish Nationalist aspirations and his vehement & vociferous condemnation of the IRA campaign drew him attention that was deadly in intent. Though he did not seem to realise it he was in mortal danger.
Ian Gow was the ultimate loyalist and he paid the ultimate price.

His death had a terrible irony. A few weeks earlier, he had held a small drinks party. The conversation turned to the hardships suffered by MPs' wives, so often stuck at home in the constituency, cut off from the glamorous aspects of parliamentary life. Ian paid tribute to his beloved Jane, who never complained about being a grass-widow. He referred to her as "my poor widow" and "the Widow Gow". Then Ulster was mentioned. "Ian, old lad," said Jonathan Aitken, "I hope you vary your route to the Commons and check under your car." "Certainly not," Ian replied. "I am at less risk than any serving officer in Her Majesty's Royal Ulster Constabulary – and anyway, I wouldn't know what to look for." https://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/7918045/Ian-Gow-was-the-ultimate-loyalist-and-he-paid-the-ultimate-price.html

The IRA justified their action in a Statement saying that Gow  was one of a small group of influential Tories, centred on Airey Neave and Margaret Thatcher, who in the late 1970's formulated the British policy pursued in Ireland since the 1979 Tory election victory.

His death stunned the British Establishment, including Margaret Thatcher, as he was a very well known figure in the corridors of Westminster and if not well loved he was recognised as a man of strong convictions not afraid to speak his mind. But his outspokenness ultimately cost him his Life.
He was the last MP to be killed in the course of the Conflict.

Monday, 29 July 2019

29‭ July 1883: James Carey, the man who informed on the Phoenix Park assassins (The Invincibles), was shot dead on this day. He was killed by Patrick O'Donnell (executed 17 November) on board the Melrose Castle, which was making its way from Cape Town to Durban with the turncoat on board. On the evidence of James Carey five of the "Invincible" prisoners had been convicted and received the capital sentence. Their names were Joseph Brady, Daniel Curley, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey and Timothy Kelly. Their executions took place in Dublin, in the months of May and June 1883.

But Carey was a hunted man as his old revolutionary companions sought out his whereabouts.‭ It became known that the British had sent him to South Africa with his family to start a new life in a remote location. But his attempt to escape the rightful vengeance of the remnants of those Invincibles still at large proved a futile exercise.   

Nemesis was on his track in the person of Patrick O'Donnell,‭ a fellow-passenger on board the Melrose. An acquaintance sprang up between the two men; and O'Donnell, from the descriptions he had heard of Carey's personal appearance, was not slow in recognizing in his compangon de voyage, the notorious informer; and his sensibilities were shocked by the discovery that he had given the hand of friendship to such a wretch.  

An altercation between these men on Sunday,‭ July 29, 1883, resulted (according to O'Donnell's statement) in Carey drawing his revolver on O'Donnell, whereupon O'Donnell--as he claims in self-defense--fired his own revolver twice at Carey, with fatal effect. O'Donnell was immediately placed under arrest, and on the arrival of the Melrose at Port Elizabeth, was taken before a magistrate, who recommitted him for trial in England, as the shooting had taken place on the high seas. The doom of O'Donnell, tried before an English judge and jury, was a foregone conclusion, and though he had the advantage of the most able counsel that money could procure, and there was no lack of funds for his defense--the Irish World alone having raised upward of fifty-five thousand dollars for this purpose--his conviction was secured.
By A.‭ M. Sullivan

Sunday, 28 July 2019

28 July 1270: The Battle of Athankip (Cath Ath in Chip) near Carrick on Shannon on this day. Aedh O'Conchobhair, King of Connaught, defeated the army of the Anglo –Norman Colony of the deputy-Justicar Richard of Exeter and Walter De Burgo on this day.
King Aedh of Connacht was an able and dynamic leader with a ruthless streak. He fought hard to retain what was left of the ever shrinking lump of territory that was left to the kings of Connacht by the inroads of the English. It was a Land over which his family ancestors had once held sway over so much of as Kings.
His enemies were many but at this time he was at war with Walter de Burgo of the Anglo-Norman De Burgo family. Walter was both the Lord of Connacht and the Earl of Ulster - a very powerful man indeed in the Ireland of that time.
King Aedh knew that when the English began erecting a castle at Roscommon in 1269 that the Crown of England was putting pressure upon him by taking back lands lost in previous times. He expected war notwithstanding agreements entered into earlier with the Crown of England.
In 1270 the Justicar Robert d'Ufford* organised an expeditionary force that united all his forces with those of Walter de Burgo so that they had 'all the foreigners of Erin with them'. However d'Ufford quitted Ireland ahead of the expedition and returned home and his place was taken by his deputy Richard of Exeter. Eventually in the summer of 1270 the forces were assembled at Roscommon and set off to march upon King Aedh and his men.
* The chief representative of the Crown of England in Ireland at that time
The Anglo-Norman Army went north by way of Elphin to the banks of the Shannon so that they were between Carrick and Jamestown, situated on what today is the riverine border between the counties of Roscommon and Leitrim.
There they decided upon a fatal course of action - they divided their forces in two so that the river Shannon would be between them. Walter was sent across the river with his men in order to camp beside Aedh's Army and to open negotiations with the King of Connacht so as to bring about his submission.
As part of the deal to agree to talk King Aedh entered into Walter's camp (a sign of submission in the Gaelic world!) but in return Walter had to hand over his own brother William to Aedh's camp 'while Aedh should be in the Earl's house arraigning the peace'.
Whatever exactly happened then we do not know but Aedh withdrew from the negotiations pretty fast. Meanwhile in his own camp two of the hostages who accompanied William were done to death and William himself was seized as a captive instead of being allowed to return to the care of his brother.
Walter was now on the wrong side of the river and with his brother's life in the balance and King Aedh obviously not prepared to agree to whatever terms were offered to him he decided to beat a retreat back to the other side of the Shannon and try and reunite his force with that of Richard of Exeter.
King Aedh on the other hand knew that in the aftermath of negotiations breaking down and the death of hostages that allowing Walter to cross the Shannon unmolested and re unite with Richard could only spell his own doom.
He decided to harry Walter's retreat and take out as many of his men as he could.
And O'Conchobhair was during these two
nights marching round them, as a furious, raging, tearing
lion goes about his enemies when killing them, so that
he permitted them neither to eat, sleep, nor be at rest.
Annals of Loch Cé
Eventually Walter's depleted and harried army made it to the banks of the Shannon at the ford of Ath An Chip where they proceeded to cross over to the other side. However they were caught here by Turlough O'Brien and his men. Turlough was if not the son then a close relative of King Brian of Thomond who had also turned against the English. Turlough might well have been on the western side of the Shannon already and waiting for Walter's army to turn up.
The Earl Walter turned to fight and with some courage sought out Turlough and engaged him in single combat and slew him. But this delay proved fatal for his army as the men of Connacht came upon his rearguard and turned a retreat into a rout. The English lost nine of the chief men (Knights) dead upon the battlefield and many hundreds of others as well. Over 100 apparelled and saddled horses were left behind by them. Aedh in the flush of Victory had Walter's own brother William put to death as a further insult to the man who had caused him so much trouble in his own life and that of his father King Felim too in his day.
The defeat of Ath-in-chip was inflicted by Aedh, son of Feidhlimidh Ua Conchobair and by the Connachtmen on the Earl, namely, on Walter de Burgh and on the Foreigners of Ireland besides, wherein was committed slaughter innumerable on the Foreigners. And William de Burgh junior was taken prisoner there and he was killed afterwards in the same captivity. And not greater than it was any defeat, or battle-rout that the Gaidhil ever gave to the Foreigners in Ireland previously.
For there was killed Richard of the Wood, kinsman of the Earl, as well as John Butler and many other knights and Foreigners and Gaidhil innumerable. And there were abandoned one hundred horses with their breastplates and with their saddles.
Annals of Ulster
Now when the Galls had gone to Ath in Chip in the morning, Toirrdelbach O Briain fell upon them there. The Earl himself turned upon him and slew him on the spot, single-handed.
At this moment the men of Connacht fell upon them. Their rearguard was dislodged and their van broken and nine of their noblest knights were killed on that moor, including Richard of the Wood and Seon Butler, and they left a hundred horses on the field, with their saddles and poitrels. Uilliam Oc was then killed in his captivity, after O Briain had been slain by the Earl, and none knew how many besides.
Annals of Connacht
It's possible that King Aedh was helped to gain this victory by the presence of a contingent of the famous Gallowglass (Gallóglaigh) warriors from Scotland which he had received as a dowry on his marriage in 1259 to the daughter of Dougall Mac Sorley of the western isles of Scotland.
Aedh O'Conchobhair went to Doire-Choluim-Chille [Derry] to espouse the daughter of Dubhgall
Mac Somhairle; and he brought home eight score young men with her, together with Ailin Mac Somhairle.
Annals of Loch Cé 1259
In the aftermath of the battle King Aedh raided far and wide across Connacht taking and destroying castles and driving his enemies before him. In the following years he raided further and took Roscommon itself in 1272. Athlone also fell to him and he broke the bridge across the Shannon.
Walter de Burgo died exactly a year to the day after the battle was fought in his castle at Galway- a broken man no doubt.
The end came for King Aedh on 3 May 1274:
Aed son of Fedlimid son of Cathal Crobderg O Conchobair, king of Connacht for nine years, died on the third day of May this year, a Thursday and the feast of the Invention [finding] of the Holy Cross; a king who wasted and desolated Connacht in fighting the Galls and Gaels who opposed him; a king who inflicted great defeats on the Galls and pulled down their palaces and castles; a king who took the hostages of the Ui Briuin and the Cenel Conaill; the destroyer and healer of Ireland was he; the king most dreaded and triumphant of all the kings of Ireland in his day, as the poet says: ‘For nine years did this Aed Engach defend the Family of Tara—no feeble forrayer was he—against Gall and Gael.’
Annals of Connacht
The Battle of Ath in Chip was his greatest military triumph.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

27‭ ‬July 1261:‭ ‬The Battle of Callan was fought on this day.‭ ‬The battle site is located a few miles from Kenmare County Kerry,‭ ‬near where the Roughty and Slaheny Rivers converge and close by the castle of Ardtully.‭ ‬Callan is near Kilgarvan in the barony of Glanarought,‭ ‬Co.‭ ‬Kerry.

It came about as a result of an attempt by the Anglo-Norman Fitzgeralds‭ (‬supported by the Barrys) to wrest control of territory from the Gaelic McCarthy’s of Kerry. But the expedition met with disaster and was sorely defeated by the Irish. The head of the McCarthy’s, Finghin MacCarthaigh, selected a battleground suited to the fighting tactics of his men. They were mostly lightly armed but mobile troops who used correctly could be very effective against the better armoured but slower moving soldiers and Knights of the Colony.

The leading men of these invaders were the Fitzgerald’s of Munster,‭ led by John fitz Thomas and his son, Maurice fitz John. Another of the Norman leaders was 'the son of Richard’ probably Walter de Burgo, Lord of Connacht and later Earl of Ulster. The Colonists were also supported by a few would be hopefuls from amongst the Irish themselves led by one Domhnall Ruadh -  a claimant to the McCarthy Lands.

In the event when battle was joined John Fitzthomas FitzGerald and his son Maurice were killed together with fifteen knights and more than‭ ‬300 men. The survivors fled and Finghin MacCarthaigh was able to sweep all before him. But he overextended his reach and was in turn defeated and killed only a short while later. 

1261.4‭ ‬A great war was waged, and numerous injuries were committed, by Finghin, son of Domhnall Mac Carthaigh, and his brothers, against Foreigners in this year.
1261.5‭ ‬A great hosting by the Clann-Gerald into Des-Mumha, to attack Mac Carthaigh; and Mac Carthaigh attacked them, and defeated them, and Fitz-Thomas (John proprium nomen), and his son, and fifteen knights and eight noble barons along with them, were slain there, besides several young men, and soldiers innumerable. And the Barrach Mór was also killed there. Finghin Mac Carthaigh was subsequently slain by the Foreigners, and the sovereignty of Des-Mumha was assumed after him by his brother, i.e. the Aithchleirech Mac Carthaigh.

Ironically after many vicissitudes of Fortune it was Domhnall‭ ‬Ruadh,‭ ‬-‭ ‬the would be claimant who fought alongside the men of the Colony on the day - who was the one who emerged as the chief beneficiary of these wars.

After the deaths of Finghin Reanna Ró and Cormac na Mangartan,‭ ‬he seems to have assumed and held the kingship of Desmond until his death in 1302--he reigned 40 years, according to A.I.--though not without opposition.
The Battle of Callan‭ ‬By Diarmuid Ó Murchadha in 'Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society‭ ‬1961'.

As a result of the deaths of John fitz Thomas and his son,‭ Maurice fitz John, the power of the Geraldines was curtailed and the MacCarthys ruled on in their own lands for another 300 years. The Battle of Callan was thus one of the most decisive clashes of arms in the History of Ireland.

Friday, 26 July 2019

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26‭ July 1914: Erskine Childers landed 900 Rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition at Howth from the yacht Asgard on this day. He was helped by his wife Molly Childers and Mary Spring Rice. Further to the south another 2,000 rifles and more ammunition were landed at Kilcoole, County Wicklow.

Dublin Castle made strenuous efforts to block the distribution of these weapons but the cargo was eventually spirited away by Irish Volunteers after evading the Constables of the DMP.‭ ‬Over a thousand members of the Irish Volunteers later paraded down O’Connell St in Dublin’s City Centre in defiance of the orders issued by the DMP. A clash seemed likely between the two sides but none took place.  

But later that evening British troops from the Kings Own Scottish Borderers‭ (‬KOSB) were drawn up across the narrow thoroughfare of Bachelors Walk in Dublin’s City Centre. A confrontation ensued between the soldiers and local people. What happened after that is a matter of some dispute. The British Military claimed their men were the subject of stones being thrown. Other observers claimed that the soldiers opened fire without warning. Three people, including a woman, were shot dead and almost 40 were wounded. A man died later in hospital and two of those injured were bayoneted as well.

Some days later John Redmond MP and the Leader of the Irish Nationalist Party rose in the British House of Commons to give his considered response to this Massacre.
Let the House clearly understand that four fifths of the Irish People will not submit any longer to be bullied,‭ ‬or punished, or shot, for conduct which is permitted to go scot free in the open light of day in every County in Ulster by other sections of their fellow Countrymen. 

The situation in Ireland was at a Crises point and daily an outbreak of fighting was expected between those who supported Home Rule and those who were opposed to it.‭ Throughout Britain and Ireland Politicians and People expected Ireland to descend into Civil War.

But two days after the events at Bachelors Walk the Austro‭ ‬- Hungarian Empire issued a Declaration of War upon Serbia and within a week the Bosnian Crises had sucked the Continent into a World War. The affairs of Ireland were relegated to the back pages and Irish History took a new and entirely unexpected turn.

Today this famous ship that help change the course of Irish History is housed in a fully restored state in the National History Museum on Benburb St Dublin.

Thursday, 25 July 2019

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25 July 1886: Eliza Alice Lynch Lloyd died in the city of Paris on this day, an exile from the land of her birth in Ireland and the land of her Husband and children – Paraguay! Almost unknown in her native Country she is the most famous woman in the History of Paraguay where she reigned as the unofficial ‘Queen of Paraguay’ for a number of years.

Eliza started life in the city of Cork in 1833, she was the daughter of John Lynch, MD. and Jane Clarke Lloyd. When she was about 15 her family left Ireland for Paris, probably to escape the terrible conditions that beset Ireland at that time. A young and attractive girl she was wooed by a Xavier Quatrefages, an officer in the French Army. They married but it looks like it was an arranged affair and Eliza was not happy with the Union. Her husband was posted to Algeria and she followed him out there. But it did not last and she left him to return to her mother in Paris. 

Her prospects were not great but she was a good looker, young blond and ambitious. She put her feminine skills to use as a Courtesan moving in the circle of Princess Mathilde Bonaparte. It is believed that it was at this time (circa 1854) that she caught the eye of one General Francisco Solano López, the son of none other than Carlos Antonio López the President of Paraguay. The young man had been dispatched to Paris by his father to buy armaments to equip the Army of his Country. He quickly fell in love with the young Irish beauty and she with him.

He decided to take her with him on his return home to the capital city of Asunción. But for whatever reason they did not marry. Her marriage was annulled in 1857 but Eliza was never accepted by the social oligarchy of the City. They shunned her as a fallen woman. Notwithstanding all this she bore her husband six children in total. He gave her extensive properties that made her nominally fabulously wealthy but all this Power and Wealth as the unofficial 'Queen of Paraguay/La Reina del Paraguay brought her jealousy from those who thought she was an upstart and a blow in.

In 1862 Francisco succeeded his father as President. An impetuous man he was concerned and angry with the decision of Brazil to invade the neighbouring state of Uruguay believing that he must oppose this in arms. In 1864 he declared war on Brazil. This proved to be a disastrous move as the Empire of Brazil was far more powerful than tiny Paraguay. Eventually he was at War with Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay - 'The War of the Triple Alliance' - and the Country suffered terribly when Paraguay was invaded. According to some estimates, Paraguay's pre-war population of 525,000 was reduced to 221,000, of which only 28,000 were men. 

In all of this Eliza went with her husband to the battlefields where she and her sister volunteers nursed the wounded as best they could. They were known as Las Residentas, composed of the soldiers' wives, daughters, and others. It was from involvement in helping the common soldiers that Eliza’s popularity with the Paraguayan People comes from. 

However the invading Powers eventually overran the Country and a bitter guerrilla war ensued. They eventually closed in on the increasingly paranoid and brutal Francisco López and his family and their band of ragged but loyal followers. 

The end came at the battle of Cerro Corá on 1 March 1870 when López was finally killed. To add to the trauma of Eliza her eldest son was shot down and killed in front of her. The Brazilian officers told him to surrender, and upon replying "Un coronel paraguayo nunca se rinde" (A Paraguayan colonel never surrenders) he was shot and killed by the allied soldiers. At this Lynch, after jumping and covering her son's body, exclaimed "¿Ésta es la civilización que han prometido?" (Is this the civilization you have promised?) - making a reference to the allies' claim that they intended to free Paraguay from a tyrant and deliver freedom and civilization to the nation. She then buried both López and her son with her bare hands before being led away as prisoner. 

She thus was taken captive and subsequently expelled from Paraguay with her remaining children.  She died in obscurity in Paris on 25 July 1886. Over one hundred years later, her body was exhumed and brought back to and proclaimed a National Heroine. Her remains are now located in the national cemetery "Cementerio de la Recoleta".

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

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23‭ July 1803: Robert Emmet’s Rising took place on this day. Unfortunately the whole affair was a fiasco due to a series of unforeseen circumstances. Emmet quickly lost control of the situation and he called it off to avoid a massacre of his followers. Due to an accidental explosion of an arms depot in Patrick St Dublin the week before the date for the Rising was brought forth to 23 July. Emmet felt that Dublin Castle was on to him and he dared not wait any longer before striking for Ireland’s Freedom.

On the day of the Rising Robert Emmet stood in Thomas Street Dublin and issued a Proclamation of Independence:

You are now called on to shew to the world that you are competent to take your place among nations, that you have a right to claim their recognizance of you, as an independent country, by the only satisfactory proof you can furnish of your capability of maintaining your independence, your wresting it from England with your own hands...

But on the day nothing went right.‭ ‬Not nearly enough men turned up and Emmet could not bring any order upon enough of those that did. The only blow struck was when Lord Kilwarden haplessly drove into the assembled crowd of insurgents and was hacked to death for his part in suppressing the 1798 Rising. This attack troubled Emmet greatly as he gave no orders for it. To him it was clear that at least a faction of those assembled would turn violent of their own accord and bring a bloody mayhem to the streets of the City rather than the ordered seizure of military points of importance around the Capital. Reluctantly that very night he called the enterprise off by the launching of a single rocket into the sky above Dublin. He immediately made for the Wicklow Mountains but returned to Rathfarnham some days later and went into hiding.

Notwithstanding the overall failure there had been some heavy fighting by armed insurgents against the British garrison in the Coome and scores of men died there,‭ ‬forcing the British back before the word was given to disperse.‭ ‬Around the City there were numerous smaller clashes and roads blocked.‭ ‬Amazingly Dublin Castle was caught completely on the hop and had no counter plan ready on the night.‭ ‬It was only the next day that they began to move and by that stage the insurgents had gone their separate ways. It was close run thing and the British had a lucky escape from having a full-blooded Insurrection on their hands.

Robert Emmet was arrested in Dublin on‭ 25 August of the same year. He was put on trail and sentenced to death.  At his trial he made a brilliant speech from the dock that inspired Revolutionaries both at home and abroad for years to come. He was executed the following day, 20 September 1803, at Thomas St. A huge crowd of onlookers and well wishers gathered to witness his final moments. The whereabouts of his last resting place remains unknown.

Monday, 22 July 2019

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22 July N.S./12 July O.S. 1691. The Battle of Aughrim (Irish: Cath Eachroma) was fought on this day. The battle was fought near the little village of Aughrim in County Galway. The defeat of the Jacobite forces by those of the Williamite Army decided the War of the Two Kings in favour of King William of Orange. It is considered the bloodiest battle in recorded Irish History. 

Ever since the Battle of the Boyne in July of the previous year the Catholic Jacobite armies had been on the defensive. King James had fled back to France never to return. Dublin and all the major cities of Ireland bar Galway and Limerick had fallen to the armies of King William of Orange. In June 1691 the line of the Shannon had been breached at Athlone and the Jacobites were retreating towards the city of Galway. It was decided to make a last stand at Aughrim and hope that the fortunes of a pitched battle would go in their favour. That way they would at least have a chance of turning the tide of the War back in their direction.

The Commander of the Catholic forces of King James II was the Marquis de St. Ruth, a veteran General of the French King Louis XIV. He had only arrived in Ireland in March that year. Although he had fumbled the defense of Athlone and thus allowed the Williamites to get across the Shannon he was determined to stop them reaching Galway. It was he who decided to make a stand at the village of Aughrim and on the ridge to the south of that settlement.  A pitched battle is a risky business and not all his Generals agreed it was worth it. But St Ruth realised that further retreat would only see the slow disintegration of his formations into a rabble incapable of effective resistance.

 The position was a good one as to its front was an almost impassable bog that meant that any attackers would be forced to make their main efforts either along the causway leading to Aughrim or else at the ford to the south of the ridge which was a difficult crossing point. The Irish deployed some 15,000 - 20,000 men of various quality in regiments and squadrons of Infantry, Cavalry and Dragoons [mounted musketeers]. They had some nine field pieces to play upon the Enemy. 

Their opponents under Dutch General Ginkel, an experienced soldier had advanced from Ballinasloe that morning and it was late in the afternoon before either side came in contact with the other. Ginkel’s Army was perhaps 20,000 strong and also made up of Infantry, Cavalry and Dragoons with some half its ranks made up of Continental Regulars and half from amongst the British population of both Britain & Ireland.

To Ginkel it was an unexpected battle but he handled his dispositions well sending the bulk of his force to push on the southern flank of the Irish and pin them there. After  heavy fighting his men slowly made it across Tristaun Bridge and into the right flank of the Irish but were finally halted at a dip in the landscape called ever after ‘Bloody Hollow’. But this could not be held by the Irish without pulling troops across from their left  flank - perhaps unavoidable but St Ruths decision to reinforce his right at the expense of the left was to have baleful consequences for his Army.

Further north the Protestants advanced into the bogs in order to cross over and engage the Catholic infantrymen drawn up behind hedgerows and prepared positions. Their initial attempts were partially successful but very costly, they were thrown back and some units were routed and senior officers captured. St Ruth was elated by the efforts of his Irishmen calling out ‘Le Jour est a nous mes enfants!' Again though more men were committed here by him who could not be used elsewhere. So far the Irish had fought very well and stopped all the enemy attacks from advancing to a critical point.

It was though to the north around Aughrim village and the ruins of Aughrim Castle the battle was decided. It was on this flank that the Scottish General Mackay held command. Here a narrow causway had to be crossed to get behind the Irish left flank. Mackay could see that the battle was at a critical stage as elsewhere the attacks of his fellows had been checked. The momentum had been lost and in if you will a last throw of the dice he led his troopers forward to take the causway and turn the battle. He fell from his horse and the Hugenot Marquis de Ruvigny[later Earl of Galway] led the attack in. Against the odds he made it through.

 Burke’s Regiment in the Castle ran out of ammunition and could not stop the advance of the enemy. The Irish Horse under Luttrel and Sheldon were strong and in position. Incredibly they did nothing but quit the field of battle! To this day we do not know why, Treachery is suspected but nothing proven. But with them gone the position was well and truly turned and the Williamite cavalry swept down into the rear of the Irish ranks.

St Ruth soon got wind of this and moved north to check the dangerous situation in his left rear. Then Fortune truly turned her gaze against the Irish that day as a cannonball took his head clean off! Nothing could stop the disintegration by then and the infantry broke and ran for the bogs. Night soon came on and a misty rain began to fall and that must have saved many. But many, very many, had fallen in the fighting and the pursuit that followed. 

The Jacobite defeat was complete. They lost eleven standards of cavalry and dragoons, the colours of thirty two infantry battalions, nine field guns, all their ammunition, tents and camp equipment, most of their small arms and about 4,000 men killed.The Williamites too suffered heavily. Their casualties are variously stated; they were probably as many as 2,000.
Aughrim 1691, Irish Battles G.A. Hayes-McCoy

It was all over - there was no way another Field Army could be put together after a Defeat of this Magnitude. Galway surrendered on 21 July [OS] and Limerick on 3 October [OS]. The Treaty of Limerick was the end of Catholic Ireland for over a Century. It was also to be over a hundred years before another pitched battle was fought on the soil of Ireland during the Risings of 1798.

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22 July 1858: Mother Mary Frances Aikenhead died on this day. She was a frail child and was adopted out in her native city of Cork to a woman called Mary Rourke. Though baptised into the Church of Ireland it is thought that Mary was secretly baptised a Catholic from this early age by Mary Rourke who was a devout Catholic. However she was not formally received into the Catholic Faith until she was 15 years old on 6 June 1802. From an early age she was a devout disposition and wished to pursue a religious Life.

In 1808, Mary went to stay with her friend Anne O’Brien in Dublin. Here she witnessed widespread unemployment and poverty and soon began to accompany her friend in visiting the poor and sick in their homes. From this experience she believed it would be her vocation to help the sick and the poor as a member of a religious Community. She trained for 3 years (1812-1815) in a convent in York, England in order to become a Nun. When she returned to Dublin she set up the Religious Sisters of Charity in Ireland.

On 1 September 1815, the first members of the new institute took their vows, Sister Mary Augustine being appointed Superior General. Added to the traditional three vows of poverty chastity & obedience, was a fourth vow: to devote their lives to the service of the poor. For the next 15 years Mother Mary worked very hard to alleviate the sufferings of the less well-off but it took a terrible toll on her own Health.

However she did not let her own personal misfortune get her down:
“Low spirits and dreads of evil to ourselves or Congregation, or even to the church, are actually the beginnings of despair. If all the rest of the world goes wrong, we should still persevere in trying to serve our God with faith and fervour.” (7 November 1834)

Confined to bed or a wheelchair she continued to direct her charges and set up new institutions both at home and abroad. Her Sisters were particularly active during the great Cholera outbreak in 1832. She died in Dublin, aged 71 in Our Lady’s Mount Harold’s Cross and was buried in in the cemetery attached to St. Mary Magdalen's, Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

Her cause for canonization as a saint has been progressing in Rome. On 18 March 2015, a decree was issued proclaiming her heroic virtues. This entitles her to be referred to as the Venerable Mary Aikenhead.

Sunday, 21 July 2019

21 July 1914: The Buckingham Palace Conference began on this day. It ran between 21 and 24 July. Though the issue of Home Rule had been on the political agenda since the 1870s, the 1914 conference was the first time that a formal conference had been called involving both Nationalists and Unionists and the British Government of the day.

Those who attended were the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith, Lloyd George as Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Irish Parliamentary leader John Redmond, his deputy, John Dillon, & across the table the leader of the Irish Unionists, Edward Carson together with Bonar Law, James Craig and Lord Landsdowne. The Speaker of the House of Commons presided.

Each delegation was met in person on arrival by King George V who was anxious for a peaceful settlement over whether Ulster should be in whole or part be included in an All Ireland Parliament under a form of ‘Home Rule’ for the Country.

By the second day Asquith saw that no solution as to which counties were to be temporarily excluded was going to emerge. He wrote to an associate:
"I have rarely felt more helpless in any particular affair, an impasse with unspeakable consequences, upon a matter which to English eyes seems inconceivably small and to Irish eyes immeasurably big. Isn't it a real tragedy?"

The conference broke up after three days without agreement. All sides, however, argued that it had been a useful engagement, with Unionists and Nationalists for the first time having meaningful discussions on how to allay each other's fears about the other. A limited understanding emerged between Carson and the Nationalists that if Ulster were to be excluded, in its entirety, the province should come in or out as a whole.

With hindsight it was seen as a failure as there was only so far each side was prepared to go on a compromise - and to the other side that was not far enough. Within a week Austria had declared War on Serbia & within a month the First World War was  well and truly underway. Any tenuous developments that might have come from this meeting of the main players was washed away by the momentous and bloody events in Europe.

Saturday, 20 July 2019

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20‭ July ‬1398: The Battle of Kellistown/ An Cath Cell Osnadha was fought on this day. The battle was fought between the forces of the O’Byrnes and O’Tooles, and the English of Leinster led by Roger Mortimer, the 4th Earl of March.

A battle was given to the English by O'Byrne and O'Toole, in which the Earl of March was slain, and the English were slaughtered.
Annals of the Four Masters

The O’Byrnes and O’Tooles were surrogates for Art Mac Murrough Cavanagh who was the most powerful Chieftain in Leinster and recognised as a King amongst his own people.‭ ‬He used them to fight a proxy war against the English and thus avoid a complete break with them. Kellistown is situated in County Carlow between the towns of Carlow and Tullow.

‭ ‬"Here fell the heir presumptive to the English crown, whose premature removal was one of the causes which contributed to the revolution in England a year or two later."  

Mortimer had been created the King of England’s Lieutenant in Ireland in‭ 1396 ‬and held this position until the Irish killed him. His body was cut to pieces during the battle but whether this as a result of combat or mutilation after his death is not recorded. Curiously enough he had decided to engage in the combat dressed in the Irish style - that is without body armour. There was at least enough of him remaining for his corpse to be brought back home to England where he was interred amongst his own people in Wigmore Abbey, Herefordshire.

Mortimer was none other than an heir to the Throne of England.‭ He was also dignified with the titles ‘Earl of Ulster’ and ‘Lord Of Connaught’. Ironically he was a direct descendant of Aoife Murchada, whose father had let the English in. Thus he was a distant relation of his nemesis Art Mac Murrough Cavanagh! However the unstable & paranoid King Richard II of England had ordered his arrest just after this engagement[27 July] but the news had not reached England before his death in battle. With him dead then the primary candidate to succeed the childless Richard became ‬Henry Bolingbroke whom the King had sent into exile.

Richard‭ was so concerned by the news from Ireland that his Authority had been so flouted and decided to settle matters once and for all with Art Mac Murrough who had submitted to his Rule when Richard had last campaigned here in 1394. But his departure from his own Country in the following years of 1399 cost him his Kingdom as his domestic enemies took the opportunity to topple him from his throne. On return in the month of August he was compelled to give up his crown and submit to the advances of his cousin, Henry of Bolingbroke who had returned and risen in revolt. 

Henry was crowned King in Westminster Abbey on 13 October and Richard was now his prisoner. An embarrassment to the new King Henry IV he was allowed to wither away in captivity in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire and ‘died’ (probably from deliberate starvation?] in early 1400.

An Cath‭ ‬Cell Osnadha was thus a battle of great importance in the history of two countries – England and Ireland - as it was a catalyst for a series of events that led to the Downfall of a Monarch who claimed to be both ‘King of England’ and ‘Lord of Ireland’ - claims that at the end of the day he found impossible to maintain.

Friday, 19 July 2019

19 July 1210: King John of England arrived before the Castle of Carrickfergus in Ulster and besieged it on this day. It soon fell into his hands and in the days following he received a visit from the King of Tyrone/ Tir Eoghan, Aed Meith O Neill. His visitor brought a large contingent of troops with him, perhaps 2,000 warriors to impress the Anglo-Norman Monarch. The Ulster king agreed to render John service but the two kings drew different conclusions as to what that actually meant. 

The King of Connacht was also a somewhat reluctant part of King John’s host and actively helped him in suppressing the Anglo-Norman De lacy family that had upset the King of England’s temperament.   

Johannes, grandson of the Empress, king of the Saxons, came to Erinn, with a great fleet, in this year.
After arriving he commanded a great hosting of the men of Erinn to Ulidia, to apprehend Hugo de Laci, or to expel him from Erinn, and to capture Carraic-Fergusa.
Hugo left Erinn, and the persons who were defending the Carraic abandoned it, and came to the king; and the king put men of his own company into it.
Annals of Loch Cé

Thursday, 18 July 2019

18 July 1938: Douglas Corrigan  -‘Wrong way Corrigan’ - landed at Baldonnel Aerodrome  Co Dublin after flying across the Atlantic solo in his aircraft Sunshine on this day. His arrival was totally unexpected and on being asked from whence he came he answered ‘New York’ - much the incredulity of those who had gathered around him.

Despite his assertion that he had simply lost his way on take off and instead of turning west for California he had  inadvertently headed east for Ireland no one really believed him. He had started his working life as a mechanic and had caught the Flying Bug when he took a ride up in a plane some years previously. He got his pilots license & took up stunt flying to earn a living. But he always hankered to do something out of the ordinary and settled on Ireland (the Homeland of his ancestors) as a place he would like to fly to.

He saved up his salary and spent $300 on buying a second hand 1929 Curtiss Robin OX-5 monoplane and flew it home, where he returned to work as an aircraft mechanic and began to modify the Robin for a transatlantic flight. Having installed an engine built from two old Wright Whirlwind J6-5 engines (affording 165 hp (123 kW) instead of the 90 hp (67 kW) of the original) and extra fuel tanks, Corrigan applied to the Bureau of Air Commerce in 1935, seeking permission to make a nonstop flight from New York to Ireland. The application was rejected; his plane was deemed unsound for a nonstop transatlantic trip, although it was certified to the lower standard for cross-country journeys.

But Corrigan was nothing if not a tryer and on 17 July 1938 he took off at 5:15 in the morning with 320 US gallons (1,200 L) of gasoline and 16 US gallons (61 L) of oil on board. Corrigan headed east from the 4,200-foot (1,300 m) runway of Floyd Bennet Field New York to begin his epic journey. He landed at Baldonnel Aerodrome  on July 18, after a 28-hour, 13-minute flight. His provisions had been just two chocolate bars & two boxes of fig bars, and 25 US gal (94.64 L) of water.

Corrigan's plane had fuel tanks mounted on the front, allowing him to see only out of the sides. He had no radio and his compass was 20 years old, but somehow he made it. His daring flight alone across the Atlantic Ocean made headlines across the World. Back in the USA he was nicknamed ‘Wrong Way Corrigan’ when he claimed to have flown East instead of West on take off. It was said that his tickertape parade through the streets of New York City outshone that of his great hero Charles Lindbergh - who curiously never acknowledged his achievement.

The journalist H.R. Knickerbocker who met Corrigan in Ireland after his arrival, wrote in 1941:
You may say that Corrigan's flight could not be compared to Lindbergh's in its sensational appeal as the first solo flight across the ocean. Yes, but in another way the obscure little Irishman's flight was the more audacious of the two. Lindbergh had a plane specially constructed, the finest money could buy. He had lavish financial backing, friends to help him at every turn. Corrigan had nothing but his own ambition, courage, and ability. His plane, a nine-year-old Curtiss Robin  was the most wretched-looking jalopy.

As I looked over it at the Dublin airdrome I really marveled that anyone should have been rash enough even to go in the air with it, much less try to fly the Atlantic. He built it, or rebuilt it, practically as a boy would build a scooter out of a soapbox and a pair of old roller skates. It looked it. The nose of the engine hood was a mass of patches soldered by Corrigan himself into a crazy-quilt design. The door behind which Corrigan crouched for twentyeight hours was fastened together with a piece of baling wire. The reserve gasoline tanks put together by Corrigan, left him so little room that he had to sit hunched forward with his knees cramped, and not enough window space to see the ground when landing.

The following year, he starred as himself in The Flying Irishman, a movie biography. The $75,000 he earned was the equivalent of 30 years income at his airfield jobs! During the War he flew planes for the US Transport Command and then went back to California where he bought an Orange Farm. He died there in 1995. To the end he never admitted to anything other than flying ‘the wrong way’.