Sunday, 28 February 2021
Friday, 26 February 2021
26 February 943: The Vikings of Dublin got a lucky break, when they ambushed the heir apparent to the High King, ‘Muirchertach of the Leather Cloaks/ Muirchertach na Cochall Craicinn’ and slew him on this day.
Muirchertach son of Niall, i.e. Muirchertach of the Leather Cloaks, king of Ailech and the Hector of the western world, was killed by the heathens, i.e. by Blacair son of Gothfrith, king of the foreigner, at Glas Liatháin beside Cluain Chaín, in Fir Rois, on the first feria, fourth of the Kalends of March [26 Feb]
Ard Macha was plundered by the same foreigners on the following day, the third of the Kalends of March…
ANNALS OF ULSTER
Muirchertach was the son of Niall Glundubh who had himself been killed fighting the Vikings at Dublin in 919 AD. He had fought and won many battles and in one report is mentioned as leading a naval expedition against the Norsemen of the Hebrides. However he suffered an embarrassing episode in 939 when in a surprise raid his enemies’ ships raided his fortress of Aileach (outside Derry) and carried him off. He was forced to ransom his own release to regain his freedom.
Muirchertach, under the ancient rule of the kingship of Tara alternating between the northern and southern O’Neills, was due to replace King Donnachadh on the latter’s demise. Sometimes though ambition got the better of him and he clashed with his senior colleague and at other times co-operated with him. Muirchertach married Donnchad's daughter Flann, but relations between the two were not good. Conflict between them is recorded in 927, 929, and 938.
His most remarkable feat came in 941 when he carried out a Circuit of Ireland with a picked force of 1,000 men and secured pledges from all the principal kingdoms and carried away with him hostages as security. The Dalcassians (Brian Boru’s people) alone refused to submit. But Muirchertach eventually handed over all his hostages to Donnachadh as a mark of respect.
But his luck ran out in 943 when he was taken by surprise by the Vikings of Dublin somewhere near Ardee, Co Louth. It looks like Muirchertach was attempting to fend off a raid by them that was heading north towards Armagh when he was taken off guard:
Muirchertach son of Niall, heir designate of Ireland, was killed in Áth Firdia by the foreigners of Ath Cliath, and Ard Macha was plundered by the heathens.
Thursday, 25 February 2021
Wednesday, 24 February 2021
24 February 1943: Thirty five girls and their 80 year old cook were killed when fire swept through their dormitory at St. Joseph's Orphanage & Industrial School in Cavan Town on this day.
In the early hours the morning a fire broke out in the basement laundry of the Orphanage. The Institution was run by the enclosed order of Poor Clare nuns who were charged with the protection of the girls. The fire & smoke spread very rapidly and quickly took hold. Local people did their best to try and rescue those within. When entry was finally gained it was too late to reach many of the terrified screaming children trapped in the top floor dormitories.
The children who died were on the top floors of the building and on the night in question the three dormitories there contained 67 souls incl. 3 adults. On the next floor down there was one dormitory in which were 22 individuals incl.1 adult who all escaped the conflagration. In total 89 persons were present on the night in the actual Orphanage.
The local fire service was totally overwhelmed and by the time they had brought their inadequate equipment to bear the flames had taken hold, the roof had caved in and the building was soon firmly ablaze. Thirty five children and an elderly lay woman were burned to death when the roof of the building collapsed. The following day what remained of the thirty six bodies were recovered from the blackened ruins. They were put in just eight coffins and buried subsequently in a mass grave.
An Official State enquiry was held that reached the conclusion that in all probability the origin of the fire was a faulty flue in the chimney that set a clothes hanger on fire in the Laundry room and that those who died could have been brought to safety in time if they had been brought down to safety immediately instead of their supervisor going to get help & being unable to return to her charges before the smoke took hold.
REPORT OF THE
Tribunal Of Inquiry Into The Fire
AT ST. JOSEPH'S ORPHANAGE, MAIN STREET, CAVAN found:
That the loss of life was caused by combination of circumstances, namely,
(a) fright or panic resulting in faulty directions being given;
(b ) want of training in fire-fighting, including rapid
evacuation of personnel and movement in smoke laden atmosphere
(c ) lack of proper leadership and control of operations;
(d) want of knowledge of the lay-out 'of the premises on the part of persons from outside;
(e) inadequate rescue and firefighting service at the proper time;
(I) the absence of light at a critical period
The children who died were:
Mary Harrison -15 years of age from Dublin
Mary Hughes - 15 years of age from Killeshandra
Ellen McHugh -15 years of age from Blacklion
Kathleen & Frances Kiely - 12 & 9 years of age from Virginia
Mary & Margaret Lynch - 15 & 10 years of age from Cavan
Josephine & Mona Cassidy - 15 & 11 years of age from Belfast
Kathleen Reilly – 14 years of age from Butlersbridge
Mary & Josephine Carroll – 12 yrs & 10 years of age from Castlerahan
Mary & Susan McKiernan - 16 & 14 years of age from Dromard
Rose Wright – 11 years of age from Ballyjamesduff
Mary & Nora Barrett - 12 years of age -Twins – from Dublin
Mary Kelly - 10 years of age from Ballinagh
Mary Brady – 7 years of age from Ballinagh
Dorothy Daly – 7 years of age from Cootehill
Mary Ivers – 12 years of age from Kilcoole Wicklow
Philomena Regan – 9 years of age from Dublin
Harriet & Ellen Payne - 11 & 8 years of age from Dublin
Teresa White – 6 years of age from Dublin
Mary Roche - 6 years of age from Dublin
Ellen Morgan – 10 years of age from Virginia
Elizabeth Heaphy - 4 years of age from Swords
Mary O'Hara – 7 years of age from Kilnaleck
Bernadette Serridge - 5 years of age from Dublin
Katherine & Margaret Chambers - 9 & 7 years of age from Enniskillen
Mary Lowry – 17 years of age from Drumcrow, Cavan
Bridget & Mary Galligan - 17 & 18 years of age Drumcassidy, Cavan
Mary Smith 80 years of age employed as Cook
Tuesday, 23 February 2021
23 February 1886: Lord Randolph Churchill of the Conservative Party spoke at a meeting in Belfast in which he is said to have uttered the phrase ‘Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right’
The Liberals had won the General Election the previous year but had not secured an overall majority. Lord Churchill was anxious to undermine the rapport that had developed between the Liberal Party under William Gladstone and the Irish Parliamentary Party under Charles Stewart Parnell. They thus relied on Parnell to secure their hold on the House of Commons. The price for such support was Gladstone committing himself to bring forward a Bill for Home Rule for Ireland in the current session of Parliament.
Churchill was fundamentally opposed to Home Rule and planned to use his name in Ulster to give heart to those within the ranks of the Orange Order that were prepared to resist by any means the bringing in of such a measure. He had written to a friend some days previously what his plan was:
I decided some time ago that if the G.O.M.* went for Home Rule, the Orange card would be the one to play. Please God it may turn out to be the ace of trumps and not the two.
* Grand Old Man – Mr Gladstone
The revitalised Orange Order had sponsored meetings for all who were against Home Rule. It arranged the meeting in the Ulster Hall at which the main speaker was to be Lord Randolph Churchill himself. He gave, to a wildly enthusiastic audience, this slogan that was to become their rallying cry in the years ahead...
Thus began the close association between the Conservative Party and the Unionists in Ireland that was to such a feature of Anglo-Irish relations for decades to come. It should be noted though that he may not have actually uttered these words - but he never actually denied saying them either!
His more famous son Sir Winston Churchill was twice Prime Minister of Gt .Britain & led her to Victory in the Second World War.
Monday, 22 February 2021
22 February 1832: Glasnevin (Prospect) Cemetery, Dublin opened its gates on this day. The first internment was of Michael Carey, aged 11, of Francis Street.
Michael Carey was born in Dublin’s Francis Street in 1821. His father was a scrap metal dealer. Michael has the auspicious legacy of being the very first burial in Glasnevin cemetery when it opened its gates. He died aged 11 on the 22nd February 1832. His gravestone by the original gate into the cemetery points out that he was the first to be interred. From that day to now, over 1 ½ million Irish people, from politicians to poets, revolutionaries to railway engineers, from shoemakers to soldiers, have been laid to rest under the same earth as this young boy.
This place of burial was established to allow the Catholic population of the City to have a place to bury their dead without impediment. The old Penal Laws had meant that all bodies had to be interred in Protestant graveyards. With the coming of full Catholic Emancipation in 1829 the imperative to establish a graveyard free from religious connotations took hold. When Glasnevin opened it was for the use of every person of regardless of Religion. The establishment of Prospect Cemetery coincided with burial reform and the rise of the 'garden cemetery' movement in Britain and Europe.
It now holds the graves of some 1.2 million people including those of many famous Irishmen and women. Amongst those were laid to rest within its walls are Daniel O'Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Eamon De Valera, James Larkin, Maud Gonne MacBride, Countess Markievicz, Ann Devlin, Brendan Behan, Michael Collins, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and many victims of the Great Famine.
There is now a full Museum on the site that tells the story of the establishment of the institution and the stories of some of the famous and indeed infamous people interred within.
Sunday, 21 February 2021
Saturday, 20 February 2021
Friday, 19 February 2021
Thursday, 18 February 2021
18 February 1366: The Viceroy of Ireland , Lionel Duke of Clarence summoned a Parliament at Kilkenny on this day. From this emerged in the following year the series of infamous ordinances that became popularly known as the ‘Statutes of Kilkenny’ and were designed to put a legal framework on the division of Ireland into two separate peoples: the English and the Irish. In fact it was one Statute and contained thirty-five articles of note.
It was officially entitled:
A Statute of the Fortieth Year of King Edward III., enacted in a parliament held in Kilkenny, A.D. 1367, before Lionel Duke of Clarence, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland
For instance if any man took a name after the Irish fashion, used the Irish language, or dress, or mode of riding (without saddle), or adopted any other Irish customs, all his lands and houses were forfeited, and he himself was put into jail till he could find security that he would comply with the law. The Irish living among the English were permitted to remain, but were forbidden to use the Irish language under the same penalty. To use or submit to the Brehon law [Gaelic Law] or to exact 'coyne and livery' [extractions and billeting of soldiers on households] was treason. The Irish game of Hurling was also banned - a game which is still played today - esp in Kilkenny!
The Statute of Kilkenny, though not exhibiting quite so hostile a spirit against the Irish as we find sometimes represented, yet carried out consistently the vicious and fatal policy of separation adopted by the government from the beginning. It was intended to apply only to the English, and was framed entirely in their interests. Its chief aim was to withdraw them from all contact with the "Irish enemies"--so the natives are designated all through the act--to separate the two races for evermore.
A Concise History of Ireland by P. W. Joyce
Lionel was the third son of King Edward III [above] and certainly was well placed to have the King’s ear on matters relating to how to rule over Ireland. Nevertheless the Duke of Clarence did not have much success in Ireland and these measures were more the result of desperation than the confident exercise of power by him. They were more an attempt to hold back the tide as the English Colony in Ireland continued to disintegrate and shrink in size and influence.
Bizarrely the noble Duke was not long to survive his sojourn in Ireland, some years later he died suddenly at Alba in the province of Piedmont in northern Italy while enjoying the comforts of his second wife, one Violante Visconti, daughter of the Lord of Pavia. He was probably poisoned by his father in Law in order to block the enormous Dowry he demanded as payment for marrying the man’s daughter!
Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Tuesday, 16 February 2021
Monday, 15 February 2021
Sunday, 14 February 2021
Saturday, 13 February 2021
13 February 1871 Joseph Devlin, journalist and politician was born in Belfast on this day. He was raised in the lower Falls area of the city & was raised in the Nationalist tradition. On leaving school he got a job as a clerk and then became involved in the Pub Trade eventually running a Licensed Premises for a brewery company ran by the Nationalist Samuel Young MP.
However from an early stage Devlin was noted for his remarkable skills of oratory which he put to good effect in debating the merits of Ireland having her own Parliament to decide her own affairs at home i.e. ‘Home Rule for Ireland’.
During the 1890s he was an active nationalist organiser& founded the United Irish League (UIL) branch in Belfast in 1898. He was elected unopposed as Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) MP for Kilkenny North in 1902. The Party then sent him to the USA on the first of several successful fund-raising missions.
While there he was very impressed with the Society of Ancient Hibernians & on his return home he used their members and skills to take over control of branches of the UIL & became the General Secretary of the Organisation. He then came to form a close bond with John Dillon MP of the IPP & moved the UIL into a semi official alliance with his line of thinking which was to avoid compromise with the Landlord class. In tandem Devlin used his links with the AOH [in which he became a Grandmaster] to use its members to effectively control the UIL as well. Under his tutelage the AOH expanded from 10,000 members in 1905 to 60,000 in 1909.
In the 1906 general election, Devlin was re-elected to Kilkenny North, and also to Belfast West which he regained from the Unionists by 16 votes. Choosing to retain the Belfast seat, he served as its MP beyond 1918. He was the Leader of the North as far as Nationalism was concerned and something of an enforcer too against those throughout the Country who deviated from the program of the IPP.
In August 1914 Ireland was on the point of Civil War between Unionists & Nationalists over the Home Rule Crises when the Great War broke out. The Leader of the IPP John Redmond decided to support the War effort & encouraged Irishmen to join the Colours and take part in the Conflict. In this Devlin backed him and in the northern counties there was widespread nationalist recruitment into the British Army. Home Rule was put on hold for the duration of the War.
After the 1916 Easter Rising Devlin compromised with Northern Nationalists agreeing on a temporary six-county exclusion to assist Lloyd George's abortive home rule negotiations, organising a convention which endorsed his stance by a vote of 475 to 265. In April 1918 Devlin opposed the Conscription Bill & was returned for West Belfast in the December ‘Khaki Election’ of that year, one of only six IPP members to do so! He really took a back seat after that but was present in the House of Commons in the aftermath of Bloody Sunday in November 1920 & when he attempted to raise the Atrociety he was shouted down & physically attacked by a fellow member the House.
He had an on- off relationship with the new northern parliament at Stormont, first opposing it then reluctantly taking his seat in 1925 just so the nationalist voice would not be left completely unheard. But after PR was abolished there in 1929 he chose to stand in Fermanagh -South Tyrone and represented the constituency until 1932 at Westminster where he won an amendment to the Northern Ireland Education Act of 1930 which improved the funding of Catholic schools.
A popular and outgoing character he was well known to his constituents and organised ‘Summer Fetes’ that were very well attended. A Director of Distillery Company and chairman of the ‘Irish News’ paper he was comfortably well off but never married.
A lifelong bachelor, Devlin, though short in stature (he was known in Belfast as ‘Wee Joe’ – and by Tim Healy , less affectionately, as ‘the duodecimo* Demosthenes’ was apparently highly attractive to women, and took a special interest in their problems. He was to found a holiday home for working-class women. Belfast linen workers in the late 1960s and early 1970s remembered him as a champion of the workers decades after his death.
* pocket size
He died in Belfast on 18 January 1934 and his funeral was at St Peters on the Falls Rd which was attended by members of both the Stormont & Leinster House Governments. He was buried in Milltown Cemetery.
Friday, 12 February 2021
12 February 1976: The Hunger Striker Frank Stagg died after 61 days on hunger strike in Wakefield Prison, Yorkshire, on this day. He had been on hunger strike in protest at the British government's refusal to transfer him to a prison in Ireland. He had been arrested in Coventry in 1973 and had been given a sentence of 10 years for criminal damage and conspiracy to commit arson. He initially went on Hunger Strike in 1974 along with others to gain repatriation to Ireland. In this strike his comrade Michael Gaughan died and Stagg felt a degree of moral responsibility for convincing him to embark upon it.
While other hunger strikers were sent back the British refused to move Stagg and he was incarcerated in Long Lartin Prison. Here he was subjected to prolonged periods of Solitary Confinement for and again went on hunger strike. Eventually the Prison Governor relented and Stagg called off his strike. In 1975 he was transferred to Wakefield Prison where he again refused to do prison work. Just before Christmas that year he and others again embarked on a Hunger strike. Their demand were: An end to Solitary Confinement; No Prison Work and Repatriation to Ireland. He died on 12 February 1976.
When his body was returned to Ireland his coffin was seized by the Government and buried under concrete so that it could not be interred in the Republican Plot in Ballina, Co Mayo. However in November 1976, a group of republicans tunnelled under the concrete to recover the coffin under cover of darkness and reburied it in the Republican plot.
Thursday, 11 February 2021
11 February 1867: The abortive Fenian Raid on Chester Castle on this day. An audacious plan had been put together by the Fenian Leadership to seize the arsenal at Chester Castle in England. The plotters would then bring the considerable stock of weapons and ammunition held there to Ireland where they would be distributed to the volunteers in order to overthrow British rule. So much for the plan - but the night before it was to be put into operation the whole scheme was betrayed to the local police by an informer from within the Movement. It had been betrayed by John Carr, alias Corydon who was a paid informer. The cache of rifles had been removed from the castle and the garrison quickly reinforced by another 70 regular soldiers from Manchester.
Despite efforts to turn their men back, an estimated 1,300 Fenians reached Chester, in small parties from Manchester, Preston, Halifax, Leeds and elsewhere. Mostly, they discarded what few weapons they had and melted away. The next day, with nothing now happening, a further 500 household troops arrived by train from London in time for a tumultuous reception and breakfast at Chester hotels.
The man who was the mastermind of the projected operation was John McCafferty, US Citizen and an ex Irish American soldier who had served in the Confederate Army in the American Civil War. Once he realised that his cover had been blown he effected a quick escape with the intention of making it back to Dublin. His accomplice was John Flood and as a result of the hunt now on for them they decided to return to Ireland by collier and not a passage steamer which were all being watched. The ship they returned home on was called the New Draper.
However, when the New Draper arrived at Dublin on the 23rd February 1867, the harbour was being watched. The two Fenians were to be put ashore from the vessel in an oyster boat, but were spotted by policemen, and their vessel was pursued in a chase across the river Liffey involving a ferry, a canal boat and a collier and the men were arrested. Ultimately they were tried for ‘High Treason’ and McCafferty was sentenced to life imprisonment, but he was released under an Amnesty in 1871.
He returned to the US where he kept up the Fenian Campaign against Britain. He went back to Ireland in the 1870’s and became involved in Mayo bye election of 1874. After a further period of revolutionary activity when he became involved with the Invincibles he went back to America and disappeared.
Wednesday, 10 February 2021
Tuesday, 9 February 2021
9 February 1815: Ellen Hutchins, Ireland’s first Lady botanist, died on this day. Miss Hutchins was a self effacing girl who kept herself to herself and steered a lonely path through this world. For solace in her life she turned to the study of the Natural World in the shores and creeks of her native Bantry in south west Ireland. Her pioneering work helped lay the foundations of the study of this Country’s Natural Flora and Fauna.
Ellen was born in 1785 at Ballylickey House, Bantry, Co. Cork, one of the six surviving children of Thomas and Elinor Hutchins. Her father was a wealthy protestant tenant of a catholic landowner, Lord Kenmare. But her father died when she was very young and eventually she was packed off the Dublin to stay with a Dr William Stokes and his family at Harcourt Street, Dublin. Dr Stokes was Professor of Medicine at the Royal College of Surgeons from 1800 and he had a keen interest in botany, founding the Botanic Gardens at Trinity in 1806. It was through Dr Stokes that Ellen met the next of her mentors, James Townsend Mackay, the first curator of Trinity’s Botanic Garden.
‘Ellen’s particular branch was in cryptogamic botany, the study of non-flowering plants (the term ‘cryptogam’ does indeed come from the same root as ‘cryptic’). These algae, mosses, liverworts and seaweeds to which Ellen devoted her keenest attentions, were vastly understudied compared to the more easily observed flowering plants. In addition, Ellen was collecting specimens in the Bantry Bay environs, an area containing an interesting dispersal of rare flora. The combination of very good eyesight and great artistic talent meant that she could render the fine detail of species in exquisite detail.’
‘Her field work was done in the Bantry environs in her early twenties. Between 1809 and 1811, she identified and listed (in Latin) around 1100 plants around Bantry Bay. Her distant cousin and friend Thomas Taylor most likely got her on to collecting shells and she began studying molluscs.’
Source: Charlotte Salter-Townshend @ http://womensmuseumofireland.ie/articles/ellen-hutchins-1785-1815
But alas Ellen’s life was not a happy one. She had been forced to return to the family home in Bantry to look after her aging mother and her brother who was an invalid. Her outings in search of specimens was her only break from a life of drudgery and toil. To make matters worse her elder brother kicked them out of the family home and they had to move away. Ellen herself was sick herself by this stage. She was consumptive and taking mercury for a liver complaint – the effects of which had reduced the young woman to ‘a mere skeleton’.
Eventually her situation overwhelmed her and it would appear she did away with herself. She was buried in an unmarked site outside the south wall of Garryvurcha Church, Bantry. Her invalid brother Thomas passed away a few months later.
William Henry Harvey was greatly influenced by the work of Ellen Hutchins. Years after her death, wrote in 1847 of her lasting effect on Irish botany in his work Phycologiae Brittanica:
‘[Her] name is held in grateful remembrance by botanists in all parts of the world. To her the botany of Ireland is under many obligations, particularly the cryptogamic branch, in which field until her time little explored. She was particularly fortunate in detecting new and beautiful objects, several of which remain the rarest species to the present day.’
Monday, 8 February 2021
8 February 1847: Daniel O’Connell’s last speech in the British House of Commons on this day. In his final speech in the House, he predicted that unless more aid was forthcoming from the British Government for Ireland ‘one quarter of her population will perish’. His warning to his fellow MPs came as the full force of the Famine was raging in his final speech in the House, he predicted that unless more aid was forthcoming from the British Government for Ireland ‘one quarter of her population will perish’.
His warning to his fellow MPs came as the full force of the Famine was raging in Ireland. The terrible outcome of the successive failures of the Potato Crop threatened to overwhelm the relief efforts at home to alleviate the worst excesses of hunger and disease that were sweeping across most of the Country at that time.
His valedictory address in the House was almost inaudible and those assembled to hear what would clearly be his last speech before them strained to catch his softly spoken words. Observers reflected that he was but a dim shadow of his former self. He that on so many previous occasions had roused the House to heights and depths of emotions now struggled to exert himself so that his message of appeal could be heard and acted upon. He told the members that he had come to plead for the last time for Ireland. He made an accurate but terrible prophecy and that was:
Ireland is in your hands... your power. If you do not save her she can't save herself... I predict... that one quarter of the population will perish unless you come to her relief.
He stated that if they did not come to help her he solemnly called on them to recollect that he predicted that such a calamity would come to pass.
But O’Connell knew that while he was paid a respectful deference due to reputation and status as a powerful orator and due to his visibly declining health, that the members of the House of Commons had but a limited interest in Irish affairs and that his heartfelt and sincere appeal fell on deaf ears. He remarked some weeks after this noble but doomed appearance that:
How different it would all be if Ireland had her own Parliament.
Daniel O’Connell died in Genoa on the 15 May on his way to Rome. His heart was sent on to the Holy City [and later disappeared!] and his body returned to Ireland where it was interred in Glasnevin Cemetery Dublin, which he himself had helped to found.
Sunday, 7 February 2021