Saturday, 31 July 2021


31 July 1975 The Miami ShowBand Massacre on this day: On the morning of Thursday 31 July 1975 people all across Ireland turned on their radios and heard the astonishing and terrible news that members of the most popular Showband here had been shot down in cold blood at Buskill County Down.

The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out a gun and bomb attack on the members of the Miami Showband. Three members of the band were killed and one seriously injured during the attack. Two members of the UVF gang were also killed when a bomb they were handling exploded prematurely.

The Miami Showband had been playing at 'The Castle Ballroom' in Banbridge, Count Down. Five members of the band left in their minibus and travelled south on the main dual-carriageway. The minibus was stopped by what appeared to be a Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) checkpoint at Buskhill, near Newry. However the checkpoint was bogus and was being operated by approximately 10 members of the UVF - at least four of whom were also members of the UDR.

The members of the band were ordered out of the van and told to line up by the side of the road. Two UVF men then planted a bomb into the van. The bomb exploded prematurely killing the two UVF members. At this point the other UVF members opened fire on the band musicians.

Francis (Fran) O'Toole (29), the lead singer with band and famous for his good looks, was shot 22 times in the face while he lay on his back on the ground. Two other band members Anthony Geraghty (23), who was shot four times in the back, and Brian McCoy (33), shot nine times, both died at the scene. Another member of the group (Stephen Travers) was shot with a 'dum-dum' bullet and seriously injured but survived. The two UVF men who died were Harris Boyle (22) and Wesley Somerville (34); both were also members of the UDR.

There was speculation after the event that the UVF had tried to hide the bomb on the minibus with the intention of the bomb exploding after the members of the van had resumed their journey. It would then have been claimed that the members of the band were transporting explosives on behalf of the IRA. In 1976 two members of the UDR were sentenced to prison for their part in the attack. They received life sentences but were later released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

A monument dedicated to the dead Miami Showband members was unveiled at a ceremony at Parnell Square North, Dublin, on 10 December 2007. Survivors Stephen Travers and Des McAlea were both present at the unveiling. The monument, made of limestone, bronze and granite, by County Donegal sculptor Redmond Herrity, is at the site of the old National Ballroom, where the band often played.

Bottom Picture: Miami Showband road manager Brian Maguire with sax player Des Lee and drummer Ray Miller at a wreath-laying ceremony organised by Justice for the Forgotten at Parnell square in Dublin. 

 

Friday, 30 July 2021

 


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.



Thursday, 29 July 2021

 

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.

STORY OF IRELAND

By A.‭ M. Sullivan



Wednesday, 28 July 2021


 

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 of 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 rear-guard 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 in his castle at Galway exactly a year to the day after the battle was fought - 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.




Tuesday, 27 July 2021

 


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.

ANNALS OF LOCH CE

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.


Monday, 26 July 2021

 



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.



Sunday, 25 July 2021

 

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  Paraguay and proclaimed a National Heroine. Her remains are now located in the national cemetery "Cementerio de la Recoleta".