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Wednesday, 31 May 2017


31 May 1941 – German bombing of North Strand, Dublin on this day – 28 dead, 90 + injured and over 300 houses were destroyed or damaged. Smaller bombs damaged the American Embassy and Áras an Uachtarain the official home of President Douglas Hyde. The bombing was in all probability accidental and the German Government apologised in June 1941 for the attack. After the War the post war Government of Germany paid compensation for the destruction and damaged caused. The bombings were the worst experienced in the Irish Free State during the War or ‘The Emergency’ as those times were called here.

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

An Taoiseach Eamon De Valera made the following statement:

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

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








Monday, 29 May 2017


29 May 1914: The loss of the passenger liner Empress of Ireland on this day. The ship sank within minutes of being involved in a collision with a Norwegian SS Storstad in the St Lawrence river, Canada. The vessel had only left port in Quebec a few hours previously, but it was under a new Captain and sailed into a bank of fog where after spotting the approaching Storstad it tried to avoid contact but was unable to do so. Both skippers blamed the other but a subsequent Court of Inquiry blamed the Norwegian for the impact. A verdict that the Norwegians never accepted.

Of the 1,477 persons on board the ship, 1,012 (840 passengers, 172 crew) died. The number of those who were killed is the largest of any Canadian maritime accident in peacetime.

Empress of Ireland was built by at Govan on the Clyde in Scotland and was launched in 1906.The liner had just begun her 96th sailing when she sank.

There were only 465 survivors, 4 of whom were children (the other 134 children were lost) and 41 of whom were women (the other 269 women were lost). The fact that most passengers were asleep at the time of the sinking (most not even awakened by the collision) also contributed to the loss of life when they were drowned in their cabins, most of them from the starboard side where the collision happened.

One of the survivors was Captain Kendall, who was on the bridge at the time, and quickly ordered the lifeboats to be launched. When Empress of Ireland lurched onto her side, he was thrown from the bridge into the water, and was taken down with her as she began to go under. Swimming to the surface, he clung to a wooden grate long enough for crew members aboard a nearby lifeboat to row over and pull him in. Immediately, he took command of the small boat, and began rescue operations. The lifeboat's crew successfully pulled in many people from the water, and when the boat was full, Kendall ordered the crew to row to the lights of the mysterious vessel that had rammed them, so that the survivors could be dropped off. Kendall and the crew made a few more trips between the nearby Storstad and the wreckage to search for more survivors. After an hour or two, Kendall gave up, since any survivors who were still in the water would have either succumbed to the freezing cold or had drowned by then.

While the ship had an Irish name there was no specific Irish connection other than she was based in Liverpool and sailed weekly back and forth across the Atlantic. However outside of Ireland it was the case that Liverpool was the most ‘Irish’ city on Earth, and at that time one, if not the greatest Shipping Port in the World. Many of the crew would undoubtedly have had Irish links.

Sadly this terrible disaster has been almost forgotten, wedged as it is between the far more well know maritime disasters of the Titanic [1912] and the Lusitania [1915] which resonated with the public mind down the years.

The wreck lies in 40 metres (130 ft) of water, making it accessible to divers. Many artifacts from the wreckage have been retrieved. Some are on display in the Empress of Ireland Pavilion at the Site historique maritime de la Pointe-au-Père in Rimouski, Quebec. The Canadian government has passed legislation to protect the site. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RMS_Empress_of_Ireland#Passengers_and_crew




Sunday, 28 May 2017

Image result for alice stopford green

28 May 1929: The death of the Irish Historian Alice Stopford Green on this day. Her father was the Rector of Kells  Co Meath where she was born in 1847. Despite the terrible conditions in the Country at the time Alice was raised in some comfort and educated herself through the use of her fathers extensive Library in Greek, German and metaphysics. At about the age of sixteen she was attacked by an eye ailment, rendering her temporarily blind. In 1873 her family moved to Dublin and there, hungry for knowledge, she started to attend lectures in physics at the College of Sciences.

After her father’s death she moved with her mother and sisters to London, where she was noticed by an emerging Oxford historian, John Richard Green. In 1877 they were married. He made his name through the publication of a work called A short history of the English people which sold well. She acted as his secretary and assistant and things seemed to be going well. However in 1883 her husband suddenly died and she was on her own. Undeterred she set out to make a name for herself as an Historian in her own right and as a Woman of Letters. She had a formidable list of correspondents in the English speaking World. Her early works—a life of Henry II and a long two-volume study of Town life in the fifteenth century—confirmed her abilities as someone capable of producing serious works of History.

Though mildly interested in Irish affairs she resided in London and took a keen interest in Africa. Green found her niche editing the ‘Journal of the African Society’, which she did until 1906 and was of the opinion that Black Africans had their own cultures and traditions that should be highlighted and respected. The Boer War was something of a catalyst in how she viewed the Empire and she visited the prison camp on the island of St Helena where Boer prisoners-of-war were being held. In October 1900, returning to England aboard a steamship, she wrote to John Holt:

I am certain if this Empire is to be held together at all that Englishmen will have to think more of knowledge v intelligence, & trust less to the argument.

With the growth of the Irish Revival at home and a renewed interest in Old Irish History she set about the study of it. Much influenced by her late husband’s focus on social and economic aspects of historical change she came out in 1908 with her seminal work The Making of Ireland and its Undoing 1200-1600. This was a bit of a shocker in the stuffy world of Irish Historiography and it seems ruffled quite a few feathers! But it did establish her as a prominent Irish historian as opposed to a British one.

With the growth of the Home Rule Crises in 1912 and the arming of the Northern Loyalists she became convinced that Nationalist Ireland had to reciprocate and along with Sir Roger Casement and others to land guns in Ireland to counter any attempt to Partition the Country. However it was only in 1918 that she moved to Dublin where she took up residence at 30 St Stephen’s Green where her house became a hub of social and political interaction. However that she was an Irish historian and patriot she was not one of violent persuasion.

When the Treaty was signed in 1921 she fully supported it. In 1922 she won a seat in Seanad Éireann  as a Senator of the new Irish Free State. She remained as a member until her death. Her final major work was History of the Irish State to 1014. Again in this volume she attempted to lay out the cultural, social and legal framework of Ireland and the National character and culture of the People up until that date and steered away from a political history of the period.

Alice Stopford Green died on this day in 1929 - just two days short of her 82nd birthday. She is buried in Deans Grange cemetery Co Dublin.




Saturday, 27 May 2017


27 May 1224: Cathal Crovderg [‘Redhand’] O'Conor, king of Connacht, son of Turlough and brother of Rory O'Conor (the last 'High King' of Ireland), died at the age of 72. He was the last of the great Irish Kings. His death opened the way for the Norman takeover of Connacht.

King Cathal had to play what might be described in today's terms as a masterly game of 'Realpolitik' in his time as King. He was faced with a range of enemies both internal and external who wished to bring him down. Depending on circumstances he was prepared to 'switch sides' and play one off against another. He built alliances with Thomond (north Munster), Tir Owen and Fermanagh in the North and sometimes with the Anglo-Norman invaders. But he was not averse to throwing himself at the mercy of the Justicar in Dublin when he was forced to flee his own kingdom.
From his base west of the river Shannon he was forced to deal with the Norman invaders. He was a competent leader despite problems, avoiding major conflicts and winning battles. Ua Conchobair attempted to make the best of the new situation with Ireland divided between Norman and Gaelic rulers.

He succeeded as head of the O'Conors on his brother Rory's death in 1198. The early part of his reign was passed in contests with the Anglo-Normans and with his nephew Cathal Carrach, who at one time succeeded in expelling him from his territories. In 1201, however, Cathal Crovderg, with the assistance of the Anglo Norman De Burghs, defeated and slew his nephew in battle near Boyle.

On his nephews death Cathal was finally in a position to have himself inaugurated as King of Connacht in the traditional way, surrounded by his close family and retainers along with the heads of the important monasteries and with the vassal families of the O’Conors in attendence. This ancient ceremony took place at Carn Fraoich near Ráth Cruachan [above] in County Roscommon. But in some ways it was an empty title too as Cathal was also a vassal of the King of England. He certainly did not have free sway over the whole province, just a portion thereof on sufferance really.

On King John's arrival in Ireland in 1210, he paid him homage, and by the surrender of a portion of his territories, secured to himself a tolerably peaceful old age. He died in the abbey of Knockmoy (having assumed the habit of a Grey Friar) in 1224. The principal abode of the heads of the O'Connor family at this period was around Rathcroghan, near Tulsk, in the County of Roscommon.

He founded Ballintubber Abbey in 1216, and was succeeded by his son, Aedh mac Cathal Crobdearg Ua Conchobair. His wife, Mor Ní Briain, was a daughter of King Domnall Mór Ua Briain of Thomond, died in 1218.

By the end of his Life he had come to accept the primacy of the King of England as also 'Lord of Ireland' as a political necessity and only wished to have his son recognised by King Henry III of England as his successor.

He wrote to King Henry in 1224 shortly before his death:

'To his dear Lord Henry,by the grace of God King of England, Lord of Ireland, Duke of Normandy and Aquitaine, Count of Anjou, from his faithful King of Connacht, greeting, and bond of sincere affection with faithful obedience.'

'We feel sure that you have heard, through the trusty men and counsellors of your father and your own, how that we did not fail to give faithful and devoted service to the Lord John, your father of happy memory ; and since his death, as your trusty servants stationed in Ireland know and have learned, we are not failing to give devoted obedience to you, nor do we wish ever as long as we live to fail you. Wherefore, although we possess a charter for the land of Connacht from the Lord your father given to ourselves and our heirs, and by name to Od [Aedh] our son and heir...'

LETTER FROM CATHAL "CROVDEARG" O'CONOR, KING OF CONNACHT, TO HENRY III, circa 1224

Taken from A History of Ireland by Eleanor Hull

His eulogy in the Annals of Connacht relates the attributes that a true King was expected to portray to his People:

'A great affliction befell the country then, the loss of Cathal Crobderg son of Toirrdelbach O Conchobair, king of Connacht;

the king most feared and dreaded on every hand in Ireland;

the king who carried out most plunderings and burnings against Galls and Gaels who opposed him;

the king who was the fiercest and harshest towards his enemies that ever lived;

the king who most blinded, killed and mutilated rebellious and disaffected subjects;

the king who best established peace and tranquillity of all the kings of Ireland;

the king who built most monasteries and houses for religious communities;

the king who most comforted clerks and poor men with food and fire on the floor of his own habitation;

the king whom of all the kings in Ireland God made most perfect in every good quality;

the king on whom God most bestowed fruit and increase and crops;

the king who was most chaste of all the kings of Ireland;

the king who kept himself to one consort and practised continence before God from her death till his own;

the king whose wealth was partaken by laymen and clerics, infirm men, women and helpless folk, as had been prophesied in the writings and the visions of saints and righteous men of old;

the king who suffered most mischances in his reign, but God raised him up from each in turn;

the king who with manly valour and by the strength of his hand preserved his kingship and rule.

And it is in the time of this king that tithes were first levied for God in Ireland. This righteous and upright king, this prudent, pious, just champion, died in the robe of a Grey Monk, after a victory over the world and the devil, in the monastery of Knockmoy, which with the land belonging to it he had himself offered to God and the monks, on the twenty-seventh day of May as regards the solar month and on a Monday as regards the week-day, and was nobly and honourably buried, having been for six and thirty years sole monarch of the province of Connacht.

So says Donnchad Baccach O Maelchonaire in his poem on the Succession of the Kings:

‘The reign of Red-hand was a pleasant reign, after the fall of Cathal Carrach; he ruled for sixteen and twenty prosperous calm years.’


And he was in the seventy-second year of his age, as the poet Nede O Maelchonaire says: ‘Three years and a half-year, I say, was the life of Red-hand in Cruachu till the time that his father died in wide-stretching Ireland.’


He was born at Port Locha Mesca and fostered by Tadc O Con Chennainn in Ui Diarmata, and it was sixty-eight years from the death of Toirrdelbach to the death of Cathal Crobderg, as the chronicle shows.'

The Annals of Connacht


Friday, 26 May 2017


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

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

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

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

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

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


Wednesday, 24 May 2017


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

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

The 2nd battalion Dublin IRA was tasked with carrying out the Operation. Vinny Byrne - a member of Collins hit men unit - ‘the Squad’ - recalled:

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

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

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

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

Francis Costello

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


Tuesday, 23 May 2017


May 23-4 1798: The outbreak of the United Irishmen Rising on this day. Overnight mail coaches were attacked on the roads to Dublin to signal the start of revolutionary action. In order to give some degree of co ordination it was agreed that the ‘Rising of the Moon’ would be the hour to strike the coaches.

In the City itself attempts to trigger an outbreak were thwarted as the British Army moved to seize strategic assembly points and thus nip things in the bud. Small crowds of men had set out from the poor districts of the city of Dublin to seize the Castle and other key public buildings. Agents of the Crown had infiltrated their revolutionary organization, the United Irishmen, and had already arrested several of their key leaders, Lord Edward FitzGerald being the most important of them. The Militia mobilized before the insurgents could assemble in large groups and what their leaders had hoped would be an almost bloodless coup turned into a debacle.

Outside the City though the insurgents fared better and many gathered in rural areas of County Dublin as well as southern County Meath, northern County Kildare and northern and western County Wicklow. These groups attacked towns and villages in their respective localities and stopped and destroyed some of the mail coaches that were making their way out to the provinces.


On the 23rd of May, Dublin was placed under martial law; the citizens were armed, the guard was trebled, the barristers pleaded with regimentals and swords, and several of the lamplighters were hung from their own lamp-posts for neglecting to light the lamps. The country people were prepared to march on the city, but Lord Roden and his Foxhunters soon put down their attempt. The next morning the dead were exhibited in the Castle-yard, and the prisoners were hanged at Carlisle-bridge.[now O’Connell Bridge] Sir Watkins Wynn and his Ancient Britons distinguished themselves by their cruelties.
http://www.libraryireland.com



Monday, 22 May 2017


22 May 1849: Maria Edgeworth died on this day. She was born in England in 1767 and spent her early years there. Her mother died while she was quite young and she was raised by a series of step mothers. (Her father married four times and sired 22 children!). Unusual for the Age for a female she was sent to school where she excelled at her studies. However in 1782 she accompanied her father, his third wife and a number of children to Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford. It was here that she made her home for the rest of her Life.

An intelligent and curious woman she corresponded with famous and learned people across these islands, though in her heart she wanted to be a writer and with her material needs provided by her father and her social isolation on his Estate she began to pour out a succession of publications. She served as her father's secretary as well, and collaborated with him on several nonfiction works. She also helped to raise many of the numerous brood of his offspring.

Her first work was Letters for Literary Ladies (1795), and this owed much her fathers’ ideas on women's education. It was followed by The Parent's Assistant (1796), a collection of children's stories, and their jointly written Practical Education (1798). More children's stories were published in 1801 as Early Lessons and Moral Tales. Her first and best novel, Castle Rackrent (1800), was published anonymously. It achieved immediate success, and her name appeared on subsequent editions. Indeed her reputation today more less rests on this work and its portrayal of Irish life at that time.

Castle Rackrent is also recognized as the first regional novel, depicting the speech, mannerisms, and activities of a specific Irish region and social class. This technique influenced subsequent novelists, including William Thackeray, James Fenimore Cooper, and Sir Walter Scott, who commended "the rich humour, pathetic tenderness, and admirable tact" of Edgeworth's novel and expressed the hope that his own novels would accomplish for Scotland "something . . . of the same kind with that which Miss Edgeworth so fortunately achieved for Ireland".

In 1802 the Edgeworths toured the English midlands. They then travelled to the continent, first to Brussels and then to France when a brief Peace operated  between Britain and Napoleonic France.  They met all the notables, and Maria received a marriage proposal from a Swedish courtier, Count Edelcrantz- but it appears she wasn’t very interested in him.

On a visit to London in 1813, where she was received as a literary lion, Maria met Lord Byron (whom she disliked). She entered into a long correspondence with the ultra-Tory Sir Walter Scott and they formed a lasting friendship. She visited him at his home in Scotland at in 1823 where he took her on a tour of the area.

After her father's death in 1817 she edited his memoirs, and extended them with her biographical comments. She was an active writer to the last. She was might be perhaps described as a mild unionist who believed in fair treatment for all but not in the separation of England and Ireland. She was a strong believer in Woman’s Rights and Children's’ Rights.

After a visit to see her relations in Trim, Maria, now in her eighties, began to feel heart pains and died suddenly of a heart attack in Edgeworthstown on 22 May 1849. She was buried in the family vault there alongside her father.

* Portrait of Maria Edgeworth by John Downman 1807

Sunday, 21 May 2017


21 May 1981: The Third and Fourth Irish Hunger Strikers Died in Long Kesh Prison on this day

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

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

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

But perhaps what they felt is best summed up in these lines from this H Block Ballad:

But I'll wear no convict's uniform
Nor meekly serve my time
That Britain may call Ireland's fight
Eight hundred years of crime.

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


Saturday, 20 May 2017


20 May 1311: The Battle of Bunratty/Bun Raite on this day.

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

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

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

Which both sides ignored!

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

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

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

*He was deBurgh’s Standard bearer.

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

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

Annals of Loch Cé

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

Friday, 19 May 2017


19 May 1870: Isaac Butt founded the Home Government Association  at a meeting in the Bilton Hotel, Dublin on this day. This was the beginning of a concerted and growing campaign to gain a measure of self government for Ireland from Britain.

The meeting was attended or supported by sixty-one people of different political and religious persuasions, including six Fenians, Butt seemingly having consulted with the Irish Republican Brotherhood before launching his initiative.
Jackson, Alvin: Home Rule: An Irish History 1800—2000

An Irish Parliament sitting in Dublin with control of Ireland’s internal affairs became the ambition of those who supported Home Rule. Isaac Butt though was an unlikely choice to lead such a Movement but he did have some degree of pedigree in Nationalist politics.

He was born on September 6th, 1813 at Glenfin, Co Donegal, the son of a Protestant clergyman. He studied Law in the 1840s and he was a political opponent of Daniel O’Connell who recognised  him as a man to watch. But the Famine changed everything and Butt went from being a Conservative Unionist to being a moderate nationalist. He was an MP for various constituencies from the 1850s to the 1870s. In the 1860s he defended many of the Fenians arrested by the British for attempting to overthrow their Rule here.

As the Home Rule movement developed it went through various stages but the gentlemanly Butt remained its Leader. However he could not gain much traction at Westminster and younger and more ambitious men began to snap at his heels in particular John Connor Power and Joseph Biggar who brought into the British Parliament the tactic of ‘Obstructionism’ that is they would talk for hours to stop any legislation being passed. In July 1877 Butt threatened to resign from the party if obstruction continued, and a gulf developed between himself and Parnell, who was growing steadily in the estimation of both the Fenians and the Home Rulers.

Eventually things came to a head in 1878 over the War in Afghanistan as Butt saw this as an Imperial matter that was too important to block as it would damage the Empire. This constant infighting wore him out and he suffered a stroke. He died at his home in Clonskeagh Co Dublin and was buried in the family plot in Stranorlar Co Donegal.

While his legacy today is not much remembered it was he who reignited the Parliamentary campaign to gain Ireland a measure of independence from what was then the most powerful Empire in the World - you might say he lit a spark that is still there - flickering but not extinguished.

Thursday, 18 May 2017


18 May 1613: The opening of Parliament in Dublin Castle on this day. This parliament had been called by King James I [above] in London in order to strengthen his rule in Ireland and to ensure that the Protestant Religion was the dominant one in that body. By doing this he would be able to get legislation passed for the raising of taxes and the enforcement of anti Catholic laws. King James created some 40 micro boroughs (mostly in Ulster) in order to be able to ‘pack’ the Houses with Protestant supporters. In 1612 six of the major Catholic Lords of the Pale had written to him to complain about this:

the project of erecting so many corporations in places that constantly rank as the poorest villages in Christendom, do tend naught else but by the voices of a few selected for the purpose…extreme penal laws should be imposed on your subjects [i.e. Catholics]

But their protest was to no avail as James (a devout Protestant) was determined to see the measure through. He had once described the Catholics of Ireland as half subjects and he did not trust their loyalty to his Throne at all.

When the members of parliament met that day they consisted of 132 Protestants and 100 Catholics - even though over 85% of the population of the Country were Catholics! Of the Catholics, 80 were Old English and only 20 Gaelic Irish. In the House of Lords, the block vote of 20 Protestant Bishops gave the British Crown control of the Upper House in which also sat 12 Catholic and 4 other protestant peers.

In the event on the day mayhem ensued as clashes erupted inside the Castle as the supporters of both religions exchanged blows as to who should have the Speakers Chair. The Catholics peremptorily installed their own nominee Sir John Everard literally into the Chair while the other side had left the Chamber to be counted. On return they then sat their champion Sir John Davies on top of him! After a scuffle Everard was rejected and the opposition withdrew.

 ‘Those within the house are no house and Sir John Everard is our Speaker, and therefore we will not join with you, but we will complain to my Lord Deputy and the King, and the King shall hear of this’ exclaimed Sir William Talbot.

The whole proceedings had turned into a Fiasco, after a series of adjournments the parliament was prorogued on 17 June to await the results of an appeal to England.

Primary Source: Chapter VII of Early Modern Ireland Volume III: Pacification, plantation and the catholic question 1603-23 by Aiden Clarke with R. Dudley Edwards




Wednesday, 17 May 2017

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17 May 1797: The death of ‘Peg Plunkett’ in Dublin was reported on this day. Her journey through this Life was not an easy one but nevertheless it was one of her own choosing. She at an early age chose the profession of prostitution as her path to riches. She was the most famous ‘Madame’ of 18th century Dublin who wrote a sensational set of memoirs of her life.

Originally from Killough in Co. Westmeath she was christened Margaret and when her father and mother died she fell under the dominating will of her brother who abused her. She took leave of the family home and headed up to Dublin to seek her fortune. After a series of liaisons she took up with a Mr Leeson Wine Merchant whose name she took even though they never married. ‘Peg Plunkett’ was a later adoption to cover her real identity.

Dublin in the middle of the 18th Century was a rapidly expanding City with a burgeoning population. The metropolis was a mixture of great wealth and great poverty. A girl like Margaret with no connections faced limited choices as to how to make her way in the world. The choice she made was not an uncommon one for a girl of wit intelligence and beauty which she apparently was. She took up living with various wealthy men as their mistress. But the lure of ready money proved too big a temptation for her and she sold herself readily to those with the means to pay for her charms.

Eventually after years of being reliant on others to put a roof over head ‘Peg Plunkett’ decided that it was more lucrative to provide for her own accommodation and ply her Trade from there. While better than the Streets it was still a shoddy life. Her first establishment, run in partnership with friend and fellow-courtesan Sally Hayes, was in Drogheda Street. However her Brothel was vandalized by the Pinking-dindies – a group of high class rabble rousers. She then moved to Wood Street, before settling, most notoriously, in Pitt Street, on the site of the present Westbury Hotel, just off the then as now fashionable Grafton St in Dublin’s City Centre.

As well as the rich (a Bank of Ireland Governor and a Lord Lieutenant were among her clients), she served lawyers, theatre-folk and petty villains amongst others. She refused service to the Earl of Westmorland because he treated his second wife ‘shabbily’, and she insulted the Prince Regent twice whilst visiting London. After 30 years she decided to reform but found her cache of IOUs valueless and ended up in a debtors’ prison, run by a former client, Captain Mathews. To raise cash she decided to publish her memoirs, documenting her life as a madam and the vicissitudes of her later life. Her end though was a rather sordid one as she was apparently gang raped when in her 60s and eventually died of venereal disease.


Tuesday, 16 May 2017


16 May 1926: The inaugural meeting of the Fianna Fáil Party was held in La Scala theatre in Dublin on this day. Among the founding members were Seán Lemass, Gerry Boland, Countess Markievicz and Frank Aiken. The Party was founded and led by Eamon de Valera - the ex President of the Sinn Fein.

De Valera had led a walkout of his followers from Sinn Féin in the previous March. He was dissatisfied with that Party’s continued adherence to a policy of abstention from the Leinster House parliament in Dublin that was the seat of Government of the Irish Free State. Dev wanted to find a way through the ‘Oath’ that committed all members of the House to take an Oath of Fidelity to the King of England (King George V). He knew he could not do that unless he had full command of his own Party.

His gamble paid off as he led Fianna Fáil into Leinster House the following year by taking the Oath - but denying its moral force! He led it into Government in 1932. Under his continued leadership the Party held power until 1948 and again in 1951-1954 and from 1957-1959. In that year he became President of Ireland until he relinquished that Office in 1973. Known to his loyal followers as ‘the Chief’ he was the most popular yet also the most divisive political figure in 20th century Ireland.



Monday, 15 May 2017


15‭ ‬May‭ ‬1847:‭ The death of Daniel O’Connell‭  ‘‬The Liberator‭’ ‬at Genoa in Italy while making his way to the Holy City of Rome on this day.‭ He died ‬at‭ ‬9.35‭ ‬p.m.‭ in the evening. His heart was taken on to Rome‭ (‬now lost‭) ‬and his body was returned to Dublin for internment in Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery.‭ He tomb was eventually capped by a replica Irish Round Tower that is the centrepoint of the necropolis and is still visited by thousands of people every year.

On May‭ ‬15,‭ ‬1847,‭ ‬Father Miley,‭ ‬O'Connell's companion on his last journey,‭ ‬wrote from Genoa:‭ ‬“The Liberator is not better.‭ ‬He is worse‭ – ‬ill as ill can be.‭ ‬At two o'clock this morning I found it necessary to send for the Viaticum and the holy oil.‭ ‬Though it was the dead of night,‭ ‬the cardinal archbishop‭ (‬he is eighty-eight years old‭)‬,‭ ‬attended by his clerics and several of the faithful,‭ ‬carried the Viaticum with the solemnities customary in Catholic countries,‭ ‬and reposed it in the tabernacle which we had prepared in the chamber of the illustrious sufferer.‭ ‬Though prostrate to the last degree,‭ ‬he was perfectly in possession of his mind whilst receiving the last rites.‭ ‬The adorable name of Jesus,‭ ‬which he had been in the habit of invoking was constantly on his lips with trembling fervour,‭ ‬His thoughts have been entirely absorbed by religion since his illness commenced.‭ ‬For the last forty hours he will not open his lips to speak of anything else.‭ ‬The doctors still say they have hope.‭ ‬I have none.‭ ‬All Genoa is praying for him.‭ ‬I have written to Rome.‭ ‬Be not surprised if I am totally silent as to our own feelings.‭ ‬It is poor Daniel who is to be pitied more than all.‭”
Henry Peel OP

St Martin de Porres Magazine,‭ ‬a publication of the Irish Dominicans.

He was the greatest Irish political figure of the 19th century but curiously not the most revered. A great orator and a man of impressive appearance and political acumen he was considered too cute by half by both allies and opponents. However he rose a People off their knees and showed that it was possible to build a mass political movement in Ireland that could only be defeated when faced by Force of Arms and not the Force of Argument.



Sunday, 14 May 2017

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14 May 1977: The strange death and disappearance of Captain Robert Nairac on this day. In one of the most bizarre and deadly incidents of the Conflict in the North in the 1970s this British Officer (in Mufti at the time he was armed with a 9mm Browning pistol )  was set upon  in the carpark of The Three Steps pub in Dromintee, South Armagh. He is said to have told regulars of the pub that he was Danny McErlaine, a motor mechanic and member of the Official IRA.

At around 11.45 p.m., he was abducted following a struggle in the and taken across the border into the Republic near Ravensdale Wood in Co Louth. Here he was set upon and brutally interrogated but would admit to nothing. When he knew the game was up and he going to be executed his last words were ‘Bless me Father for I have sinned’.

Nairac was an experienced Intelligence Officer who began his military career with the Grenadier Guards before switching to Intelligence duties. He was used to taking chances - indeed he was known for taking exceptional risks to gather information on the IRA.

 Had he been an SAS member, he would not have been allowed to operate in the way he did. Before his death we had been very concerned at the lack of checks on his activities. No one seemed to know who his boss was, and he appeared to have been allowed to get out of control, deciding himself what tasks he would do.
Ghost Force by Former SAS Warrant Officer Ken Connor

His disappearance trigged a huge manhunt North and South of the Border when news of his abduction broke. But despite the best efforts of the Crown Forces and An Garda Siochana his remains were never located.

Was there a darker side to Captain Robert Nairac? He has been linked to some of the more murkier operations that happened at that time along the Border and it was known he was prepared to countenance taking on the IRA ‘at their own game’. But nothing has ever been substantiated and with the passage of time probably never will.

He was posthumously awarded the George Cross in 1978. In part the Citation reads as follows:

Captain Nairac's exceptional courage and acts of the greatest heroism in circumstances of extreme peril showed devotion to duty and personal courage second to none.

To this day he is counted amongst the Disappeared whose bodies have never been found.

Friday, 12 May 2017



12 May 1916: Seán MacDiarmada and James Connolly were executed on this day. They were the last of the Leaders of the Easter Rising to be executed in Ireland. By this stage public revulsion at the continuing executions was boiling over. When the British Prime Minister Herbert Asquith arrived in Dublin that day he immediately ordered that no more executions were to take place here. But it was a damage limitation exercise as the men shot became modern day heroes in the eyes of many of the Irish People. And they still are.

Seán MacDiarmada: Born in 1884 in Leitrim, MacDiarmada emigrated to Glasgow in 1900, and from there to Belfast in 1902. A member of the Gaelic League, he was acquainted with Bulmer Hobson. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1906 while still in Belfast, later transferring to Dublin in 1908 where he assumed managerial responsibility for the I. R. B. newspaper Irish Freedom in 1910. Although MacDiarmada was afflicted with polio in 1912, he was appointed as a member of the provisional committee of Irish Volunteers from 1913, and was subsequently drafted onto the military committee of the I. R. B. in 1915. During the Rising MacDiarmada served in the G. P. O. He was executed on 12 May 1916.

James Connolly (1868-1916): Born in Edinburgh in 1868, Connolly was first introduced to Ireland as a member of the British Army. Despite returning to Scotland, the strong Irish presence in Edinburgh stimulated Connolly’s growing interest in Irish politics in the mid 1890s, leading to his emigration to Dublin in 1896 where he founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party. He spent much of the first decade of the twentieth century in America, he returned to Ireland to campaign for worker’s rights with James Larkin. A firm believer in the perils of sectarian division, Connolly campaigned tirelessly against religious bigotry. In 1913, Connolly was one of the founders of the Irish Citizen Army. During the Easter Rising he was appointed Commandant-General of the Dublin forces, leading the group that occupied the General Post Office. Unable to stand to during his execution due to wounds received during the Rising, Connolly was executed while sitting down on 12 May 1916. He was the last of the leaders to be executed.
- See more at: http://www.taoiseach.gov.




Thursday, 11 May 2017

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

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

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

The French Army however put up a formidable defence and the Allies found the advance heavy going, taking many casualties as they attempted to break their opponents line. But Cumberland pressed on and eventually forced his way into the centre of the French position. The troops opposing him began to buckle. It was the critical moment of the battle.


It was at this point that Marshal De Saxe unleashed his reserve who enveloped the flanks of the British Column. The Irish Brigade (approx. 4,000 men) and dressed in Redcoats was in the thick of it, the men fired up by thought of revenge against their Country’s Oppressor. The Irish Regiments advanced upon the British lines to the cry: 'Cuimhnigidh ar Liumneac, agus ar fheile na Sacsanach’ – ‘Remember Limerick and British faith!’


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

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

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

By A. M. Sullivan

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



Wednesday, 10 May 2017


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

The Anglo Norman Lord Richard De Clare‭ ( ‬a descendant of Strongbow‭) ‬attacked the Irish chieftain Conor O’Dea,‭ ‬chief of the Cineal Fearmaic and the ally of‭  ‬King‭ ‬Muircheartach O’Brien of Thomond.‭

De Clare made the mistake of dividing his army in three in the face of the enemy and he led the van towards Castle Dysert O’Dea‭ – ‬the home of the Irish Chieftan.‭ ‬O’Dea held them at the ford of Fergus and sent messengers out to bring up reinforcements as De Clare charged at his opponents only to be surrounded and cut down by the axe of Conor O’Dea himself.‭ 

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

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

The power of one of the great Anglo Norman families was shattered forever.‭ ‬In the wake of this victory King Muircheartach O'Brien advanced upon the environs  of Bunratty Castle,‭ ‬home of the De Clare’s to find much of it burnt by De Clare’s widow who promptly fled to England.‭ The Castle though held out for a couple of weeks and the Irish completely destroyed it in 1322. ‬The De Clare’s never returned and Thomond west of the Shannon remained under Irish rule until the early‭ ‬17th Century.‭ ‬It was the greatest Gaelic victory of the Bruce War.





Tuesday, 9 May 2017


9 May 1916: Thomas Kent/ Tomás Ceannt was executed in Cork Detention Barracks on this day: Born in 1865, Kent was arrested at his home in Castlelyons, Co. Cork following a raid by the Royal Irish Constabulary during which his brother Richard was fatally wounded. It had been his intention to travel to Dublin to participate in the Rising, but when the mobilisation order for the Irish Volunteers was cancelled on Easter Sunday he assumed that the Rising had been postponed, leading him to stay at home.  In 1966 the railway station in Cork was renamed Ceannt Station in his honour.
- See more at: http://www.taoiseach.gov.

When the Kent residence was raided they were met with resistance from Thomas and his brothers Richard, David and William. A gunfight lasted for four hours, in which an RIC officer, Head Constable William Rowe, was killed and David Kent was seriously wounded. Eventually the Kents were forced to surrender, although Richard made a last minute dash for freedom and was fatally wounded.

Along with Roger Casement he was the only other person to be executed outside of Dublin for their part in the Easter Rising.

In September 2015 he was given a State funeral  after his remains were identified via DNA genetic testing thanks to samples supplied by Kent family descendants still living in the Castlelyons and Fermoy areas of north Cork. Following the requiem mass, Thomas Kent, who was 50 when he was executed, was buried in his family's crypt alongside the remains of his brothers William, Richard and David.





Monday, 8 May 2017


8 May 1987: In an ambush at Loughgall Co Tyrone eight members of the IRA were shot dead on this day. It was the greatest loss of life suffered by the IRA since 1921. The attack was carefully planned and carried out by members of the British SAS Regiment and a small number of the RUCs Mobile Support Unit. They assembled over 30 soldiers well hidden behind roadside bushes and armed with an array of weapons incl. heavy machine guns in order to take out  the Active Service Unit that intended to attack and blow up Loughgall RUC Station.

How they managed to crack the IRA plans for that day has never been revealed. But the IRA modus operandi was not a new one and it was a reasonable surmise on their part that an isolated outpost like the one at Loughgall would be on a list of IRA targets. As in all operations of this sort a detailed reconnaissance would have been necessary to scout out the weakest points and best escape routes. The most likely explanation is that at this stage the operation was compromised - though an informer in the ranks or plain ‘loose talk’ could well have undermined what was afoot.

On the evening in question the plan was to drive a digger up to the gates of the station with a  400lb bomb hidden in its bucket and blow them open and at that stage IRA Volunteers hidden in a van would leap out & then rush the building and kill the RUC Officers inside. But by then the regular garrison had been withdrawn and a small but well armed group of SAS and RUC men were inside ready to repel any such attempt to take the place by storm.

As soon as the digger was in place the IRA blew it and caused considerable damage to the the building as well as injuring some of those inside. At that moment the SAS opened up with a massive hail of gunfire that swept through the men on the digger and inside the van. Some of them made a run for it but were cut down and killed. Unbeknownst to the British there were at least two scout cars in the immediate vicinity that were there to ferry the IRA members away to safe houses but despite that they were able to drive away in the aftermath without being intercepted.

The IRA men who died that day were: Volunteers Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Tony Gormley, Eugene Kelly, Paddy Kelly, Jim Lynagh, Padraig McKearney and Gerard O’Callaghan were members of the East Tyrone Brigade IRA. Civilian Anthony Hughes was also killed that evening when he and his brother inadvertently drove into the SAS ambush.


Sunday, 7 May 2017


7 May 1915: The liner Lusitania (New York to Liverpool) was torpedoed off the Old head of Kinsale by the German submarine U20 on this day. She sank within 18 minutes. (Two explosions rocked the ship. The first was clearly caused by a torpedo from U-20. The cause of the second explosion has never been definitively determined and remains the source of much controversy.) Of those on board, 761 were rescued, while 1,198 perished, including 115 US Citizens.

On the 7th September 1907 under the command of Captain James B. Watt, the RMS Lusitania sailed on her maiden voyage to New York. She carried over 3,000 passengers and crew. Her passengers were delighted with the new ship. The standards of accommodation and services were well documented. Most third class passengers enjoyed the voyage. Dinning on her was like eating in the best restaurants or hotel anywhere.

In August 1914 World War One broke out. The day of anticipation finally arrived when the British Navy needed the ship for wartime service. The Lusitania had to be refitted for the purpose. Her four funnels were fully painted black to conceal her identity from enemy ships.

On May 1, 1915, the ship departed New York City bound for Liverpool. Unknown to her passengers but probably no secret to the Germans, almost all her hidden cargo consisted of munitions and contraband destined for the British war effort. As the fastest ship afloat, the luxurious liner felt secure in the belief she could easily outdistance any submarine. Nonetheless, the menace of submarine attack reduced her passenger list to only half her capacity.

Following the loss of the Titanic, the Lusitania was fitted with 48 boats (22 wooden and 26 collapsible). Every boat was fitted with 2 chains to anchor them to the deck. This would prove disastrous when the ship sank because the chains would have to be released before the boats could be swung clear of the ship. When the Lusitania was sinking many of the chains were not released and thus preventing the boats from being launched successfully. Many boats went down with the ship.

On Friday 7th May 1915 she had reached the War Zone. The usual precautions of blackening out the portholes and doubling the watch were obeyed.

The lookouts were tentatively at their posts. At about 1.30 p.m. Leslie Morton saw the torpedo heading towards the Starboard side travelling at about 22 knots. He gave the alarm stating "Torpedo coming in the Starboard side". The Bridge was slow in reacting to his warnings.

Another lookout, Thomas Quinn also said that the torpedo and sounded the alarm. It was too late. The torpedo struck the ship and detonated before Turner could do anything. Power was suddenly lost. The watertight door could not be closed. Radio distress signals had to be sent using battery power.

At 2.10 p.m. after lunch the passengers were eagerly waiting for their desserts when they heard:

"the sound of an arrow entering the canvas and straw of a target magnified a thousand times" or and "a pearl of thunder" and "the slamming of a door".

A second explosion came within seconds. Suddenly the ship took a 15º list to Starboard, which began to sharpen to 16º then 17º etc until the list reached 25º - a point at which the ship could not survive. The list had become so severe that the Officers could not swing the lifeboats clear of the ship.

Panic had set in amongst the passengers. Some jumped into the water trying to flee for their lives. Captain Turner jumped into the water when the Bridge was flooding. He swam for three hours before finding a lifeboat to climb into.

Within 18 minutes the ship had rolled over and sunk with 1,195 passengers. Only 289 bodies were recovered. 764 people survived.

The survivors were landed at Cobh (Queenstown) in Co Cork. It was here too that the bodies were brought ashore or washed up in the days after the sinking. The corpses, men, women and children, were placed in coffins and lined up along the Cunard Line’s dock. A huge funeral procession made its way through the streets of Cobh to the cemetery. Many of the dead were buried in mass graves, marked by two crudely hewn stones. Others victims, likely the more affluent, were buried in individual graves with headstones noting their death on the Lusitania.

The loss of the Lusitania was to reverberate on the World stage as the USA was shocked and stunned by the actions of the German Navy in sinking what was to all appearances a civilian Liner engaged in peaceful commerce. It pushed US public opinion firmly in the direction of the Allies and helped to bring the USA into the War against Germany in April 1917.


RMS LUSITANIA


Saturday, 6 May 2017


6 May 1882: The Assassination of Cavendish & Burke aka The ‘Phoenix Park Murders’ on this day. The Under Secretary for Ireland Thomas Henry Burke, and the newly arrived Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish, were both stabbed to death in the Phoenix Park by members of a secret organisation known as ‘The Invincibles’. Five of the assassins were later executed in Kilmainham Jail and a number of others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. This event rocked Anglo-Irish relations to the core and was the most shocking and audacious attack on members of the British Political Establishment in Ireland during the course of the 19th Century.

The Phoenix Park tragedy, as it may well be called, occurred on the evening of Saturday, May 6, 1882. Its victims were Mr. Thomas H. Burke, the under-secretary, and Lord Frederick Cavendish, the new chief-secretary. Undersecretary Burke, on that evening, was walking from the Castle to his lodge or official residence in the Phoenix Park, when he accidentally met Lord Cavendish, who accompanied him in the direction he was going.

When near the Phoenix Monument, they were surrounded by five or six men, armed with knives, who attacked them instantly. Surprised and unarmed the secretaries made scarcely any resistance, and were stabbed and hurled to the ground where they expired in a few minutes.

Cavendish – who was married to Lucy Cavendish the niece of British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, and had worked as Gladstone's personal secretary – had only arrived in Ireland the day he was assassinated! He was not the main target but Burke. He had just met by chance with him as they walked towards the vice regal Lodge and was a man of whom it could be truly said he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The hunt for the perpetrators was led by Superintendent John Mallon, a Catholic who came from Armagh. He suspected a number of former Fenian activists. A large number of suspects were arrested and kept in prison by claiming they were connected with other crimes. By playing off one suspect against another Mallon got several of them to reveal what they knew.

The 'Invincibles' leader James Carey, along with Michael Kavanagh and Joe Hanlon agreed to testify against the others. Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and Tim Kelly were convicted of the murder and were hanged by William Marwood in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin between 14 May and 4 June 1883. Others were sentenced to serve long prison terms.

The chief Traitor James Carey was known to the others as No 1 of the Invincibles and he was a Dublin City Councillor. His turning Queens evidence brought him freedom but put his life in mortal danger. He was spirited off to London and with his family was dispatched by ship bound for Australia. .

His life being in great danger, he was secretly, with his wife and family, put on board the Kinfauns Castle, bound for the Cape, and sailed on July 6 under the name of Power. On board the same ship was Patrick O'Donnell, a bricklayer. He became friendly with Carey, without knowing who he was. After stopping off in Cape Town, he was informed by chance of the real identity of Carey. He went with his victim on board the Melrose in the voyage from Cape Town to Natal, and when the vessel was 12 miles off Cape Vaccas, on July 29, 1883, using a pistol he had in his luggage, shot Carey dead. This he claimed he did in self defense when he challenged Carey and a gun was pulled on him.

O'Donnell was brought to England and tried for murder, and being found guilty by an English duty, was executed at Newgate on December 17.

James Carey - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Thursday, 4 May 2017



4‭ ‬May‭ ‬1916‭ ‬-‭ ‬Edward Daly,‭ ‬Michael O’Hanrahan,‭ ‬William Pearse and Joseph Mary Plunkett were executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Jail.‭ ‬This was the second batch of prisoners to be shot and further increased public disquiet about the manner in which General Maxwell was handling the aftermath of the Easter Rising.

Edward "Ned" Daly  was commandant of Dublin's 1st battalion during the Rising. He was the youngest man to hold that rank and the youngest executed in the aftermath.

Michael O’Hanrahan was second in command of the 2nd battalion under Commandant Thomas McDonagh (executed). He fought at Jacob's Biscuit Factory.

William Pearse was Padraig Pearse’s younger brother and played only a minor part in the GPO during Easter Week. It is believed he was shot because of who he was rather than anything he did.

Joseph Mary Plunkett‭ was a seriously ill man by this stage and had only left hospital days before the Rising in order to take part in it. ‬Plunkett was one of the original members of the IRB Military Committee that was responsible for planning the Rising and it was largely his plan that was followed. He travelled to Germany to meet Roger Casement before returning home to implement the plan to initiate a Rising. ‭He famously married his sweetheart Grace Gifford hours before his execution in his prison cell. He was one of the signatories of the Proclamation.