August 2012

History Selection

Henry Joy McCracken, born August 1767
Daniel O'Connell, born August 1775
George Croley, born August 1780
Thomas Meagher, born August 1823
Seán Thomas O'Kelly, born August 1882 Jack Lynch, born August 1917

On this Day: August
1st 1714 - The Apprentice Boys of Derry club was formed by Colonel Mitchelburne.
- Grand funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa.
2nd 1649 - Battle of Rathmines.
- Queen Victoria arrived in Ireland for an eleven-day visit.
3rd 1916 - Roger Casement was hanged for treason.
- An IRA car bomb in London injured seven people.
4th 2011 - A Facebook page was taken down after soliciting photos of PSNI officers
5th 1969 - Severe sectarian rioting took place in Belfast.
6th 1775 - Birth of Daniel O'Connell.
- Civil engineers met in Dublin, afterwards forming the Civil Engineers Society of Ireland.
- In Louisville, Kentucky, Protestant mobs attacked Irish Catholic neighbourhoods. This became known as 'Bloody Monday'.
7th 1690 - William III and his army reached Limerick.
- Irish Reform Act introduced broad changes to electoral laws.
- A war memorial was blown up in Limerick.
1986 - The DUP made a token show of 'invading' the Irish Republic.
8th 1980 - Ten people died in a hotel fire in Bundoran.
1999 - The INLA stated that 'the war is over'.
9th 1971 - Internment without trial was introduced in Northern Ireland.
10th 1315 - Battle of Athenry, at which the rebellious Irish chiefs of Connacht were killed.
1991 - The UDA was proscribed from midnight.
11th 1950 - Irish representatives at Strasbourg voted against the European army proposed by Winston Churchill.
2001 - Three IRA men were arrested in Colombia. They had apparently been involved in training FARC guerillas.
12th 1652 - The Parliament of England passed the Act for the Settlement of Ireland 1652.
1898 - James Connolly published the first copy of the 'Workers' Republic' newsletter.
1946 - A plane carrying 23 French Girl Guides crashed in the Wicklow Mountains.
13th 1969 - Taoiseach Jack Lynch said on television that the Republic could 'no longer stand by' given the situation in
Northern Ireland.
14th 1903 - The Wyndham Land Act passed, offering incentives to landlords to sell their estates.
15th 1649 - Oliver Cromwell landed at Dublin.
1838 - Tithe rent reduced by the Poor Law and Tithe Acts.
1843 - Repeal meeting at Tara.
1846 - Grain depots were closed following Trevelyan's decision that famine relief should end.
1847 - An extended Poor Law permitting outdoor relief was implemented.
1998 - A Real IRA bomb at Omagh killed 29 people.
16th 1969 - British soldiers were deployed in Belfast.
1982 - The Attorney General Patrick Connolly resigned after a wanted killer was found in his house.
17th 1600 - Eoghan mac Ruairí Ó Mórdha, rebel and 'a bloody and bold young man', killed in a skirmish near Timahoe.
1922 - Dublin Castle was formally handed over by the British.
18th 1579 - James FitzMaurice FitzGerald killed in a skirmish with the forces of the Burkes of Clanwilliam.
1911 - The House of Lords lost its veto power beyond two years, making Home Rule possible.
19th 1989 - 10,000 people marched in Dublin calling for Britain's withdrawal from Northern Ireland.
20th 1888 - Christian Brothers College founded in Cork.
1981 - INLA member Michael Devine became the final man to die on hunger strike.
1988 - Ballygawley Bombing.
21st 1962 - Former US President Eisenhower arrived in Belfast.
1972 - The Social Democratic and Labour Praty was founded in Northern Ireland.
2009 - A passenger train travelling from Balbriggan to Dublin escaped disaster when the rail track collapsed.
22nd 1808 - The Cathedral of St Mary and St Anne in Cork was dedicated.
1922 - Michael Collins died in an ambush at Béal na Bláth.
 2009 - Long Kesh escapee Pól Brennan was deported from the US to the Republic of Ireland.
23rd 1921 - Stormont Castle was agreed as the Parliament building for Northern Ireland.
24th 1968 - The First Civil Rights march was held in Northern Ireland.
25th 1580 - Battle of Glenmalure.
1803 - Robert Emmet was captured near Harold's Cross.
26th 1987 - Two RUC officers were shot dead by the IRA in a Belfast bar.
27th 1928 - Ireland became a signatory of the Kellogg Peace Pact.
1979 - The IRA killed Lord Mountbatten, his grandson and his grandson's friend, and on the same day an IRA ambush claimed the lives of 18 British soldiers
28th 1689 - The Duke of Schomberg captured Carrickfergus after several days of siege.
1798 - The Hodson Baronetcy was created.
1835 - St Vincent's Ecclesiastical Seminary opened at Castleknock.
1877 - Charles Stewart Parnell was elected to Parliament.
29th 1997 - Mo Mowlam, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, accepted that Sinn Fein could enter talks.
30th 1787 - The Richardson (later (Richardson-Bunbury) Baronetcy was created.
31st 1787 - The Carden Baronetcy was created.
1994 - The IRA announced a ceasefire.

Image from History

Bray and Dargle in the early twentieth century

Bray and the River Dargle in Co. Wicklow

The River Dargle takes its name from An Deargail, 'little red spot'.  During the nineteenth century, the  Dublin gentry would picnic on the banks of the Dargle, and it became such a popular destination that  'the Dargle' came to be slang for 'holiday resort'.  Imitating the gentry, the shoe-makers or 'Waxies' of Dublin named their own holidays "Waxies' Dargle". The song  'Waxies' Dargle'  begins:

Says my aul' one to your aul' one
"Will ye come to the Waxies' Dargle?"
Says your aul' one to my aul' one,
"Sure, I haven't got a farthin'.
I've just been down to Monto town
To see old Bill McArdle
But he wouldn't give me a half a crown
For to go to the Waxies' Dargle."

Book Review

1847 Famine Ship Diary: The Journey of a Coffin Ship

Author: Robert Whyte

Publisher:  Mercier Press

Date published: 1994(1848)

Robert Whyte's Famine Ship Diary

'It was a charming morning on which I left dear old Ireland,' Robert Whyte records on the 30th of May 1847. What lay ahead of him would be anything but charming - the journey of one of many 'coffin ships' carrying starved, desperate emigrants to more hopeful shores. In this genuine diary of the passage from Dublin to Grosse Isle in Canada, Whyte describes the horrors and tribulations endured by the fleeing Irish. Their arrival into Canada was not the end of suffering, as ships laden with famine refugees queued down the river, accumulating their dead, subject to quarantine for fever during which many more became infected. Whyte records 'my heart bleeds when I think of the agony of the poor families'. He himself escape without sickness or bereavement to leave this remarkable first-hand account as his legacy.

Curiosities of Politics: Parnell

By St. John Ervine

London: Ernest Benn Limited, 1925

His Entry into Politics

It began with a quarrel with a cabman. Captain and Mrs. Dickinson had invited John and Charles Parnell to dine with them. He had been in Cork, and, on his arrival at Kingsbridge Station, found that he was likely to be late for dinner, so he jumped on to a jaunting car, and said to the jarvey, “I’ll give you half a crown, if you get me to 22, Lower Pembroke Street by seven o’clock, or nothing at all if you are a minute after that.” The jarvey agreed to the terms proposed, but failed to get his passenger to the Dickinsons’ house until just after seven. He lost his temper, demanded his fare, and used language such as only a practising Catholic can use. But Parnell held him to his bargain, and left him on the pavement, calling on the saints in heaven to avenge him. The incident was, perhaps, hardly as creditable to Parnell as he imagined, but the jarvey might have got his money if he had kept a civil tongue in his head. It was this affair which provided most of the talk at the table. Never was there a company less likely to discourse on politics in a solemn fashion. But when the cabman’s behaviour had been discussed until they were all tired of hearing about it, the conversation vaguely veered towards the rights of tenant farmers and Mr. Butt’s whole political proposals. Most of the talking was done by John Parnell and his brother-in-law, Charles contenting himself with listening. When the subject had been well argued, Charles suddenly announced that Mr. Butt’s movement would be “a grand opening for me to enter politics.” The announcement startled his auditors, who had never heard him express any political opinions before. 

Young Charles Stewart Parnell

Charles Stewart Parnell

As a young man

If they had thought of him as a political candidate, they would probably have thought him Conservative. But he was proposing to join the Nationalists. Hardly had they realised what his proposal was, when he daunted them with the suggestion that they should accompany him that very minute to the offices of the Freeman’s Journal, where he proposed to announce his adhesion to the Irish party to Mr. Gray, the editor. John declined to go, but Captain Dickinson went with him.[1] They did not return to Lower Pembroke Street until two in the morning. Parnell had been rebuffed. Mr. Gray had reminded him that he was high Sheriff of Wicklow, and informed him that he could not become a candidate for Parliament until his resignation had been tendered to, and accepted by, the Lord-Lieutenant of Ireland. To a man of swift decisions this technical disability was excessively annoying.

On the following morning he hurried off to the Viceregal Lodge and offered his resignation to the Viceroy, Lord Spencer, who, however, could not immediately accept it because certain formalities had first to be concluded. The delay meant that he would be too late for nomination for the vacant constituency of Wicklow. Here was something to gall the impatient Parnell. Miserable technicalities prevented him from fulfilling his desires! He resented the Lord-Lieutenant’s refusal to set him free immediately from his shrieval duties, and was in such a state of mind about it that he persuaded himself to believe that the technicalities were devised to frustrate him. He had been slighted by the Lord-Lieutenant! The thought, says his brother, “stung Charley deeply, and left him with a feeling of resentment against the English Government which quickly became a rooted portion of his character.” The cause of the offence seems as trivial as the cause of that which he took when the police impounded his regimentals; but this insubordinate, quick-tempered young man was in the mood to suspect that anything which opposed his will was malignantly-minded. But it was useless to repine. The law was clear. A High Sheriff, who had duties to perform in a Parliamentary election, could not himself be a candidate at that election, nor could he be replaced at a moment’s notice. At dinner on the night of the day when he had interviewed the Viceroy, Parnell announced a new decision. If he could not stand for Wicklow, his brother could, and before the abashed John, whose heart was in his Alabama peach-farm, could successfully marshal his objections to the proposals, he found himself consenting to be the candidate and reading his election address, which Charles drew up. Once more the elder brother, against his wish, was directed by the younger. As it had been in Alabama, so it was now in Wicklow, and was to be until the younger brother died. The address was short and full of point, and read well. It was Charles Parnell’s first political document, and on that account must here be reproduced.


To the Electors of County Wicklow


Believing that the time has arrived for all true Irishmen to unite in the spontaneous demand for justice from England that is now convulsing the country, I have determined to offer myself for the honour of representing you in Parliament.

The principles for which my ancestor, Sir John Parnell, then Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, refused the peerage from an English Government are still mine, and the cause of the Repeal of the Union under its new name of Home Rule will always find in me a firm and honest supporter.

My experience of the working of the Ulster system of Land Tenure in the North convinces me that there is no other remedy for the unfortunate relations existing between landlord and tenant in other parts of Ireland than the legalisation through the whole of the country of the Ulster Tenant Right, which is practically Fixture of Tenure, or some equivalent or extension of a custom which has so increased the prosperity of the thriving North.

A residence of several years in America, where Religious and Secular Education are combined, has assured me that the attempt to deprive the youth of the country of spiritual instruction must be put down, and I shall give my support to the Denominational System in connection both with the University and the Primary branches.

Owing to the great tranquillity of the Country, I think it would now be a graceful act to extend the Clemency of the Crown to the remaining Political Prisoners.

My grandfather and uncle represented this County for many years, and as you have experienced their trustworthiness, so I also hope you will believe in mine.

I am, gentlemen,

Yours truly,



Charles did not permit the grass to grow under his feet. The other candidates were already in the field, and their election addresses were before the constituents. The Parnells must move very quickly if they were to make any impression at all. John found himself hurried to the hustings in a way which made him long more ardently than ever for the leisurely life of Alabama. Charles delivered his first political speech on a barrel in the market-place of Rathdrum during a fair, and was suspiciously received by the assembled electors. What, thought they, were these wild, whirling, Nationalist words doing in the mouth of a landlord generally regarded as a staunch Conservative? Had it not been for the support he received from the parish priest, Father Galvin, he might have been thrown from his barrel and if he had, may we not imagine, knowing what his proud nature was, that his career as a Nationalist would there and then have ended? He was to be assailed a few years later in Enniscorthy, but by that time he had established himself in Nationalism and could see the leadership of the Irish people well in sight. These are the singular accidents of fortune. Had Miss Woods been less assiduous in the reading of romantic literature, she might not have demanded distinction in her husband, and would, perhaps, have married Parnell and have settled him in an agreeable life in Wicklow, with frequent visits to Newport and Paris and London. Had some lout, inflamed as much by patriotism as by porter, flung a damaged apple or a rotten egg at Parnell, gesticulating on his barrel in the market-place of Rathdrum, he might have altered the history of England and Ireland. But these are idle speculations which may not profitably be pursued.

The organisation of John’s candidature was swift and efficient. When the bashful and reluctant candidate descended from the train at Rathdrum, he found himself surrounded by a reception committee of priests, “most of whom did now know either Charley or myself.” A band was strenuously performing patriotic airs, and as soon as the introductions had been made, the candidate, led by his brother and the hypnotised priests, formed a procession behind the robust musicians and marched off, followed by a large crowd, to Father Galvin’s presbytery, where an enthusiastic conference was held. On the next day Charles hurled himself into Hacketstown and West Wicklow, where he was uncivilly received. He did everything that a High Sheriff ought not to do during an election, even registering his vote, which was disallowed, and when he was warned that his conduct would probably result in his dismissal from office, he retorted that that was exactly what he wanted to happen. He was astute enough to know that a little martyrdom would be useful to him when he offered himself for election. When, in his capacity as High Sheriff, he declared the result of the poll, his brother was found to be at the bottom of it. There can be few men in this world who have so thoroughly enjoyed being defeated as John Parnell did, and he took himself as quickly as he could to America away from the dangerous company of his brother. His journey there, however, was saddened by the fact that Mrs. Parnell had lost nearly all her inheritance from her brother in the Black Friday Panic which swept over the American stock markets. She had enjoyed its possession, in theory rather than in fact, for little more than a year.

Soon after his departure, Colonel Taylor, one of the members for the county of Dublin, was appointed by Disraeli to the Chancellorship of the Duchy of Lancaster, and had to seek re-election. Charles Parnell had joined the Home Rule League, which was anxious to contest the seat, despite the fact that Colonel Taylor was certain to be re-elected, but had difficulty in finding a candidate to fight so forlorn a hope. He offered himself as the Home Rule candidate, but was not received with enthusiasm. Mr. Butt, when the young landlord has gone to him, proposing to join the League, had been delighted with him. “My dear boy,” he exclaimed to one of his friends, “we have got a splendid recruit, an historic name, my friend, young Parnell, of Wicklow; and unless I am mistaken, the Saxon will find him an ugly customer, though he is a good-looking fellow.” Mr. Butt himself was to find him an ugly customer five years after their first encounter, for by that time the tongue-tied, singularly uninformed stripling from Wicklow had ejected Mr. Butt from the leadership and landed him with a broken heart in his grave. Mr. Butt’s enthusiasm for Parnell was not felt by the Home Rule League. The young man undoubtedly had merits. He was able to pay his own election expenses, a fact which probably turned the scales in his favour, and he was a landlord, a Protestant, and an aristocrat.

But he was barely known to the members of the League. Those of them who had met him disesteemed him. His diffidence; his reticence, so unlike the large, lavish manner of Mr. Butt; his complete ignorance of political affairs and seeming inaptitude for them – all these made the Home Rule Leaguers reluctant to accept him as their candidate. If they were to make a demonstration, even in a hopeless constituency, they must make one which would not cover them with ridicule. That was the fate they feared. Mr. Parnell’s political stock-in-trade seemed to consist solely of references to “The Manchester Martyrs”. He talked of them in stutters, and could not talk of anything else. It was as if he thought he only had to mention “The Manchester Martyrs” three times and he had formulated a policy. The Leaguers debated about him. Was he a twister? What guarantee had they that this young landlord was not about to play some crooked game with them? “If he gives his word,” said Mr. John Martin, an old and respected Nationalist, “I will trust him. I would trust any of the Parnells.” But even the support of Mr. Martin did not incline the others towards him. They called him into the conference-room, so that they might inspect and examine him, and he entered, a tall, thin, handsome, delicate young man, with eyes that seemed remote until he was roused, when fires kindled in them, brown fires that scorched those who beheld them. We do now know what he said or did during that period of probation, but we do know that, when it was over, he was the Home Rule candidate for the county of Dublin.

Charles Stewart Parnell

Charles Stewart Parnell

A reserved man, who at first found public speaking difficult
His first public meeting was a terrible failure. It was held in the Rotunda, Dublin, in the afternoon of March 9, 1874, under the chairmanship of the O’Gorman Mahon, an old soldier of fortune who took to politics when duelling went out of fashion, and was destined a few years later, by the malignancy of fate, to introduce his friend, Captain O’Shea, to the young man now standing, trembling and white-lipped, by his side. Although the hour was early, a large crowd, drawn by the knowledge that he was one of the Parnells, had assembled to hear him, and the platform was occupied by men long seasoned in Nationalist politics. Honest John Martin, who had testified to the trustworthiness of his family, Isaac Butt, A. M. Sullivan, Mitchell Henry, and Richard O’Shaughnessy, names that are now rarely remembered, but belonging to men of high reputation in their time, came to listen to the squire of Avondale making his adoption speech. Mr. Sullivan proposed the resolution that Mr. Parnell should be their candidate, and while he was speaking the candidate came into the hall. He was unknown to nearly every person in the hall, but a singular enthusiasm took hold of the audience, and even before they were certain that this was indeed the candidate, they were on their feet, cheering him. Parnell never enjoyed public meetings. To the end of his life he shrank from them, and suffered agonies of nervousness while he was speechifying. He would clench his hands behind his back so tightly that his nails would lacerate his palms, and would leave the platform in a state of exhaustion. On this afternoon in March his nerves overpowered him. When he was called upon to speak, he rose amidst a cheering crowd which liked his good looks and remembered his honourable ancestors. He advanced to the front of the platform, and the expectant crowd ceased to cheer and prepared to listen. He opened his parched lips, and with difficulty said, “Gentlemen, I am a candidate for the representation of the county of Dublin!...” Then he became silent. He tried again, faltered, paused, stumbled on, became horribly confused, and finally broke down. Such a conclusion to a speech would have been bad anywhere, but it was appalling in Ireland, where oratory is the principle accomplishment of the majority of the people, and at that time, and perhaps still, was the principal occupation of many. The kindly audience cheered sympathetically, but departed full of doubt. This was not the stuff of which statesmen were made. Even Honest John Martin, who so warmly supported the candidature, must have wondered whether he had done wisely. When the poll was declared, Colonel Taylor was found to have received 2,122 votes, while Parnell received only 1,141, leaving him in a minority of 981. He made the worst possible impression on the electors and on the leaders of his party, one of whom, in London, explained the severe defeat with the words, “And no wonder! If you’d seen the bloody fool we had for a candidate!...” The election cost him £2,000. The Home Rule League found £300 towards his expenses, but he generously returned it to them, and bore the whole cost himself. It was during this election that his opponents accused him of dealing harshly with his tenants, but they had mistaken him for his brother, Henry Tudor, the owner of Clonmore in Carlow, who had no sympathy whatever with his elder brother’s new politics, and was, and continued for the whole of his life, a Tory.

Parnell remained quiet after this election until the sudden death on March 29, 1875, of Honest John Martin, who was one of the members of Meath. Parnell was adopted as a candidate in opposition to two other candidates  - Mr. J. L Naper, a Tory, and Mr. J. T. Hinds, an independent Home Ruler. The poll was declared on April 19, 1875, and Parnell was at the top of it. He received 1,771 votes, as against 902 for Mr. Naper and 138 for Mr. Hinds. One who heard him speaking at Navan during this election says the chairman had to lead him off the platform when he finished his speech, as he was completely dazed, apparently unable to find his way down, and his hands were so tightly clenched behind his back that the nails almost cut the palms of his hands.


Five years later, “the bloody fool” had driven Mr. Butt from authority to the grave, and was master of Ireland. Eleven years later he was master of the House of Commons, with Mr. Gladstone and Lord Salisbury openly or covertly seeking his suffrages. Sixteen years later he was dead.


[1] There is a slight discrepancy between the account of this incident given by Mr. Barry O’Brien and that given by Mr. John Parnell. Mr. O’Brien, who received his account from Mr. John Parnell, states in the Life that the two brothers went to see Mr. Gray, but Mr. Parnell himself, in his book, states that Captain Dickinson went with Charles, he, John, declining to do so. The Parnells had defective memories, but it is probable that the account in Mr. Parnell’s book is accurate.

Parnell gives a speech in 1890

Parnell gives a speech in 1890