February 2013

History Selection

William Carleton, born February 1794
Countess Constance Markievicz, born February 1868 Ernest Shackleton, born February 1874
James Joyce, born February 1882 Seán MacDiarmada, born February 1884
Edward 'Ned' Daly, born February 1891

On this Day: February
1st 1177 - John de Courcy invaded Ulster.
1315 - Edward the Bruce won the battle of Skerries in Kildare.
- Execution of Bishop Conor O'Devany.
1796 - Theobald Wolfe Tone arrived in Paris.
1815 - Daniel O'Connell, having killed John d'Esterre in a dual, repudiated violence.
1943 - Central Bank of Ireland established.
1982 - Corporal punishment banned from schools in the Republic.
2nd 1172 - The dying Henry II held his court in Dublin.
- Charles Stewart Parnell addressed the United States Congress.
1972 - The British Embassy in Dublin was burned down in response to Bloody Sunday.
3rd 1537 - Thomas Fitzgerald (Silken Thomas) executed with five of his uncles at Tyburn.
1881 - Michael Davitt arrested.
1917 - The father of Easter Rising rebel Joseph Plunkett won a seat at Roscommon North for Sinn Féin.
1919 - Éamon de Valera and two others escaped from prison in England.
4th 1933 - De Valera's Fianna Fáil won their first overall majority in the Dáil Éireann.
1992 - On the day Mary Robinson became the first President of Ireland to visit Belfast, off-duty RUC officer Allen Moore killed three people in the Falls Road Sinn Féin office before committing suicide.
5th 1992 - Loyalists killed five Catholics in a betting shop in Belfast.
6th 1971 - Robert Curtis became the first on-duty British soldier to be killed in Ireland since the 1920s.
7th 1991 -The IRA mortar-bombed Downing Street.
8th 1929 - De Valera sentenced to one month in jail for illegally entering County Armagh.
9th 1300 - Parliament at Kilkenny.
1983 - The IRA kidnapped a racehorse, Shergar.
1996 - The IRA broke its ceasefire by bombing Canary Wharf.
10th 1922 - Treaty Bill introduced in the British House of Commons, providing the dissolution of the 'Southern Ireland' parliament and the election of a new parliament for which the Provisional Government would be responsible.
1958 - Trade Unions voted to end a 15-year split, forming the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
1972 - The IRA announced a ceasefire.
11th 1867 - Fenians tried and failed to seize Chester Castle.
1925 - A resolution was passed making divorce and remarriage illegal.
1926 - The performance of The Plough and the Stars led to violence in Dublin.
2000 - Devolution suspended in Northern Ireland.
12th 1939 - The Department of External Affairs recognised the government of General Franco in Spain.
1972 - Ulster Vanguard Movement launched.
1989 - Belfast solictor Pat Finucane shot dead by Loyalists.
13th 1966 - The Bishop of Clonfert complained about the content of The Late Late Show.
14th 1981 - Forty-eight  young people died in a fire at the Stardust Ballroom.
15th 1782 - At a convention in Dungannon, delegates from several Ulster Volunteer corps pledged support for resolutions advocating the legislative independence of Ireland.
1798 - Michael Dwyer escaped after a gun fight with British troops at Dernamuck, Wicklow.
1956 - Owen Sheehy-Skeffington called for an end to the corporal punishment of girls.
1995 - English football hooligans rioted at Lansdown Road.
16th 1960 - The Television Bill passed through its final stages in Seanad Éireann.
17th 1978 - Twelve people died in the La Mon restaurant bombing.
18th 1642 - A number of Protestant settlers surrendered to Irish authorities at Castlebar, but were later murdered.
1777 - The Langrishe Baronetcy was created.
1948 - John A. Costello is elected the second Taoiseach of Ireland.
19th 1901 -  Thomas O'Donnell was prevented from addressing the British House of Commons in Irish.
1987 - Charles Haughey returned as Taoiseach.
20th 1782 - Sir Boyle Roche was the first person recorded as using the phrase 'Protestant Ascendancy'.
21st 1760 - Battle of Carrickfergus began with the landing of 600 French troops.
1843 - Dublin Corporation debated the Repeal of the Act of Union.
1910 - Sir Edward Carson became the leader of the Irish Unionists.
22nd 1933 - General Eoin O'Duffy was forced to resign from his post as Commissioner of the Garda Síochána.
1972 - IRA bombing of Aldershot Barracks in England killed seven civilians.
1995 - Taoiseach John Bruton and British PM John Major launched a framework document for Northern Ireland.
23rd 1573 - Submission of Fitzmaurice to the English, having negotiated a pardon for his life.
1910 - St Patrick's College, Maynooth, became part of the National University of Ireland.
1943 - 35 children died in a fire at St. Joseph's orphanage, Cavan.
24th 1692 - William of Orange ratified the Treaty of Limerick.
25th 1323 - Anthony de Luci succeeded in arresting Andrew Harclay, Earl of Carlisle for negotiating a peace treaty with the Scots.
1947 - 'The Blizzard' hit Ireland, lasting nearly 50 hours.
26th 1852 - The Birkenhead, which had sailed with insufficient lifeboats, founders. Recruits to the British Army who had boarded at Queenstown stood to attention while women and children are placed in the lifeboats.
1934 - Protest by boys at a school in Thurles over classmates wearing blue shirts (in support of the Blueshirt movement).
1992 - Ban lifted on a 14-year-old rape victim in the Republic going to England for an abortion.
27th 1903 - Mansion House meeting welcomed a move to establish St Patrick's Day as a national holiday.
1920 - Text of the Home Rule Bill published, providing for two parliaments in Ireland.
1997 - Law providing for divorce came into effect in the Republic.
28th 1800 - United Irishman Paddy McCorley was executed.
1973 - The National Coalition of Fine Gael and Labour won an  election in the Republic
1985 - IRA killed nine RUC officers at Newry.
29th 2000 - After learning that  large amounts of Semtex had been stolen from PIRA hides, army bomb experts found a rocket launcher in County Tyrone.

Old Shipyards in Dublin

SS Glenageary
The S.S. Glenageary, 460 tons,
purchased in 1920 by the Lytham Ship Company

The fleet in the 1960s
The fleet in the 1960s

S. S. Glencree
The S. S. Glencree
Book Review

Bloody Sunday: How Michael Collins's Agents Assassinated Britain's Secret Service in Dublin on November 21, 1920

Author:     James Gleeson

Publisher:     The Lyons Press

Date published:  2004 (1962)

Bloody Sunday by James Gleeson

On November 21st, 1920, at the height of the War of Independence, two waves of killings gripped Dublin. The second is still notorious. British forces entered Croke Park, where a football match was in progress, and opened fire indiscriminately on players and supporters. The youngest victim was ten years old. One man was shot dead while trying to comfort a dying player.

Even by the brutal standards of the time, this was a shocking event. Yet the British press concentrated almost entirely on the massacre that had taken place that morning and had sparked the savage retaliation. Michael Collins's IRA had targetted the 'Cairo Gang', British secret service agents who had posed a serious threat to the Irish side. Writing forty years later, James Gleeson argues that the killing of these agents marked a turning point in the War. The British authorities had lost their eyes in Dublin, and from then on would call repeatedly for a truce. The Treaty was signed just over a year later.

James Gleesons's book is an important witness to the War of Independence that lay forgotten for many years. Although it is clear where his sympathies lie, he includes a long interview with an Auxiliary for the sake of balance. Gleesons's vivid descriptions of the build-up to Bloody Sunday, the events of that day and their brutal aftermath make compelling reading.

A Memoir on Ireland Native and Saxon

Daniel O'Connell

First published in 1843

Portrait of Daniel O'Connell

Years 1800 – 1829

1)    The alleged object of the Union was to consolidate the inhabitants of both islands into one nation – one people. The most flattering hopes were held out, the most solemn pledges were vowed – Ireland was no longer to be an alien and a stranger to British liberty. The religion of the inhabitants was no longer to be a badge for persecution – the nation were to be identified – the same privileges – the same laws – the same liberties.

They trumpeted, until the ear was tired and all good taste nauseated, the hackneyed quotation, the “Paribus se legibus” – the “Invictae gentes” – the “Eterna in federa.

2)    These were words – Latin or English, they were mere words – Ireland lost everything and got nothing by the Union. Pitt behaved with some dignity when he resigned the office of Prime Minister, on finding that George the Third refused to allow him to redeem the Union pledge of granting Catholic Emancipation. But that dignity was dragged in the kennel, when he afterwards consented to be Minister with his pledge broken and his faith violated. Yet there are still “Pitt Clubs” – are there not? – in England!!!
Daniel O'Connell addresses a Monster Meeting

Daniel O'Connell addresses a Monster Meeting

3)    Ireland lost everything and gained nothing by the Union. There is one great evil in the political economy of Ireland. There is one incurable plague-spot in the state of Ireland. It is, that nine-tenths of the soil belong to absentees. This evil was felt as a curse pregnant with every possible woe even before the Union. It has enormously increased since – the Union must inevitably have increased, and must continue to increase absenteeism. Even all the establishments necessary to carry on the Government save one – that of the Lord Lieutenant – have become absentees.

4)    Ireland lost all and gained nothing by the Union. Every promise was broken, every pledge was violated. Ireland struggled, and prayed, and cried out to friends for aid, and to Parliament for relief.

5)    At length a change came over the spirit of our proceedings. The people of Ireland ceased to court patronage, or to hope for relief from their friends. They became “friends to themselves,” and after twenty-six years of agitation, they forced the concession of Emancipation. They compelled the most powerful as well as the most tricky, the most daring as well as the most dexterous, of their enemies, to concede Emancipation.

6)    WELLINGTON and PEEL – blessed be heaven – we defeated you. Our peaceable combination, bloodless, unstained, crimeless, was too strong for the military glory – bah! of the one, and for all the little arts, the debasing chicanery, the plausible delusions, of the other. Both at length conceded, but without dignity, without generosity, without candour, without sincerity. Nay, there was a littleness in the concession almost incredible, were it not part of public history. They emancipated a people, and by the same act they proscribed an individual. PEEL and WELLINGTON, we defeated and drove you before us into coerced liberality, and you left every remnant of character behind you, as the spoil of the victors.

7)    There was an intermediate period in which Emancipation could have been conceded with a good grace, and would have been accepted as a boon. It was the year 1825. In that year, when everything favoured the grant of Emancipation – when it could have been granted with grace and dignity – when it could have been bestowed as the emanation of the mighty minds of statesmen and conquerors, - in 1825, Wellington and Peel successfully opposed Emancipation, and thus preserved that, which might have been their glorious triumph, to become the instrument of their own degradation.

8)    Let it not be forgotten that the House of Commons three times during these twenty-nine years passed an Emancipation bill; but that bill was, each of those times, rejected by the House of Lords. The Lords however yielded to the fourth assault, backed as it was by the power of the Irish nation. We at length defeated the perpetual enemy of Ireland – the British House of Lords.

9)    Let it be recollected that our struggle was for “freedom of conscience.” Oh how ignorant are the men who boast of Protestant tolerance, and declaim on Catholic bigotry! This calumny was one of the worst evils we formerly endured. At present we laugh it to scorn. The history of the persecutions perpetrated by the Protestant Established Church of England, upon Catholics on the one hand, and upon Presbyterians and other Protestant dissenters on the other, is one of the blackest in the page of time.

10)    The Irish Catholics, three times since the Reformation restored to power, never persecuted a single person – blessed be the great God!

Years 1829 – 1840

1)    There never was a people on the face of the earth, so cruelly, so basely, so unjustly treated as the people of Ireland have been by the English Government.

2)    The Catholics being emancipated, the people of England had leisure to awaken to a sense of the delusions practised upon them by false alarms on the score of religion and loyalty. The delusion was most valuable to the deluders. At length the monstrous nature of what was called Parliamentary representation stared the British people in the face. It was, perhaps, the greatest and most ludicrous farce that had even been played on the great stage of the world. Luckily a blunder, such as no man out of a madhouse had ever before committed – a blunder of the Duke of Wellington – brought the absurdity and oppression of this farce into so glaring a point of view, as to render it impossible to be continued. He, as a Prime Minister of England, declared his conviction that the nomination and rotten-borough system of England, was THE ACTUAL PERFECTION OF POLITICAL SAGACITY – NAY, HE ALMOST EXALTED IT INTO AN EMANATION OF A DIVENER MIND.
This was irresistible – common sense revolted – Reform was inevitable.

3)    Again, the most gross and glaring injustice was done to Ireland. It is admitted that, without the aid of the Irish members, Reform could not have been carried. Even the most malignant of our enemies, Stanley, has admitted that fact. To the Irish, therefore, a deep debt of gratitude was due from the British Reformers. But how have we been requited? We have been treated with the basest and most atrocious ingratitude.

4)    We are still suffering under the ingratitude of the British Reformers – under the consistent injustice of the British Tories.

Under four heads I will, as briefly as possible, sketch our complaints; - not the abject complaint of those who have no hope in, and no reliance upon, their own virtue. I make the complaint in the language of a freeman. I make it on behalf of a people who have made others free, and who deserve to be free themselves. As my only preface, I desire these four facts to be remembered.
Monster Meeting

A gathering organised by Daniel O'Connell
1st. That the Irish Representatives turned the scale of victory, and carried the English Parliamentary Reform Bill.
2nd. They equally, and by the same Act, carried the Scotch Reform Bill.
3rd. They equally, and by inevitable consequence, carried the English Municipal Reform Bill.
4th. They equally carried the Scotch Municipal Reform Bill.
5th. Even if they had not these merits, they were entitled, unless the Union be an insulting mockery, they were – the Irish were – on the plainest principles of common sense, entitled to equal measures of Reform with England and Scotland. This the Union entitled them to. But their case has this glorious adjunct to its right – namely, that they had principally contributed to obtain Reform for the two other countries.

5)    The complains of the Irish people are these:

My first complain is, that the Irish did not get an equal Parliamentary Reform Bill with Scotland or with England.

“1st. Ireland did not get the proper portion of representatives. Wales got an increase of six members upon a population of 800,000. Scotland, upon a population of 2,300,000, got an increase of eight. Ireland, upon a population of 8,000,000, got an increase of five.

“Scotland increased her representatives by one in five – Wales by one in six – Ireland by one in ten!!! and even one of these was given against not for Ireland – the second member for the University of Dublin. But let it be one in ten.

“Thus the original iniquity of the Union in respect to representation was enhanced by the Reform Bill. Ireland, upon the score of population and property, was entitled to 176 members out of 658 – we offered to take 125.

“2nd. The next and still greater injustice done to Ireland was in the nature of the franchise.

“In the towns, though the franchise is nominally the same, yet it is substantially and really infinitely greater in Ireland than in England. A house worth ten pounds a year, gives the franchise in London and in Liverpool. How few, how very few houses are there in either not worth ten pounds a year?

“A house worth ten pounds a year gives the franchise in Ennis or in Youghal. How few houses are in there in these towns, or similar towns in Ireland, worth ten pounds a year? To be just, this franchise should, for a ten pound house in England, allow a five pound house in Ireland. I complain of the injustice thus done us, by making that nominally the same which is substantially different.

“In the county constituencies, the injustice was still more glaring. We have, in fact, but two franchises for the people – they are both of ten pounds clear annual value, ruled to be above rent – an enormously high rate of franchise – the one of a freehold tenure, the other for a term of twenty years.

“Contrast this with England; which, by her Reform Bill, multiplied her franchises to nine different and distinct species.

“England, a rich country, has nine different species of franchise, to meet every gradation of property, including in them the more ancient 40s. freehold franchise.

“Ireland, infinitely the poorer country, has, in fact, for her people, only two franchises, and these so enormously high as ten pounds clear annual value.

“Perhaps the annals of history never displayed a more disgusting injustice than was thus committed by the Irish Reform Bill upon the Irish people.

“The THIRD base act of ingratitude committed by the English Reformers upon the people of Ireland, was the ‘base and bloody’ Coercion Act, in the very spirit in which Cromwell and Ireton acted. In that very spirit the first reformed Parliament passed the atrocious Coercion act, as the reward of the Irish people for their successful efforts in the cause of Reform:  yes – Anglesey, Stanley, Lord Grey, Brougham, all, all joined in recompensing us for our patriotic exertions in their behalf, by abolishing all constitutional liberty, by annihilating the trial by jury, and leaving the lives, liberties, and properties of the people of Ireland, at the mercy of military caprice, violence, or passion.

“Sacred Heaven! – were there ever a people so cruelly, so vilely treated as the people of Ireland? Here, indeed, was a specimen of the gratitude of British Reformers!!!

“The FOURTH complaint I have to make affects only the British Tories. This injustice is done to the people of Ireland by the House of Lords. England has reformed Municipal Corporations – Scotland has reformed Municipal Corporations.

“Ireland was for several years pertinaciously refused reformed Municipal Corporations.

“Ireland has been still more outrageously insulted by the Corporate Reform Bill, which has been at length – I will not say conceded, but flung to her – as one would fling offal to a dog.

“Ireland has been insulted by the Irish Corporate Reform Bill, flung to her after so many years of refusal;

“Firstly – Because by the Irish Corporate Reform Bill the new Corporations are eviscerated of all the real power and authority necessary to enable them to give protection to the people in the corporate towns and cities; to enable them to watch over the administration of justice; to introduce economy in the expenditure, and moderation in the levying, of local taxes. In short, the Irish Corporate Reform Act has produced a mongrel species of Corporation more dead than alive; powerless and paralyzed.

“Secondly – The Irish Corporate Reform Bill is an insult to the people of our towns and cities by the contrast of the municipal franchise in England compared with that in Ireland. In the English towns and cities every man rated to the poor, no matter at how low an amount, is entitled to the municipal franchise, and to be placed accordingly on the Burgess Roll. In Ireland, on the contrary, no man is entitled to the municipal franchise or to be placed on the Burgess Roll, unless he is rated to the full amount of ten pounds. The law thus includes all the English who are rated at all; and excludes at the same time all the Irish who are rated at any sum under ten pounds, and who form a most numerous class. And this insult is aggravated by those who say that there is a union between England and Ireland! – Bah!

“Thirdly – Another contrast renders the Irish Corporate Reform Bill a yet more aggravated insult to the Irish people. It is this:- In the English towns and cities each person on the Burgess Roll has his right to vote qualified by the condition of paying only one tax; namely, the poor rate, including (if any) the Burgess rate; whereas in Ireland, (for example, in the city of Dublin,) every person on the Burgess Roll has his right to vote qualified by the necessity of paying at least NINE – and, almost in all instances no less than ELEVEN different taxes: a necessity which reduces the number of persons actually entitled to make use of the municipal franchise by at least one-third.”

There are other points of inferiority in the Irish Corporate Reform Bill which I scorn to take the trouble of noticing. The complaint I make is sufficiently intelligible to justify our indignation and utter disgust.

With this complaint I close the catalogue of actual wrongs perpetrated upon Ireland since the passing of the Emancipation Bill.

7) There remains the question of tithes, now called Tithe Rent Charge. Ireland feels the ancient and long contained injustice to the heart’s core. The Catholic people of Ireland support and maintain a perfect hierarchy in their own Church. – They support four Archbishops – twenty-five Bishops – many Deans – Vicars-general – with more than three thousand parish Priests and Curates, to administer to the spiritual wants of about seven millions of Christians. Can they – ought they to be content to be compelled to contribute anything to the support of a hierarchy with which they are not in communion? No! – they are not – they cannot – they ought not to be content whilst one atom of the present tithe system remains in existence.

If tithes be public property – and what else are they? – alleviate the burthen on the public, and appropriate the residue to public and national purposes, especially to education. This is common sense and common honesty. We can never settle into contentment with less.