November 2013

History Selection

Ann Glover executed for witchcraft
Execution of Ann Glover
 November 1688
Death of Wolfe Tone
Death of Wolfe Tone
  November 1798
Manchester Martyrs
Manchester Martyrs
November 1867
Death of Kevin Barry
Death of Kevin Barry
November 1920
Bloody Sunday 1920
Croke Park Massacre
November 1920
Enniskillen Bombing
Enniskillen Bombing
November 1987

Ireland in 1964

January: Dublin was exceptionally wet and drab, at a level that would not be seen again for nearly 50 years.

January 3rd: Princess Margaret and Lord Snowden arrived in Ireland for a week-long visit.

January 16th: John O'Donoghue's documentary on the state of public housing in Dublin was first broadcast.

January 17th: The Campaign for Social Justice was founded in Dungannon, County Tyrone.

January 28th: Families from Springtown Camp made a silent march through Derry to demand rehousing.

February 5th: The Campaign for Social Justice launched a campaign document, 'The Plain Truth'.

February 9th: The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show.

February 18th: Death in Blackrock of novelist Maurice Walsh, author of the original story of The Quiet Man.

The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show
John McQuaid
Dublin in 1964
Dublin in 1964
February 21st: A new Garda Síochána training centre opened in Templemore, County Tipperary.

February 24th : The BBC aired a programme on 'the Belfast Sunday', reporting that most people went to church and public places were shut.

March 16th: Seán Lemass arrived in London to make an official launch of "Ireland Week".

March 17th: Bobby Kennedy spoke at a gathering of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick in Pennslyvania.

March 20th: Brendan Behan died aged 41 from complications caused by diabetes and alcohol.

April 17th: The band Them, fronted by Van Morrison, played their first gig at his rhythm and blues Club Rado at the Maritime Hotel, Belfast.

April 29th: The Northern Ireland football team beat Uruguay 3-0.

May 23rd: President Éamon de Valera, Taoiseach Seán Lemass and Tánaiste Seán MacEntee attended the official opening of the US Embassy in Dublin.

May 26th: Fine Gael approved Declan Costello's 'Just Society' programme.

June: 'Flying Figures' work was installed on the wall of the Ulster Bank.

June 1st: Jill the elephant arrived in Dublin, headed for the zoo.

July 31st: Jim Corr, guitarist for The Corrs, was born.

Dublin 1964
Dublin in 1964
Seán O'Casey
Seán O'Casey
August 2nd: The Olympia Theatre reopened its doors with a stage production titled 'Holiday Hayride 1964' starring Jack Cruise.

September 2nd: Taoiseach Seán Lemass attended celebrations marking the silver jubilee of the first commercial transatlantic flight.

September 15th: The first edition of the 'Sun' tabloid featured an article about Irish dancers embarking on a British Army musical tour of the US.

September 18th: Playwright Seán O'Casey died of a heart attack. The Abbey Theatre in Dublin closed the next day in mourning.

September 27th: The 77th All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final took place at Croke Park.

September 28th: Brian Friel's play Philadelphia, Here I Come! opened at the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin.

September 28th: Divis Street riots followed Ian Paisley's insistence that the RUC remove the Tricolour from a window at Sinn Féin’s Belfast headquarters.

October: Ireland took part in the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Jim McCourt book a bronze in boxing.

October 15th: UK general election; unionists won all 12 Northern Ireland seats; Harold Wilson formed a Labour government.

October 17th: Early snow fell in Ireland.

Ireland 1964
Dublin in 1964
Dublin in 1964
Dublin in 1964
November: The Maedhbh, one of the largest steam locomotives ever built in Ireland, arrived at Witham Street Transport Museum in Belfast.

November: Ernesto Che Guevara was forced to land in Dublin by bad weather conditions.

November 2nd: The Beatles played the Ulster Hall, Belfast.

December 18th: Sean O'Faolain's autobiography "Vive Moi" was published.

December 31st: Daniel Corkery - writer, teacher and Fianna Fáil Senator - died aged 86.

Contemporary Account of the 1641 Rebellion

An anti-Catholic view of the 1641 rebellion

An anti-Catholic view of the 1641 rebellion

About 4,000 Protestants died in the 1641 rebellion. English propaganda magnified the violence committed, putting the figure at 200,000. The imagined horrors were used as a justification when Oliver Cromwell came to Ireland in 1649. Cromwell said he was 'persuaded that this is a righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches, who have imbrued their hands with innocent blood'.

Propaganda accused the rebels of 'dashing the Childrens' braines against the postes', ripping open pregnant women and roasting children on spits. The priests, said the propaganda, 'anoite the Rebells with there Sacrament of unction before they go to murther & robe ashuringe them that for there meritorious Service if they be killed he shall escape Purgatory & go to Heaven immediately'.

Book Review

War and an Irish Town

Author:     Eamonn McCann

Publisher: Pluto Press

Date published: 1993 (3rd edition)

War and an Irish Town

Eamonn McCann was a young man when conflict flared in the North. As an ardent socialist, he joined those in Derry who fanned the flames of protest, although he never took up arms. The first part of this book is an account of those days in the late sixties and early seventies: the civil rights marches and the elements of both sides who sought to provoke trouble; the helplessness of more peaceful, bourgeois activists; the intervention of British troops and the souring of relations that came to a devastating climax in the January of 1972. Writing a year after Bloody Sunday, McCann goes on to analyse the development of Irish republicanism, the reasons behind Partition and the events of the twentieth century. In his view, sectarian hatred was encouraged by the ruling capitalists and the church who did not want to see the working class unite. Protestant workers in the North rejected conservative nationalism, both before and after Partition, not only because the Orange Order was so deeply ingrained in their community but because it had strong associations with Catholicism and an economic nationalism that could have damaged industry and lost jobs.

This version of the book begins with an introduction written with twenty years of hindsight. By 1993, thousands had died and peace was on the horizon. McCann writes that 'some of the [earlier] judgements [now seem] wrong-headed... But it's an accurate account of how things seemed to me and I think most of it stands the test of time well enough'.

1847 Famine Ship Diary

Chapter X

Robert Whyte

This edition published by Mercier Press, 1989

Irish emigrants leaving for America

Irish emigrants leaving for America

And when I looked, behold, a hand was sent unto me, and, lo, a roll of a book was therein; And he spread it before me: and it was written within and without: and there was written therein, lamentations and mourning, and woe.


Grosse Isle, Wednesday, 28 July

By 6 a.m., we were settled in our new position before the quarantine station. The passengers that were able to be up were all busy clearing and washing, some clearing the hold of filth, others assisting the sailors in swabbing the deck. The mistress herself washed out the cabin last evening and put everything in order.

The captain commenced shaving himself at 7 and completed the operation in about an hour and a half. The mate was unable to do anything but kept repeatedly calling to the mistress for brandy and requested that his illness should be kept from the doctor as he was sure he had not fever. Breakfast was speedily dispatched and anxiety was depicted on every countenance. At 9 o'clock a boat was perceived pulling towards us with four oars and a steersman with broad-leafed straw hat and leather coat who, the pilot told us, was the inspecting physician. In a few minutes the boat was alongside and the doctor on the deck. He hastily enquired for the captain and before he could be answered was down in the cabin where the mistress was finishing her toilet. Having introduced himself he enquired: if we had sickness abroad? Its nature? How many patients at present? These questions being answered and the replies noted upon his table, he snatched up his hat ran up the letter along the deck and down into the hold.

Inside a coffin ship
Inside a coffin ship

Arrived there, 'Ha!' said he sagaciously, 'there is fever here.' He stopped beside the first berth in which a patient was lying, felt his pulse, examined his tongue and ran up the ladder again. As he passed by me he handed me some papers to be filled up by the captain and to have ready 'tomorrow of next day'. In an instant he was in his boat from which, while the men were taking up their oars, he shouted out to me that I was not obliged to remain in quarantine and might go up to Quebec when I pleased.

I brought the papers to the captain who remained in the cabin, supposing that the doctor would return thither, in order to give directions for our guidance, and when he learned that the gentleman had gone, he was desperately enraged. The mistress endeavoured to pacify him by suggesting that it was likely he would visit us again in the course of the day or at least that he would send a message to us. When I acquainted the mistress that I was at liberty to leave the brig she looked at me most pitifully as if she would say, 'Are you too going to desert us?' But I had no such intention and was determined to remain with them at all events until they reached Quebec.

The poor passengers, expecting that they would be all reviewed, were dressed in their best clothes and were clean, though haggard and weak. They were greatly disappointed in their expectations as they were under the impression that the sick would be immediately admitted to the hospital and the healthy landed upon the island, there to remain until taken to Quebec by a steamer. Indeed, such was the procedure to be inferred from the book of directions given to the captain by the pilot when he came abroad.

When the mistress appeared on deck I scarcely knew her. She usually wore a black stuff gown, a red worsted 'bosom friend', which she told me (at least once a day) was knit for her by her niece, with a cap, having three full borders which projected beyond the leaf of the little straw bonnet, covered with the accumulated stains and smoke of many a voyage. Now she had a new fancy striped calico dress as showy as deep reds, yellows, blues and greens could make it; a black satin bonnet with no lack of red ribands and a little conservatory of artificials around her good-natured face, not forgetting her silver spectacles. All day long we kept looking out for a message from shore and in watching the doctor's boat going from vessel to vessel. His visit to each occupying about the same as to us – which was exactly five minutes. We sometimes fancied that he was making for us but the boat the next moment would be concealed by some large ship. Then we were sure we would be the next – but no, the rowers poled for shore. The day wore away before we gave up hope.

I could not believe it possible that here, within reach of help, we should be left as neglected as when upon the ocean. That after a voyage of two months' duration we were to be left still enveloped by reeking pestilence, the sick without medicine, medical skill, nourishment or so much as a drop of pure water – for the river, although not saline here, was polluted by the most disgusting objects thrown overboard from the several vessels. In short, it was a floating mess of filthy straw, the refuse of foul beds, barrels containing the vilest mater, old rags and tattered clothes, etc.

The head committee was greatly grieved for his wife whose death he momentarily expected. He had looked anxiously forward to the time when we should arrive here, hoping that at least the doctor would see her, but his hopes – as well as those of others – were suddenly blasted. The brig that arrived with us sailed for Quebec immediately after the doctor's visit, possibly not having had any sickness. Five other vessels also were discharged. How long they were detained we could not tell but the captain was so provoked that he vowed he would sail without permission. The pilot, who did not well understand his hasty disposition, ventured to remonstrate with him and fell in for a hurricane of curses and abuse to which, though ignorant of many of the expressions, he replied in French, not finding himself sufficiently eloquent in the English tongue.

Four vessels arrived with the evening tide and hoisted their signals but were not visited. Several sailed by us without stopping, not having passengers, and a vast number went down the river during the day.

Two huge steamers also arrived and in the afternoon brought off hundreds of human beings from the island.

Thursday, 29 July

This morning, a boat was perceived making towards us which at first was thought to be the doctor's but when it approached nearer there appeared but two persons in it, both of whom were rowing. In a few minutes more the boat was alongside and from the cassocks and bands of the two gentlemen we learned that they were Canadian priests. They came on deck, each carrying a large black bag. They inquired for the captain who received them courteously and introduced them to the mistress and to me, after which they conversed a while in French with the pilot whom they knew. When having put on their vestments, they descended into the hold. They there spent a few minutes with each of the sick and administered the last rites to the dying woman and an old man, terminating their duties by baptising the infant. They remained in the hold for about an hour and, when they returned, complimented the captain on the cleanliness of the vessel.

They stayed a short time talking to us upon deck and the account they gave of the horrid condition of many of the ships in quarantine was frightful. In the holds of some of them they said that they were up to their ankles in filth. The wretched emigrants crowded together like cattle and corpses remaining long unburied – the sailors being ill and the passengers unwilling to touch them. They also told us of the vast numbers of sick in the hospitals and in tents upon the island and that many nuns, clergymen and doctors were lying in typhus fever, taken from the patients.

They were exceedingly intelligent and gentlemanly men and, telling us that we had great case of thankfulness in having escaped much better than so many others, they politely bowed and got into their little boat, amid the blessings of the passengers who watched them until they arrived beside a distant ship.

Coffin ship

The head committee expressed himself satisfied that his wife saw a priest before her death which occurred about an hour after, and as the pilot said that the remains should not be thrown into the river – there being a burial ground upon the island – the corpse lay in the hold until the next day.

The mate continued to grow worse and the mistress was unceasing in her attention to him. The day was exceedingly hot and sultry and I could not have remained on deck but the captain spread an awning over it which kept the cabin cool. We lay at some distance from the island, the distant view of which was exceedingly beautiful. At the far end were rows of white tents and marquees, resembling the encampment of an army. Somewhat nearer was the little fort and residence of the superintendent physician and nearer still the chapel, seaman's hospital and little village with its wharf and a few sail boats, the most adjacent extremity being rugged rocks, among which grew beautiful fir trees. At high water this portion was detached from the main island and formed a most picturesque islet.