November 2015

History Selection

Sorcha Ní Ghuairim, sean-nós singer
Sorcha Ní Ghuairim
Sean-nós singer
Rose Brennan, singer
Rose Brennan
Norma Burrowes, soprano singer
Norma Burrowes
Soprano singer
Patricia Cahill, singer
Patricia Cahill
Rita Connolly, folk singer
Rita Connolly
Folk singer
Bernie Nolan, pop singer
Bernie Nolan
Pop singer

Ireland in 1954

January 1st: The beginning of the first Marian Year. Shrines and statues were erected in public places and there were many events devoted to Our Lady.

January 10th: Birth of Bairbre de Brún, who would become a Sinn Féin politician.

January 11th: The Irish Council of the European Movement was formed in Dublin.

January 19th: The government announced that the new Cork Airport would be built at Ballygarvan.

Marian Year stamp in Ireland

Marian Year stamp in Ireland

Women in Mayo, 1954

Women in Mayo, 1954

February 19th: Death of Captain Henry Harrison, last surviving member of the party led by Charles Stewart Parnell.

March 9th: Birth of Bobby Sands.

April 6th: The Flags and Emblems (Display) Act (Northern Ireland) made it illegal to interfere with the display of the Union Flag. The RUC had the right to remove any other flag or emblem that could lead to a breach of the peace.

April 20th: Michael Manning was executed for murder in Mountjoy Prison. He would be the last person judicially executed by the State.

April 29th: Birth of Gavan O'Herlihy, actor.

April 30th: The first Cork International Choral Festival began.

May 5th: CIÉ signed a £4.75 million contract to replace its steam locomotives with diesels.

May 16th: A Marian year procession with 30,000 people went through Dublin. It was the biggest display of Catholic faith since the International Eucharistic Congress of 1932.

Brochure for the 1954 Cork Festival

Brochure for the 1954 Cork Festival

Gough Barracks in the 1950s

Gough Barracks in the 1950s

May 18th: In the general election, Fianna Fáil lost four seats. John A.Costello headed the second inter-party gorvernment.

June 12th: The IRA raided Gough Barracks in Armagh. It was their first action in a long time.

June 16th: The first public celebration of 'Bloomsday' in Dublin.

June 28th: Alfie Byrne was elected Lord Mayor or Dublin for the tenth time.

July 5th: Alfie Byrne was elected Lord Mayor of Dublin for the tenth time.

August 17th: The Ocean Liner SS Southern Cross was launched in Belfast.

August 22nd: Birth of Jimmy Barry-Murphy, hurling manager.

September 5th: KLM Flight 633 crashed on leaving Shannon Airport, killing 27 people.

Alfie Byrne, Lord Mayor of Dublin

Alfie Byrne, Lord Mayor of Dublin

Aungier Street in Dublin, 1950s

Aungier Street in Dublin, 1950s

September 8th: Marian College in Dublin opened.

October 16th: A marble plaque was unveiled at Westland Row, Dublin, to mark the centenary of Oscar Wilde's birth.

November 19th: Brendan Behan's first play, The Quare Fellow, premièred at the Pike Theatre in Dublin.

December 11th: Birth of Noel Lane, Galway hurler.

Images from Mount Jerome Cemetery

The entrance to the cemetery in the 1860s

Entrance to the cemetery in the 1860s

Mount Jerome Monumental Company Workers

Workers at the Mount Jerome Monumental Company in the 19th century

Old film

Guerilla Warfare In Ireland (1922)

The New Cork (1927)

An Illustrated History of Ireland from AD 400 to 1800

Mary Frances Cusack

Published in 1868

Illustration from the book

I have shown how the serfdom of the Irish tenant leads to misery. But the subject is one which would require a volume. No one can understand the depth of Irish misery who has not lived in Ireland, and taken pains to become acquainted with the habits and manner of life of the lower orders. The tenant who is kept at starvation point to pay his landlord's rent, has no means of providing for his family. He cannot encourage trade; his sons cannot get work to do, if they are taught trades. Emigration or the workhouse is the only resource. I think the efforts which are made by the poor in Ireland to get work are absolutely unexampled, and it is a cruel thing that a man who is willing to work should not be able to get it. I know an instance in which a girl belonging to a comparatively respectable family was taken into service, and it was discovered that for years her only food, and the only food of her family, was dry bread, and, as an occasional luxury, weak tea. So accustomed had she become to this wretched fare, that she actually could not even eat an egg. She and her family have gone to America; and I have no doubt, after a few years, that the weakened organs will recover their proper tone, with the gradual use of proper food.

There is another ingredient in Irish misery which has not met with the consideration it deserves. If the landlord happens to be humane, he may interest himself in the welfare of the families of his tenantry. He may also send a few pounds to them for coals at Christmas, or for clothing; but such instances are unhappily rare, and the alms given is comparatively nothing. In England the case is precisely the reverse. On this subject I speak from personal knowledge. There is scarcely a little village in England, however poor, where there is not a committee of ladies, assisted by the neighbouring gentry, who distribute coals, blankets, and clothing in winter; and at all times, where there is distress, give bread, tea, and meat. Well may the poor Irish come home discontented after they have been to work in England, and see how differently the poor are treated there. I admit, and I repeat it again, that there are instances in which the landlord takes an interest in his tenantry, but those instances are exceptions. Many of these gentlemen, who possess the largest tracts of land in Ireland, have also large estates in England, and they seldom, sometimes never, visit their Irish estates. They leave it to their agent. Every application for relief is referred to the agent. The agent, however humane, cannot be expected to have the same interest in the people as a landlord ought to have. The agent is the instrument usedto draw out the last farthing from the poor; he is constantly in collision with them. They naturally dislike him; and he, not unnaturally, dislikes them.

The burden, therefore, of giving that relief to the poor, which they always require in times of sickness, and when they cannot get work, falls almost exclusively upon the priests and the convents. Were it not for the exertions made by the priests and nuns throughout Ireland for the support of the poor, and to obtain work for them, and the immense sums of money sent to Ireland by emigrants, for the support of aged fathers and mothers, I believe the destitution would be something appalling, and that landlords would find it even more difficult than at present to get the high rents which they demand. Yet, some of these same landlords, getting perhaps £20,000 or £40,000 a-year from their Irish estates, will not give the slightest help to establish industrial schools in connexion with convents, or to assist them when they are established, though they are the means of helping their own tenants to pay their rent. There are in Ireland about two hundred conventual establishments. Nearly all of these convents have poor schools, where the poor are taught, either at a most trifling expense, or altogether without charge. The majority of these convents feed and clothe a considerable number of poor children, and many of them have established industrial schools, where a few girls at least can earn what will almost support a whole family in comfort. I give the statistics of one convent as a sample of others. I believe there are a few, but perhaps only a very few other places, where the statistics would rise higher; but there are many convents where the children are fed and clothed, and where work is done on a smaller scale. If such institutions were encouraged by the landlords, much more could be done. The convent to which I allude was founded at the close of the year 1861. There was a national school in the little town (in England it would be called a village), with an attendance of about forty children. The numbers rose rapidly year by year, after the arrival of the nuns, and at present the average daily attendance is just 400. It would be very much higher, were it not for the steady decrease in the population, caused by emigration. The emigration would have been very much greater, had not the parish priest given employment to a considerable number of men, by building a new church, convent, and convent schools. The poorest of the children, and, in Ireland, none but the very poorest will accept such alms, get a breakfast of Indian meal and milk all the year round. The comfort of this hot meal to them, when they come in half-clad and starving of a winter morning, can only be estimated by those who have seen the children partake of it, and heard the cries of delight of the babies of a year old, and the quiet expression of thankfulness of the elder children. Before they go home they get a piece of dry bread, and this is their dinner--a dinner the poorest English child would almost refuse. The number of meals given at present is 350 per diem.