October 2014

History Selection

Charles Stewart Parnell, died October 1891
Charles Stewart Parnell
 October 1891
Seán Treacy Killed October 1920
Seán Treacy
 October 1920
Thomas MacSwiney Died October 1920
Thomas MacSwiney
 October 1920
Pádraic Ó Conaire Died October 1928
Pádraic Ó Conaire
 October 1928
Eoin MacNeill Died October 1945
Eoin MacNeill
 October 1945
Jack Lynch Died October 1999
Jack Lynch
 October 1999

Ireland in 2006

January: Fianna Fáil councillor Malcolm Byrne fell victim to a press scandal after he placed an advert on a gay website.

January 9th: Steve Staunton became manager of the Republic of Ireland football team.

January 17th: The GAA, FAI and IRFU announced a deal that would allow soccer and rugby to be played in Croke Park.

January 30th: Postal workers entered a 20 day wildcat strike in Belfast.

February 5th: The former Bishop of Galway Eamon Casey returned to Ireland after 14 years in exile, having fathered a son.

February 25th: A 'Love Ulster' Unionist parade in Dublin resulted in rioting by republican protesters.

March 7th: The National Museum of Ireland announced the acquisition of an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation of Independence.

Bishop Eamon Casey
Bishop Eamon Casey
Denis Donaldson
Denis Donaldson
March 11th: The final competitive rugby international took place at Lansdowne Road, the oldest rugby venue in the world.

March 17th: A new Oncology Centre was opened at Belfast City Hospital.

March 20th: An eczema gene was identified in study led by Irish doctors.

April 4th: Former PIRA member turned informer Denis Donaldson was killed by other republicans.

April 6th: Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a joint statement in Armagh.

April 16th: Up to 120,000 people came out in Dublin to mark the 90th anniversity of the Easter Rising.

April 23rd: A census took place.

April 26th: Prince Philip met President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin.

May 10th: Gerry Adams promised to nominate Ian Paisley for first minister.

May 14th: Fianna Fáil celebrated its 80th anniversary.

May 15th: The Northern Ireland Assembly was recalled three and a half years after it had been suspended, in order to elect an executive.

May 18th: Death of the founder of the Communist Party of Ireland, Michael O'Riordan.

May 21st: Gardaí forcibly removed thirty Afghan refugees who had sought sanctuary in St. Patrick's cathedral, Dublin.

The Afghan refugees
The Afghan refugees
Funeral of Charles Haughey
Funeral of Charles Haughey
May 22nd: Belfast City airport was renamed George Best Belfast City Airport.

May 24th: The Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, addressed Dáil Éireann.

June 16th: The state funeral of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey took place.

June 18th: The Irish government announced plans to spent nearly €4 billion on scientific research over 7 years to develop Ireland's research facilities.

July 1st: President Mary McAleese and leaders of all political parties in Ireland marked the 90th anniversary of the Battle of the somme at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens, Dublin.

July 7th: Dublin Airport was evacuated for the second time in a week following a bomb scare.

July 19th: The warmest temperature since 1976 was recorded at Elphin, Co. Roscommon.

July 19th: Early census findings indicated that the Republic's population was 4,234,925 million, up 8.6% since 2002 and the highest since 1861.

July 26th: An ancient book of psalms, 'the Faddan More Psalter', was discovered in a bog.

August 20th: Bryan Budd from Belfast was killed in action in Afghanistan. He would be awarded the Victoria Cross.

September 7th: Mary Harney resigned as leader of the Progressive Democrats.

September 11th: Michael McDowell became leader of the Progressive Democrats.

September 22nd: The Ryder Cup (golf) was played for the first time in Ireland.

The Faddan More Psalter as it was discovered
The Faddan More Psalter as it was discovered
Michael Stone at Stormont
Michael Stone at Stormont
October 11th: Multi-party political talks were held in St Andrews, Fife, resulting ultimately in the St Andrews Agreement.

October 18th: Northern Ireland overtook the Republic in the Fifa rankings for the first time.

October 30th: Demolition work began on the Maze/Long Kesh prison.

November 24th: Loyalist Michael Stone tried to bomb the NI Assembly on the day nominations for first and deputy first minster were due to be made.

December 4th: Gus the Camel wrecked Mullingar riding school's Christmas party by downing all the Guinness and mince pies.

December 20th: Dublin Port Tunnel was officially opened.

Before the Easter Rising

Bringing guns from Howth
Bringing guns from Howth

Redmond inspecting the Irish Volunteers
Redmond inspecting the Irish Volunteers

Cumman na mBan members in Dublin
Cumman na mBan members in Dublin

Irish Volunteers
Irish Volunteers
Book Review

The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy

Author:     Tim Pat Coogan

Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan

Date published: 2012

The Famine Plot: England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy

A million deaths and a million forced to emigrate at a time when Ireland was exporting plentiful food abroad. Cruel evictions into winter nights and impoverished tenants forced to give up all they had to obtain relief. But was it a pathological adherence to free market principles or calculated genocide that led to this brutality? In this book, Tim Pat Coogan argues that the British agenda - or at least, the agenda of those with influence, like Charles Trevelyan - was to reform the Irish economy by clearing the land of its inhabitants. '[Whig policies] were directed at getting the peasants off the land, and if it took mass death to achieve that objective, so be it.' To Trevelyan, who earlier had publicly described Ireland as boiling with sedition stirred up by a financially-motivated Daniel O'Connell, the potato blight was 'a direct stroke of an all-wise and all-merciful Providence', a 'great opportunity' that would bring 'a sharp but effectual remedy' to Ireland's landlord-dominated subsistence economy. As a result the Whigs did little to offer relief, citing fear of unbalancing market forces. While they did not block charitable efforts including the proselytizers offering soup for conversions, they neither organised nor encouraged them. An English model was followed, despite its being totally unsuited to the widespread poverty in Ireland; paupers were to be shamed, no practical gain was to result from public works, and wherever possible food should not be made available at prices that would undercut commercial providers. As the number of deaths accelerated, vitriol spread by the British press ensured that donations from the British public dried up. The consequence of mass starvation, a desolate landscape ripe for converting to pasture, was named 'satisfactory' by the 1851 census takers and a 'social revolution' by the agent William Stuart Trench. In his interpretation, Tim Pat Coogan is at one with the Young Irelander John Mitchel, who wrote 'the Almighty sent the potato blight, but the English created the famine'.

Táin Bó Cúailnge

Early manuscript of the Táin

Early manuscript of the Táin

1. Here Beginneth The Cualnge Cattle-raid

Once of a time, that Ailill and Medb had spread their royal bed in Cruachan, the stronghold of Connacht, such was the pillow-talk that befell betwixt them:

Quoth Ailill: "True is the saying, lady, 'She is a well-off woman that is a rich man's wife.'" "Aye,that she is," answered the wife; "but wherefore opin'st thou so?" "For this," Ailill replied,"that thou art this day better off than the day that first I took thee." Then answered Medb: "As well-off was I before I ever saw thee." "It was a wealth, forsooth, we never heard nor knew of," Ailill said; "but a woman's wealth was all thou hadst, and foes from lands next thine were used to carry off the spoil and booty that they took from thee."

"Not so was I," quoth Medb; "the High King of Erin himself was my sire, Eocho Fedlech ('the Enduring') son of Finn, by name, who was son of Findoman, son of Finden, son of Findguin, son of Rogen Ruad ('the Red'), son of Rigen, son of Blathacht, son of Beothacht, son of Enna Agnech, son of Oengus Turbech. Of daughters, had he six: Derbriu, Ethne and Ele, Clothru, Mugain and Medb, myself, that was the noblest and seemliest of them.

The brown bull of Cooley

The brown bull of Cooley

'Twas I was the goodliest of them in bounty and gift-giving, in riches and treasures. 'Twas I was best of them in battle and strife and combat. 'Twas I that had fifteen hundred royal mercenaries of the sons of aliens exiled from their own land, and as many more of the sons of freemen of the land. And there were ten men with every one of these hirelings, and nine men with every hireling, and eight men with every hireling, and seven men with every hireling, and six men with every hireling, and five men with every hireling, and four men with every hireling, and three men with every hireling, and two men with every hireling, and one hireling with every hireling. These were as a standing household-guard," continued Medb; " hence hath my father bestowed one of the five provinces of Erin upon me, even the province of Cruachan; wherefore 'Medb of Cruachan ' am I called.

Men came from Finn son of Ross Ruad ('the Red'), king of Leinster, to seek me for a wife, and I refused him; and from Carbre Niafer ('the Champion') son of Ross Ruad ('the Red'), king of Temair, to woo me, and I refused him; and they came from Conchobar son of Fachtna Fathach ('the Mighty'), king of Ulster, and I refused him in like wise. They came from Eocho Bec ('the Small'), and I went not; for 'tis I that exacted a singular bride-gift, such as no woman before me had ever required of a man of the men of Erin, namely, a husband without avarice, without jealousy, without fear.

For should he be mean, the man with whom I should live, we were ill-matched together, inasmuch as I am great in largess and gift-giving, and it would be a disgrace for my husband if I should be better at spending than he, and for it to be said that I was superior in wealth and treasures to trim, while no disgrace would it be were one as great as the other. Were my husband a coward,'twere as unfit for us to be mated, for I by myself and alone break battles and fights and combats, and 'twould be a reproach for my husband should his wife be more full of life than himself, and no reproach our being equally bold. Should he be jealous, the husband with whom I should live, that too would not suit me, for there never was a time that I had not my paramour.

Howbeit, such a husband have I found, namely in thee thyself, Ailill son of Ross Ruad ('the Red') of Leinster. Thou wast not churlish; thou wast not jealous; thou wast not a sluggard. It was I plighted thee, and gave purchase-price to thee, which of right belongs to the bride-- of clothing, namely, the raiment of twelve men, a chariot worth thrice seven bondmaids, the breadth of thy face of red gold, the weight of thy left forearm of silvered bronze. Whoso brings shame and sorrow and madness upon thee, no claim for compensation nor satisfaction hast thou therefor that I myself have not, but it is to me the compensation belongs," said Medb, "for a man dependent upon a woman's maintenance is what thou art." "Nay, not such was my state," said Ailill; "but two brothers had I; one of them over Temair, the other over Leinster; namely, Finn, over Leinster, and Carbre, over Temair. I left the kingship to them because they were older but not superior to me in largess and bounty. Nor heard I of province in Erin under woman's keeping but this province alone. And for this I came and assumed the kingship here as my mother's successor; for Mata of Muresc, daughter of Magach of Connacht, was my mother. And who could there be for me to have as my queen better than thyself, being, as thou wert, daughter of the High King of Erin?" "Yet so it is," pursued Medb, "my fortune is greater than thine." "I marvel at that," Ailill made answer, "for there is none that hath greater treasures and riches and wealth than I: yea, to my knowledge there is not."

2. The Occasion of the Táin

Then were brought to them the least precious of their possessions, that they might know which of them had the more treasures, riches and wealth. Their pails and their cauldrons and their iron-wrought vessels, their jugs and their keeves and their eared pitchers were fetched to them.

Likewise, their rings and their bracelets and their thumbrings and their golden treasures were fetched to them, and their apparel, both purple and blue and black and green, yellow, vari-coloured and gray, dun, mottled and brindled.

Their numerous flocks of sheep were led in from fields and meeds and plains. These were counted and compared, and found to be equal, of like size, of like number; however, there was an uncommonly fine ram over Medb's sheep, and he was equal in worth to a bondmaid, but a corresponding ram was over the ewes of Ailill.

Their horses and steeds and studs were brought from pastures and paddocks. There was a noteworthy horse in Medb's herd and he was of the value of a bondmaid; a horse to match was found among Ailill's.

Then were their numerous droves of swine driven from woods and shelving glens and wolds. These were numbered and counted and claimed. There was a noteworthy boar with Medb, and yet another with Ailill.

Next they brought before them their droves of cattle and their herds and their roaming flocks from the brakes and wastes of the province.

These were counted and numbered and claimed, and were the same for both, equal in size, equal in number, except only there was an especial bull of the bawn of Ailill, and he was a calf of one of Medb's cows, and Finnbennach ('the Whitehorned') was his name. But he, deeming it no honour to be in a woman's possession, had left and gone over to the kine of the king. And it was the same to Medb as if she owned not a pennyworth, forasmuch as she had not a bull of his size amongst her cattle.

Then it was that macRoth the messenger was summoned to Medb, and Medb strictly bade macRoth to learn where there might be found a bull of that likeness in any of the provinces of Erin. "Verily," said macRoth, "I know where the bull is that is best and better again, in the province of Ulster, in the hundred of Cualnge, in the house of Darè son of Fiachna; even Donn Cualnge ('the Brown Bull of Cualnge') he is called."

"Go thou to him, macRoth, and ask for me of Darè the loan for a year of the Brown Bull of Cualnge, and at the year's end he shall have the meed of the loan, to wit, fifty heifers and the Donn Cualnge himself. And bear thou a further boon with thee, macRoth. Should the borderfolk and those of the country grudge the loan of that rare jewel that is the Brown Bull of Cualnge, let Darè himself come with his bull, and he shall get a measure equalling his own land of the smooth Plain of Ai and a chariot of the worth of thrice seven bondmaids and he shall enjoy my own close friendship."

Queen Medb

Queen Medb

Thereupon the messengers fared forth to the house of Darè son of Fiachna. This was the number wherewith macRoth went, namely, nine couriers. Anon welcome was lavished on macRoth in Darè's house-- fitting welcome it was-- chief messenger of all was macRoth. Darè asked of macRoth what had brought him upon the journey and why he was come.

The messenger announced the cause for which he was come and related the contention between Medb and Ailill. "And it is to beg the loan of the Brown Bull of Cualnge to match the Whitehorned that I am come," said he; "and thou shalt receive the hire of his loan, even fifty heifers and the Brown of Cualnge himself. And yet more I may add: Come thyself with thy bull and thou shalt have of the land of the smooth soil of Mag Ai as much as thou ownest here, and a chariot of the worth of thrice seven bondmaids and enjoy Medb's friendship to boot."

At these words Darè was well pleased, and he leaped for joy so that the seams of his flock-bed rent in twain beneath him. "By the truth of our conscience," said he; "however the Ulstermen take it, whether ill or well, this time this jewel shall be delivered to Ailill and to Medb, the Brown of Cualnge to wit, into the land of Connacht." Well pleased was macRoth at the words of the son of Fiachna.

Thereupon they were served, and straw and fresh rushes were spread under them. The choicest of food was brought to them and a feast was served to them and soon they were noisy and drunken. And a discourse took place between two of the messengers." 'Tis true what I say," spoke the one; "good is the man in whose house we are." "Of a truth, he is good." "Nay, is there one among all the men of Ulster better than he?" persisted the first. "In sooth, there is," answered the second messenger. "Better is Conchobar whose man he is, Conchobar who holds the kingship of the province. And though all the Ulstermen gathered around him, it were no shame for them. Yet is it passing good of Darè, that what had been a task for the four mighty provinces of Erin to bear away from the land of Ulster, even the Brown Bull of Cualnge, is surrendered so freely to us nine footmen."

Hereupon a third runner had his say: " What is this ye dispute about?" he asked. "Yon runner says, 'A good man is the man in whose house we are.'" "Yea, he is good," saith the other. "Is there among all the Ulstermen any that is better than he?" demanded the first runner further. "Aye, there is," answered the second runner; "better is Conchobar whose man he is; and though all the Ulstermen gathered around him, it were no shame for them. Yet, truly good it is of Darè, that what had been a task for four of the grand provinces of Erin to bear away out of the borders of Ulster is handed over even unto us nine footmen." "I would not grudge to see a retch of blood and gore in the mouth whereout that was said; for, were the bull not given willingly, yet should he be taken by force!"

At that moment it was that Darè macFiachna's chief steward came into the house and with him a man with drink and another with food, and he heard the foolish words of the runners; and anger came upon him, and he set down their food and drink for them and he neither said to them, "Eat," nor did he say, "Eat not."

Straightway he went into the house where was Darè macFiachna and said: "Was it thou that hast given that notable jewel to the messengers, the Brown Bull of Cualnge?" "Yea, it was I," Darè made answer. "Verily, it was not the part of a king to give him. For it is true what they say: Unless thou hadst bestowed him of thine own free will, so wouldst thou yield him in despite of thee by the host of Ailill and Medb and by the great cunning of Fergus macRoig." "I swear by the gods whom I worship," spoke Darè, " they shall in no wise take by foul means what they cannot take by fair!"

There they abide till morning. Betimes on the morrow the runners arise and proceed to the house where is Darè. "Acquaint us, lord, how we may reach the place where the Brown Bull of Cualnge is kept." "Nay then," saith Darè; "but were it my wont to deal foully with messengers or with travelling folk or with them that go by the road, not one of you would depart alive!" "How sayest thou?" quoth macRoth. "Great cause there is," replied Darè; "ye said, unless I yielded in good sort, I should yield to the might of Ailill's host and Medb's and the great cunning of Fergus."

"Even so," said macRoth, "whatever the runners drunken with thine ale and thy viands have said, 'tis not for thee to heed nor mind, nor yet to be charged on Ailill and on Medb." "For all that, macRoth, this time I will not give my bull, if ever I can help it!"

Back then the messengers go till they arrive at Cruachan, the stronghold of Connacht. Medb asks their tidings, and macRoth makes known the same: that they had not brought his bull from Darè. "And the reason?" demanded Medb. MacRoth recounts to her how the dispute arose. "There is no need to polish knots over such affairs as that, macRoth; for it was known," said Medb, "if the Brown Bull of Cualnge would not be given with their will, he would be taken in their despite, and taken he shall be!"