September 2012

History Selection

Isaac Butt, born September 1813
Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa, born September 1831
John Dillon, born September 1851
Roger Casement, born September 1864
Éamonn Ceannt, born September 1881
Seán Mac Eoin, born September 1893

On this Day: September
1st 1914 - A protest by locked-out workers led to serious riots in Dublin.
1939 - The Irish government declared a state of emergeny.
1994 - The Transition Year was introduced in all secondary schools.
2nd 1946 - The Emergency Powers Act lapsed.
3rd 1649 - Siege of Droghega began.
1787 - The Leslie Baronetcy was created, becoming extinct in 1818.
4th 1907 - Sinn Féin disrupted an Irish Parliamentary Party meeting.
5th 1926 - 48 people died in a temporary cinema in Dromcolliher when it caught fire.
1954 - KLM Flight 633 crashed leaving Shannon airport, killing 27 people.
6th 1899 - The Countess of Shaftesbury laid the foundation stone of St Anne's Cathedral in Belfast.
1994 - John Hume, the Taoiseach Albert Reynolds and Gerry Adams meet to pledge support for
7th 1599 - The Earl of Essex made an authorised truce with Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone.
8th 1893 - Second Home Rule Bill rejected by the Lords.
1921 - David Lloyd George made a final offer to Éamon de Valera.
1933 - Fine Gael founded.
9th 1362 - Death of John de St Paul, Archbishop of Dublin.
1887 - Three men were killed by the police at an Irish National League demonstration at Mitchelstown.
1922 - First meeting of the Provisional Parliament (Third Dáil).
10th 1580 - 600 papal troops landed at Smerwick in Kerry to support the rebellion, but were soon massacred.
1763 - The 'Freeman's Journal' began publication in Dublin.
1928 - Irish pound issued.
11th 1649 - Sack of Drogheda by Oliver Cromwell.
12th 1919 - The Dáil Éireann was declared illegal.
1938 - Éamon de Valera was elected President of the Assembly of the League of Nations.
1997 - Mary Robinson resigned as President of Ireland to take up a post at the United Nations.
13th 1845 - The Gardener's Chronicle announced that the potato blight has appeared in Ireland.
1914 - Roger Casement met the German military attaché Franz von Papen in Washingto
14th 1607 - Flight of the Earls.
1921 - Sinn Féin put together a delegation to meet Lloyd George in London; it included Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith.
15th 1647 - Sack of Cashel by Parliamentarian forces.
16th 1953 - Eamon de Valera and Winston Churcill met at Downing Street, their only meeting.
17th 1913 - Edward Carson declared that a Provisional Government would be set up if Home Rule were enacted.
18th 1867 - Thomas J. Kelly and Timothy Deasy escaped while being transferred to jail in Manchester.
1922 - Constitution of Saorstát Éireann Bill introduced by W. T. Cosgrave.
19th 1923 - Fourth Dáil met for the first time at Leinster House.
20th 1600 - Beginning of the Battle of Moyry Pass.
1803 - Execution of Robert Emmet
21st 1795 - Battle of the Diamond.
22nd 1959 - First conference of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, which was not recognised by Northern Ireland.
23rd 1798 - Battle of Killala, the last major engagement of the 1798 Rising.
1992 - The IRA destroyed Belfast's forensic science laboratory.
24th 1973 - Irish Foreign Minister Garret Fitzgerald announced the formation of an Executive for Northern Ireland and of a Council of Ireland, the reform of the RUC and civil service.
25th 1971 - Rally in Dublin in support of civil disobedience in Northern Ireland.
1996 - Last Magdalene asylum, in Waterford, closed.
26th 1932 - Éamon de Valera gave his inaugural speech as President of the League of Nations.
27th 1913 -  12,000 Ulster Volunteers paraded at Balmoral to protest Home Rule.
28th 1912 - 'Ulster Day' on which the Ulster Covenant was signed.
2001 - Journalist Martin O'Hagan was killed by loyalists.
29th 1979 - Pope John Paul II arrives in Ireland for a three-day visit.
30th 1942 - Winston Churchill spoke in Parliament on the subject of armed raids from Eire into Northern Ireland.
1971 - The DUP was launched by Ian Paisley and Desmond Boal.

Image from History

Fishermen at Greencastle in the early twentieth century

Fishermen at Greencastle

Greencastle, located on the north coast of the Inishowen Peninsula, was named for the Norman castle that still stands  today. In Irish, the town is known as An Caisleán Nua. Greencastle was once a busy fishing port, and its first pier was constructed in 1813. Today, ferries and cruise ships use this quiet port town as a disembarkation point.

Visiting Greencastle during the 1940s, the author Harry Percival Swann recorded that 'we had a ramble round the old ivy-mantled Norman castle erected by Richard de Burgh in the 14th century... An invitation to a local ceilidhe was readily accepted, and greatly enjoyed until the small hours of the morning'.
Book Review

Those Are Real Bullets, Aren't They?

Author: Peter Pringle, Philip Jacobson

Publisher:  Fourth Estate

Date published: 2011

Those are Real Bullets, Aren't They

Bloody Sunday 1972: the day a civil rights march in Derry led to carnage. Narrated by journalists who covered events at the time, this book delves into the fate of the victims in unflinching detail. One of the first struck down, John Johnston, had not even been on the march. Marshall Paddy Doherty was cut down while trying to crawl to safety. Thinking to save him, Barney McGuigan stepped out waving a white flag; he was shot where he stood. Businessman Gerry McKinney died in an alley. The Paras picked up bodies by their hair and feet and slung them into a Pig; wounded survivors were mistreated, the bereaved were mocked, and soldiers tried to prevent first aiders from treating the wounded. Nail bombs mysteriously appeared on the body of an unarmed teenager and the law-abiding Joe Friel was falsely accused of carrying a gun. This is the human story of Bloody Sunday, a must-read for anyone who wants to understand the massacre that unfolded on January 30th 1972.

A Survey of the Irish in England


Letter IX

4th September, 1872

Passing northward to the mining and manufacturing districts of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the chief centres of Irish power and influence are Derby, Nottingham, and Chesterfield. The Irish element interspersed with the town and village population of the other parts of Derby, Nottingham, and Lincolnshire is large but subdivided, and scattered in the hamlets and farmsteads lying between Derby and Hull, and still further north, through East Yorkshire, to the confines of Durham. One can only approximate their numbers, which is unquestionably large, but their political power and social influence are so small as to produce little or no influence on the community. The Irish agricultural labourer in England is, indeed, the Pariah of his race – a being whose lot is toil unsweetened by that kindly sympathy and social freedom which nature and custom have endeared to him, and without which he is lonely as the Bedouin in the desert.  The town mentioned, however, have a considerable Irish element in their population, and these, as I have said, are the centres where the semi-nomads of the agricultural districts meet and commune with their own race and kindred.

Irish women working in a British factory

Irish women working in a British factory

Nineteenth century

In Derby, with a population of about 50,000, the Irish people muster some 3,000 strong – and here, considering their numbers, relatively their political and social influence is considerable and increasing. Politically they experience little hostility, and for years the town has been remarkable for tolerance in religious matters, and for the kindly feeling and harmony prevailing among all creeds and classes. The Catholic population, which is mainly Irish, has its legitimate influence in the affairs of the town generally, and, in proportion to its numbers and the position of its members, contrasts, in this respect, most favourably with the Irish people in all the other towns I have visited. The church and school accommodation is ample, and on the school board and in municipal matters the Catholic element is represented and respected. It is not surprising to find that the moral and religious condition of the Irish people of Derby is exceptionally good, and that the clergymen in charge of the mission look forward to even a much better state of things in the future.

Nottingham has an Irish population something larger than that of Derby, but – except in the patriotic spirit of a large population of the people – in other respects not so satisfactory. Indeed, it may be said that the destructive influences at work in Nottingham are as injurious to the Irish people morally and materially as in any town in England. The Nottingham “lambs” have attained to a questionable notoriety in connexion with election affairs in the borough; but these “lambs” after all, are but the natural offshoots of the community. Roebuck was the proper, because the characteristic, representative of such a people, and till the town returns him again there will be no poetic compensation in its politics. In such a community, and forced by imperious circumstances to associate with the lowest of the population, the condition of the Irish people in too many instances is deplorable. In one district of the town – almost wholly Irish – much has been done by the zeal and practical energy of an earnest and self-sacrificing Irish priest – the Rev. Mr. Harnett – to banish the multiform demons that assail the faith and virtue of his flock. But, though here and elsewhere in the town, the peculiar virtues of the Irish people distinguish them from their neighbours, the stamp of vice is too plainly on the community. Drink and evil example are sapping the virtue of the people, and dragging down hundreds to the level of their surroundings. But here, as elsewhere, are found the patriotic, the good, and the true – men whose fidelity to fatherland remains the same through all time and under all circumstances. The branch Home Rule Association is but one evidence of the spirit and patriotic feeling of the Irishmen of Nottingham. Within the association are to be found zealous workers, and trained and long-tried political judgment and sagacity; and still outside of it, too much of the true and sterling manhood, whose co-operation is essential to its influence and power. The requirement of the hour is unity and organisation. With these, the Irish people of Nottingham can do much to aid the patriotic labours of their kindred at home. Without the preparation, of which these are the elements, the real strength and influence which they possess and can exercise will be but imperfectly applied, and hence lose half its effect.

There is an Irish population in Chesterfield numbering nearly 3,000, and including the surrounding mining district, fully 5,000. The growth of the population is but recent. As a consequence, scarcely any of this large number are to be found outside the ranks of labour; but the wages are good, the average being about 25s a week, and the general condition of the people in other respects satisfactory. There is sufficient church accommodation both in the town and neighbourhood, and the schools are very commodious and in a high state of efficiency. The Jesuit Fathers, who serve the mission at Chesterfield, speak in very favourable terms of the conduct, morals, and habits of the Irish people, as contrasted with their English fellow-labourers in the mines and works. Their one vice is drink. Their honour and honesty are most remarkable. Petty larceny and the class of crimes which come within the jurisdiction of the local magistrates are almost unknown amongst the Irish population of the neighbourhood. There is much, indeed, in the present condition and future prospects of the Irish population of this locality that is hopeful and promising, contrasting most pleasantly with what is to be seen and anticipated of their kindred in other places.

From Chesterfield to Hull, with the exception of Doncaster, there is little of an Irish element to be met with. In Doncaster and neighbourhood there is, perhaps, an Irish population of 1,000; and in Hull, from 5,000 to 6,000. Of this number, with the exception of a few persons employed in the Customs and Excise, all are in the lowest ranks of labour. Indeed, to say that they are low in other respects, too, would be but conveying an inadequate idea of their condition. Here, as elsewhere, are the good, the pious, and the patriotic; but in no other town in England is there a larger proportion of the Irish population fallen and lost. Hull is the only town I have known where whole families have separated themselves in idea and sentiment from their kindred, and, renegades to Faith and Fatherland, have ranged themselves on the side of England and infidelity. The general moral state of the town is low, and the condition of the Irish population corresponds with its surroundings. It would be but painful to particularise. It is enough to say that what is true of the worst part of London applies here, only that the loss is greater in proportion to population. The Irish here have neither political power nor influence, socially. They number less than one-twentieth of the population, and these in the very lowest grade. They furnish, indeed, the worst example of the evils of the exodus, and bring home with most striking force to the mind and heart of the moralist, the nationalist, the Christian, the criminal iniquity of the system that roots out from their home and disperses a virtuous people, and dooms them thus to fester and rot in the vice and corruption of English towns.

In the towns of West Yorkshire, as in all other places where labour wins bread and perseverance competence, we meet with an Irish population possessing power, position, and intelligence, and exercising in every relation of life a marked influence on the communities among whom they reside. There is but little to vary the lot of the Irish residents in the Yorkshire towns; and the description which suits the one may be taken generally to apply to all. In all, or nearly all of them, the Irish population is so large as to exercise a political influence sufficient to rule the destinies of parties. In Leeds the Irish population is estimated at from 22,000 to 25,000. Including the surrounding districts, the Irish population certainly amounts to the latter figure. Dewsbury has 4,000, and the surrounding districts 3,000, Irish residents; Huddersfield, nearly 3,000; Wakefield, an equal number; Barnsley, 2,000; Halifax, from 5,000 to 6,000; Bradford, from 20,000 to 25,000, in a population of 146,000. In nearly all of these towns the power of political parties is so nearly balanced that, with proper organisation and preparation, the issue of an electoral contest would depend on the Irish vote. We shall hereafter see that the power of the Irish population in the Lancashire towns is still greater. These districts are the chief strongholds of the “Liberal party”; and to these they look with confidence to swell the majority which sustains them in power. Hitherto, in the conflict of parties, the Liberals always could rely on the Irish vote. Henceforth the Irish vote will be held for the service of Ireland, irrespective of the needs of English political parties. To exact conditions for Ireland, or – failing in that – to make government by party so unstable as to be practically inoperative for legislative purposes, should in every instance be the aim of the Irish residents in the English towns. This I have taken it upon myself to advise, and the advice, I have reason to believe, will be acted on wherever the Irish force is sufficiently powerful to decide the battle of parties. Our business is to restore party equilibrium, and prevent either of the rivals from weighing the scale, so that the possession of power will depend on whether we choose to kick the beam and destroy the equipoise of the party. This is a proceeding which, so far, I should think has never entered into the calculations of the rival factions in Westminster. That its adoption is our wisest policy, I think few will doubt. That the Irish in numbers of the English constituencies possess the power to accomplish it is certain. For proof that they mean to do it I cite one instance, the precedent furnished by which is sure to rule in twenty. I quote from an Irish gentleman in Bradford, whose patriotism and eloquence are only exceeded by the keen introspection of his intellect and the sagacity with which he gauges the measure of success in the future by a wise application of the forces we possess in the present. Speaking of the town in which he resides, and having previously stated that the Irish are as one to seven of the population, he says:

Since the establishment of household suffrage the number of Irish voters (parliamentary) is roughly estimated at 3,000. As the total number of electors in the borough is just over 21,000, the proportion of one-seventh shows itself here also. The strength of political parties in the borough being very nearly balanced, it follows that at the present time, and for so far into the future as this relative division of parties continues, the decision of every contested parliamentary election lies absolutely in the Irish vote. This was proved conclusively at the last election. At that time, however, the Irish in Bradford were entirely without organisation, and the power they possessed became, in consequence, a source of no small danger. Both parties, aware that success depended on the Irish vote, used the most unscrupulous means to secure it, and succeeded only too well with a large number of the less sagacious and intelligent of our people. By means of sham Irish committees, which were only blinds for treating, &c., ad libitum, they managed to degrade and corrupt a considerable number. The election was thereby vitiated and the member (Mr. Reply) unseated. If there had been an organisation capable of guiding the Irish vote, this would have been prevented. The Home Rule Association now promises to supply that great want, and hence its establishment and success have given great annoyance to the leaders of both parties – Whig and Tory alike. They see in the Irish Home Rule Association a rising power which will preserve the Irish vote in the Bradford from becoming (what they wish it to be) a mere tool for the advancement of party purposes.
Emigrants from Ireland in the 1840s

Irish emigrants in the 1840s

Cartoon appearing in Punch

Hitherto the Irish vote was a constant quantity in the equation of English parties. The Whigs – or, as Sam Slick called them, “the weakest and smallest party, but that which always cheats at cards”, and “aint above looking into the hands of their adversaries” – regarded the Irish vote as their special patrimony. But it is not an inheritance of theirs after all. The Irish vote in England is held only for Ireland – and for that purpose, and that only, should it, or will it be exercised. I have no particular affection for the Tories, but I certainly should not regret to witness their restoration to power. They could give us nothing worse than Coercion Acts, Arms Acts, and Press Gagging Acts, nor could they treat with more supercilious contempt the expressed wishes of the Irish people than has our present Liberal administration presided over by “the people’s William”. Hartington and Keogh are its types and representative in Ireland. The battue in the Phoenix Park is an evidence of the liberal impartiality of its administration – the Galway Judgement of its sense of equity. The fitting retribution for its misdeeds will come with the fullest poetic justice from the Irish in England. Their defeat by the expatriated Irish will teach them that even in England, Ireland is a power, and that the people who a few years since were “gone with a vengeance”, live to requite the sympathy then shown for their sufferings by bringing home the “Irish difficulty” to their doors, and giving them the most striking proof that the cause of Irish nationality is as irrepressible as centuries of coercion and proscription have proved it to be indestructible.