Saturday, March 26, 2011
Daniel "Dan" Breen (Irish: Dónall Ó Braoin) (11 August 1894 – 27 December 1969) was a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and the Irish Civil War. In later years, he was a Fianna Fáil politician.
Dan Breen was born in Grange, Donohill parish, South Tipperary. His father died when Dan was six, leaving them very poor. Looking back on his upbringing in a family of tenant farmers, Breen recalled in a 1967 interview,
"I remember an Englishman asking me in England, oh, about thirty years ago, is it true that we kept the pig in the kitchen. 'No, we'd have him in the bedroom,' I said. 'If we didn't,' I said, 'we couldn't pay the rent to bastards like you.'"
Breen was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1912 and the Irish Volunteers in 1914. On 21 January 1919, the day the First Dáil met in Dublin, Breen took part in an ambush at Soloheadbeg. The ambush party, led by Seán Treacy, attacked a group of Royal Irish Constabulary men who were escorting explosives to a quarry. Two policemen were fatally shot during the ensuing gunfight. The ambush is considered to be the first battle of the Irish War of Independence.
He later recalled:
"...we took the action deliberately, having thought over the matter and talked it over between us. Treacy had stated to me that the only way of starting a war was to kill someone, and we wanted to start a war, so we intended to kill some of the police whom we looked upon as the foremost and most important branch of the enemy forces ... The only regret that we had following the ambush was that there were only two policemen in it, instead of the six we had expected..."
Another incident occurred in Dublin when he shot his way out through a British military cordon in the northern suburb of Drumcondra (Fernside) in which he and volunteer Sean Treacy escaped only for Treacy to be killed soon after. Breen was shot at least four times, twice of which were in the lung (the first being in the Knocklong rescue). He was present at the ambush in Ashtown on the Meath/Dublin border where Martin Savage was killed while trying to assassinate the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Sir John French, 1st Earl of Ypres.
In the June 1922 elections Breen was nominated as a candidate by both the pro- and anti-Treaty sides, but was not elected.
Breen was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1923 general election as a Republican, anti-Treaty Teachta Dála (TD) for the Tipperary constituency constituency. Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Breen joined the Anti-Treaty IRA in the unsuccessful civil war against his former comrades in arms. He was arrested by the National Army of the Irish Free State and interned at Limerick Prison. He spent two months here before going on a Hunger strike for 6 days followed by going on thirst strike for six days. Dan Breen was then released.
Breen published an account of his guerrilla days, My Fight for Irish Freedom in 1924. He represented the Tipperary constituency from the fourth Dáil in 1923 as a "Republican", along with Éamon de Valera and Frank Aiken. He became the first anti-Treaty TD to actually take his seat in 1927. He was defeated in the June 1927 general election and decided to travel to the United States where he opened a prohibition speakeasy. He returned to Ireland and regained his seat as a member of Fianna Fáil in the Dáil at the 1932 general election. During World War II he was known to hold largely pro-Axis views although he was not as some have suggested anti-Semitic.
In 1948, an Irish-American visited Breen and was shocked to see two pictures of Adolf Hitler on the wall of Breen's study. Breen explained to him:
"He fought for freedom but not for democracy".
He died in Dublin in 1969 and was buried in Donohill, near the place of his birth. His funeral was the largest seen in West Tipperary since his close friend and comrade-in-arms, Seán Treacy was buried at Kilfeacle in October 1920. An estimated attendance of 10,000 mourners assembled in the tiny hamlet, giving ample testimony to the esteem in which he was held. Breen was the subject of a 2007 biography, Dan Breen and the IRA by Joe Ambrose.
Born in Manchester, Boland was the son of a Roscommon father and a Louth mother. Shortly after his birth the family moved to Dublin where his father, who had been involved with the Fenian rescue in Manchester in 1867, found employment with the Dublin Corporation. The Boland family was not long in Dublin when the father was killed in a fight between Parnellites and Healyites for possession of the offices of the journal United Ireland. The family were plunged into poverty which was relieved somewhat when the [[Gaelic Athletic Association] organised a collection known as the "Boland Fund". The proceeds allowed Boland's mother to open a shop in Wexford Street.
After his national school education, Boland attended the O'Brien Institute in Fairview. He left school at fifteen and became an apprentice fitter at Broadstone Station. Instead of attending to his studies to secure an engineering diploma, Boland took Irish language and history classes at night. In spite of this he passed his engineering exams.
It was around this time that Boland was invited to take the secret oath and join the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He subsequently joined the Irish Volunteers when that organisation was established in 1913, serving in the same company as Arthur Griffith. When news broke out of the Easter Rising in 1916 Boland immediatley left his job in Crooksling, however, he was bitterly disappointed when he found out that the order was countermandered. When the rebellion began in earnest on Easter Monday, he made his way to Jacob's Mill where he fought under Thomas McDonagh. Following the official surrender, Boland was arrested and interned at Frongoch in Wales where he came into contact with other notable revolutionary leaders such as Michael Collins.
Boland was released after a general amnesty in December 1916, however, he remained involved in revolutionary circles. He was imprisoned in Belfast in 1918 at a time when a number of his colleagues secured their release by winning seats in the 1918 general election.
Boland remained involved with the IRB during the War of Independence and was opposed to the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.
Following the end of the Civil War, during which his brother Harry was killed, Boland helped to build up Sinn Féin as the main Republican party. While imprisoned he secured election to Dáil Éireann for Roscommon at the 1923 general election, however, in keeping with the Sinn Féin abstention policy he refused to take his seat. Upon his release Boland became secretary of the party.
By 1926, some TDs had become disillusioned with the policy of abstention that Sinn Féin had espoused. Party leader Éamon de Valera proposed that the party abandon this policy and take their seats in the Dáil if changes were made to the oath of allegiance to the British monarch. His proposal was defeated and de Valera and his supporters, including Boland, left Sinn Féin. Shortly after this split a new party emerged called Fianna Fáil, with de Valera acting as leader and the other disillusioned Republican TDs joining. The new party also had an abstentionist policy, however, in 1927 a new law forced Fianna Fáil TDs to take the oath of allegiance and take their seats in the Dáil. A general election shortly after saw Fianna Fáil come within four seats of the ruling Cumann na nGaedhael party. The latter formed a coalition of sorts with the Farmers' Party and returned to government.
Following the 1932 general election, Fianna Fáil formed a new government. Boland was appointed chief whip, a position which allowed him attend cabinet meetings but not vote at them.
Fianna Fáil remained in power with an increased mandate following the 1933 general election and Boland was promoted to the position of Minister for Posts and Telegraphs. In spite of being the minister in charge of the postal service Boland did not own a telephone until some time later. During his tenure the postal servive made considerable progress. It was also during this time that the Post Office became a paying concern. A cabinet reshuffle in 1936 saw Boland become Minister for Lands, before later taking on responsibility for Fisheries.
The outbreak of the Emergency in 1939 resulted in a number of new cabinet appointments and Boland became Minister for Justice. He took over at a time when the IRA were enjoying a resurgence and Boland was charged with the task of crushing the organisation. Although Boland had been a member of the Old IRA, he had little sympathy and took powers to order the internment of hundreds of IRA members before introducing military courts and special criminal courts.
In 1940 a number of imprisoned IRA members went on hunger strike, however, Boland refused to grant their release. Two of the men eventually died, one of whom was the nephew of one of Boland's Fianna Fáil colleagues. These deaths sparked reprisals by the IRA on the Garda Síochána. Boland subsequently introduced tougher measures by setting up a miliary court with the death penalty with no provision for appeal except for a review by the government. In all, twelve men were found guilty with six of them facing death and the remaining six having their sentences changed to imprisonment.
During the Emergency, Boland was also responsible for the detention of several foreign agents in pursuit of Ireland's strict policy of neutrality.
Following Fianna Fáil's loss of power after the 1948 general election Boland became spokesperson on Justice and was reappointed Minister for Justice when the party returned to government in 1951.
Boland did not seek ministerial office in 1957 when Fianna Fáil returned to power after its defeat in 1954. Family continuity was retained when his son, Kevin, was instead appointed to the cabinet as Minister for Defence.
At the 1961 general election, Boland faced electoral defeat for the first time in fourteen general election campaigns. In spite of losing his Dáil seat he subsequently secured elected to Seanad Éireann. Four years later in 1965 he returned to the Seanad, this time as a nominee by the Taoiseach Seán Lemass.
In 1970, the outbreak of the Arms Crisis saw Boland's son resign as minister and as secretary of Fianna Fáil in protest at the government's policy on Northern Ireland and in response to the sackings of Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney from the cabinet. Boland, in a similar protest, resigned as a vice-president and as a trustee of Fianna Fáil, although he remained a member of the party. He also articulated his loss of confidence in the leadership of Taoiseach Jack Lynch.
Gerald Boland died in Dublin at the age of 87 on 5 January 1973. His wife, Annie Boland, predeceased him in 1970. He was survived by his three daughters, Eileen, Máire and Nuala, and four sons, Kevin, Enda, Harry and Ciarán.
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Michael Kilroy was born in Derrylahan townland, Newport, County Mayo on the 14 September 1884. He was the son of Edward and Matilda Kilroy and one of ten in family. He was a carpenter and coachbuilder and learned his trade in Claremorris when he was 16 years and lodged with the Stratford Family in mount STreet, Claremorris. He was married to Ann Leonard of Crossmolina and they had eight in family. As a child he was raised with his maternal grandmother who was also Kilroy in the townland of Carrickaneady, Newport and went to school in Culmore in the 1890's where he was greatly influenced by the nationalistically minded Martin Casey, the Head Master. Mr. Casey instilled in his pupils a great love of Irish history that would remain with Kilroy all his life.
A booklet on the life of Michael Kilroy was published in 2008, Michael Kilroy - A Life 1884 - 1962 and is available in Mayo County Libraries.
The IRA in West Mayo was relatively quiet until January 1921, when Michael Kilroy, who was described as, "a puritanical and ascetic blacksmith" took over command of the brigade after the previous leader Thomas Derrig was arrested by the British.
There were four Battalions in the West Mayo Brigade, The First Battalion was in Castlebar, the Second Battalion was in Newport, the Third Battalion was in Westport and the Fourth Battalion was in Lousiburgh. In his earlier career with the Movement for Independence, Kilroy had been an organiser for the IRB in the west and had been one of the founder members of the Volunteer Company in Newport in February 1914 and was the O/C and also Quarter Master of the Mayo Brigade of the Irish Volunteers.
Kilroy formed a flying column of 40-50 men to carry out attacks on British forces in the area. On 6 May 1921, they suffered a reverse at Islandeady, when a British patrol came upon the IRA men cutting a road, 3 IRA members were killed and 2 captured.
Another setback was to follow; at the Kilmeena ambush on 19 May 1921, 6 IRA men were killed and 7 wounded. One Royal Irish Constabulary and one Black and Tans policemen were also killed in the action. After the ambush at Kilmeena the column retreated to the hill country of Skirdagh to the North east of Newport where they were forced to retreat when a patrol from Newport came into the village the gallant men of the West mayo brigade held them off and the wounded were got away to safety. This was on the 23 May 1921 and the column was hidden in the hills of the Nephin range and in the Glenisland area until the RIC, Tans and the Border regiment lifted the cordon. One volunteer from Newport was killed at Skirdagh and a number of the RIC including a District Inspector was killed. It was a crucial week in the survival of the column because they were attacked from the rear at kilmeena and could have been wiped out at this action.
The Crown forces burned houses including the home of Michael Kilroy on the 20 May 1921 and the same would happen after the Carrowkennedy Ambush in June 1921. The south west Mayo area suffered greatly during these months of 1921 due to the ambushes.
On the 2 June 1921 in an action at Carrowkennedy, they killed 8 Tans and captured 16 members of the RIC along with a Lewis Machine gun and rifles and ammunition. The Ambush began after the convoy or patrol left Darby Hastings pub at Carrowkennedy and one of the column fired early hitting the Driver of the first vehicle and after a protracted period of firing in which a number of Tans were killed, an explosion in one of the lorries brought an end to the firing. Two of the wounded Tans died later. The 16 RIC referred to earlier surrendered in a nearby cottage. The Column went on the run for the next six weeks until the Truce. The first casualty in the ambush was District Inspector Stevenson.
He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922 and sided with the Anti-Treaty IRA during the Civil War with the Irish Free State forces in 1922–23. He served on the Army Executive of the IRA in this period. in October 1922 he was appointed O/C of the 4th Western Division and later the Western Command in September 1922, the 4th Western Division covered North Mayo, West Mayo and West Connemara.
In the early months of the Civil War, he and his men dominated the West Mayo area and successfully ambushed Free State Army troops on several occasions. The Government forces also had to evacuate their garrison at Newport and Kilroy led a successful attack on Clifden, capturing the Army post there on 29 October 1922. They also captured Ballina in September 1922. They fought a battle at Glenamoy on the 16 September 1922 where 6 Free State Troops were killed and five wounded, one Republican Officer was wounded.
However the Free State then sent an expedition to the North Mayo/Connemara area, which succeeded after some fighting, in capturing Michael Kilroy and many of his men at Carrowbeg House on 23 November 1922. Kilroy was badly wounded and interned at Athlone and Mountjoy where he went on Hunger Strike and would escape in late 1923 when the Civil War was over.
KIlroy entered politics in August 1923 when whilst still in Gaol he was elcted for the Republicans for South Mayo but due to the Oath of Allegiance he did not take his seat.
Michael Kilroy was elected for Fianna Fáil in south Mayo in June 1927 and would be TD for South Mayo until 1937 when he lost his seat when contesting the General election in North Mayo in 1937. "Mr. Michael Kilroy".He did not take his seat in the 4th Dáil due to Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy.
He was the Chairman of Mayo County Council from 1934 to 1945, the longest serving member in this position in the history of the Council. From 1945 until his death on the 23 December 1962 he was a Member of the Hospitals Commission. He retired from politics in 1945. His funeral was one of the largest seen in Newport and along with many politicians, the then President Eamon de Valera was present. The Graveside oration was given by his comrade and fellow TD Edward Moane from Westport.
The Fianna Fáil Cummann in Newport is named in his honour and his son Peadar also was in local politics as a member of Mayo County Council.
He was elected as a Fianna Fáil TD at the June 1927 general election. He was re-elected at the September 1927, 1932 and 1933 general elections. He lost his seat at the 1937 general election.
He was elected at the 1923 general election to the 4th Dáil as Teachta Dála (TD) for Mayo North. In 1924, Coyle was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for bouncing cheques. Because his sentence was for more than six months, he was disqualified from the Oireachtas as from 7 May 1924 under Section 51 of the Electoral Act 1923. The by-election caused by his disqualification was won by John Madden of Sinn Féin.
Coyle remains the only TD to have been disqualified in this way. Other TDs who have been imprisoned, such as Tony Gregory in the 1980s, Liam Lawlor in 2002 or the Mayo Clann na Talmhan TDs Dominick Cafferky and Bernard Commons in the 1940s, received sentences of less than 6 months.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Francis Thomas (Frank) Aiken was born on 13 February 1898 at Camlough in County Armagh. He was educated in Newry by Irish Christian Brothers at Abbey Christian Brothers Grammar School and at St Colman's College, Newry, and in 1914 he joined the Irish Volunteers. Within a few years he became Chairman of the Armagh Comhairle Ceanntair of Sinn Féin and elected onto Armagh County Council. During the War of Independence he commanded the Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).
Aiken, operating from the south Armagh/north Louth area, was one of the most effective IRA commanders in Ulster during the conflict. In May 1920, he led 200 IRA men in an attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in Newtownhamilton, forcing the police to surrender and then burning the building and seizing the arms contained within. In December 1920, he led another assault, this time abortive, on the RIC station in his home village of Camlough. In reprisal the newly formed Ulster Special Constabulary burned Aiken's home and those of ten of his relatives in the Camlough area. From this point onwards, the conflict in Aiken's area took on an increasingly bitter and sectarian quality.
In April 1921, Aiken's IRA unit took a Protestant church congregation hostage in Creggan, County Armagh in order to ambush the Police and Special Constabulary arriving for the service. One Special was killed in ensuing ambush. Although Aiken then released the Protestant civilians unharmed, the incident heightened local sectarian animosity. Starting the following month, the Special Constabulary started shooting Catholic civilians in revenge for IRA attacks.
In June 1921, Aiken organised his most successful attack on the British military, when his men detonated a mine under a British troop train headed from Belfast to Dublin, killing the train guard, three cavalry soldiers and 63 of their horses. Shortly afterwards, the Specials took four Catholics from their homes in Bessbrook and Altnaveigh and killed them.
The cycle of violence continued in the area in the following year, despite a formal truce with the British as of 11 July 1921. Michael Collins organised a clandestine guerrilla offensive against the newly created entity of Northern Ireland in May 1922. For reasons that have never been properly determined, Aiken and his Fourth Northern Division never took part in the operation, although it was planned that they would. Nevertheless, the local IRA's inaction at this time did not end the bloodshed in South Armagh. Aiken has been accused by unionists of ethnic cleansing of Protestants from parts of South Armagh, Newry, and other parts of the north, in particular the killing of seven Protestant civilians in Altnaveigh in June 1922. The incident was a revenge attack for the killing the previous day of two local Catholics and the sexual assault of a woman by the Special Constabulary.
The IRA split over the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and this left Aiken ultimately aligned with the Anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War in spite of personal efforts to prevent division and civil war. Aiken tried to remain neutral and after fighting broke out between pro and anti treaty units in Dublin, he wrote to Richard Mulcahy, calling for a truce and the removal of the Oath of Allegiance (Ireland) from the Free State constitution. He took no part in the fighting until he was arrested, along with over 300 of his men, who were billeted in Dundalk by the Free State Army on 14 July. However, just ten days later he was freed in a raid on Dundalk prison. Then, on 14 August, he led a surprise attack of 300–400 anti-treaty IRA men on Dundalk. They blew holes in the army barracks there and rapidly took control of the town at a cost of just two of his men killed. The operation freed 240 republican prisoners and seized 400 rifles. However, while in possession of the town, Aiken publicly called for an end to the civil war. For the remainder of the conflict, Aiken and his unit remained at large, carrying out some guerrilla attacks on Free State forces; however, Aiken was never enthusiastic about the internecine struggle.
He succeeded Liam Lynch as IRA Chief of Staff in March 1923, and issued the cease fire and dump arms orders on 24 May 1923, that effectively ended the Irish Civil War. He remained Chief of Staff of the IRA until 12 November 1925.
Aiken was first elected to Dáil Éireann as a Sinn Féin candidate for Louth in 1923, continuing to be re-elected for Fianna Fáil at every election until his retirement from politics fifty years later. He entered the first Fianna Fáil government as Minister for Defence, later becoming Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures with responsibility for overseeing Ireland’s national defence and neutral position during the Second World War.
Aiken became a source of controversy in mid-1932 when he, along with Vice President of the Executive Council Seán T. O'Kelly publicly snubbed the Governor-General of the Irish Free State James McNeill, by staging a public walkout at a function in the French legation in Dublin. McNeill privately wrote to Éamon de Valera, the President of the Executive Council, to complain at what media reports called the "boorishness" of Aiken and O'Kelly's behaviour. While agreeing that the situation was "regrettable" de Valera, instead of chastising the ministers, suggested that the Governor-General inform the Executive Council of his social engagements to enable ministers to avoid attending ones he was at.
McNeill took offence at de Valera's response and against government advice, published his correspondence with de Valera. De Valera then formally advised King George V to dismiss the Governor-General. The King arranged a special deal between both men, whereby McNeill would retire from his post a few weeks earlier than planned, with the resignation coinciding with the dates de Valera had suggested for the dismissal.
Though the governor-generalship of the Irish Free State was controversial, the media and even anti-governor-generalship politicians in the opposition Labour Party publicly, and even members of de Valera's cabinet privately, criticised Aiken and O'Kelly for their treatment of McNeill, who all sides saw as a decent and honourable man. Aiken refused to discuss the affair later in life. De Valera later made amends by appointing Mrs McNeill as an Irish ambassador.
Aiken was Minister for Finance for three years following the war and was involved in economic post–war development, in the industrial, agricultural, educational and other spheres. However, it was his two periods as Minister for External Affairs that Aiken fulfilled his enormous political potential. As Foreign Minister he adopted where possible an independent stance for Ireland at the United Nations and other international forums such as the Council of Europe.
Despite a great deal of opposition, both at home and abroad, he stubbornly asserted the right of smaller UN member countries to discuss the representation of communist China at the General Assembly. Unable to bring the issue of the partition of Ireland to the UN (because of Britain's veto on the Security Council) and because of unwillingness of other Western nations to interfere in what these Western nations saw as British affairs at that time (the US taking a more ambiguous position), Aiken ensured that Ireland vigorously defended the rights of small nations such as Tibet and Hungary, nations whose problems he felt Ireland could identify with and had a moral obligation to help.
Aiken also supported the right of countries such as Algeria to self-determination and spoke out against apartheid in South Africa. Under Ireland’s policy of promoting the primacy of international law and reducing global tension at the height of the Cold War, Aiken promoted the idea of areas of law, which he believed would free the most tense regions around the world from the threat of nuclear war.
He also introduced the so-called 'Aiken Plan' to the United Nations in an effort to combine disarmament and peace in the Middle East, Ireland a country being on good terms with both Israel and many Arab countries. In the UN the Irish delegation sat between Iraq and Israel and formed a kind of physical 'buffer' and in the days of Aiken (who as a minister spent a lot of time with the UN delegation) both the Italians (who on their turn sat in the vicinity of the Iraqi delegation), the Irish and the Israeli claimed to be the one and only UN-delegation of New York, a city inhabited by many Irish, Jewish and Italians.
Aiken was also a champion of nuclear non-proliferation and he received the honour of being the first minister to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 in Moscow.
Aiken's impact as Minister for External Affairs was such that he is sometimes seen as the father of Irish foreign policy. His performance was praised in particular by a later Minister for Foreign Affairs, Fine Gael's Garret FitzGerald.
Aiken retired from Ministerial office and as Tánaiste in 1969. During the Arms Crisis, it is said that the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, turned to Aiken for advice on a number of issues. He retired from politics in 1973 due to the fact that Charles Haughey, whose style of politics Aiken strongly disliked, was allowed run as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the 1973 general election. Initially he planned to announce the reason for his decision but under pressure finally agreed to announce that he was retiring on medical advice.
After his retirement, outgoing President of Ireland, Éamon de Valera, sought to convince Aiken, one of his closest friends, to run for Fianna Fáil in the 1973 presidential election. However Aiken refused all requests to run and the party finally selected Erskine H. Childers to be its candidate. Childers won the election.
Shortly before his death, former Cumann na nGaedheal minister Ernest Blythe accused Aiken of publicly rudely snubbing him through his political career. He said that, because of his support for the Treaty and Aiken's opposition, Aiken would pointedly turn his back on him whenever they came into contact. Colleagues of Aiken confirmed the story and spoke of their embarrassment about it.
They contrasted his continuing bitterness towards Blythe with the cross party friendships of their colleagues Seán MacEntee (anti-treaty) and Desmond FitzGerald (pro-treaty) who after the divide re-established relationships and ensured their children held no civil war bitterness. Great rivals Éamon de Valera and W. T. Cosgrave, after years of enmity, also became reconciled in the 1960s. However Aiken refused to reconcile with former friends who had taken sides in the Civil War.
Frank Aiken died on 18 May 1983 in Dublin from natural causes at the age of 85. He was buried with full State honours in his native Camlough, County Armagh, Northern Ireland.
Aiken received many decorations and honours, including honorary doctorates from the National University of Ireland and University College Dublin. He was also a lifelong supporter of the Irish language. His son ran unsuccessfully in the 1987 and 1989 general elections for the Progressive Democrats. His wife died in a road accident in 1978.
Aiken Barracks, in Dundalk, County Louth is named after Frank Aiken and is the garrison for the 27 Infantry Battalion.
Today the extensive property owned by Frank Aiken in the Lamb's Cross area of County Dublin (lying between Sandyford and Stepaside) has been transformed into the landmark housing estate Aiken's Village.
Saint Patrick's Day is a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland, Newfoundland and Labrador and in Montserrat. It is also widely celebrated by the Irish diaspora, especially in places such as Great Britain, Canada, the United States, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and Montserrat, among others.
Little is known of Patrick's early life, though it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the 4th century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father and grandfather were deacons in the Church. At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken captive to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. According to his Confession, he was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity to the coast, where he would board a ship and return to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church in Auxerre in Gaul and studied to be a priest.
In 432, he again said that he was called back to Ireland, though as a bishop, to Christianise the Irish from their native polytheism. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Christian doctrine of the Trinity to the Irish people. After nearly thirty years of evangelism, he died on 17 March 461, and according to tradition, was buried at Downpatrick. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.
Originally, the colour associated with Saint Patrick was blue. Over the years, the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick's day grew. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. He is said to have used the shamrock, a three-leaved plant, to explain the Holy Trinity to the pagan Irish, and the wearing and display of shamrocks and shamrock-inspired designs have become a ubiquitous feature of the day.
In the 1798 rebellion, in hopes of making a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniforms on 17 March in hopes of catching public attention. The phrase "the wearing of the green", meaning to wear a shamrock on one's clothing, derives from a song of the same name.
Saint Patrick's feast day, as a kind of national day, was already being celebrated by the Irish in Europe in the ninth and tenth centuries. In later times he became more and more widely known as the patron of Ireland.
Saint Patrick's feast day was finally placed on the universal liturgical calendar in the Catholic Church due to the influence of Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding in the early 1600s. Saint Patrick's Day thus became a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. The church calendar avoids the observance of saints' feasts during certain solemnities, moving the saint's day to a time outside those periods. Saint Patrick's Day is occasionally affected by this requirement, when 17 March falls during Holy Week. This happened in 1940, when Saint Patrick's Day was observed on 3 April in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, where it was officially observed on 14 March (15 March being used for St. Joseph, which had to be moved from March 19), although the secular celebration still took place on 17 March. Saint Patrick's Day will not fall within Holy Week again until 2160. (In other countries, St. Patrick's feast day is also March 17, but liturgical celebration is omitted when impeded by Sunday or by Holy Week.)
In 1903, Saint Patrick's Day became an official public holiday in Ireland. This was thanks to the Bank Holiday (Ireland) Act 1903, an act of the United Kingdom Parliament introduced by Irish MP James O'Mara. O'Mara later introduced the law that required that pubs and bars be closed on 17 March after drinking got out of hand, a provision that was repealed in the 1970s. The first Saint Patrick's Day parade held in the Irish Free State was held in Dublin in 1931 and was reviewed by the then Minister of Defence Desmond Fitzgerald. Although secular celebrations now exist, the holiday remains a religious observance in Ireland, for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland.
In the mid-1990s the Irish government began a campaign to use Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. The government set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival, with the aim to:
- Offer a national festival that ranks amongst all of the greatest celebrations in the world and promote excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.
- Provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent, (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
- Project, internationally, an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.
The first Saint Patrick's Festival was held on 17 March 1996. In 1997, it became a three-day event, and by 2000 it was a four-day event. By 2006, the festival was five days long; more than 675,000 people attended the 2009 parade. Overall 2009's five day festival saw close to 1 million visitors, who took part in festivities that included concerts, outdoor theatre performances, and fireworks.
The topic of the 2004 St. Patrick's Symposium was "Talking Irish," during which the nature of Irish identity, economic success, and the future were discussed. Since 1996, there has been a greater emphasis on celebrating and projecting a fluid and inclusive notion of "Irishness" rather than an identity based around traditional religious or ethnic allegiance. The week around Saint Patrick's Day usually involves Irish language speakers using more Irish during seachtain na Gaeilge ("Irish Week").
As well as Dublin, many other cities, towns, and villages in Ireland hold their own parades and festivals, including Cork, Belfast, Derry, Galway, Kilkenny, Limerick, and Waterford.
The biggest celebrations outside Dublin are in Downpatrick, County Down, where Saint Patrick is rumoured to be buried. In 2004, according to Down District Council, the week-long St. Patrick's Festival had more than 2,000 participants and 82 floats, bands, and performers and was watched by more than 30,000 people.
The shortest St Patrick's Day parade in the world takes place in Dripsey, Cork. The parade lasts just 100 yards and travels between the village's two pubs.
Christian leaders in Ireland have expressed concern about the secularisation of St Patrick's Day. In The Word magazine's March 2007 issue, Fr. Vincent Twomey wrote, "It is time to reclaim St Patrick's Day as a church festival." He questioned the need for "mindless alcohol-fuelled revelry" and concluded that "it is time to bring the piety and the fun together."
Places associated with Saint Patrick
Slemish, County Antrim and Killala Bay, County Mayo When captured by raiders, there are two theories as to where Patrick was enslaved. One theory is that he herded sheep in the countryside around Slemish. Another theory is that Patrick herded sheep near Killala Bay, at a place called Fochill.
Saul, County Down (from Irish: Sabhall Phádraig, meaning "Patrick's barn") It is claimed that Patrick founded his first church in a barn at Saul, which was donated to him by a local chieftain called Dichu. It is also claimed that Patrick died at Saul or was brought there between his death and burial. Nearby, on the crest of Slieve Patrick, is a huge statue of Saint Patrick with bronze panels showing scenes from his life.
Hill of Slane, County Meath Muirchu moccu Machtheni, in his highly mythologized 7th century Life of Patrick, says that Patrick lit a Paschal fire on this hilltop in 433 CE in defiance of High King Laoire. The story says that the fire could not be doused by anyone but Patrick, and it was here that he explained the holy trinity using the shamrock.
Croagh Patrick, County Mayo (from Irish: Cruach Phádraig, meaning "Patrick's stack") It is claimed that Patrick climbed this mountain and fasted on its summit for the forty days of Lent. Croagh Patrick draws thousands of pilgrims who make the trek to the top on the last Sunday in July.
Lough Derg, County Donegal (from Irish: Loch Dearg, meaning "red lake")
It is claimed that Patrick killed a large serpent on this lake and that its blood turned the water red (hence the name). Each August, pilgrims spend three days fasting and praying there on Station Island.
Armagh, County Armagh It is claimed that Patrick founded a church here and proclaimed it to be the most holy church in Ireland. Armagh is today the primary seat of both the Catholic and Protestant Churches in Ireland and both cathedrals in the town are named after Patrick.
Downpatrick, County Down(from Irish: Dún Pádraig, meaning "Patrick's stronghold") It is claimed that Patrick was brought here after his death and buried in the grounds of Down Cathedral.
Other places named after Saint Patrick include:
- Ardpatrick, County Limerick (from Irish: Ard Pádraig, meaning "high place of Patrick")
- Patrickswell or Toberpatrick, County Limerick (from Irish: Tobar Phádraig, meaning "Patrick's well")
- St Patrick's Island, County Dublin
- St Patrick's Isle, off the Isle of Man
- Templepatrick, County Antrim (from Irish: Teampall Phádraig, meaning "Patrick's church")
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Sunday, March 6, 2011
He was elected at the 1923 general election as TD for Laois–Offaly, but never took his seat. He was convicted on 29 October 1925 of assaulting, resisiting and obstructing a sergeant of the Garda Síochána and of a similar charge relating to a Peace Officer. He was sentenced to 18 months imprisonment with hard labour.
He was therefore disqualified from membership of the Dáil on 30 November 1925 under section 51(2)(a) of the Electoral Act 1923.
The resulting by-election for his seat in the 4th Dáil was held on 18 February 1936, and won by the Cumann na nGaedhael candidate, James Dwyer.
He was elected to Dáil Éireann on his first attempt, at the 1923 general election, becoming the only Cumann na nGaedhael TD in the 4th Dáil from the 3-seat Kildare constituency. He was re-elected at the June 1927 general election and again at the September 1927 general election, but did not stand at the 1932 general election, when the Cumann na nGaedhael government was replaced by Fianna Fáil after ten years in office.
John M. O'Sullivan was born in Killarney, County Kerry in 1891. He was educated at St. Brendan's, Killarney, Clongowes Wood, Kildare, University College Dublin and the Universities of Bonn and Heidelberg where he was awarded the PhD. He was appointed to the Chair of Modern History at UCD in 1910 and was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1923 as a Cumann na nGaedhael TD for Kerry North. He was appointed to the Cabinet in 1926, serving under W. T. Cosgrave. In 1926 a report from the Second National Programme Conference was presented to John M. O'Sullivan as the then Minister for Education for Cumann na nGaedhael. The Minister accepted all proposals stated in the report to be recommended as a national curriculum. He served on the Irish delegation to the League of Nations, 1924 and 1928–30. He was elected at every election until 1943 when he lost his Dáil seat. He subsequently retired from politics.
O'Sullivan died in 1948, five years after retiring from politics.
He joined the Ballymacelligott company of the Irish Volunteers in 1914 and was involved in an abortive attempt by Roger Casement to land arms for the Easter Rising at Banna Strand in Kerry. After the rebellion he was interneed by the British at Frongoch in Wales for his role in the events. In April 1918, he led an arms raid on Gortalea Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in which two Volunteers were killed. It was one of the first acts of guerrilla warfare in the period.
McEllistrim served in the Irish Republican Army in Kerry throughout the Irish War of Independence of 1919–21. He was instrumental in the setting up of first an Active service unit (in June 1920) and then a larger "flying column", or full-time guerrilla unit in the IRA's Second Kerry Brigade in early 1921. His column fought in both the Clonbanin Ambush and the Headford Ambush in the spring of 1921. At the latter action, in which the IRA ambushed a train carrying British troops, Dan Allman, the leader of the flying column was killed, leaving McEllistrim in command.
According to historian T. Ryle Dwyer,
"McEllistrim arguably played as important a role in the War of Independence as Tom Barry or Dan Breen but he never wrote a book about his exploits, nor was he prepared to talk about them publicly... Even though McEllistrim sat in the Dáil for over forty years, he apparently never mentioned the period in Leinster House".He rejected the Anglo-Irish Treaty and fought in the Anti-Treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War of 1922–23. He was one of the senior IRA figures in Kerry during this conflict, under the command of Humphrey Murphy. In the war's early months, he commanded a Kerry column in the fighting in Limerick city and at the Battle of Kilmallock, before retreating back into Kerry and pursuing guerrilla warfare. In January 1923, he, along with John Joe Sheehy, led an attack on the National Army barracks at Castlemaine, using an improvised mortar.
McEllistrim was elected to the Dáil as TD for Kerry in August 1923, only months after the end of the civil war, as a republican candidate. He came third in the county with 7,277 votes. He remained a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry constituency, and later of Kerry North from 1926–69. After 1926 he followed much the republican leadership into Fianna Fáil. His son, Tom McEllistrim, and his grandson, also Tom McEllistrim have both represented the Kerry North constituency.
He was elected at the 1923 general election as Teachta Dála (TD) for the Galway constituency, but in accordance with Sinn Féin's abstentionist policy, he did not take his seat. He was defeated in the June 1927 general election, and did not stand again.
Born in Skehanagh, Eyrecourt, County Galway, he was returned unopposed as Member of Parliament for East Galway in the 4 December 1914 by-election for the Irish Parliamentary Party on the death of John Roche.
He did not contest the 1918 general election, and his seat was won by Liam Mellows of Sinn Féin.
He successfully ran as an Independent Nationalist in the 1923 general election. In the 1927 June and September elections, he unsuccessfully ran as a National League Party candidate.
In later years, he was associated with Fianna Fáil. He was later a member of Galway County Council and chairman of Ballinasloe Mental Hospital Committee.
Cosgrave remarried in 1923 and moved to Dublin, where he died at his residence at Baggot House, 91 Lower Baggot St. He is buried in Quansboro, Killimor, Co. Galway.
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Born Ernest Bernard Malley, he came from a middle-class Roman Catholic family in Mayo. He was the second of eleven children. His father, Luke Malley, was a clerk in the Congested Districts Board, which organised land reform in the west of Ireland. His family's politics were conservative nationalist, supporting the Irish Parliamentary Party. His first cousin, Gilbert Laithwaite, would become the British ambassador to Ireland in the 1950s. The Malleys moved to Dublin when Ernie was still a child and the 1911 census lists them living at 7 Iona Drive, Glasnevin. His older brother, Frank, joined the British Army at the outbreak of the First World War.
O'Malley was studying medicine at University College Dublin in 1916 when the Easter Rising convulsed the city, and he was almost persuaded by some Unionist friends to join them in defending Trinity College, Dublin from the rebels should they attempt to take it. After some thought, he decided his sympathies were with the rebels and he and a friend took some shots at British troops with a borrowed rifle during the fighting.
After the rising, O'Malley became deeply involved in Irish republican separatist activism, a fact he had to hide from his family, who had close ties to the establishment. In 1917, he joined the Irish Volunteers and also Conradh na Gaeilge.
He left his studies and worked as a full-time organiser for the IRA from 1918 on, work that brought him to almost every corner of Ireland. On one occasion he attended a semi-public meeting of the Ulster Volunteer Force in County Tyrone for intelligence purposes, and lamented that such able men were opposed to his ideals.
Although officially attached to IRA GHQ, O'Malley was tasked as a training officer for rural IRA units, which involved him in IRA operations throughout the country once the war got under way.
In February 1920, he and Eoin O'Duffy led an IRA attack on the Royal Irish Constabulary barracks in Ballytrain, County Monaghan, and were successful in taking it over. This was the first capture of an RIC barracks in the war.
In September, he and Liam Lynch led the 2nd County Cork Brigade in the only capture of a British army barracks in the conflict, in Mallow. They left with a haul of rifles, two Hotchkiss machine-guns and ammunition. The officers and soldiers later sacked the town, burning the town hall and the creamery, and ironically were only brought under control by members of the Auxiliary Division.
He was captured by the British in Kilkenny in December 1920, in possession of a handgun. Much to his disgust, he had failed to destroy his notes, which contained the names of all the members of the 7th West Kilkenny Brigade, all of whom were subsequently arrested. Having been badly beaten during his interrogation at Dublin Castle and in severe danger of execution, he escaped from Kilmainham Jail on 21 February 1921 along with two other I.R.A. men, through the aid of a sympathetic British soldier. At his arrest, he had identified himself as 'Bernard Stewart' and his true identity was unknown at the time of his escape. O'Malley was placed in command of the IRA's Second Southern Division in Munster, giving him responsibility for IRA operations in Limerick, Kilkenny and Tipperary.
His writings describe the often-vicious guerilla warfare fought in the martial law area in the south of Ireland. On one occasion, O'Malley ordered the killing of three captured British officers in reprisal for Army killings of IRA prisoners. In all his field activities, he displayed substantial courage and was wounded several times.
The British were aware of his role: while in custody under the alias "Bernard Stewart", he had seen a memorandum referring to a 'notorious rebel and officer of the IRA' named "Ernie O'Malley" whom they were very anxious to capture.
O'Malley objected to the Anglo-Irish Treaty that formally ended the "Tan War" (the term by which he and many other anti-Treaty Republicans preferred to refer to the War of Independence), opposing any settlement that fell short of an independent Irish Republic, particularly one backed up by British threats of restarting hostilities. He was one of the anti-Treaty IRA officers who occupied the Four Courts in Dublin, an event that helped to spark the Irish Civil War. O'Malley was appointed assistant chief of staff in the anti-treaty forces.
O'Malley surrendered to the Free State forces after two day's bombardment of the Four Courts but escaped captivity and travelled via the Wicklow Mountains to Blessington then County Wexford and finally County Carlow. This was probably fortunate for him, as four of the other Four Courts leaders were later executed. Thereafter, he was appointed commander of the anti-Treaty forces in the provinces of Ulster and Leinster, and lived a clandestine existence in Dublin.
In October 1922, he went to Dundalk and met with Frank Aiken commander of Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army and Dr. Padraig Quinn (quartermaster-general) to review plans for another attack on the Dundalk to free IRA soldiers from the Dundalk jail. While Aiken's men did manage to free the prisoners, they were unable to hold Dundalk and dispersed after the operation was over. This type of incident is reflective of O'Malley's frustration at the defensive strategy of Liam Lynch, chief of staff of the anti-treaty forces, which allowed the "Free Staters" (Irish Free State army) to build up their strength in preparation for a gradual take-over of areas of the country dominated by the "Irregulars". O'Malley expressed the view in his memoir, The Singing Flame, that the Anti-Treaty side needed to fight conventional warfare, as opposed to guerrilla warfare, if they were to win the civil war.
O'Malley was captured again after a shoot-out with Free State troops in the Ballsbridge area of Dublin city on 4 November 1922. O'Malley was severely wounded in the incident, being hit over twenty times (three bullets remained lodged in his back for the remainder of his life). A Free State soldier was also killed in the gun fight.
Fate was to intervene as the surgeon who attended to O'Malley was a former medical college classmate, and overstated the seriousness of the prisoner's wounds, saving O'Malley from execution by the Free State - whose policy by that time was to execute Anti-Treaty fighters captured in possession of weapons. It may also have been too much of a risk on the part of the Irish Free State to put to death an undisputed hero of the recent struggle against the British although O'Malley often feared that he was only hours from execution.
By the time O'Malley recovered from his wounds, the Civil War was over and he was transferred to Mountjoy prison. During this period of imprisonment, O'Malley went on hunger strike for forty-one days, in protest at the continued detention of IRA prisoners after the war. While on hunger strike, he was elected as a Sinn Féin TD for Dublin North in the 1923 general election. He was one of the last Republican prisoners to be released following the end of hostilities. At his family's suggestion, he took an extended vacation in Europe to recover his health, climbing mountains in the Pyrenees and Italy.
O'Malley returned to University College Dublin to continue his medical studies in 1926 where he was heavily involved in the university hillwalking club and Literary and Historical Society, but he left Ireland in 1928 without graduating. In 1928, he toured the USA on behalf of Éamon de Valera raising funds for the establishment of the new Irish Republican newspaper the Irish Press.
He spent the next few years travelling throughout the United States before arriving in Taos in New Mexico in 1930, where he lived among the native Americans for a time and began work on his account of the manuscript that would later become On Another Man's Wound. He fell in with Mabel Dodge Luhan and her artistic circle that included such figures as D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O'Keeffe, Paul Strand, Ella Young and Aaron Copland. Later that year he travelled to Mexico where he studied at the Mexico City University of the Arts and worked as a high school teacher. His US visa having expired, he slipped across the Rio Grande and returned to Taos where he worked as a teacher again until 1932 where he travelled to Depression-era New York, where he became well-known in literary and artistic circles. At this time he met Helen Hooker, a wealthy young sculptor and tennis player, whom he would later marry.
In 1934, O'Malley was granted a pension by the Fianna Fáil government as a combatant in the Irish War of Independence. Now possessed of a steady income, he married Helen Hooker in London on 27 September 1935 and returned to Ireland. The O'Malleys had three children and divided their time between Dublin and Burrishoole in Mayo. Hooker and O'Malley devoted themselves to the arts, she involved in sculpture and theatre, while he made his living as a writer.
In 1936, On Another Man's Wound was published to critical and commercial acclaim. O'Malley remained in neutral Ireland during The Emergency, involving himself as a member of the Local Security Force. However, during the war years the O'Malleys' marriage began to fail. Helen began to spend more and more time with her family in the United States and, in 1950, "kidnapped" two of the couple's three children and took them to live with her in Colorado. She divorced her husband in 1952. O'Malley kept their other son and sent him to boarding school in England. Ironically, despite his Republican politics, O'Malley was great admirer of the English Public School system of education.
He was friendly with the director John Ford, and actor John Wayne, whom he advised during the making of the film The Quiet Man.
Throughout his life, O'Malley endured considerable ill-health from the wounds and hardship he had suffered during his revolutionary days. As befitting a celebrated figure of the Irish War of Independence, he was given a state funeral after his death in 1957. A sculpture of Manannán mac Lir, donated by O'Malley's family, stands in the Mall in Castlebar, County Mayo.
O'Malley's political ideas were somewhat vague, apart from an absolute commitment to full Irish independence. He largely eschewed politics after the Civil War, describing himself as "a soldier" who "had fought and killed the enemies of my nation". He saw it as a "soldier's job to win the war and a politician's job to win the peace".
O'Malley's most celebrated writings are On Another Man's Wound, a memoir of the War of Independence, and The Singing Flame an account of his involvement in the Civil War. The two volumes were written during O'Malley's time in New York, New Mexico and Mexico City between 1929 and 1932.
On Another Man's Wound was published in London in 1936, although the seven pages detailing O'Malley's ill-treatment while under arrest in Dublin Castle were omitted. An unabridged version was published in America a year later under the title Army Without Banners: Adventures of an Irish Volunteer. Critical responses were enthusiastic: The New York Times described it as "a stirring and beautiful account of a deeply felt experience" while The New York Herald Tribune called it "a tale of heroic adventure told without rancor or rhetoric." It has rarely been out of print since. The book presents an unvarnished and complex picture of revolutionary struggle. In 1928, O'Malley defined his attitude in a letter to fellow-Republican Sheila Humphreys:
I have the bad and disagreeable habit of writing the truth as I see it, and not as other people (including yourself) realize it, in which we are a race of spiritualized idealists with a world idea of freedom, having nothing to learn for we have made no mistakes.In an Irish Times article of 1996, the writer John McGahern described On Another Man's Wound as "the one classic work to have emerged directly from the violence that led to independence", adding that it "deserves a permanent and honoured place in our literature."
Perhaps reflecting its more controversial theme in Ireland, The Singing Flame was not published until 1978, well after O'Malley's death. O'Malley also wrote another book on the revolutionary period, Raids and Rallies, describing his and other fighters' experiences. This book was based on a lengthy series of interviews he had conducted in the 1950s with former IRA men and ran as a highly popular serial in The Sunday Press from 1955 to 1956. In addition, O'Malley wrote large volumes of poetry and contributed to a literary and cultural magazine "The Bell", set up by his fellow republican Peadar O'Donnell.
O'Malley's extensive notes, compiled while he was an active IRA officer, are one of the best primary historical sources for the revolutionary period in Ireland, 1919–1923, from the republican perspective. They are now housed in the University College Dublin archives, to whom they were donated by O'Malley's son Cormac in 1974. Cormac O'Malley retains the bulk of the remainder of his father's personal papers, poetry, and some manuscripts in his New York residence.
His papers on the Civil War were published in 2008, under the title, No Surrenders Here! Ernie O'Malley's autobiographical works are the main inspiration behind the Ken Loach film The Wind That Shakes The Barley, and the character of Damien is based partly on O'Malley.
Finally, O'Malley's legacy may have had some tangible impact on the present day as Sir Patrick Mayhew, British secretary of state for Northern Ireland during the nascent peace process is rumoured to have been inspired by O'Malley's writings to understand the depth of Irish struggle.