March 2013

History Selection

Robert Emmet, born March 1778 Michael Davitt, born March 1846 Tom Clarke, March 1857 Peig Sayers, March 1873
Tomás Mac Curtain, born March 1884
Grace Gifford, born March 1888


On this Day: March
1st 1794 - The statutes of Dublin University were amended to allow in Catholic students.
1965 - Roger Casement's body was re-interred at Glasnevin Cemetery.
1981 - Bobby Sands began his hunger strike.
2nd 1797 - A campaign of martial law came into force.
1933 - Vote to remove the Oath of Allegiance carried.
1934 - Wearing of Uniform (Restriction) Bill carried.
3rd 1337 - Ordinance by King Edward III of England that landholders in Ireland should pay subsidy for defence of their marches.
1942 - Gas rationing introduced.
4th 1704 - A penal law 'to prevent the further browth of popery' restricted landholding rights for Catholics.
1867 - The Fenian uprising began in Ireland.
2001 - The Real IRA set off a bomb outside the BBC's main news centre in London.
5th 1867 - Fenian rising in Dublin, Tipperary, Limerick, Clare and Cork.
1936 - W. T. Cosgrave again nominated President of Fine Gael.
6th 1988 - The SAS controversially killed three IRA members in Gibraltar.
7th 1887 - The Times published the first in a series of article accusing Parnell of being involved in crime.
1957 - Fianna Fáil returned to power in the Republic.
1965 - Mass was said in the vernacular for the first time.
8th 1966 - Nelson's Pillar in Dublin blown up.
9th 1846 - 300 tenants evicted from Ballinglass.
1944 - The British government banned travel between Great Britain and Ireland.
10th 1932 - The new Fianna Fáil government released 23 political prisoners.
1934 - Women banned from National Athletic and Cycling Association events.
1944 - The United States alleged that Ireland's neutrality was acting in favour of the Axis Powers.
11th 1926 - De Valera resigned as President of Sinn Féin after one of his proposals is defeated.
12th 1689 - Williamite War began.
1766 - Blunden Baronetcy was created.
13th 1784  - Reform Bill in the Irish House of Commons.
1999 - Huge fireworks display in Dublin.
14th 1689 - Break of Dromore.
1984 - Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was shot and wounded.
1991 - The Birmingham Six were freed after 16 years wrongful imprisonment.
15th 1953 - 10,000 civil servants marched in Dublin, demanding a just wage.
16th 1939 - De Valera was greeted by Benito Mussolini in Rome.
1953 - President Roosevelt asked the American Congress to support a United Ireland.
1964 - Seán Lemass launched 'Ireland Week' in London.
1988 - Michael Stone killed three people at an IRA funeral.
1991 - Dublin became the European City of Culture.
17th 1931 - First St Patrick's Day parade in the Irish Free State.
1933 - Éamon de Valera gave the first State reception since the foundation of the Free State.
18th 1643 - Battle of New Ross.
1934 - General Eoin O'Duffy addressed 2,500 Blueshirts in the Trim Market Square.
1964 - The Agricultural Ministers of the North and the Republic, Harry West and Charles Haughey, met.
19th 1969 - Ireland received its first loan from the World Bank.
20th 1603 - O'Neil surrendered to Mountjoy, signing the Treaty of Mellifont.
1920 - Mayor of Cork Thomas MacCurtain killed by the RIC.
1935 - The army intervened in a bus strike by providing lorries for transport.
1941 - Bread rationing was introduced.
1979 - Huge anti-PAYE demonstration in Dublin.
21st 1770 - First meeting of the College Historical Society, founded by Edmund Burke.
2001 - Ireland confirmed its first case of foot and mouth disease in many years.
22nd 1949 - The Irish government leased a residence in the Phoenix Park to the United States for 99 years.
1969 - Civil rights demonstrations all over Northern Ireland.
1987 - Irish National Lottery launched.
23rd 1847  - The Choctaw Indians set up a collection on behalf of Irish famine victims.
1976
 - The EEC rejected Ireland's appeal for derogation from its directive on equal pay for men and women.
24th 1310 - Kildare Parliament.
1968 - An Aer Lingus plane, St Phelim, crashed near the Tuskar Rock killing 57 people.
1972 - Announcement of the end of Stormont.
25th 1347 - Lord Nicholas de Verdun was buried at Drogheda 'with great splendour', while Lady Isabella Palmer who had 'lived about 70 years religiously and honourably in her widowhood' was buried in Kilkenny.
26th 1642 - Siege of Drogheda broken by English reinforcements.
1719 - The Dependency of Ireland on Great Britain Act, also known as the Declaratory Act 1720, was passed.
1980 - End to Special Category Status for political prisoners in Northern Ireland announced.
27th 1650 - Kilkenny surrendered to Cromwell.
1935
- 72 Republicans arrested in the Free State.
28th 1772 - Act passed to suppress Steelboy disturbances.
29th 1887 - Irish Crimes Act introduced in response to the National Land League's boycott of landlords.
1940 - Fire destroyed the upper part of St Patrick's College, Maynooth.
1970 - Disturbances in Derry following a march to commemorate the Easter Rising.
30th 1849 - Doolough Tragedy: famine victims were forced to walk through the night to appeal for famine relief, resulting in many deaths.
1850 - The RMS Royal Adelaide, which had left Cork three days earlier, sank with a loss of nearly 300 lives.
1939 - The Treason Bill passed its final reading at Dáil Éireann.
1979 - The Irish government ended the parity of the Irish pound with sterling.
31st 1976 - Sallins Train Robbery.
1978 - 6000 people protested the building of civic offices on a Viking site.
1999 - Irish Land Commission dissolved after 108 years existence.


Children in early 20th Century Ireland

Children in Dublin

Children living in a cottage

Little children and a man outside a cottage

Children in Dublin and the countryside during the 1920s and 1930s
Book Review

This Great Calamity: The Irish Famine 1845 - 52

Author:     Christine Kinealy

Publisher:     Gill & MacMillan Ltd, Dublin

Date published:  1994

This Great Calamity by Christine Kinealy

In 1851, the publishers of the Irish census recorded: 'the results are, on the whole, satisfactory, demonstrating as they do the general advancement of the country'. Almost two million people had died or fled the country in the space of six years.

In this clear, academic account, Kinealy chronicles the years leading up to the Great Hunger, its devastating impact and the bungled response of the British Government, which in the words of a Derry clergyman amounted to 'murder.. under the name of economy'.

It was September 1845 when 'the potato murrain unequivocally declared itself in Ireland'. A month later, half the crop had been destroyed. With some 40% of the population dependent on potatoes as the mainstay of their diet, British Prime Minister Robert Peel privately admitted that the country was on the brink of disaster. Preparations were made for relief, and Peel fought the Corn Law, which kept food prices artificially high. Yet the prevailing economic wisdom ran that the market should not be disrupted. If possible, private enterprise and charity should save the day. As the famine worsened, its victims were put to work on projects that would not affect trade: building roads and flattening hills. Food continued to be exported from the country, and prices remained too high for many to pay. Only the destitute and near-destitute could be admitted to workhouses, meaning people were forced to give up what little they possessed. Some committed crime in order to be sent to prison, where they would at least be fed. Thousands emigrated on overcrowded 'coffin ships', so called because of the high death rate among the passengers. The workhouse authorities campaigned for more funding, but Charles Trevelyan, Permanent Secretary of the British Treasury, was reluctant to help. In his view, the landlords and business people of Ireland should take responsibility. To him, the 'scarcity' would result in 'indirect permanent advantages'. The British press mixed sympathy with criticism of the Irish people, accusing them of 'inveterate indolence, improvidence [and] disorder'. As a result, while the crisis grew, the amount of support from both government and charity dwindled, and hundreds of thousands died of hunger, disease and cold.


A Second Jacobean Journal

Being a record of those things most talked of during the years 1607 to 1610

G. B. Harrison

Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1958

(These are not contemporary reports)

Hugh O'Neill

27th September 1607. My L. of Salisbury rebuketh Sir Charles Cornwallis the Ambassador in Spain because in his letters he neglects those things done on the sea coasts, such as what number of ships are in the Groin, Seville and Lisbon, nor hath he gained one natural Spaniard to reveal a secret for a reward, insomuch that his advertisements are either generalities or things rather to be accounted news than intelligences. As for his treating with the Spanish King in the matter of Tyrone, he shall make light of it, saying that without the King of Spain those Irish are poor worms upon Earth; and if the King of Spain should think it time to begin with Ireland, our King will show the Spaniards that he sends there as fair a way as they were taught before.
Hugh O'Neill

Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone
28th September 1608. It now appeareth that Tyrone, before his flight, came several times to the L. Deputy complaining of his journey into England (whither he had been summoned because the Deputy had referred his cause against Sir Donald O’Cahane to the King and the Privy Council) because between the shortness of the time and his present poverty he was not able to furnish himself as became him for such a journey. He took leave in a more sad and passionate manner than he used at other times, and thence went to Mellifont, Sir Garret Moore’s house, where he wept abundantly when he took his leave, giving a solemn farewell to every child and servant in the house. From thence he went to Dundalk, where he rested two nights, and on the next travelled all night with his impediments (his wife and children). It is likewise reported that the Countess his wife, being exceeding weary, slipped down from her horse, and weeping said she could go no further. Whereupon the Earl drew his sword and swore a great oath that he would kill her in that place if she would not pass with him and put on a more cheerful countenance. Next day he came to Lough Foyle where the Governor invited him and his son to dinner, but such was their haste that they went over to Rathmullin where the Earl of Tyrconnell and his company met them. There Tyrconnell sent for the foster father of his brother’s son, bidding him bring the child to him, but he being met by the way by the Baron of Dungannon and the child’s father, they took the child violently from him, which terrified the foster father so that he escaped by the swiftness of his horse. Of this child they have a blind superstitious prophecy because he was born with six toes upon one foot; for they affirm a prophecy that when such a one, being of the sept of O’Donnel, shall be born, he shall drive all Englishmen out of Ireland.

Nevertheless in many ways this departure is providential to make the King repair the error committed in making these men proprietary Lords of so large a territory without regard of the freeholders’ rights or of the King’s service. Wherefore the Deputy propoundeth that the King shall take their countries into his possession, divide the land amongst the inhabitants (to every man of note as much as he can conveniently stock and manure), and bestow the rest upon servitors and men of worth in Ireland, and withal bring in colonies of civil people of England and Scotland with condition to build castles and storehouses upon their lands; and further that the forts shall be repaired and new forts built. Then will there be no need to spend the revenues in the reducing and defence of that Realm from time to time as has been customary for many hundred years heretofore.

29th September 1607. The Council have written to Sir Arthur Chichester, the L. Deputy, to seize the fugitive Earls’ lands, taking their peaceable inhabitants into his protection. A proclamation shall be published to declare to the world the justice of the King’s proceedings, for he mercifully pardoned their former treasons and bestowed great honours on them: they had no grievances, not even in that cloak for all treasons, Religion. Tyrone, on being sent for to England, hath declared his own conscience guilty of treasons which can be proved upon their indictments. For the plantation which is to follow upon attainder, the King approves the Deputy’s project and is resolved to make a mixture of the inhabitants, as well Irish as English and Scottish; and in the plantation generally to observer two cautions: that such as be planted shall not be needy but of reasonable sufficiency to maintain their portions, and that none shall have a vast but only a reasonable proportion. Before this plantation can be digested and executed, much must be prepared by the Deputy so that the King may be better informed of the lands to be divided.

13th October 1607. Tyrone with his company is landed in France, whence he is resolved to pass through the Archduke’s country, where his son is, towards Rome. He was shrewdly tossed at sea and met with contrary winds from Spain. When the French King heard he was in Spain, he spoke much of the discourtesy the King of Spain would offer if he should give them any favour, but now being wished to stay them in his own country till our King might be advertised, he changed his style and said that France was free.

27th October 1607. The Deputy complains that of late, and especially since the flight of the two Earls, priests and Jesuits daily flock into Ireland in greater numbers than ever before, so that they vaunt they have more priests than the King has soldiers. They land secretly in every port, a dozen of them together sometimes, and afterwards disperse themselves into every town and county. They have so gained the women that they are in a manner all recusants. Most of the mayors and principal officers refuse to take the Oath of Supremacy. In many places the people resort to Mass in greater multitudes, and if it chance that a priest known to be facetious be apprehended both men and women will not stick to rescue him. These priests have so far withdrawn the people from all fear of the law and loyalty towards the King that such as are conformed and go to church are everywhere derided, scorned and oppressed by the multitude.

5th November 1607. The Archbishop of Cashel has complained that divers in Ireland have plotted by indirect courses to bring him into question and hazard of his life for his good service to the State and his profession; but the Privy Council knowing how church livings are ordered generally in Ireland doubt whether (if he be as faulty as he is charged) it would be convenient to proceed so strictly against him, his old age considered and the many faults of the like kind so common in Ireland; for many ill-affected subjects would be glad that one of his place and profession should be deprived for such faults and frauds.

7th November 1607. My L. Danvers prepares to go to Munster with all speed and great care is taken for the safety of Ireland to prevent the conspiracies and invasion of Tyrone who yet stirs not.

15th November 1607. There is come forth a proclamation concerning the flight of the Earls of Tyrone and Tyrconnell, declaring that the only cause of their flight is the knowledge of their own guiltiness, and denying that any proceedings against them were intended for cause of religion, nor was there any question of their rights and possessions. Affirmeth that they had entered into a combination for stirring up sedition and rebellion, and directed divers instruments (priests and others) to make offer to foreign States and Princes; and this proclamation is set forth to discredit all untruths to the contrary.

28th November 1607. Tyrone and the rest of the company are not fled to Spain as was thought but landed in France. Thereupon our Ambassador presented himself to the King to demand that they might be stayed till his Majesty might be advertised of it and his further pleasure known therein. To this the French King replied that France was an open country for passengers, and besides it appeared for anything he knew that they were retired out of this country for matters of religion and private discontent. Thereupon they are gone into the Archduke’s country without coming to Paris or speaking to the French King. When Sir Thomas Edmondes likewise insisted upon their staying he received the like answer. Moreover they were carried to the Archduke’s presence and have been publicly feasted at Bruxelles by the Marquis Spinda and are now placed at Louvain. Thence it is said, leaving their wives at Louvain, Tyrone with Tyrconnell and M. Guyre are to take their journey to Rome, and so to Spain.

21st January 1608. Tyrone begins to find himself cheated of his hopes and is trying to obtain pardon. He has not only written to the King, attempting to justify his flight, but he has also approached the English Ambassador in the Low Countries. The King of Spain has not yet granted him access to Spain, and the Archduke has fixed the time of his departure. Nothing remains for him but the Pope who, it is said, shows little wish to receive him in Rome lest greater trouble be caused in Ireland, and also because he would be spared the expense of keeping him.

28th January 1608. The fugitive Irish Earls and their adherents have been indicted in two counties in Ireland and a true bill found against them by a jury of 23 gentlemen of best quality, whereof 13 were of the Irish nation. The bill was ready publicly both in English and in Irish, and the evidence delivered. The jury were readily persuaded to find the bill against both Earls. But because the rest of their followers named in the bill were charged with the treason in as high a degree as the Earls themselves, 16 jurors conceived a doubt because it was very probable that many of them knew not of the Earls’ practices; and some were reported to have left the Kingdom unwillingly. To satisfy them on this point they were told an indictment was but an accusation and no conviction; and that such as adhered to a known traitor might justly be accused to be partakers of his treasons. They made another scruple, that the indictment charged the Earls that they imagined the destruction of the King’s person, whereas no part of the evidence proved so much. To this it was answered that if the Earls practised to deprive the King of his Crown (which every rebel endeavours to do), it follows as a necessary condition that they imagined the death of the King; for he that would take the King’s crown from his head, would likewise (if he could) take his head from his shoulders; and he that would not suffer the King to reign, if it lay in his power, would not suffer him to live. Being satisfied on these points, the jurors within an hour found the bill true, and returned it subscribed in their names.
28th April 1608. News is come from Ireland of a new revolt. On 18th and 19th April Sir Cahir O’Dogherty, seconded with Phelim Reagh McDavid, surprised the castle and fort of Culmore, took spoil of the little town of Derry and burnt it to the ground, and slew Sir George Pawlett. O’Dogherty first came to Capt. Hart (who commanded the fort at Culmore), and amongst other things, tells him how unkindly his lady takes it that none of all the gentlewomen ever comes to see her; and yet she is well born and bred, amongst the best and civilest kind of ladies and gentlewomen in that Kingdom; and so desires Capt. Hart to bring his wife with him to dinner, which he does. After dinner, O’Doherty draws Hart into an upper room, and there begins to declare that he is so hotly pursued by his enemies, especially Sir George Pawlett, that he is in great danger of his life; and now that Hart is in his hands he must either deliver the place or resolve to die. So the captain is disarmed and left in custody. Sir Cahir O'Doherty's rebellion

Sir Cahir O'Doherty's rebellion
Then O’Dogherty told Hart’s wife that if she or he did not take present course for the delivery of Culmore into his hands, both they and their children should die, and as many as were therein. She, like one distracted, fell at his feet and cried for pity; but O’Dogherty uttered such bloody threats that she, being terrified and amazed, yielded to do what was in her power for the saving of their lives, choosing rather (as she said) to stand to the mercy of the King than to perish with her infants at his hands. So O’Dogherty made them both ride along with him; and when they came within a quarter of a mile of the house, being about 11 o’clock at night, he left Hart with 6 of his kerne in the bog, and took Hart’s wife with himself and about 20 in his company, calling to the watch within to come forth and help their Captain, for he had broken his arm by a fall from the horse, and lay hard by not able to help himself. This the poor men did, not mistrusting any such treachery; and no sooner were they out of the door but they were taken, and the house immediately entered, and the rest that were lodged without surprised and taken in their beds. Then O’Dogherty sent for Hart, and put him and all the rest in the cellar and there locked them in.

From Culmore, the rebels, being about 90 in number, marched on and came to Derry by 2 o’clock in the morning, and there divided themselves into two bodies; the one, where O’Dogherty was, assaulted the nether fort; and the other, conducted by Phelim, entered on the backside of the Governor’s, came into the court, and brake open the doors; whereat George Pawlett escaped in the dark to Ancient Corbet’s house, where in a short space Phelim killed him. Lieutenant Gordon, lying in his chamber, heard the shot and issued forth naked upon the rampier toward the court of guard with his rapier and dagger, where with one soldier of the company, he set upon the enemy and killed two of them; but the enemy being far more in number, one struck him on the forehead with a stone; whereat being somewhat amazed, they rushed upon him and killed him and the soldier also. Ancient Corbet, meeting with Phelim within the higher fort, fought with and wounded him, and would by all likelihood have killed him if one of the rebels had not come behind him and cut off his leg; and so he too was killed by the enemy. The upper fort being taken by the rebels was immediately burnt. O’Dogherty with the other half of the rebels assaulted the nether fort, and finding the watchmen asleep, entered without resistance, and there killed M. Harris, Undersheriff of Donegal.

In the town Lieutenant Baker gathered together some 16 of the townsmen, one of the sheriffs, and 4 soldiers, and with these went to the nether fort with resolution to retake it, but in the gate he was wounded in the shoulder by O’Dogherty with a pike. Whereat, seeing his company but few and the rebels many, he retired to the town, and there gathered 6 or 7 score men, women and children, and manned the house of Sheriff Babington, and kept the same. Likewise he manned the house of the Bishop of Derry with his own men and two or three soldiers, and brought the Bishop’s wife and gentlewoman into the house, thinking them most safe with him. The two houses were kept until the next day about noon, in which time they killed 8 of the enemy and hurt 7, and lost but one of their company and one hurt. But the rebels being strong and increasing, the Lieutenant having many with him and destitute of victuals and munition, and seeing a piece brought by the enemy from Culmore and ready mounted to batter the houses, out of all hope of relief and wearied with the lamentable outcry of women and children, after much parley and many messages to and from, yielded the houses upon condition that every man should depart with his sword and clothes, and likewise all the women (except Mrs. Susan Montgomery, the Bishop’s wife who is kept prisoner by O’Dogherty). O’Dogherty now returned to Culmore and there released his prisoners, declaring that it was not blood that he sought for.

The chief cause of this disaster is said to be Sir George Pawlett, who was regarded by the L. Deputy as unfit for command; for the discipline of nightly watching was altogether neglected by him, as was well known to the rebels. He was so odious to the soldiers and the rest of the townsmen that they would have done him a mischief in the tumult if he had escaped the rebels and come in amongst them.