March 2017

History Selection

Queenstown/Cobh in 1890
Funeral of civilians killed on Lusitania
Lusitania funeral
Victorian Battleship at Cobh/Queenstown
Cathedral in Cobh/Queenstown
West Beach in Cobh/Queenstown
West Beach


Ireland in 2003

January 9th: In a statement, the IRA described the Northern Ireland peace process as 'under threat'

January 21st: The Spire of Dublin on O'Connell Street was officially completed.

January 29th: Death of Mary Reid, one of the 'Irish of Vincennes' who had been falsley arrested in France on terrorism charges.

February 15th: 100,000 people in Dublin and 30,000 in Belfast marched against the imminent invasion of Iraq.

February 16th: Death of Seán Ó Cionnaith, prominent member of The Workers' Party.

Construction of the spire in Dublin

Construction of the spire in Dublin

George Bush, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern meet in 2003

George Bush, Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern meet in 2003

March 11th: Death of Brian Cleeve, writer and television broadcaster.

April 6th: Ian Malone, member of the British Army's Irish Guards, was shot dead in Iraq.

April 7th: United States president George W. Bush arrived in Northern Ireland for discussions with British Prime Minister Tony as well as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and the leaders of the pro-agreement parties.

April 10th: The British and Irish governments suspended a blueprint for devolution in Northern Ireland.

May 1st: British Prime Minister Tony Blair postponed assembly elections until the autumn because the IRA's position was unclear. Blair accused the IRA of refusing to rule out all paramilitary-related behaviour.

May 6th: The IRA released a statement on the peace process.

May 17th: David Trimble narrowly won the backing of the UUP and London and Dublin's proposals.

May 28th: Death of James Plunkett, author of Strumpet City.

June 21st: The 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games were opened by Nelson Mandela in Croke Park, Dublin.

Nelson Mandela at the Special Olympics

Nelson Mandela at the Special Olympics

Kieran Kelly, jockey

Kieran Kelly, jockey

July 16th: Death of James Kelly, former Irish Army officer cleared of attempted to import arms for the IRA in the 1970 Arms Trial.

August 8th: Kieran Kelly, top jump jockey, was involved in a racing accident. He died four days later at the age of 25.

August 31st: The remains of Jean McConville, the Belfast mother murdered by the PIRA in 1972, were finally found.

September 4th: Richard Kerr, former deputy director of the CIA, joined the four-strong Independent Monitoring Commission.

September 15th: The All-Ireland Football Final was contested for the first time between two teams from the same province. Tyrone defeated Armagh.

September 28th: Death of Proinsias Mac Aonghusa, journalist and president of Conradh na Gaeilge.

October 21st: The IRA endorsed a statement by Gerry Adams on republican commitment to disarmament. Arms chief John de Chastelain said that a third act of IRA decommissioning had been witnessed, but Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble stated that this was not enough.

October 22nd: Talks resumed to try and break the impasse.

November 25th: The contents of Lissadell House in County Sligo were auctioned.

November 27th: An election took place in Northern Ireland, with the DUP and Sinn Féin making massive gains at the expensive of more moderate parties.

Proinsias Mac Aonghusa

Proinsias Mac Aonghusa

Archbishop Michael Courtney

Archbishop Michael Courtney

December 18th: Rebel Ulster Unionist MP Jeffrey Donaldson quit the party along with two newly-elected assembly members.

December 22nd: David Trimble announced his intention to remain leader of the UUP.

December 29th: Archbiship Michael Courtney, Apostolic Nuncio to Burundi, was assassinated.

December 31st: Death of Gerald Goldberg, the first Jewish Lord Mayor of Cork.

Pages from the Book of Kells

Image from the Book of Kells

Image from the Book of Kells

Image from the Book of Kells

Image from the Book of Kells

Image from the Book of Kells

Image from the Book of Kells

Irish History on Film

Derry, City at War

Creggan, 1979

The Wild Irish Girl

Sydney, Lady Morgan


I had previously sent my baggage, and was happily unincumbered with a servant, for the fastidious delicacy of Monsieur Laval would never have been adequate to the fatigues of a pedestrian tour through a country wild and mountainous as his own native Savoy. But to me every difficulty was an effort of some good genius chasing the demon of lethargy from the usurpations of my mind's empire: Every obstacle that called for exertion was a temporary revival of latent energy ; and every unforced effort worth an age of indolent indulgence.

To him who derives gratification from the embellished labours of art, rather than the simple but sublime operation of nature, Irish scenery will afford little interest ; but the bold features of its varying landscape, the stupendous attitude of its "cloud capt" mountains, the impervious gloom of its deep embosomed glens, the savage desolation of its uncultivated heaths, and boundless bogs, with those rich veins of a picturesque champaigne, thrown at intervals into gay expansion by the hand of nature, awaken in the mind of the poetic or pictoral traveller, all the pleasures of tasteful enjoyment, all the sublime emotions of a rapt imagination. And if the glowing fancy of Claude Loraine would have dwelt enraptured on the paradisial charms of English landscape, the superior genius of Salvator Rosa would have reposed its eagle wing amidst those scenes of mysterious sublimity, with which the wildly magnificent landscape of Ireland abounds. But the liberality of nature appears to me to be here but frugally assisted by the donations of art. Here agriculture appears in the least felicitous of her aspects. The rich treasures of Ceres seldom wave their golden heads over the earth's fertile bosom ; the verdant drapery of young plantations rarely skreens out the coarser features of a rigid soil, the cheerless aspect of a gloomy bog ; while the unvaried surface of the perpetual pasturage which satisfies the eye of the interested grazier, disappoints the glance of the tasteful spectator.

Within twenty miles of Bally---- I was literally dropt by the stage at the foot of a mountain, to which your native Wrekin is but a hillock. The dawn was just risen, and flung its gray and reserved tints on a scene of which the mountain- ous region of Capel Cerig will give you the most adequate idea.

Mountain rising over mountain, swelled like an amphitheatre to those clouds which, faintly tinged with the sun's prelusive beams, and rising from the earthly summits where they had reposed, incorporated with the kindling aether of a purer atmosphere.

All was silent and solitary — a tranquility tinged with terror, a sort of "delightful horror," breathed on every side. — I was alone, and felt like the presiding genius of desolation!

As I had previously learned my route, after a minute's contemplation of the scene before me, I pursued my solitary ramble along a steep and trackless path, which wound gradually down towards a great lake, an almost miniature sea, that lay embosomed amidst those stupendous heights whose rugged forms, now bare, desolate, and barren, now clothed with yellow furze and creeping underwood, or crowned with misnic forests, appeared towering above my head in endless variety. The progress of the sun convinced me that mine must have been slow, as it was perpetually interrupted by pauses of curiosity and admiration, and by long and many lapses of thoughtful reverie ; and fearing that I had lost my way (as I had not yet caught a view of the village, in which, seven miles distant from the spot where I had left the stage, I was assured I should find an excellent breakfast,) I ascended that part of the mountain where, on one of its vivid points, a something like a human habitation hung suspended, and where I hoped to obtain a carte du pays: the exterior of this hut, or cabin, as it is called, like the few I had seen which were not built of mud, resembled in one instance the magic palace of Chaucer, and was erected with loose stones,

"Which, cunningly, were without mortar laid."

thinly thatched with straw ; an aperture in the roof served rather to admit the air than emit the smoke, a circumstance to which the wretched inhabitants of those wretched hovels seem so perfectly naturalized, that they live in a constant state of fumigation; and a fracture in the side wall (meant I suppose as a substitute for a casement) was stuffed with straw, while the door, off its hinges, was laid across the threshhold, as a barrier to a little crying boy, who sitting within, bemoaned his captivity in a tone of voice not quite so mellifluous as that which Mons. Sanctyon ascribes to the crying children of a certain district in Persia, but perfectly in unison with the vocal exertions of the companion of his imprisonment, a large sow. I approached — removed the barrier : the boy and the animal escaped together, and I found myself alone in the centre of this miserable asylum of human wretchedness — the residence of an Irish peasant. To those who have only contemplated this useful order of society in England, "where every rood of ground maintains its man," and where the peasant liberally enjoys the comforts as well as the necessaries of life, the wretched picture which the interior of an Irish cabin presents, would be at once an object of compassion and disgust.*

Almost suffocated, and not surprised that it was deserted pro tempo, I hastened away, and was attracted towards a ruinous barn by a full chorus of female voices — where a group of young females were seated round an old hag who formed the centre of the circle ; they were all busily employed at their wheels, which I observed went merrily round in exact time with their song, and so intently were they engaged by both, that my proximity was unperceived. At last the song ceased — the wheel stood still — and every eye was fixed on the old primum mobile of the circle, who, after a short pause, began a solo that gave much satisfaction to her young auditors, and taking up the strain, they again turned their wheels round in unison. — The whole was sung in Irish, and as soon as I was observed, suddenly ceased ; the girls looked down and tittered — and the old woman addressed me sans ceremonie, and in a language I now heard for the first time.

Supposing that some one among the number must understand English, I explained with all possible politeness the cause of my intrusion on this little harmonic society. The old woman looked up in my face and shook her head ; I thought contemptuously— while the young ones, stifling their smiles, exchanged looks of compassion doubtlessly at my ignorance of their language.

* Sometimes excavated from a hill, sometimes erected with loose stones, but most generally built of mud, the cabin is divided into two apartments, the one littered with straw and coarse rugs, and sometimes, (but very rarely) furnished with the luxury of a chaff bed, serves as a dormitory not only to the family of both sexes, but in general to any animal they are so fortunate as to possess ; the other chamber answers for every purpose of domesticity, though almost destitute of every domestic implement, except the iron pot in which the potatoes are boiled, and the stool on which they are flung. From those wretched hovels (which often appears amidst scenes that might furnish the richest models to poetic imitation) it is common to behold a group of children rush forth at the sound of a horse's foot, or carriage wheel, regardless of the season's rigours, in a perfect state of nudity, or covered with the drapery of wretchedness, which gives to their appearance a still stronger character of poverty ; yet even in these miserable huts you will seldom find the spirit of urbanity absent —the genius of hospitality never. I remember meeting with an instance of both, that made a deep impression on my heart; in the autumn of 1804, in the course of a morning ramble with a charming Englishwoman, in the county of Sligo, I stopped to rest myself in a cabin, while she proceeded to pay a visit to the respectable family of the O'H-----s, of Nymph's Field: when I entered I found it occupied by an old woman and her three granddaughters ; two of the young women were employed scutching flax, the other in some domestic employment. I was instantly hailed with the most cordial welcome ; the hearth was cleared, the old woman's seat forced on me, eggs and potatoes roasted, and an apology for the deficiency of bread politely made, while the manners or my hostesses betrayed a courtesy that almost amounted to adulation. They had all laid by their work on my entrance, and when I requested I might not interrupt their avocations, one of them replied "I hope we know better — we can work any day, but we cannot any day have such a body as you under our roof." Surely this was not the manners of a cabin but a court.