November 2012

History Selection


Oliver Plunkett, born November 1629
Jonathan Swift, born November 1667
Oliver Goldsmith, born November 1730 John Mitchel, born November 1815 Bram Stoker, born November 1847 C.S. Lewis, born November 1898

On this Day: November
1st 1883 - Mater Infirmorm Hospital in Belfast took in its first patients.
1920 - 18-year-old Kevin Barry was executed for killing a British soldier.
2nd 1583 - Earl of Desmond killed near Tralee by the O'Moriarty clan. Their chief received 1000 pounds of silver from the English government.
1719 - The Toleration Act received Royal Assent.
3rd 1324 - Petronilla de Meath became the first person to be burned at the stake for heresy.
1592 - Former Lord Deputy of Ireland Sir John Perrot died in the Tower of London.
1766 - The Parnell Baronetcy was created.
4th 1957 - Éamon de Valera attended the coronation of Pope John Paul XXIII.
2001 - The Police Service of Northern Ireland was established.
5th 1705 - The Dublin Gazette, official newspaper of the British Government in Ireland, published its first edition.
6th 1981 - The Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald made an agreement with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to establish an Anglo-Irish Inter-Governmental Council .
7th 1580 - Siege of Smerwick began.
1940 - Éamon de Valera let it be known that Irish ports would not be handed over to the British.
8th 1949 - Street names in any language other than English were banned in Northern Ireland.
1960 - Nine Irish soldiers serving with the United Nations were killed in the Congo.
1987
- The IRA killed eleven people at a Rememberance Service in Enniskillen.
9th 1907 - The Irish International Exhibition ended after six months.
1919 - Labour leader James Larkin was arrested in New York for attempting to overthrow a government.
10th 1761 - The 'manifesto of intolerance' or 'Black Petition' against Catholics was signed in Galway.
11th 1583 - Earl of Desmond killed at Glenaginty.
12th 1957 - Brendan Behan's Borstal Boy was banned by censors.
13th 1579 - Youghall sacked by the Earl of Desmond.
14th 1866 St Peter's Cathedral in Belfast was dedicated.
1923
- William Butler Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
15th 1985 - Taoiseach Charles Haughey and British PM Margaret Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement.
16th 1994 - The Fianna Fáil-Labour coalition collapsed.
17th 1890 -  Captain Willie O'Shea divorced Kitty O'Shea, naming Charles Stewart Parnell as co-respondent.
1926
- Following the killing of two gardaí, President W.T. Cosgrave introduced the Public Safety (Emergency Powers) Bill.
1948 - The Republic of Ireland Act 1948, aimed at repealing the External Relations Act of 1936, was introduced in Dáil Éireann.
18th 1688 - Irish immigrant Ann 'Goody' Glover became the last person to be hanged in Boston, America, as a witch.
19th 1798 - Death of Theobald Wolfe Tone in Provost's Prison, Dublin.
1913 - The Irish Citizen Army was founded by James Connolly to protect workers in the general lockout.
20th 1936 - General Eoin O'Duffy led 600 men to fight for Franco in Spain.
21st 1920 - Bloody Sunday. Following the assassinations of 14 undercover British agents by Michael Collins' men,  British forces killed 12 people at a GAA football match at Croke Park.
22nd 1932 - The Prince of Wales opened the new parliament building in Belfast.
23rd 1867 - William O'Mera Allen, Michael Larkin and William O'Brien were executed at Manchester.
24th 1922 - Erskine Childers was executed for the possession of a gun which Michael Collins had given him as a Christmas present.
1995
- A referendum in the Republic narrowly passed in favour of allowing divorce.
25th 1890 - Charles Stewart Parnell was re-elected leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.
1892
- Douglas Hyde delivered a lecture to the Irish National Literary Society on 'the necessity of de-anglicising the Irish people'.
1913 - The Irish Volunteers were founded.
1948 - The Republic of Ireland Act was passed in Dáil Éireann.
26th 1998 - Tony Blair became the first British Prime Minister to address the Oireachtas.
27th 1977 - The co-founder of the Guinness Book of World Records, Ross McWhirter, was killed by the IRA.
28th 1783 - Henry Flood introduced a reform bill, after submitting it to the Volunteer Convention. It would be rejected on the grounds that the volunteers threatened the freedom of parliament.
1905 - Sinn Féin founded.
1913 - Andrew Bonar Law addressed a huge Unionist rally in the Theatre Royal in Dublin, encouraging Ulster to resist Home Rule.
1920 - A flying column led by Tom Barry killed 16 Auxiliaries at Kilmichael in County Cork.
29th 1641 - Battle of Julianstown.
30th 1947 - A sixty day transport strike ended in Dublin.
1956 - Petrol rationing was introduced in response to the Suez Crisis.


Images from History

Newgate Prison, London

Newgate Prison in London, where John Mitchel was incarcerated in 1848

Republican journalist and Young Irelander John Mitchel was confined to Newgate Prison in London on a charge of sedition. The window of his cell can be seen in the drawing above - the top floor, fifth from the left. While at Newgate, Mitchel wrote 'As I sit here, and write in my lonely cell, I hear, just dying away, the measured tramp of ten thousand marching men—my gallant Confederates, unarmed and silent, but with hearts like bended bow, waiting till the time comes. They have marched past my prison windows to let me know that there are ten thousand fighting men in Dublin'.

Bermuda, 1848
Prison ships in Bermuda, 1848

Following his conviction by a 'packed jury', Mitchel was sent to Bermuda, where his described his daily life, his struggle against ill health and his political ideals in his Jail Journal.

John Mitchel's handwriting in a letter
John Mitchel's handwriting
Book Review

To Hell or Barbados

Author:     Sean O'Callaghan

Publisher:     Brandon

Date published:  2000

To Hell or Barbados by Sean Callaghan

Between 1652 and 1659, more than 50,000 Irish men, women and children were sold into slavery in Barbados and North America. Journalist and historian Sean O'Callaghan explores why this happened and what became of the victims.

Oliver Cromwell had decimated Ireland in 1649, believing he had inflicted 'the righteous judgement of God upon these barbarous wretches'. The conflict came to a close in 1652. England sent its 34,000 Irish prisoners into European exile and passed 'The Act of Good Affection', which allowed for the forcible transplantation of the Irish into Connaught. The price of rebellion was death or transportation to Barbados. O'Callaghan dates the beginning of the ethnic cleansing of Ireland to 24th August 1652, when Commissioners gained the power to transport anyone they felt was a threat to the Commonwealth. Nobody, including the 'delicately reared' sons of noble families, was safe. The female relatives and children of soldiers who had been exiled were also 'sold to merchants' rather than the women be 'exposed to prostitution'. This was a cynical move, and only halted when 'dealers in Irish flesh began to seize the daughters and children of the English themselves'. Once in Barbados, the slaves worked on sugar plantations. As O'Callaghan describes, the difference between the slaves and indentured servants in the West Indies was hope. Servants would one day be free. Slaves were trapped for life. Their only possible escape appeared to lie in violent rebellion.


Triumph of Irish Independence

A speech by Henry Grattan, April 16th, 1782

The Irish Parliament

MR. GRATTAN rose, and spoke as follows:

I am now to address a free people: ages have passed away, and this is the first moment in which you could be distinguished by that appellation.

I have spoken on the subject of your liberty so often, that I have nothing to add, and have only to admire by what Heaven-directed steps you have proceeded until the whole faculty of the nation is braced up to the act of her own deliverance.

I found Ireland on her knees, I watched over her with a paternal solicitude; I have traced her progress from injuries to arms, and from arms to liberty. Spirit of Swift! spirit of Molyneux! your genius has prevailed! Ireland is now a nation! in that new character I hail her! and bowing to her august presence, I say, Esto perpetua!

She is no longer a wretched colony, returning thanks to her governor for his rapine, and to her king for his oppression; nor is she now a squabbling, fretful sectary, perplexing her little wits, and firing her furious statutes with bigotry, sophistry, disabilities, and death, to transmit to posterity insignificance and war.

Henry Grattan
Henry Grattan
Look to the rest of Europe, and contemplate yourself, and be satisfied. Holland lives on the memory of past achievements; Sweden has lost liberty; England has sullied her great name by an attempt to enslave her colonies. You are the only people – you of the nations of Europe, are now the only people who excite admiration, and in your present conduct you not only exceed the present generation, but you equal the past. I am not afraid to turn back and look antiquity in the face: the revolution – that great event, whether you call it ancient or modern I know not, was tarnished with bigotry: the great deliverer (for such I must ever call the Prince of Nassan) was blemished with oppression; he assented to, he was forced to assent to, acts which deprived the Catholics of religious, and all the Irish of civil and commercial rights, though the Irish were the only subjects in these islands who had fought in his defence. But you have sought liberty on her own principle: see the Presbyterians of Bangor petition for the freedom of the Catholics of Munster. You, with difficulties innumerable, with dangers not few, have done what your ancestors wished, but could not accomplish, and what your posterity may preserve, but will never equal – you have moulded the jarring elements of your country into a nation, and have rivalled those great and ancient commonwealths, whom you were taught to admire, and among whom you are now to be recorded: in this proceeding you had not the advantages which were common to other great countries; no monuments, no trophies, none of those outward and visible signs of greatness, such as inspire mankind, and connect the ambition of the age which is coming on with the example of that going off, and forms the descent and concatenation of glory: no, you have not had any great act recorded among all your misfortunes, nor have you one public tomb to assemble the crowd, and speak to the living the language of integrity and freedom.

Your historians did not supply the want of monuments; on the contrary, these narrators of your misfortunes, who should have felt for your wrongs, and have punished your oppressors with oppressions, natural scourges, the moral indignation of history, compromised with public villainy and trembled; they excited your violence, they suppressed your provocation, and wrote in the chain which entrammelled their country. I am come to break that chain, and I congratulate my country, who, without any of the advantages I speak of, going forth as it were with nothing but a stone and a sling, and what oppression could not take away – the favour of Heaven, accomplished her own redemption, and left you nothing to add and everything to admire.

You want no trophy now; the records of Parliament are the evidence of your glory: I beg to observe, that the deliverance of Ireland has proceeded from her own right hand; I rejoice at it, for had the great requisition of your freedom proceeded from the bounty of England, that great work would have been defective both in renown and security: it was necessary that the soul of the country should have been exalted by the act of her own redemption, and that England should withdraw her claim by operation of treaty, and not of mere grace and condescension; a gratuitous act of Parliament, however express, would have been revocable; but the repeal of her claim under operation of treaty is not: in that case, the legislature is put in covenant, and bound by the law of nations – the only law that can legally bind Parliament. Never did this country stand so high. England and Ireland treat ex æquo. Ireland transmits to the King her claim of right, and requires of the Parliament of England the repeal of her claim of power, which repeal the English Parliament is to make under the force of a treaty which depends on the law of nations – a law which cannot be repealed by the Parliament of England.

I rejoice that the people are a party to this treaty, because they are bound to preserve it. There is not a man of forty shillings freehold that is not associated in this our claim of right, and bound to die in its defence; cities, counties, associations, Protestants and Catholics; it seems as if the people had joined in one great national sacrament; a flame has descended from Heaven on the intellect of Ireland, plays round her head, and encompasses her understanding with a consecrated glory.

There are some who think, and a few who declare, that the associations to which I refer are illegal: come, then, let us try the charge, and state the grievance. And first, I ask, What were the grievances? an army imposed on us by another country, that army rendered perpetual; the privy-council of both countries made a part of our legislature; our legislature deprived of its originating and propounding power; another country exercising over us supreme legislative authority; that country disposing of our property by its judgments, and prohibiting our trade by its statutes; these were not grievances, but spoliations, which left you nothing. When you contended against them, you contended for the whole of your condition; when the minister asked, by what right? we refer him to our Maker: we sought our privileges by the right which we have to defend our property against a robber, our life against a murderer, our country against an invader, whether coming with civil or military force – a foreign army, or a foreign legislature. This is a case that wants no precedent; the revolution wanted no precedent; for such things arrive to reform a course of bad precedents, and, instead of being founded on precedent, become such: the gazing world, whom they come to save, begins by doubt and concludes by worship. Let other nations be deceived by the sophistry of courts: Ireland has studied politics in the lair of oppression, and, taught by suffering, comprehends the rights of subjects and the duty of kings. Let other nations imagine that subjects are made for the monarch; but we conceive that kings, and parliaments like kings, are made for the subjects. The House of Commons, honourable and right honourable as it may be; the Lords, noble and illustrious as we pronounce them, are not original, but derivative. Session after session they move their periodical orbit about the source of their being, the nation; even the King’s Majesty must fulfil his due and tributary course round that great luminary; and, created by its beam and upheld by its attraction, must incline to that light, or go out of the system.

Ministers, we mean the ministers who have gone out (I rely on the good intentions of the present), former ministers, I say, have put questions to us; we beg to put questions to them. They desired to know by what authority this nation has acted. This nation desires to know by what authority they have acted. By what authority did Government enforce the articles of war? By what authority does Government establish the post-office? By what authority are our merchants bound by the charter of the East India Company? By what authority has Ireland for near one hundred years been deprived of her export trade? By what authority are her peers deprived of their judicature? By what authority has that judicature been transferred to the peers of Great Britain, and our property in its last resort referred to the decision of a non-resident, unauthorized, and unconstitutional tribunal? Will ministers say it was the authority of the British Parliament? On what ground, then, do they place the question between the Government on one side, and the volunteers on the other? According to their own statement, the Government has been occupied in superseding the lawgiver of the country; and the volunteers are here to restore him. The Government has contended for the usurpation, and the people for the laws. His Majesty’s late ministers imagined they had quelled the country when they had bought the newspapers; and they represented us as wild men, and our cause as visionary; and they pensioned a set of wretches to abuse both: but we took little account of them or their proceedings, and we waited and we watched, and we moved, as it were, on our native hills, with the minor remains of our parliamentary army, until that minority became Ireland. Let those ministers now go home, and congratulate their king on the redemption of his people. Did you imagine that those little parties whom three years ago you beheld in awkward squads parading in the streets, should have now arrived to such distinction and effect? What was the cause? for it was not the sword of the volunteer, nor his muster, nor his spirit, nor his promptitude to put down accidental disturbance or public disorder, nor his own unblamed and distinguished deportment. This was much; but there was more than this: the upper orders, the property, and the abilities of the country, formed with the volunteer; and the volunteer has sense enough to obey them. This united the Protestant with the Catholic, and the landed proprietor with the people. There was still more than this; there was a continence which confined the corps to limited and legitimate objects; there was a principle which preserved the corps from adultery with French politics; there was a good taste which guarded the corps from affection of such folly: this, all this, made them bold; for it kept them innocent, it kept them rational: no vulgar rant against England; no mysterious admiration of France; no crime to conceal – no folly to be ashamed of. They were what they professed to be; and that was nothing less than the society asserting her liberty according to the frame of the British constitution, her inheritance to be enjoyed in perpetual connection with the British empire.

I do not mean to say that there were not divers violent and unseemly resolutions; the immensity of the means was inseparable from the excess.

Such are the great works of nature; such is the sea; but, like the sea, the waste and excess were lost in the advantage: and now, having given a parliament to the people, the volunteers will, I doubt not, leave the people to Parliament, and thus close, specifically and majestically, a great work, which will place them above censure and above panegyric. These associations, like other institutions, will perish: they will perish with the occasion that gave them being, and the gratitude of their country will write their epitaph, and say: “This phenomenon, the departed volunteer, justified only by the occasion, the birth of spirit and grievances, with some alloy of public evil, did more public good to Ireland than all her institutions; he restored the liberties of his country, and thus from the grave he answers his enemies”. Connected by freedom as well as by allegiance, the two nations, Great Britain and Ireland, form a constitutional confederacy as well as one empire; the crown is one link, the constitution another; and, in my mind, the latter link is the more powerful.

You can get a king anywhere, but England is the only country with whom you can participate a free constitution. This makes England your natural connexion, and her king your natural as well as your legal sovereign. This is a connexion, not as Lord Coke has idly said, not as Judge Blackstone has foolishly said, not as other judges have ignorantly said, by conquest; but, as Molyneux has said, and as I now say, by compact; and that compact is a free constitution. Suffer me now to state some of the things essential to that free constitution; they are as follow: the independency of the Irish Parliament; the exclusion of the British Parliament from any authority in this realm; the restoration of the Irish judicature, and the exclusion of that of Great Britain. As to the perpetual mutiny bill, it must be more than limited – it must be effaced; that bill must fall, or the constitution cannot stand; that bill was originally limited by the this House to two years, and it returned from England without the clause of limitation. What! a bill making the army independent of Parliament, and perpetual! I protested against it then, I have struggled with it since, and I am now come to destroy this great enemy of my country. The perpetual mutiny bill must vanish out of the statute book. The excellent tract of Molyneux was burned – it was not answered; and its flame illuminated posterity. This evil paper shall be burned, but burned like a felon, that its execution may be a peace-offering to the people, and that a declaration of right may be planted on its guilty ashes: a new mutiny bill must be formed after the manner of England, and a declaration of right put in the front of it.

As to the legislative powers of the Privy Councils, I conceive them to be utterly inadmissible, against the constitution, against the privileges of Parliament, and against the dignity of the realm. Do not imagine such power to be theoretical; it is in a very high degree a practical evil. I have here an inventory of bills altered and injured by the interference of Privy Councils; money bills originated by them, protests by the Crown in support of those money bills, prorogation following these protests. I have here a mutiny bill of 1780, altered by the Council, and made perpetual; a Catholic bill in 1778, where the Council struck out the clause repealing the test act; a militia bill, where the Council struck out the compulsory clause requiring the Crown to proceed to form a militia, and left in options with His Majesty’s minister whether there should be a militia in Ireland. I have the money bill of 1775, where the Council struck out the clause enabling His Majesty to take a part of our troops for general service, and left it to the minister to withdraw the forces against act of parliament. I have to state the altered money bill of 1771, the altered money bill of 1775, the altered money bill of 1780; the day would expire before I could recount their ill-doings. I will never consent to have men (God knows whom), ecclesiastics, etc., men unknown to the constitution of Parliament, and known only to the minister who has breathed into their nostrils an unconstitutional existence, steal to their dark divan to do mischief and make nonsense of bills, which their Lordships, the House of Lords, or we, the House of Commons, have thought good and fit for the people. No; those men have no legislative qualifications; they shall have no legislative power.
The 18th century Volunteers

 The Volunteers

Henry Grattan
Henry Grattan

1st, The repeal of the perpetual mutiny bill, and the dependence of the Irish army on the Irish Parliament;

2nd, The abolition of the legislative power of the Council.

3rd, The abrogation of the claim of England to make law for Ireland.

4th, The exclusion of the English House of Peers, and of the English King’s Bench, from any judicial authority in this realm.

5th, The restoration of the Irish Peers to their final judicature. The independency of the Irish Parliament to its sole and exclusive legislature.

These are my terms. I will take nothing from the Crown.

Mr. Grattan then moved, by way of amendment:

That an humble address be presented to His Majesty, to return His Majesty the thanks of this House for his most gracious message to this House, signified by His Grace the Lord-lieutenant.

That, thus encouraged by his royal interposition, we shall beg leave, with all duty and affection, to lay before His Majesty the causes of our discontents and jealousies. To assure His Majesty that his subjects of Ireland are a free people. That the crown of Ireland is an imperial crown inseparably annexed to the crown of Great Britain, on which connection the interest and happiness of both nations essentially depend: but that the kingdom of Ireland is a distinct kingdom, with a parliament of her own – the sole legislature thereof. That there is no body of men competent to make laws to bind this nation except the King, Lords, and Commons of Ireland; nor any other parliament which hath any authority or power of any sort whatsoever in this country, save only the parliament of Ireland. To assure His Majesty, that we humbly conceive that in this right the very essence of our liberties exists; a right which we, on the part of all the people of Ireland, do claim as their birth-right, and which we cannot yield but with our lives.

To assure His Majesty that we have seen with concern certain claims advanced by the Parliament of Great Britain, an act entitled “An act for the better securing the dependency of Ireland”: an act containing matter entirely irreconcilable to the fundamental rights of this nation. That we conceive this act, and the claims it advances, to be the great and principle cause of the discontents and jealousies in this kingdom.

To assure His Majesty that His Majesty’s Commons of Ireland do most sincerely wish that all bills which become law in Ireland should receive the approbation of His Majesty under the seal of Great Britain; but that yet we do consider the practice of suppressing our bills in the council of Ireland, or altering the same anywhere, to be another just cause of discontent and jealousy.

To assure His Majesty that an act entitled “An act for the better accommodation of His Majesty’s forces”, being unlimited in duration, and defective in other instances, but passed in that shape from the particular circumstances of the times, is another just cause of discontent and jealousy in this kingdom.

That we have submitted these, the principle causes of the present discontent and jealousy of Ireland, and remain in humble expectation of redress.

That we have the greatest reliance on His Majesty’s wisdom, the most sanguine expectations from his virtuous choice of a Chief Governor, and great confidence in the wise, auspicious, and constitutional councils which we see with satisfaction His Majesty has adopted.

That we have, moreover, a high sense and veneration for the British character, and do therefore conceive that the proceedings of this country, founded as they were in right, and tempered by duty, must have excited the approbation and esteem, instead of wounding the pride, of the British nation.

And we beg leave to assure His Majesty, that we are the more confirmed in this hope, inasmuch as the people of this kingdom have never expressed a desire to share the freedom of England, without declaring a determination to share her fate likewise, standing and falling with the British nation.