October 2013

History Selection

Henry II arrives in Ireland
Arrival of Henry II in Ireland
 October 1169
Sack of Wexford by Oliver Cromwell
Oliver Cromwell attacks Wexford
October 1649
Massacre at Wildgoose Lodge
Massacre at Wildgoose Lodge
  October 1816
Civil rights march attacked in Derry
Civil rights march attacked in Derry
October 1968
Building where Tiede Herrema held
Tiede Herrema kidnapped by IRA
October 1975
IRA bomb Tory conference
IRA bomb hits Tory conference
October 1984


Ireland in 1971
January 4th: John McQuaid retired after thirty years as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin.

February 6th: Robert Curtis became the first on-duty British soldier to be killed by the Provisional IRA.

February 12th: The ballad singer Delia Murphy died.

February 15th: Ireland and the United Kingdom both switched to the decimal currency.

March 6th: The first Boeing 747 aircraft flew in Ireland when Aer Lingus took delivery of its first Jumbo Jet, the Saint Columcille.
John McQuaid
John McQuaid
Major James Chichester-Clark
Major James Chichester-Clark


March 10th: Fighting broke out between the Official and Provisional IRA in Belfast.

March 17th: The new Jumbo Jet flew over the Saint Patrick's Day parade along O'Connell Street in Dublin.

March 20th: Major James Chichester-Clark resigned as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland. He was succeeded by Brian Faulkner.

April 11th: Ten British soldiers were injured during rioting in Derry. On the same day, the Gaelic Athletic Association voted to lift its ban on members participating in 'foreign games' such as soccer, rugby and cricket.

April 20th: Two British Navy launches moored off Baltimore, County Cork, were bombed by the PIRA.
May 11th: Former Taoiseach Seán Lemass died.

May 22nd: The 'Contraceptive Train' brought contraceptives from the North to the Republic as a protest against their illegality.

June 13th: Máiréad Ni Ghráda, the first woman playwright in the Irish language, died.

July 8th: Two rioters were shot dead by British troops in Derry.

July 16th: The Social Democratic and Labour Party announced that it was withdrawing from Stormont.

August 9th: Internment without trial was introduced in the North, and over three hundred republicans were arrested in pre-dawn raids.

August 12th: After severe rioting in Belfast during which seventeen people died, British troops began clearing operations. The Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, called for an end to the Stormont administration.

Operation Demetrius
Violence during Operation Demetrius
Ian Paisley in 1971
Ian Paisley in 1971
September 7th: The death toll in the Troubles reached one hundred after the death of 14-year-old Annette McGavigan, caught in crossfire between the British army and the IRA.

September 14th: A rally took place in Dublin in support of civil disobedience in Northern Ireland.

September 27th: The Taoiseach Jack Lynch, the British Prime Minister Edward Heath and the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Brian Faulkner met at Chequers to discuss Northern Ireland.

September 30th: Ian Paisley founded the DUP.

October 3rd: Traditional musician Seán Ó Riada died.

October 13th: The British Army began to destroy roads as a security measure.

October 23rd: The British Army shot dead two women in Belfast after their car failed to stop at a checkpoint.

October 31st: An IRA bomb exploded at the top of the Post Office Tower in London.

October: The Standard Time (Amendment) Act 1971 reversed the 1968 Act and returned Irish winter time to Western European Time.
Seán Ó Riada
Seán Ó Riada, 1931 – 1971
Bombing of McGurk's bar
Bombing of McGurk's bar
November 7th: The Official IRA killed Senator John Barnhill near Strabane.

November 10th: The government defeated a motion of no confidence in Jim Gibbons.

November 12th: RTÉ banned several patriotic ballads including Dublin In The Green and The Patriot Game.

November 17th: Fianna Fáil expelled Neil Blaney and Paudge Brennan.

December 4th: Fifteen people died in the UVF's bombing of McGurk's Bar.

December 15th: General Richard Mulcahy died.



Building of the Titanic

The Titanic as it was being built in the first decade of the twentieth century

The Titanic during construction

Workers leaving Harland and Wolff's yard, with the Titanic in the background

Workers leaving Harland and Wolff's yard, with the Titanic in the background

The RMS Titanic was build at the Harland and Wolff's yard in Belfast. The largest ship afloat, she left Belfast on her maiden voyage to New York in April 1912. On the 15th of April, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank. More than 1,500 died in the disaster.

The Harland and Wolff shipbuilders had a relationship with the White Star Line dating back to 1867. The White Star Line produced a general concept for three 'Olympic-class' vessels, and Harland and Wolff put their leading designers to the task of designing the ship. One of the designers was Thomas Andrews, who would eventually go down with the ship. Alexander Carlisle acted as the chief draughtsman and general manager. Part of his responsibility was the implementation of an efficient lifeboat davit design.

Onthe 29th of July 1908, Harland and Wolff present the drawings to J.Bruce Ismay, the White Star Line chairman. He approved the design and authorised the start of construction. The first vessel to be produced was named Olympic. The Titanic was based on a revised version of the Olympic's design.
Book Review

Suffer the Little Children: The Inside Story of Ireland's Industrial Schools

Author:     Mary Raftery and Eoin O'Sullivan

Publisher: New Island

Date published: 1999

Suffer the Little Children

From the second half of the nineteenth century, a network of religious institutions developed in Ireland for the 'saving' of 'errant' women and destitute children. While women worked in Magadalen laundries, children found themselves in industrial schools, reformatory schools and orphanages. In total, 105,000 children entered industrial schools between 1868 and 1969.

The majority of people in Ireland remained unaware of the horrific conditions prevailing in these institutions. In 1999, a series of documentaries were broadcast that lifted the lid on the cruelty and abuse suffered by so many children. The authors of this book were involved in the making of these documentaries.

As Mary, an industrial school pupil of the 1940s, put it: 'We were taken in because they decided that our little souls were in danger. [...] They didn't care about our bodies.' She had been committed to the school because her widowed mother had started seeing another man. What followed were years of beatings and humiliations. While the children starved, the nuns and priests 'were like pigs [...] They lived off the fat of the land'. Another survivor described her school as a 'mini concentration camp'. Conditions at boys' schools, such as Artane, were just as bad.

Some attempts were made to investigate abuses. Complaints by parents, the ISPCC and an inquiry by the Kennedy Committee in the 1960s were ignored or downplayed by the Department of Education. It was not until the release of a television documentary, Dear Daughter, in 1996, that the real story came out. Even then, organisations such as the Sisters of Mercy tried to limit the damage before finally admitting the sins of the past.


Earliest Allusions to Ireland from Foreign Sources

A Literary History of Ireland

Douglas Hyde

First published by T. Fisher Unwin 1899

Douglas Hyde

Douglas Hyde

Of all the tribes of the Celts, and indeed of all their neighbours in the west of Europe, the children of Milesius have been at once blessed and cursed beyond their fellows, for on the shores of their island alone did the Roman eagle check its victorious flight, and they alone of the nations of western Europe were neither moulded nor crushed into his own shape by the conqueror of Gaul and Britain.

Undisturbed by the Romans, unconquered though shattered by the Norsemen, unsubdued though sore-stricken by the Normans, and still struggling with the Saxons, the Irish Gael alone has preserved a record of his own past, and preserved it in a literature of his own, for a length of time and with a continuity which outside of Greece has no parallel in Europe.

The ancient Celts

His own account of himself is that his ancestors, the Milesians, or children of Miledh [1], came to Ireland from Spain about the year 1000 B.C.[2], and dispossessed the Tuatha De Danaan who had come from the north of Europe, as these had previously dispossessed their kinsmen the Firbolg, who had arrived from Greece.

Such a suggestion, however, despite the continuity and volume of Irish tradition which has always supported it, appears open to more than one rationalistic objection, the chiefest being that the voyage from Spain to Ireland would be one of some six hundred miles, hardly to be attempted by the early Irish barks composed of wickerwork and covered with hides, fragile crafts which could hardly hope to live through the rough waters of the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic on a voyage from Spain, or through the Mediterranean and the Atlantic on a voyage from Greece.

On the other hand, if we assume that our ancestors passed over from Gaul into Britain and thencen into Ireland, we shall find it fit in with many other facts. To begin with, the voyage from Gaul to Britain is one of only some two and twenty miles, and from Britain to Ireland, at its narrowest point, is hardly twelve. The splendid physique, too, of the Irish[3], which is now alas! sadly degenerated through depression, poverty, famine, and the rooting out of the best blood, but which has struck during the course of history such numerous foreign observers, seems certainly to connect the Irish by a family likeness with the Gauls, as these have been described to us by the Romans, and not the with the Greeks or the swarthy, sunburnt Iberians. Tacitus also, writing less than a century after Christ, tells us that the Irish disposition, temper, and habits, differ but little from the Britons, and we find in Britain, North Gaul, and Germany, tribes of the same nomenclature as several of those Irish tribes whose names are recorded by Ptolemy about the year 150.[4]

On the one hand, then, we have the ancient universal Irish traditions, backed up by all the authority of the bards, the annalists and the shanachies, that the Milesians – who are the ancestors of most of the present Irish – came to Ireland direct from Spain; and, on the other hand, we have these rationalistic grounds for believing that Ireland was more probably peopled from Gaul and Britain. The question cannot here be carried further, expect to remark that in an age ignorant of geography the term Spain may have been used very loosely, and may rather have implied some land overseas, rather than any particular land.[5]

If Ireland were not – thanks to her native annalists, her autochtonous traditions and her bardic histories – to a great extent independent of classical and foreign authors, she would have fared badly indeed, so far as history goes, lying as she does in so remote a corner of the world, and having been untrodden by the foot of recording Greek or masterful Roman. There are, however, some few allusions to the island to be found, of which, perhaps, the earliest is the quotation in Avienus, who writing about the year 380 mentions the account of the voyage of Himilco, a Phoenician[6], to Ireland about the year 510 B.C., who said in his account that Erin was called “Sacra”[7] by the ancients, that its people navigated the vast sea in hide-covered barks, and that is land was populous and fertile. In the Argonautics of the pseudo-Orpheus, which may have been written about 500 B.C., the Iernian[8] – that is apparently the Irish – Isle is mentioned. Aristotle knew about it too. Ierne, he says, is a very large island beyond the Celts. Strabo, writing soon after the birth of Christ, describes its position and shape, also calling it Ierne, but according to his account – which he acknowledges, however, that he does not make a good authority – it is barely habitable and its people are the most utter savages and cannibals. Hibernia, says Julius Caesar, is esteemed half the size of Britain and is as distant from it as Gaul is. Diodorus, some fifty years before Christ, calls it Iris, and says it was occupied by Britons. Pomponius Mela, in the first century of our era, calls Ireland Iverna, and says that “so great was the luxuriance of grass there as to cause the cattle to burst”! Tacitus a little later, about the year 82, telling us how Agricola crossed the Clyde and posted troops in that part of the country which ooked toward Ireland, says that Hibernia “in soil and climate, in the disposition, temper, and habits of its people, differed but little from Britain, and that its approaches and harbours were better known through traffic and merchants.”[9]

Ptolemy, writing about the year 150, unconsciously bears out to some extent what Tacitus had said of Ireland's harbours being better known than those of Britain, for he has left behind him a more accurate account of Ireland than of Britain, giving in all over fifty Irish names, about nine of which have been identified, and mentioning the names of two coast towns, seven inland towns, and seventeen tribes, some of which, as we have said, nearly resemble the names of tribes in Britain and North Gaul. Solinus, about A.D. 238, is the first to tell us that Hibernia has no snakes – observe this curious pre-Patrician evidence, which robs our national saint of one of his laurels – saying, like Pomponius Mela, that it has luxurious pastures, and adding the curious intelligence that, “warlike beyond the rest of her sex, the Hibernian mother places the first morsel of food in her child's mouth with the point of her sword.” Eumenius mentions the Hibernians about the year 306 in his panegyric on Constantine, saying that until now the Britons had been accustomed to fight only Pictish and Hibernian enemies. In 378 Ammianus Marcellinus mentions the Irish under the name of Scots saying that the Scotti and Attacotti[10] commit dreadful depredations in Britain, and Claudian a few years later speaks rather hyperbolically of the Irish invasion of Britain; “the Scot (i.e. the Irishman),” he says, “moved all Ierne against us, and the Ocean foamed under his hostile oars – a Roman legion curbs the fierce Scot, through Stilicho's care I feared not the darts of the Scots – Icy Erin wails over the heaps of her Scots.[11] The Irish expeditions against both Gaul and Britain became more frequent towards the end of the fourth century, and at last the unfortunate Britons, driven to despair, and having in vain appealed to the now disorganised Romans to aid them, sooner than stand the fury of the Irish and Picts threw themselves into the arms of the Saxons[12].

It is towards the middle or close of the fourth century that we come into much closer historical contact with the Irish, and indeed we know with some certainty a good deal about their internal history, manners, laws, languages, and institutions from that time to the present. Of course if we can trust Irish sources we know a great deal about them for even seven or eight hundred years before this. The early Irish annalist, Tighearnach[13], who died in 1088, and who had of course the records of the earliest Irish writers – so far as they had escaped extinction by the Danes – before his eyes when he wrote, and who quotes frequently and judiciously from Josephus, St. Jerome, and comparing Irish with foreign warriors, that the monumenta Scotorum, or records of the Irish prior to Cimbaeth (i.e., about 300 B.C.) were uncertain. This means that from that time forwards he at least considered that the substance of Irish history as handed down to use might, to say the least of it, be more or less relied upon. Cimbaeth was the founder of Emania, the capital of Ulster, the home of the Red Branch knights, which flourished for 600 years and which figures so conspicuously in the saga-cycle of Cuchulain.

Cuchulainn's war chariot

What then – for we pass over for the present the colonies of Partholan, the Tuatha De Danann, and the Nemedians, leaving them to be dealt with among the myths – have our native bards and annalists to say of these six or seven centuries? As several of the best and greatest of Irish sagas deal with events within this period, we can – if bardic accounts, probably first committed to writing about the sixth of seventh century may at all be trusted – to some extent recall its leading features, or reconstruct them.

[1] Milesius is the ordinary Latinised form of the Irish Miledh; the real name of Milesius was Golamh, but he was surnamed Miledh Easpáin, or the Champion of Spain. He himself never landed in Ireland.

[2] 1016 according to O'Flaherty, in the eighth century B.C according to Charles 0'Conor of Belanagare, but as far back as 1700 B.C. according to the chronology of the “Four Masters”. Nennius, the Briton who wrote in the time of Charlemagne, gives two different accounts of the landing of the Irish, one evidently representing the British tradition, and the other that of the Irish themselves, of which he says sic mihi peritissimi Scotorum ninciaverunt. Both these accounts make the Irish come from Spain, the first being that three sons of a certain Miles of Spain landed in Ireland from Spain at the third attempt. According to what the Irish told him they reached Ireland from Spain 1,002 years after flying from Egypt.

[3] Even Giraldus Cambrensis, that most bigoted of anti-Irishmen, could neverthless write thus of the natives in the twelfth century. “In Ireland man retains all his majesty. Nature alone has moulded the Irish, and as if to show what she can do has given them countenances of exquisite colour, and bodies of great beauty, symmetry, and strength.” This testimony agrees with what Caesar says of the Celts of Gaul, whose large persons he compares with the short stature of the Romans, and admires their mirifica corpora. Strabo says of a Celtic tribe, the Coritavi, “to show how tall they are, I myself saw some of their young men at Rome, and they were taller by six inches than any one else in the city.” The Belgic Gauls are uniformly described as tall, large-limbed, and fair, and Silius Italicus speaks of the huge limbs and golden locks of the Boii who gave their name to Bavaria (Boio-varia) and to Bohemia (Boio-haims). They were probably the ruling race in Gaul, but the type is now very rarely seen there, the aristocratic Celts having been largely wiped out by war, as in Ireland, and having been shorn of their power become amalgamated with the Ligurians and other pre-Celtic people.

[4]As the Brigantes, Menapii, and Cauci.

[5] Buchanan the Scotchman (1506-81), having urged some of these objections against the Irish tradition, is thus fairly answered by Keating, writing in Irish, about half a century after Buchanan's death: “The first of these reasons,” says Keating (to prove that the Irish came from Gaul), “he deduces from the fact that Gaul was formerly so populous that the part of it called Gallia Lugdenensis would of itself furnish 300,000 fighting men, and that it was therefore likely that it had sent forth some such hordes to occupy Ireland, as were the tribes of the Gauls. My answer to that is that the author himself knew nothing of the specific time at which the Sons of Miledh arrived in Ireland, and that he was consequently perfectly ignorant as to whether France was populous or waste at that epoch. And even though the country were as populous as he states, when the Sons of Miledh came to Ireland, it does not follow that we must necessarily understand that it was the country whence they emigrated; for why should it be supposed to be more populous at that time than Spain, they country they really did come from?

[6] Aristotle, too, mentions the discovery by the Phoenicians, of an island supposed to be Ireland, rich in forest and river and fruit, which, however, this account would make out to have been uninhabited. Ireland was splendidly wooded until after the Cromwellian wars, and not unfrequently we meet allusions in the old literature to the first clearances in different districts, associated with the names of those who cleared them.

[7] Sacra is apparently a translation of Iερα = Eiriu, old form of Eire now called Erin, which last is really an oblique case.

[8] The names by which Ireland and its inhabitants were known to the writers of antiquity are very various, as Juverna, Juberna, Iverna, Hibernia, Hibernici, Hibernienses, Jouvernia, and even Vernia. [Some Greek names omitted here.] St. Patrick in his confessions calls the land Hyberione and speaks of Hibernae Gentes and 'filii Scotorum'. There can be little doubt that Aristotle's IερνϨη, the νήσoν Iερνίδα of the Argonautics and Diodorus' Iρις represent the same country. Here are Keating's remarks on it: 'An t-aonmhadh hainm déag Juvernia do réir Ptolemeous, no Juverna do réir Sholinuis, no Ierna do réir Claudianus, no Vernia do réir Eustatius; measaim nach bfuil do cheill san deifir atá idir na h'ughdaraibh sin do leith an fhocail-se Hibernia, acht nár thuigeadar créad ó ttáinig an focal féin 7 dá réir sin go ttug gach aon fo leith amus uaidh féin air, agus is de sin tháinig an mhalairt úd ar an bhofal.'

[9] 'Solum coelumque et ingenia cultusque hominum haud multum a Britannia differunt; in melius aditus portusque per commercia et negociatores cogniti.' This employment of 'in' before 'melius' is curious,and the passage, which Diefenbach in his Celtica magnificently calls the 'Lieblingsstelle der irischen Schriftsteller', is not universally accepted as meaning that the harbours of Ireland were better known than those of Great Britain; but when we consider the antiquarian evidence for ancient Irish civilisation, and that in artistic treatment, and fineness of manufacture, Irish bronzes are fully equal to those of Great Britain, and her gold objects infinitely more numerous and every way superior, there seems no reason to doubt that the text of Tacitus must be translated as above, and not subjected to such forced interpretations as that the harbours and approaches of Ireland were better known than the land itself!

[10] “Picti Saxonesque et Scotti et Attacotti Britannos aerumnis vexavere continuis.” These Attacotti appear to have been an Irish tribe. There is a good deal of controversy as to who they were. St. Jerome twice mentions them in connection with the Scots (i.e. the Irish): Scotorum et Atticotorum ritu, they have their wives and children in common, as Plato recommends in his Republic! (Migne's edition, Book I., p. 735.) He says that he himself saw some of them when he was young, “Ipse adolescens in Gallia viderim Attacottos, Scortoruim (one would expect Attocatorum), natio uxores proprias non habet. The name strongly resembles Caesar's Aduatuci and Diodorus's Aτoνoτικoί and certainly appears to be [the] same as the Gaelic Aitheach-Tuatha, so well known in Irish history, a name which O'Curry translates by “rent-paying tribes,” probably of non-Milesian origin. These rose in the first century against their Milesian masters and massacred them. If as Thierry thinks the east and centre of Gaul were Gaelic speaking, they too may have had their Aitheach-Tuatha, which may have been a general name for certain non-Celtic tribes reduced by the Celts. According to the Itinerarium of Ricardus Corinensis quoted by Diefenbach, Book III, there were Attacotti along the banks of the Clyde: “Clottoe ripas accolebant Attacotti, gens toti aliquando Britanniae formidanda.”

[11] “Scottorum cumulos flevit glacialis Ierne” (“glacialis,” of course, only when looked at from a southern point of view, Strabo, as we have seen, said the island was scarcely habitable from cold).

“-Totam quum Scotus Iernen
Movit et infesto spumavit remige Tethys.”

It is probably mere hyperbole of Claudian to say that the Roman chased the Irish out to sea,

“- nec falso nomine Pictos
Edomuit, Scotumque fago mucrone secutus
Fregit Hyperboreas velis audacibus undas.”

[12] These appear in Britain in the middle of the fifth century, in 449 according to the Saxon Chronicle, which is probably substantially correct.

[13] Pronounced “Teear-nach.”