Monthly Archives: November 2019

  • Kilmichael Ambush 28 November 1920

    Kilmichael Ambush Belfast Newsletter

    Kilmichael Ambush

    Cork was one of the most active counties in Ireland during the War of Independence, and the scene of the biggest number of casualties inflicted on the British army during the war. On 28 November 1920 an ambush at Kilmichael between Dunmanway and Macroom, seventeen auxiliaries were killed by an IRA flying column led by Tom Barry. Three IRA volunteers - Pat Deasy, Michael McCarthy and Jim Sullivan, were also killed following what was later claimed to have been a ‘false surrender’ by some of the auxiliaries.

    Having marched to Kilmichael in the early hours of the 28th, Barry’s column waited until just after 4 pm when a scout relayed the news that the auxiliaries were approaching in two Crossley Tenders. The first Crossley Tender carrying nine Auxiliaries, came round the bend into the ambush position moving fairly quickly. According to his own account, Tom Barry, dressed in a military-style uniform stepped onto the road from behind a low wall, put his hand up and the lorry slowed. When it was about thirty-five yards from his command post he threw a Mills bomb into the open cab of the Crossley tender. He also blew a whistle blew to signal his men to open fire.

    The Kilmichael Ambush was a pivotal moment in the War of Independence and in December 1920 martial law was declared in the four Munster counties of Cork, Kerry, Limerick, and Tipperary. In 1949 the Kilmichael ambush took center stage in Tom Barry’s autobiography, Guerrilla Days in Ireland. The issue of the ‘false surrender’ would come to dominate the debate over the Kilmichael Ambush and it remains a contentious issue within the study of the Irish War of Independence. In 1966 during the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising a memorial was unveiled at Kilmichael, the inscription on which read:

    They shall be spoken of among their people. The generations shall remember them and call them blessed.

    Irish Archives Newspapers

    Source newspaper: www.irishnewsarchives.com Belfast Newsletter 1738-1938, Wednesday, December 01, 1920; Page: 6

  • Irish Volunteers formed Dublin 25 November 1913

    On 25 November 1913 the Irish Volunteers were formed in Dublin

    Inaugural Meeting of the Irish Volunteers 25.November.1913

    On 25 November 1913 the Irish Volunteers were formed in Dublin, a significant moment in the story of the Irish revolution of 1912 to 1923. Newspaper reports estimated the crowd to be in excess of 7,000 at the Rotunda meeting where speakers included Eoin MacNeill, Patrick Pearse, and the veteran Irish nationalist Michael Davitt. The genesis of the meeting was the publication of Eoin MacNeill’s article entitled ‘The North Began’ which laid the basis for the formation of volunteers in the south of Ireland, mirroring what their counterparts in Ulster had done the previous year.

    Importantly attendance at the meeting was drawn from every section of Irish nationalism, including members of the Gaelic League, the Ancient Order of Hibernians and Sinn Féin. The speakers, representing the different sections of Nationalist opinion, declared that the movement was not an aggressive one, but was intended to unite Irishmen, and preserve, their rights and liberties. They swore to drill and to build a disciplined army, but to use it only for defensive and protective purposes, and not to seek to dominate. When Michael Davitt addressed the meeting he was ‘most enthusiastically cheered’ claiming that the new movement would include ‘people of every denomination, class and creed and shade of politics’.

    The meeting was an overwhelming success and Irish Volunteer company’s sprung up all over the country. To arm the volunteers weapons were smuggled into Ireland in the summer of 1914 during an incident known as the ‘Howth Gun-Running’. By the summer of 1914, the Irish Volunteer strength was estimated to have been close to 175,000. However, the intervention of the Frist World War and John Redmond’s call for Irishmen to fight as far as the firing line extended in Europe decimated the numbers. When the Easter Rising broke out two years later the Irish Volunteers numbered less than 10,000 in the country as a whole.

    Irish Independent 25.November.1913         Freemans Journal 25.November.1913

    Source newspaper: www.irishnewsarchives.com

    Irish Independent 1905-current, Wednesday, November 26, 1913; Page: 5:

    Freeman’s Journal 1763-1924, Wednesday, November 26, 1913; Page: 9;

  • Death by firing squad of Erskine Childers 24 November 1922

    death by firing squad of Erskine Childers

    Death by firing squad of Erskine Childers

    The death by firing squad of Erskine Childers on 24 November 1922 was one of the most high-profile and controversial executions of the Irish Civil War. The Free State government executed 77 anti-Treaty prisoners during the Civil War in a vicious and escalating campaign of reprisal killings. Childers, the man responsible for bringing the weapons to Ireland during the summer of 1914 for Irish Volunteers, was the home of his cousin, Robert Barton, in county Wicklow. Found to be in possession of a weapon, reputedly given to him by Michael Collins, Childers was sentenced to death.

    Childers, a vocal opponent of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, led an interesting and varied life. Born in London in 1870, in 1898 he enlisted and served in the Boer War in South Africa. As a writer he was best known for his novel The Riddle of the Sands in 1903.

    Childers settled in Dublin in 1919 and was elected to the Dáil in 1921 as a member for Wicklow. He was appointed Minister for Propaganda and was the secretary to the Irish delegation during the negotiations for a Treaty with Britain in 1921. Childers was sentenced to death and was executed at Beggars Bush Barracks on having first shaken hands with each member of the firing squad.  He is buried in the republican plot in Glasnevin Cemetery. His eldest son, also named Erskine, went on to become the fourth President of Ireland.

    Source newspaper: Nationalist and Leinster Times 1883-

    Source newspaper: www.irishnewsarchives.com Nationalist and Leinster Times 1883-current, Saturday, December 02, 1922; Page: 2

  • Manchester Martyrs - 23 November 1867

    Manchester Martyrs

    Manchester Martyrs 

    ‘God save Ireland cried the heroes, God save Ireland say the all’ goes the popular Irish ballad song, which has its origins in an event which occurred in Manchester, England 152 years ago. The execution of William Allen, Michael O’Brien and Michael Larkin, who became known as the ‘Manchester Martyrs’, quickly became part of Irish Nationalist folklore.

    On 18 September 1867 about 50 Irish Fenians, led by William Allen, attacked a prison van guarded by a large number of unarmed police at Hyde Road in Manchester with the aim of releasing two important Fenian prisoners, Thomas J. Kelly and Timothy Deasy. In the course of the raid, an unarmed police sergeant, Charles Brett, was shot dead. The British public were horrific at the attack and the murder of Brett and quickly called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. More than twenty men were eventually tried for their part in the attack and Allen, Larkin and O’Brien sentenced to death. The execution took place on 23 November in front of an estimated 10,000 people.

    The Irish public were horrified at the treatment of the three men and in particular, the way in which the British press reported on the execution. One Irish newspaper editor wrote:

    The hatred with which the victims were regarded by the English people has had a strong effect in colouring the descriptions of the tragedy given by the papers, and, in many cases, the writers have been base enough to extort even from the death-struggles of the hapless men the materials for slandering their character and insulting their memories. These miserable efforts, however, cannot rob the scene of its solemn meaning and importance, and in the full belief that the slaying of Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien is an event deserving of permanent record, and one which, will exercise considerable influence on the future of Ireland, we devote nearly the whole of our issue today to the subject.

    Cork Examiner 23.November.1867 reduced

    Source newspaper: www.irishnewsarchives.com / Cork Examiner 1841-current, Monday, December 09, 1867; Page: 2 

    Main image; Editted by Irish Newspaper Archives; original By Unknown - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs divisionunder the digital ID pga.01474.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2980382

  • Michael Collins - Bloody Sunday 21.November.1920

    Bloody Sunday 21.November.1920

    On the morning of the 21 November 1920 Michael Collins sent out his team of assassins, known as the ‘Squad’ to take out the British intelligence network in Dublin. The murder of 12 members of what was known as the ‘Cario gang’ and two police officers provoked an immediate and savage reprisal from the British military in Dublin.

    Making their way to Croke Park, where Dublin and Tipperary were playing a football challenge match, the Auxiliaries opened fire on the players and spectators killing twelve. The day soon became known as Bloody Sunday and would enter GAA and nationalist folklore. The Croke Park incident had the immediate effect of bolstering support for the IRA and the independence struggle.

    The dead, who numbered fourteen, included Michael Hogan, one of the Tipperary players, for whom the Hogan Stand was subsequently named in his honour. The massacre was described as follows:

    Terrifying scenes were witnessed yesterday at Croke Park when, during the progress of a challenge football match between teams representing Dublin and Tipperary, military, R.I.C., and auxiliary police made their appearance. Volleys of rifle fire were heard, and 15,000 spectators fled in a desperate attempt to escape. There were most painful scenes subsequently when the dead, who include one of the Tipperary players, and wounded were picked up and removed to hospital.

    Later that evening the death toll for the day would rise further when Peadar Clancy, Conor Clune and Dick McKee, members of the Dublin brigade of the IRA, were shot while in custody in Dublin Castle.

    Ulster Herald 27.November.1920

    Source newspaper: Ulster Herald 1901-current, Saturday, November 27, 1920; Page: 7

  • Irish Brigade to fight for General Franco in Spain 23 November 1936

    Eoin O'Duffy blueshirts

    Irish Brigade to fight for General Franco in Spain

    In August 1936 General Eoin O’Duffy, the former Garda commissioner and leader of the Blueshirts, announced the formation of an Irish Brigade to fight for General Franco in Spain where a Civil War had broken out. O’Duffy claimed he was motivated by the historic links between Ireland and Spain, anti-communism and the need to defend the Catholic Church. The Spanish Civil War, fought between 1936-1939 would prove to be one of the most controversial and bloodiest conflicts of the twentieth century and had Irishmen on both sides. The following newspaper report described the departure of O’Duffy’s brigade:

    General O'Duffy, sailed from Liverpool on Saturday for Lisbon…O'Duffy, who, like his men, was dressed in civilian clothes, refused to discuss the intentions and movements of the party, but one member admitted that they were bound for Spain, ‘to fight for their faith’. The majority of the men were under 25, and little luggage was carried. Some of the men are believed to have formerly held rank in the Free State Army, while others are stated to be students.

    These idealistic young men also saw their participation in the Spanish Civil War as helping to solve political divisions in Ireland and ultimately Irish unity. Interviewed in Dublin prior to his departure for Spain, Capt. P. Quinn from county Kilkenny, made the following statement:

    I believe that if an Irish Brigade succeed in reaching Spain, and there fights against Communism and all its terrors, it will do more good than anything else to help the Irish people to organise at home and bury political differences in the interests of national unity.

    Interviewed before he sailed, General O’Duffy said told reporters that ‘this is no time for words, but actions’. As the boat left the quayside there were loud cheers and one young solider shouted ‘we will be back before Christmas’.

    Irish Press 23.November.1936 Eoin o'Duffy Blueshirts

     ; source newspaper: www.irishnewsarchives.com / Irish Press 1931-1995, Monday, November 23, 1936; Section: Front page, Page: 1;

  • Theobald Wolfe Tone - 19.November.1798

    Theobald Tone Wolfe dies 19.November.179819.November.1978 Theobald Wolfe Tone

    When news of the outbreak of the United Irish rebellion in May 1798 reached the then exiled Wolfe Tone he once again set in motion plans for a French invasion of Ireland. Devastated and embarrassed by the failure of almost 15,000 French troops to land at Bantry Bay in 1796, Tone managed to secure a much smaller force to embark on an invasion two years later. On 16 September, Tone sailed with General Hardy and 3,000 men and reached Lough Swilly on the Donegal coast. However, they were no match for the English navy and the small French fleet was captured on 12 October.

    Tone was taken prisoner to Dublin and tried by court-martial on 10 November. He appeared in his French uniform, was found guilty, and sentenced to be hanged, though he pleaded for a soldier’s death by firing squad. Early on the morning fixed for his execution, he was found with an opened artery in his neck and died on 19 November 1798. He was buried in Bodenstown churchyard near Clane in County Kildare.

    Remembered as the ‘Father of Irish Republicanism’, for generations his grave has been a place of pilgrimage for nationalists and republicans. Speaking in Bodenstown in 1913, Patrick Pearse, one of the signatories of the 1916 proclamation, said of Tone that he was the ‘greatest of Ireland’s dead’. Of Bodenstown he said: ‘We have come to the holiest spot in Ireland, holier even than where Patrick sleeps in Down. Patrick brought us life but this man died for us’. Today, Bodenstown remains a place of pilgrimage for a number of Irish political parties who remember Tone’s vision

    To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman, in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter, these were my means.

    Freemans Journal 1798

     Source newspaper:  www.irishnewsarchives.com Freemans Journal 1763-1924, Tuesday, November 13, 1798; Page: 3

  • Massacre at Killaloe Bridge - 16 November 1920

    16 November 1920 Massacre at Killaloe Bridge

    16 November 1920 Massacre at Killaloe Bridge

    On the 16 November 1920 one of the most notorious incidents in the Irish War of Independence occurred in the village of Killaloe, County Clare close to the Tipperary border. After an earlier attack on Scariff R.I.C. Barracks, the Auxiliaries began to search for IRA suspects but met with little success.

    Then on 16 November a Board of Works steamer, The Shannon, sailed into Williamstown Harbour, with a force of auxiliaries hidden below deck. They quickly surrounded Williamstown House where they arrested four men Alfie Rogers, Brud McMahon, Martin Gildea, and Micheal Egan. At midnight, the four prisoners were marched across Killaloe Bridge to the nearby R.I.C. Station. What happened next remains unclear but the four prisoners were shot on the bridge, supposedly while trying to escape and not halting when called upon to do so. There was no medical report at the Military Inquest, but it was reported that the R.I.C. had fired only ten bullets hitting as follows: Gildea - 1 bullet in the head; Egan - 1 bullet to the head; Rogers - 2 bullets to abdomen and 1 bullet to the head and McMahon -1 bullet to the abdomen. A newspaper account of the incident noted as follows:

    It is remarked as a peculiar circumstance that the prisoners should have been brought there at that hour, as it is stated they had been brought to the Lakeside Hotel, occupied by the police, early that evening. At the bridge, which is about 200 yards long, the road is-straight and narrow, and underneath flows the Shannon at a depth which would mean instantaneous death to a man plunging off the bridge. The spot would not, therefore, be considered- a favourable place to attempt an escape…The natives heard 15 or 20 rifle shots that night, followed by moans and a pathetic cry for the priest. No priest was, however, summoned, although the Presbytery is only about 100 yards from the scene of the tragedy.

    Download: Source newspaper: www.irishnewsarchives.com Irish Independent 1905-current, Friday, November 19, 1920; page 6

    16 November 1920 Massacre at Killaloe Bridge  On 16 November 1920 one of the most notorious incidents in the Irish War of Independence occurred in the village of Killaloe, county Clare close to the Tipperary border. After an earlier attack on Scariff R.I.C. Barracks, the Auxiliaries began to search for IRA suspects but met with little success. Then on 16 November a Board of Works steamer, The Shannon, sailed into Williamstown Harbour, with a force of auxiliaries hidden below deck. They quickly surrounded Williamstown House where they arrested four men Alfie Rogers, Brud McMahon, Martin Gildea and Micheal Egan. At midnight, the four prisoners were marched across Killaloe Bridge to the nearby R.I.C. Station. What happened next remains unclear but the four prisoners were shot on the bridge, supposedly while trying escape and not halting when called upon to do so. There was no medical report at the Military Inquest, but it was reported that the R.I.C. had fired only ten bullets hitting as follows: Gildea - 1 bullet in the head; Egan - 1 bullet to the head; Rogers - 2 bullets to abdomen and 1 bullet to the head and McMahon -1 bullet to the abdomen. A newspaper account of the incident noted as follows: It is remarked as a peculiar circumstance that the prisoners should have been brought there at that hour, as it is stated they had been brought to the Lakeside Hotel, occupied by the police, early that evening. At the bridge, which is about 200 yards long, the road is-straight and narrow, and underneath flows the Shannon at a depth which would mean instantaneous death to a man plunging off the bridge. The spot would not, therefore, be considered- a favourable place to attempt an escape…The natives heard 15 or 20 rifle shots that night, followed by moans and a pathetic cry for the priest. No priest was, however, summoned, although the Presbytery is only about 100 yards from the scene of the tragedy.    Source newspaper: Irish Independent 1905-current, Friday, November 19, 1920; page 6

  • 15 November 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement signed

    Ulster not for sale

    15 November 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement signed
    Thirty-four years ago today a political crisis, much like the present day, loomed large in Irish society. On 15 November 1985 at Hillsborough Castle, County Down the Anglo-Irish Agreement was singed by Taoiseach Garret Fitzgerald and British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher.

    The framework it was hoped would help to end the northern torubles, then entering a sixteenth year and which had claimed countless lives. The agreement provided for regular meetings between ministers in the Irish and British governments on matters affecting Northern Ireland. It outlined cooperation in four areas: political matters; security and related issues; legal matters, including the administration of justice; and the promotion of cross-border cooperation.
    For Unionists however it was a 'gross betrayal' and they threatened to make Northern Ireland ‘ungovernable’. Both leaders expressed the hope that there would not be a violent reaction from Loyalists. James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, said that if the course of action set out in the Anglo-Irish deal was allowed to go unchecked and it came to the stage where Unionists were to be ‘transferred like a trussed up parcel from one state to another and the Irish Army attempted to take over this Province, then there would be violence’. The outspoken Ian Paisley added that the violence would be ‘to the death’.
    Both leaders sought to reassure Unionists concerns wtih Garret FitzGerald stating that ‘Irish political unity would come about only with the consent of a majority’. Margaret Thatcher went further and claimed that there would be ‘no change in the status of Northern Ireland without their consent. The legitimacy of the unionists position has been recognised by the Republic in a formal international agreement’. While ultimately the agreement would be dismissed as a failure it did act as a starting point in negotiations which would lead to the Good Friday Agreement thirteen years later.

    Irish Independent 16.November.1985

    Source newspaper: www.irishnewspaperarchives.com Irish Independent 1905-current, Saturday, November 16, 1985, page 9

  • William Butler Yeats Wins Nobel Prize in Literature 14.November.1923

    William Butler Yeats wins nobel peace prize

    14 November 1923 William Butler Yeats Wins Nobel Peace Prize
    On 14 November 1923 Irish poet and senator, William Butler Yeats created history when he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first Irish citizen to achieve such an accolade.

    The prize was awarded to Yeats ‘for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation’. Somewhat surprised by the award, Yeats would later write in his autobiography:
    Early in November (1923) a journalist called to show me a printed paragraph saying that the Nobel Prize would probably be conferred upon Herr Mann, the distinguished novelist, or upon myself, I did not know that the Swedish Academy had ever heard my name.
    The news of the award was widely praised in Ireland with members of Dáil Éireann proudly announcing that it had placed Ireland on the international stage. It was a sentiment reiterated by the laureate himself, who at the awards ceremony claimed that the Nobel Prize was less for himself than for his country and called it Europe’s welcome to the Free State. In his presentation speech, Per Hallstrom, the then chairman of the academy’s Nobel Committee, praised the poet’s ability to ‘follow the spirit that early appointed him the interpreter of his country, a country that had long waited for someone to bestow on it a voice’.
    For many people Yeats was one of the few writers whose greatest works were written after the award of the Nobel Prize. The publication of his poetry which included The Wild Swans at Coole (1919), Michael Robartes and the Dancer (1921), The Tower (1928), The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933), and Last Poems and Plays (1940), made him one of the outstanding and most influential twentieth-century poets writing in English.
    .

    Source newspaper: www.irishnewsarchives.com Download: Irish Independent 1905-current, Thursday, November 29, 1923; Page: 9

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