Today in Irish History – 29 July:

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

1693 – Patrick Sarsfield is mortally wounded at the Battle of Landen. He dies of his wounds three days later at Huy in Belgium, where he is buried in the grounds of St. Martin’s Church.

1752 – Death of Co Meath born, naval officer Sir Peter Warren (b. 10 March 1703). Warren signed on as an ordinary seaman in Dublin, in 1716 when he was 13 years old and rapidly rose in the ranks. His ship patrolled American colonial waters to provide protection from French forces. He commanded the naval forces in the attack on the French fortress of Louisbourg, Nova Scotia in 1745. Warren later sat as MP for Westminster. He was an adept land speculator also and garnered thousands of acres in the New York area.

1848 – An Gorta Mor: Tipperary Revolt – In Tipperary, an unsuccessful nationalist revolt against British rule is put down by police.

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Cave Hill, Belfast

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Cave Hill, or Cavehill, is a basaltic hill overlooking the city of Belfast. It forms part of the southeastern border of the Antrim Plateau. It is distinguished by its famous ‘Napoleon’s Nose’, a basaltic outcrop which resembles the profile of the famous emperor Napoleon. Cavehill is also the name of an electoral ward in Belfast. Historically it was known as Ben Madigan, which is derived from the Irish Beann Mhadagáin, meaning “Madagán’s peak”—so named after a king of Ulster called Madagán who died in 856AD.

All of Belfast can be seen from its peak, as can the Isle of Man and Scotland on clear days. Like Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, it lies just a few miles from the centre of a major city.

Cave Hill is thought to be the inspiration for Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Swift imagined that Cave Hill resembled the shape of a sleeping giant safeguarding the…

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Michael Hartnett

Michael Hartnett (Irish: Mícheál Ó hAirtnéide) (18 September 1941 – 13 October 1999) was an Irish poet who wrote in both English and Irish. He was one of the most significant voices in late 20th-century Irish writing and has been called “Munster‘s de facto poet laureate”.[1]

Hartnett was born in Croom Hospital, County Limerick.[2] Although his parents’ name was Harnett, he was registered in error as Hartnett on his birth certificate. In later life he declined to change this as his legal name was closer to the Irish Ó hAirtnéide. He grew up in the Maiden Street area of Newcastle West, Co. Limerick, spending much of his time with his grandmother Bridget Halpin, who resided in the townland of Camas, in the countryside nearby. Hartnett claimed that his grandmother, was one of the last native speakers to live in Co. Limerick, though she was originally from North Kerry. He claims that, although she spoke to him mainly in English, he would listen to her conversing with her friends in Irish, and as such, he was quite unaware of the imbalances between English and Irish, since he experienced the free interchange of both languages. When he began school, he claims that he was made aware of the tensions between both languages, and was surprised to discover that Irish was considered an endangered language, taught as a contrived, rule-laden code, with little of the literary attraction which it held for him. He was educated in the local national and secondary schools in Newcastle West. Hartnett emigrated to England the day after he finished his secondary education and went to work as a tea boy on a building site in London.

Early writings

Hartnett had started writing by this time and his work came to the attention of the poet John Jordan, who was professor of English at University College Dublin. Jordan invited Hartnett to attend the university for a year. While back in Dublin, he co-edited the literary magazine Arena with James Liddy. He also worked as curator ofJoyce’s tower at Sandycove for a time. He returned briefly to London, where he met Rosemary Grantley on 16 May 1965, and they were married on 4 April 1966. His first book, Anatomy of a Cliché, was published by Poetry Ireland in 1968 to critical acclaim and he returned to live permanently in Dublin that same year.

He worked as a night telephonist at the telephone exchange on Exchequer Street. He now entered a productive relationship with New Writers Press, run by Michael Smith and Trevor Joyce. They published his next three books. The first of these was a translation from the Irish, The Old Hag of Beare (1969), followed by Selected Poems (1970) and Tao (1972). This last book was a version of the Chinese Tao Te Ching. His Gypsy Ballads (1973), a translation of the Romancero Gitano of Federico García Lorca was published by the Goldsmith Press.

A Farewell to English

In 1974 Hartnett decided to leave Dublin to return to his rural roots, as well as deepen his relationship with the Irish language. He went to live in Templeglantine, five miles from Newcastle West, and worked for a time as a lecturer in creative writing at Thomond College of Education, Limerick.


In his 1975 book A Farewell to English he declared his intention to write only in Irish in the future, describing English as ‘the perfect language to sell pigs in’. A number of volumes in Irish followed: Adharca Broic (1978), An Phurgóid (1983) and Do Nuala: Foighne Chrainn (1984). A biography on this period of Michael Hartnett’s life entitled ‘A Rebel Act Michael Hartnett’s Farewell To English’ by Pat Walsh was published in 2012 by Mercier Press.

Later life and works

In 1984 he returned to Dublin to live in the suburb of Inchicore. The following year marked his return to English with the publication of Inchicore Haiku, a book that deals with the turbulent events in his personal life over the previous few years. This was followed by a number of books in English including A Necklace of Wrens (1987), Poems to Younger Women (1989) andThe Killing of Dreams (1992).

He also continued working in Irish, and produced a sequence of important volumes of translation of classic works into English. These included Ó Bruadair, Selected Poems of Dáibhí Ó Bruadair (1985) and Ó Rathaille The Poems of Aodhaghán Ó Rathaille (1999). His Collected Poems appeared in two volumes in 1984 and 1987 and New and Selected Poems in 1995. Hartnett died from Alcoholic Liver Syndrome. A new Collected Poems appeared in 2001.

Eigse Michael Hartnett

Every April a literary and arts festival is held in Newcastle West in honour of Michael Hartnett. Events are organised throughout the town and a memorial lecture is given by a distinguished guest. Former speakers include Nuala O’Faolain, Paul Durcan, David Whyte and Fintan O’Toole.[3] The annual Michael Hartnett Poetry Award of 6500 euro also forms part of the festival. Funded by the Limerick County Arts Office and the Arts Council of Ireland, it is intended to support and encourage poets in the furtherance of their writing endeavours. Previous winners include Sinéad Morrissey and Peter Sirr.[4]

During the 2011 Eigse, Paul Durcan unveiled a bronze life-sized statue of Michael Hartnett sculpted by Rory Breslin, in the Square, Newcastle West. Hartnett’s son Niall spoke at the unveiling ceremony.[5]

Publication History

  • Anatomy of a Cliché (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1968)
  • The Hag of Beare, trans. from Irish (Dublin: New Writers Press 1969)
  • A Farewell to English (Gallery Press 1975)
  • Cúlú Íde/ The Retreat of Ita Cagney (Goldsmith Press 1975)
  • Poems in English (Dublin: Dolmen Press 1977)
  • Prisoners : (Gallery Press 1977)
  • Adharca Broic (Gallery Press 1978)
  • An Phurgóid (Coiscéim 1983)
  • Do Nuala, Foidhne Chuainn ( Coiscéim 1984)
  • Inchicore Haiku (Raven Arts Press 1985)
  • An Lia Nocht (Coiscéim 1985)
  • A Necklace of Wrens: Poems in Irish and English (Gallery Press 1987)
  • Poems to Younger Women (Gallery Press 1988)
  • The Killing of Dreams (Gallery Press 1992)
  • Selected and New Poems (Gallery Press 1994)
  • Collected Poems (Gallery Press 2001)
  • A Book of Strays (Gallery Press 2001)

Select translations

  • Tao: A Version of the Chinese Classic of the Sixth Century (New Writers Press 1971)
  • Gypsy Ballads: A Version of the Romancero Gitano of Frederico Garcia Lorca (Newbridge: Goldsmith Press 1973)
  • Ó Bruadair (Gallery Press 1985)
  • Selected Poems of Nuala Ní Domhnaill (Gallery Press 1986)
  • An Damh-Mhac, trans. from Hungarian of Ferenc (Juhász 1987)
  • Dánta Naomh Eoin na Croise, translation from St. John of the Cross (Coiscéim 1991)
  • Haicéad (Gallery Press 1993)
  • Ó Rathaille: The Poems of Aodhaghán Ó Rathaille (Gallery Press 1999)
  • Translations (Gallery Press 2002)


  1. Nolan, Val (July 2009). “The Shoulders for a Raggy Coat”. Poetry Ireland Newsletter.
  2. Hartnett liked to cite his birth in Croom hospital, as Croom was an area connected with the ancient Gaelic poets
  3. “Irish Poetry, Literary & Arts Festival in Newcastle West, County Limerick – Eigse Michael Hartnett”.
  4. “Irish Poetry, Literary & Arts Festival in Newcastle West, County Limerick – Eigse Michael Hartnett”.
  5. “Irish Poetry, Literary & Arts Festival in Newcastle West, County Limerick – Eigse Michael Hartnett”.

Further reading

Michael MacAuliffe

Michael MacAuliffe, also known as Max Arthur Macauliffe (10 September 1841 − 15 March 1913), was a senior Sikh-British administrator, prolific scholar and author. Macauliffe is renowned for his translation of Sikh scripture and history into English.[1]

MacAuliffe was born at Newcastle West, County Limerick, on 10 September 1841. He was educated at Newcastle School, Limerick, and Springfield College. He attended Queen’s College Galway between 1857 and 1863, being awarded junior scholarships in the Literary Division of the Arts Faculty for 1857-8, 1858-9, and 1859-60. He was awarded a B.A. degree with first class honours in Modern Languages in 1860. He obtained a senior scholarship in Ancient Classics for 1860-1, and a senior scholarship in Modern Languages and History for 1861-2. He also served as Secretary of the college’s Literary and Debating Society for the 1860-1861 session.

MacAuliffe entered the Indian Civil Service in 1862, and arrived in the Punjab in February 1864. He was appointed Deputy Commissioner of the Punjab in 1882, and a Divisional Judge in 1884. He retired from the Indian Civil Service in 1893.

MacAuliffe also wrote a rendition, English translation of the Sacred scriptures of the Sikh religion, the Guru Granth Sahib. He also wrote The Sikh Religion: its Gurus, Sacred Writings and Authors (six volumes, Oxford University Press, 1909). He was assisted in his works by Pratap Singh Giani, a Sikh scholar.

Macauliffe converted to Sikhism in the 1860s[2] and was even derided by his British employers for having “turned a Sikh”[3]

His personal assistant remarked in his memoirs that on his death bed, Macauliffe could be heard reciting the Sikh morning prayer, Japji Sahib, ten minutes before he died.[3]

Macauliffe is held in high esteem amongst Sikh communion, for his attempted translation into English of the Sikh Scriptures, the Guru Granth Sahib. At a lecture at the annual session of the Lahore Singh Sabha Macauliffe proclaimed that the Guru Granth was matchless as a book of holy teachings.[3]

He was awarded the degree of M.A. (honoris causa) by his alma mater in 1882. MacAuliffe died at his home in London on 15 March 1913.


  • The Sikh Religion Vol I (1909)
  • The Sikh Religion Vol II (1909)
  • The Sikh Religion Vol III (1909)
  • The Sikh Religion Vol IV (1909)
  • The Sikh Religion Vol V (1909)
  • The Sikh Religion Vol VI (1909)


External links

Philomena Lee

Philomena Lee (born 24 March 1933)[1] is an Irish woman whose life was chronicled in the 2009 book by Martin Sixsmithtitled The Lost Child of Philomena Lee. The book was made into a film titled Philomena in 2013, which was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Lead Actress for Judi Dench‘s portrayal of Philomena, and Best Picture. Lee is now an advocate and spokesperson for adoption rights.[2][3] Lee has created The Philomena Project in order to raise awareness about adoption laws and ways to improve them. She met with Pope Francis to discuss the Catholic church’s adoption policies in February 2014.[4][5][6]

Lee was born in County Limerick, Ireland in 1933. Her mother died of tuberculosis when Lee was six. Her father was a butcher, and sent Lee and her sisters Kaye and Mary to convent school while he kept the sons at home. After Lee completed her formal education at the convent, she went to live with her maternal aunt, Kitty Madden.

She married in 1959, had two more children Jane and Kevin, and worked as a nurse. She is divorced from her first husband and remarried.[7]

Lee became pregnant at age 18 at a local carnival by a man named John who worked for the post office. She was then sent to the Sean Ross Abbey in Roscrea, a place for unwed mothers. After she gave birth, she was able to be with her child until she was 22 and he was three while living in the Abbey. As was common practice in Ireland at the time, the church sold him to a Catholic family in the United States. Philomena did not know where her son was sent by the nuns when he left the Abbey, after she was forced into signing the adoption papers.[8] She eventually left the Abbey and moved to England.

Around Christmas 2003, Lee revealed to her family that she had a son when she was 18 and she did not know his whereabouts. She had secretly been trying to find what happened to her son on her own for decades, without success. Her daughter, Jane, decided to approach journalist Martin Sixsmith at a New Years Party a few weeks later, explaining the story and asking if he would be interested in helping them find out the details of what happened to the child.[9]

Sixsmith agreed to take on the story, and spent years with Philomena Lee researching until they discovered her son was Michael Hess, and that he had died of AIDS in 1995 at age 43. They learned he had been put up for adoption by the nuns at the Abbey and was hence adopted by an American couple, Doc and Marge Hess. Michael had tried when he was alive to find his mother without success. A girl named Mary was adopted by the Hesses from the Abbey as well and Mary and Michael grew up together. He arranged to have his burial be at the Sean Ross Abbey, in hopes his mother could find his grave.[10]

A script was developed by Jeff Pope and Steve Coogan based on Sixsmith’s book. Stephen Frears directed with Judi Dench cast as Philomena. The film was distributed by The Weinstein Company in November 2013 and was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Best Score.


  1. Sixsmith, Martin. The Lost Child of Philomena Lee: A Mother, Her Son and a Fifty Year Search. Macmillan Publishers. p. 14. ISBN 978-0230744271.
  2. “Philomena Lee to tell world conference about her forced adoption in Ireland”. 4 September 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  3. Buckley, Dan (5 September 2014). “Philomena Lee: ‘I can still see my son’s little face’”. Irish Examiner. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  4. Child, Ben (31 January 2014). “Philomena Lee starts campaign for law change on adoption rights”. The Guardian. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  5. “What Is The Philomena Project?”. The Philomena Project. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  6. “Steve Coogan and Philomena Lee meet Pope Francis”. BBC. 6 February 2014. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  7. Gritten, David (15 October 2013). “Philomena: behind the scenes with Dame Judi Dench and Steve Coogan”. The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  8. Midgette, Anne (4 February 2014). “The real Philomena Lee finds Hollywood ending to adoption story”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  9. Adams, Cindy (10 March 2014). “Philomena Lee speaks about battle with Ireland’s Supreme Court”. New York Post. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  10. Sixsmith, Martin (19 September 2009). “The Catholic church sold my child”. The Guardian. Retrieved 6 September 2014.

External links

2004 – Death of Joe Cahill, a prominent Irish republican and former chief of staff of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA).

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

“I was born in a united Ireland, I want to die in a united Ireland”. –Joe Cahill

In May 1920, Cahill was born in Divis Street in west Belfast where his parents had been neighbours with Irish revolutionary James Connolly.

Cahill was the first child in a family of thirteen siblings born to Joesph and Joesphine Cahill. Cahill was educated at primary level at St. Mary’s Christian Brothers Primary School at Barrack Street. Cahill’s father was a printer by trade and an Irish republican who was a former member of the Irish National Volunteers and would produce Irish republican related material at his print shop. At the age of fourteen Cahill left school to assist in the printshop after his father had become ill.

At the age of eighteen, Cahill became a volunteer in the local Clonard based ‘C’ Company of the Belfast Brigade of the Irish Republican Army.


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Today in Irish History – 23 July:

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: A body of United Irishmen assembled on Slievenamon mountain in Tipperary. Their plans were known and the deliberate lighting of a signal fire at an unexpected time caused great confusion. General Sir Charles Asgill marched from Kilkenny and attacked and dispersed the rebels.

1803 – In opposition to the Act of Union, Robert Emmet leads an armed outbreak that is easily suppressed.

1830 – Birth of John O’Leary, Fenian, in Tipperary; referred to famously by Yeats in his poem “September 1913″: ‘Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone/It’s with O’Leary in the grave’.

1834 – St. Vincent’s Hospital, established by the Sisters of Charity, opens in Dublin.

1834 – James Gibbons, American Cardinal, Bishop of Richmond from and Archbishop of Baltimore is born in Baltimore, MD to parents Thomas and Bridget (née Walsh) Gibbons who had emigrated from Tourmakeady, Co Mayo. Not long after his birth, the…

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