2013 – World-renowned poet and playwright Seamus Heaney died in the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin following a short illness, aged 74.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

“History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.” ―Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney was awarded numerous prizes over the years and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. He was born to a farming family at Mossbawn near Bellaghy in Co Derry on 13 April 1939 and was the eldest of nine children born to Margaret and Patrick Heaney. His upbringing often played out in the poetry he wrote in later years. Educated at the St Columb’s College Catholic boarding school in Derry, he later studied at Queen’s University Belfast, before making his home in Dublin, with periods of teaching in the United States. Among the academic posts he held were professorships at Harvard and Oxford universities. Heaney was an honourary fellow at Trinity College Dublin and was…

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Today in Irish History – 28 August:

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

1710 – A board of trustees for linen manufacture is established.

1788 – Sir Aubrey de Vere, poet, is born in Adare, Co Limerick.

1788 – James Digges La Touche, banker and philanthropist, is born in Dublin.

1798 – Cornwallis reaches Athlone; Humbert entrenches in Castlebar.

1814 – Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, novelist and journalist, is born in Dublin.

1815 – Mary Letitia Martin, ‘Princess of Connemara,’ novelist, philanthropist and daughter of ‘Humanity Dick’ Martin is born in Ballynahinch Castle, Co Galway.

1848 – Francis O’Neill, The Police Chief Who Saved Irish Music is born near Bantry, Co Cork. After emigrating to the United States, he joined the Chicago police force in 1873, eventually serving as Chief of Police from 1901-1905.

1860 – Napier’s and Deasy’s Land Acts are passed.

1872 – The first horse drawn tram cars enter service in Belfast.

1877 – Charles Stewart Parnell becomes president of…

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1979 – Assassination of Lord Louis Mountbatten off the coast of Co Sligo.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

An IRA bomb kills the Queen’s cousin Lord Louis Mountbatten in Co Sligo.

Mountbatten regularly holidayed in the West of Ireland. The bomb exploded on his boat some minutes after he and family friends had departed the little port of Mullaghmore. Mountbatten’s grandson Nicholas, 14, and fifteen year old local, Paul Maxwell, 15, employed as a boat boy were also killed. Another passenger, the Dowager Lady Brabourne, 82, dies the day after the attack. Thomas McMahon was convicted of the killings. He was released in 1998 under the Good Friday Agreement.

Although hard for many people to swallow, participants on both sides of the Troubles were released under the Good Friday Agreement and proved a watershed in rapprochement between Republican and Loyalist elements.

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Today in Irish History – 25 August:

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

1170 – Richard de Clare (Strongbow) marries MacMurrough’s daughter Aoife, as part of an agreement made two years earlier.

1645 – Edward Worcester, Earl of Glamorgan; aristocrat and inventor, is sent to Ireland to raise troops for the king, and makes two secret treaties with the confederates on this date and on 20 December.

1764 – Birth of James Hope. He was a United Irishmen leader who fought in the 1798 and 1803 rebellions against British rule in Ireland. He was born in Templepatrick, Co Antrim, to a Presbyterian family originally of Covenanter stock. He was apprenticed as a linen weaver but attended night school in his spare time. Influenced by the American Revolution, he joined the Irish Volunteers, but upon the demise of that organisation and further influenced by the French Revolution, he joined the Society of the United Irishmen in 1795.

1769 – Henry Flood, MP for Callan…

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1803 – James Napper Tandy, Irish patriot, dies in exile in France.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

James Napper Tandy was born in the Cornmarket area of Dublin in 1740; one of three children born to James Tandy, an iron works merchant, and Maria Bella Jenkins. Tandy received his education at the Quaker boarding school in Ballitore, Kildare, amongst its alumni Edmund Burke, a champion of Catholic emancipation and a supporter of American independence.

Originally a small tradesman in Dublin, he gained attention by his attacks on municipal corruption and his proposal to boycott English goods as a reprisal for the restrictions placed on Irish commerce. He joined the Irish volunteers, and he aided Theobald Wolfe Tone in founding the Dublin branch of the United Irish Society in 1791. When faced with a sedition charge in 1793, Tandy fled to the United States and then to France in 1798, where he was given the title of General. He landed in Ireland, but when he discovered that the…

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Today in Irish History – 24 August:

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

In the Liturgical calendar it is the Feast Day of Abbán moccu Corbmaic, also Eibbán or Moabba, a saint in Irish tradition. He was associated, first and foremost, with Mag Arnaide (Moyarney or Adamstown, near New Ross, Co Wexford) and with Cell Abbáin (Killabban, Co Laois). His cult was, however, also connected to other churches elsewhere in Ireland, notably that of his alleged sister Gobnait.

1210 – King John sails from Dublin for England. He had landed at Waterford in June and campaigned in Leinster; after a short siege, he captures Carrickfergus, where the de Lacys have made a stand. On 28 July he captures William de Braose and confiscates his lands. Hugh and Walter de Lacy, lords of Ulster and Meath, forfeit their lands but escape to Scotland. John has defeated the hostile Norman magnates and has established relations with various Irish kings. Cathal Crovderg O’Connor, king of Connacht…

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1907 – A memorial arch is dedicated at St Stephens Green Dublin in honour of the Irish soldiers who died fighting for “King and country” in the Boer war.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Five years on from the war, the Fusiliers’ Arch was unveiled in the heart of Dublin, as a testament to the actions of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers in South Africa. While the war ended in a British victory, it was a bloody and costly one. In financial terms, a war that would supposedly be over by Christmas 1899 by 1902 had cost the British taxpayer in excess of £200 million, while in excess of twenty thousand British soldiers died in South Africa. One of the leading historians of the war, Thomas Pakenham, would write that “in money and lives, no British war since 1815 had been so prodigal.”

At the time of the unveiling of the Arch in August 1907, The Freeman’s Journal newspaper poured scorn on the monument, condemning its “false dedication, to the dead Fusiliers, while the living are left to starve.” The paper commented that “From first…

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