This Week in the History of the Irish: April 3 - April 9

Roger Casement and crew members stand in the tower of a German U-boat en route to Ireland.

DOMHNAIGH -- On the monrning of April 9, 1916, a German merchant ship, the Aud, had just left the port of Lübeck, loaded with guns and ammunition for the Irish Republican Brotherhood. The German government hoped to deliver the arms to western Ireland to coincide with the planned Easter Rising. Roger Casement, who had arranged the shipment, was spending his last night in Berlin before following in a German U-Boat. The Aud had no communications equipment aboard, giving them no means of contacting the Irish while en route. This would be a factor when they finally reached the Irish coast several days later. The IRB would not be waiting as it did not want the guns landed before dawn on the 24th, but the message had been miscommunicated as "not later than the 24th." Casement, meanwhile, desperately wanted to get to Ireland to stop a rising he now believed could not succeed. The wheels were in motion -- the Easter Rising was coming, and there was nothing Casement or anyone else was going to do to stop it now.

LUAIN -- On April 10, 1923, General Liam Lynch, chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army, was mortally wounded by Free State troops in Tipperary. Born in Limerick, Lynch commanded the Cork No. 2 Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the War of Independence. Lynch helped capture a senior British officer, General Cuthbert Lucas in June 1920 and with Ernie O’Malley commanded a group that captured the British Army barracks at Mallow in September.

He opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty and was appointed chief of staff of the IRA before the start of the Civil War. Lynch attempted to use the same "flying column" tactics against the Free State forces as had been used so successfully against the British, but the IRA no longer enjoyed overwhelming support from the people in the countryside. On April 9, 1923, Lynch and a party of IRA officers were in County Tipperary when their hideout was approached by two columns of Free State soldiers. While they attempted to retreat up into the Knockmealdown Mountains, General Lynch was wounded. The Free State troops transported Lynch to St. Joseph's Hospital in Clonmel, but he died there that night. Ten days later de Valera and the IRA high command would meet and decide to end the hostilities. A memorial round tower was built in honor of Liam Lynch near the spot where he was wounded; it was unveiled April 7, 1935.

(Left: The memorial to Liam Lynch at the spot where he was shot in the Knockmealdown Mountains outside Goatenbridge, Co. Tipperary.)

CÉADAOIN -- On April 12, 1816, Charles Gavan Duffy (right) was born in County Monaghan. Self-educated as a journalist, Duffy would found the Nation, a nationalist weekly journal, along with Thomas Davis and John Dillon in 1842. From this publication sprung the Young Ireland political party which would break with Daniel O'Connell in 1848. Duffy was arrested and the Nation suppressed during that year but he revived it in '49. He was elected MP for New Ross in '52, and pushed for land reform, but ill health forced him to immigrate to Australia. There he entered politics and was elected Prime Minister of Victoria in 1871 and was knighted for service to the colony in 1873. He retired to the south of France in 1880 and wrote a biography of Davis, as well as history of the Young Ireland movement and other works. He died on Feb. 9, 1903 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

The original color scheme of the Irish tricolor, with the orange near the staff.

SATHAIRN -- On April 15, 1848, in Dublin, Thomas Francis Meagher presented the tricolor national flag of Ireland to the public for the first time at a meeting of the Young Ireland Party. Meagher had recently gone to Paris with an Irish delegation sent to congratulate the French republicans on their successful revolution. Inspired by the tricolor French flag, he came up with similar design for the Irish flag, with orange, white and green stripes. The colors symbolized the uniting of the two traditions in one new nation. Few realize though, that Meagher's original flag had the orange stripe closest to the staff. That flag was nearly forgotten following the Young Irelander's failed rising later in '48. The Fenians, the next Irish revolutionary movement, used the traditional green field and golden harp motif for its flags. But in 1916, Meagher's flag was resurrected by the Irish Volunteers and later by Sinn Fein. With the green stripe closest to the staff, Thomas Francis Meagher's tricolor became the official flag of the 26 counties of the Irish Republic. Until recently, display of the tricolor flag was illegal in the six occupied counties of northern Ireland.

VOICES

Self-government is our right, a thing born in us at birth; a thing no more to be doled out to us or withheld from us by another people than the right to life itself
               -- Roger Casement

He was truly one of the people typical of that great mass of plain Irish people who are always ready to serve the cause of Irish independence without thought of reward
-- From the speech by Brian O'Higgins at the dedication of the memorial to Liam Lynch (left). April 7, 1935.

A National Flag is the most sacred thing a nation can possess. 
--Thomas Francis Meagher

April - Aibreán

BIRTHS

10, 1867 - George Russell (Author and Editor -- Lurgan, Co. Armagh)
10, 1911 - Joseph Jeremiah McCarthy (MOH – Chicago, Illinois)
12, 1816 - Sir Charles Gavan Duffy (Nationalist -- Monaghan.)
13, 1825
 - Thomas D'arcy McGee (Nationalist, writer, Canadian politician -- Calingford, Co. Louth.)
13, 1906
 - Samuel Beckett (Playwright -- Dublin)
16, 1871
 - John Millington Synge (Author-Dublin)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

9, 1812 - The Hibernia regiment of Spain and Napoleon's Irish Legion face each other at Badajoz during the Peninsular War.
9, 1916 - The Aud leaves Germany for Ireland with arms for the IRB.
9, 1921 - Dr. William Walsh (archbishop - nationalist) dies.
9, 1984 - Leslie De Barra, revolutionary, wife of General Tom Barry, dies.
10, 1808 - War Minister, Gen. O'Farrill, becomes a member a ruling junta in Spain.
10, 1918 - British Parliament proposes conscription in Ireland.
10, 1923 - Liam Lynch, chief of staff of the Irish Republican Army, mortally wounded by Free State troops in Tipperary.
10, 1981 - Bobby Sands elected to Parliament for Fermangh while on hunger strike.
10, 1998 - Mitchell Agreement for NI is signed by all parties to the talks.
12, 1847 - The American relief ship, Jamestown, lands supplies in Cork for victims of the Great Hunger.
12, 1916 - Roger Casement sets sail from Germany to Ireland aboard the German U-boat U-20.
13, 1778 - John Paul Jones sails into Belfast harbor and captures the H.M.S. Drake.
13, 1811 - Stephen Moylan, cavalry commander in the American Revolution, dies in Philadelphia.
14, 1794 - George Arthur Dillon, Irish Brigade of France officer, guillotined in France.
14, 1916 - The U-20 returns to land with mechanical problems, and Roger Casement transfers to the U-19.
14, 1922 - IRA occupies the Four Courts in Dublin.
14, 1919 - Limerick Trades Council declares a general strike.
15, 1840 - Repeal (of Union) Association founded.
15, 1848 - In Dublin, the tricolor national flag of Ireland is presented to the public for the first time by Thomas Francis Meagher and the Young Ireland Party.
15, 1912 - Eleven people from Addergoole, Lahardane, Co. Mayo die on the Titanic.
15, 1941 - Free State fire brigades are sent to aid Belfast after Nazi raids cause numerous fires.

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Tags: History of Ireland, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, On This Day

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