This Week in the History of the Irish: July 9 - July 15

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DOMHNAIGH -- On July 9, 1750, John Philpot Curran, lawyer and nationalist, was born in Newmarket, Co. Cork. Curran, a Protestant, first gained fame by winning a judgment for a Catholic priest who had been horsewhipped by Lord Doneraile. A colleague of Gratton, Curran represented Rathcormack, Co. Cork, in the Irish Parliament and was a strong advocate of Catholic emancipation. During his career, he would defend many famous Irish revolutionaries, including Napper Tandy and the Sheares brothers.

After the '98 Rising, he represented Wolfe Tone, and he opposed the Act of Union with Great Britain. But in 1803, when he discovered his daughter, Sarah, was secretly engaged to Robert Emmet, he refused to take Emmet's case and drove Sarah from his house. Curran retired to London in 1814, where he was friendly with Thomas Moore and Lord Byron until his death in 1817. John Philpot Curran's body was returned to Ireland and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

(Left John Philpot Curran, from the "Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland." 1905)

CÉADAOIN -- On July 12, 1691, the Jacobite army in Ireland fought the forces of William of Orange at the battle of Aughrim. Although the battle of the Boyne fought a year earlier is seen by many today as decisive, the Jacobite army was still a grave threat to William's domination of Ireland.

(Above:  The Battle of Aughrim by John Mulvany. Right: Linen Hall Library - Baron Godert de Ginkel, commander of the Williamite forces at Aughrim.)

Far from beaten, the Jacobites controlled a large portion of Ireland in the southwest. William's forces that day were commanded by Dutchman Baron Godert de Ginkel, the Jacobites by Frenchman Marquis Saint-Ruth. After initially having his infantry stopped cold, Ginkel's cavalry battered the Jacobite's left flank. At this same moment, Saint-Ruth was decapitated by a cannon ball, and this added demoralization contributed to the rout that followed. Sarsfield's cavalrymen, held in reserve through most of the battle, did their best to cover the retreat, but they suffered massive casualties. As the Jacobites retreated toward Limerick, their cause in Ireland was in desperate trouble. After the defeat at the Boyne, the Jacobites had still been a threat to attack. After Aughrim, that threat was removed, and the Jacobites would spend the rest of the war under siege.

DEARDAOIN to DOMHNAIGH -- From July 13 to 16, 1863, one of the more regrettable incidents related to Irish-American history occurred --the New York City Draft Riots. The slogan, "rich man's war, poor man's fight," was the cry of many in the Northern states. Fueled by an understandable anger at a draft that allowed rich men to buy their way out, worried that the eventual emancipation of blacks would rob them of their jobs, and egged on by some politicians and Southern agents, many Irish participated in rioting that engulfed the city two days after the draft began. Through the years the story has been told as if only Irish rioted, but in fact many besides the Irish took part, and many Irish policemen, fireman, priests and trade unionists were among the most influential in quelling them. Still, it cannot be denied -- a large number of Irish did participate in the burning of a black orphanage and murder of blacks in the city. This unfortunate episode left a lasting stain on the reputation of New York's Irish community.

AOINE -- On July 14, 1798, brothers John (right) and Henry Sheares, who were both lawyers and United Irishmen, were hung, drawn and quartered in Dublin. Sons of a wealthy banker and member of the Irish Parliament from Co. Cork, Henry was briefly an officer in the 51st Regiment of foot following his schooling, but did not find army life to his liking and resigned his commission. Both brothers became successful lawyers and could have lived out their lives in comfort, but they visited France together in 1792 and there acquired their revolutionary republican principles. On the boat home from France the met Daniel O'Connell, who may have also been inspired by the revolution in France, but was repulsed by the violence that had gone on there and did not join the United Irishmen. They joined the United Irishmen on their return to Dublin and John began to write articles for the Press, a nationalist paper and help organize the group in Cork. When most of the leaders of the United Irishmen were arrested in the spring of 1798, John became the defacto leader for a short time. The brothers were betrayed by an informer, Capt. Warnesford Armstrong, and arrested May 21. Found guilty of treason, they were publicly hung outside Newgate Prison in Dublin. Both are buried at Dublin's St. Michan's Church.

VOICES

She said, “Ten times they fought for me,
ten times they with might and main
Ten times I saw them beaten down,
Ten times they rose, and fought again.”

She said, “I stayed alone at home,
A dreary woman, grey and cold
I never asked them how they fared,
Yet still they loved me as of old.
         -- From the poem "After Aughrim" by Emily Lawless.

'Adieu, Julia, my light is out -- the approach of darkness is like that of death, since both alike require I should say farewell forever -- Oh my dear family, farewell forever.'
         -- From a letter written by John Sheares to his sister shortly before his execution.

"The accusation of which I speak, while I linger here yet a minute, is that of holding out to the people of Ireland a direction to give no quarter to the troops fighting for its defence. My lords, let me say thus, that if there be any acquaintances in this crowded court--I do not say my intimate friends, but acquaintances--who do not know what I say is truth, I shall be reputed the wretch which I am not; I say, if any acquaintance of mine can believe that I could utter a recommendation of giving no quarter to a yielding and unoffending foe, it is not the death which I am about to suffer that I deserve--no punishment could be adequate to such a crime. My lords, I can not only acquit my soul of such an intention, but I declare, in the presence of that God before whom I must shortly appear, that the favorite doctrine of my heart was that no human being should suffer death, but when absolute necessity required it."
         -- From John Sheares speech in the dock.

BIRTHS

July -- Iúil

9, 1750 - John Philpot Curran (Barrister - Newmarket, Co. Cork)
11, 1879 - Hugh Kennedy (First Chief Justice of the Irish Free State - Dublin)
13, 1886 – Edward Flanagan (Priest, founder of “Boy’s Town” – Leabeg, Co. Roscommon.) 
14, 1830 - Richard Henry Jackson (Union General - Kennegad, Co. Westmeath)
15, 1899 - Sean Lemass (Politician - Ballybrack, Co. Dublin)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

9, 1797 - Edmund Burke, political writer and orator, dies in London.
10, 1917 - De Valera wins election to Parliament from Clare as Sinn Fein candidate.
10, 1997 - For the second time in three years, IRA declares a cease-fire.
11, 1921 - Truce declared between IRA and British army.
12, 1691 - Battle of Aughrim.
12, 1734 -
 
James Fitzjames, the Marshal, Duke of Berwick, illegitimate son of James II and officer in the Irish Brigade of France, is killed at the siege of Philipsburg.
12, 1796 - First Orange parades
 in Lurgan, Waringstown, and Portadown.
12, 1813 - 
First recorded "Twelfth of July" sectarian riots in Belfast.
12, 1849 - 
30 Catholics killed in rioting after Orange Order march through Dolly's Brae near Castlewellan.
12, 1862 - Medal of Honor authorized by Congress.

12, 1862 – Co. Laois  native Col. Thomas Cass dies of wounds suffered at the Battle of Malvern Hill.
12, 1922 - Michael Collins named head of Free State army with rank of general.
12, 1998 - In the early morning hours Quinn brothers Richard, 11, Mark, 10, and Jason 9, are burned to death by a Loyalist firebomb in Ballymoney, 40 miles northwest of Belfast.
13, 1825
 - Catholic Association, dissolved by law on May 18th, is reconstituted. 
13-16, 1863 - Draft riots in New York City. 
13, 1981 - Martin Hurson dies on hunger strike. 
14, 1921 - De Valera meets with Lloyd George in London.
14, 1798 - United Irishmen John and Henry Sheares executed in Dublin.
14, 1969 - First death of the troubles, a 70-year-old farmer is struck in a melee outside an Orange Hall in Dungiven, Co. Derry. He was probably just an onlooker.
15, 1580 - Fiach MacHugh O'Byrne rises in rebellion in Co. Wicklow.
15, 1729 - Count John Joseph Anton O'Dwyer, Lt. Field Marshal in the Austrian army, dies.

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Tags: Europe, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, On This Day, United States

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