This Week in the History of the Irish: June 11 - June 17

MÁIRT -- On June 12, 1844, Januarius A. MacGahan, war correspondent, was born near New Lexington, Ohio. MacGahon's father was a native of County Derry. Januarius was an excellent student and became a teacher and then moved to St. Louis and was hired as a newspaper reporter. In 1868 he traveled to Europe to study European languages but ended up covering the Franco-Prussian war for the New York Herald. Later he had numerous adventures while covering various stories all over the world. The crowning achievement of his life was his coverage of Turkish atrocities against the people of Bulgaria in 1876. His reports of the mass slaughters of innocent Bulgarians caused a sensation around the world and caused the Russians to intervene on the Bulgarian side. MacGahan accompanied the Russian army into Bulgaria.

(Right: Januarius A. MacGahan is on the left. The other man is unidentified, and is perhaps another correspondent.)

The Turks were soon beaten and MacGahan followed the Russian army into Constantinople. There he fell sick with typhus and died on June 9, 1878, three days short of this 34th birthday. His stories had had such an influence that some consider him one of the liberators of Bulgaria. For many years the Bulgarians would commemorate his death with an annual Requiem Mass at Tirnova. In 1883 Januarius A. MacGahan's body was brought home to Ohio and reinterred in his hometown of New Lexington.

Read Januarious MacGahan's full story HERE.


CÉADAOIN -- On June 14, 1690, William of Orange, King of Holland, and recently declared King of England, arrived in Belfast with his fleet. The Catholic King James II had been tolerated by the Protestant nobility for a time because all his possible heirs were Protestant. But when James' wife gave birth to a son all that changed. Unable to face the prospect of another Catholic on the throne, they invited William of Orange, who was married to James' daughter Mary, to assume the British throne. As James' and William's armies prepared to meet, William had a formidable force with him, over 40 pieces of artillery and more that 1,000 horses; his army would number over 36,000 when fully gathered. James' army would be inferior in men and firepower. The fate of the crown of Great Britain would now be decided on the fields of Ireland.

Harry Boland, a Dublin tailor and Sinn Féin leader, left; Michael Collins, who would come to fight forces led by de Valera, center, and Eamon de Valera, right.

AOINE -- On June 16, 1917, Eamon De Valera, convict #95, was released from London's Pentonville Prison. "Dev" had been jailed by the British ever since his death sentence for his part in the Easter Rising had been reduced to life imprisonment. British prison authorities were surely glad to see de Valera go. Convict #95 had led Irish prisoners in acts of defiance in several different prisons. At Dartmoor Prison he went on hunger strike and got a fellow prisoner off bread and water. When all the Irish prisoners were transferred to Lewes Jail, he organized a work stoppage and got another man off bread and water. The exasperated British then split up the Irish prisoners, sending de Valera to Maidstone Prison, whose governor had a reputation for breaking men. De Valera met him head on, refusing to stand at attention or button his jacket as required in his presence, then piercing his pride by wondering aloud (to the delight of the British prison guards) why a military-age man such as he was not at the front. The governor avoided de Valera after that. Soon after this, de Valera was transferred to Pentonville Prison for early release. Before his release, he said a prayer over the grave of Roger Casement, who had been hanged there. As a free man, Dev would continue to plague Ireland's foreign rulers.

SATHAIRN -- On June 17, 1845, author and poet Emily Lawless (right) was born in Lyons Castle, County Kildare. Her family was part of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy, but some ancestors had fought with Sarsfield and became 'Wild Geese,' and her grandfather was imprisoned in the Tower of London for his United Irish sympathies. Emily was raised by her mother's family, the Kirwins, in Castlehacket, County Galway. This family history, and Emily's own childhood among the poor of western Ireland, where she learned Irish, affected her writing. Lawless wrote several works of prose, but she is perhaps best remembered for her patriotic poetry. Her 1902 book of poems, 'With the Wild Geese,' celebrates Ireland's exiled soldiers and includes 'After Aughrim' and 'Clare Coast'

VOICES 

'Regarded simply on its merits, there is nothing I know of to excel it in vividness, in pathos, in a burning earnestness, in a glow of conviction that fires from heart to heart. The man whose voice rang out clear through the nations with its burden of wrongs and shame and deviltry, was no illustrious statesman, no famed litterateur, but just this young American from off the little farm in Perry county, Ohio.' 
         -- British war correspondent Archibald Forbes speaking of Januarius MacGahan and his reports from Bulgaria

For the choice is open now, I must either stand or bow
Secure this beckoning sunshine, or else accept the rain
Must be banished with my own, or my race and faith disown?
Share the loss, or snatch the gain?

Shall I pay the needed toll, just the purchase of a soul,
Heart and lips, faith and promises sever?
Six centuries of strain, six centuries of pain,
Six centuries cry, "Never!" 
         -- The decision faced by the Wild Geese, from "The Choice" by Emily Lawless 

BIRTHS

June -- Meitheamh

12, 1844 - Januarius A. MacGahan (War correspondent, "Liberator" of Bulgaria.)
13, 1808 - Edme Patrice MacMahon, Duke of Magenta (General, and President of French Republic - Autun, Burgundy, France.)
13, 1865 -
 William Butler Yeats (Author - Dublin)
15, 1698
 - George Browne (Soldier of fortune - Camas, Co. Limerick.)
17, 1845 - Emily Lawless (Novelist, poet and historian - Celbridge, Co. Kildare.)
17, 1855 - Timothy Healy, (Politician and first Governor-General of the IFS- Bantry, Co. Cork.)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

11, 1522 - O'Donnell stronghold Ballyshannon captured and burned by Con Bacach O'Neill.
12, 1775 - Jeremiah O’Brien captures the HMS Margaretta, the first such capture by Americans.
12-13, 1798 - Battle of Ballynahinch
12, 1864 - Cavan Co. native Col. Richard Byrnes dies of wounds suffered at the Battle of Cold Harbor.
13, 1795 - Theobald Wolfe Tone embarks at Belfast for US.
14, 1690 - William of Orange arrives in Ireland
15, 1851 - Bryan Mullandanphy, Judge and Mayor of St. Louis, dies of cholera.
16, 1798 - Engagement of the Wexford and South Wicklow United Irishmen at Mountpleasant, near Tinahely, County Wicklow.
16, 1864 - Nationalist politician William Smith O'Brien dies in Bangor, Wales.
16, 1917 - Eamon de Valera released from prison.
16, 1921 - At an ambush in Drumcondra, the IRA becomes the first military force to use the Thompson Sub-Machine in combat.
17, 1691 - Tipperary sacked by Williamites.

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

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