This Week in Irish History - Apil 7 - April 13

DOMHNAIGH -- On April 7, 1865, Brig. Gen. Tom Smyth was mortally wounded at the battle of Farmville, Virginia. Born in County Cork, Smyth came to the United States in 1854. When the rebels fired on Fort Sumter in 1861, launching the American Civil War, Smyth raised a company that joined the Irish 24th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. The regiment saw little action and mustered out after 3-months. He then got an appointment as major in the newly formed 1st Delaware Volunteer Infantry. Smyth fought in all the major battles of the Eastern war and rose through the ranks. In February 1864, Smyth briefly commanded the famous Irish Brigade. Smyth finally got a long-deserved star in September. On April 7, 1865, at the battle of Farmville, Smyth was shot through the mouth by a Confederate sniper. He died April 9, the same day Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered, virtually bringing the war to a close. Thomas Alfred Smyth was the last Union general killed in the war.

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

MÁIRT -- On April 9, 1916, 82 years ago, the German merchant ship 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.

From a souvenir program
The round tower built in honor of Liam Lynch at the spot where he was shot in the Knockmealdown Mountains.

CÉADAOIN -- 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. 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.

AOINE -- On April 12, 1816, Charles Gavan Duffy was born in Co. 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.

Voices



Library of Congress
Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Smyth


No coward in the ranks is seen,
When gallant Smythe (sic) appears,
Men kindle at his voice and mien,
And move on with gay cheer.

        -- From "There's not a star for you, Tom Smythe" by Dr. Lawrence Reynolds, the poet laureate of the Irish Brigade.

'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 or honor.'
        -- From the speech by Brian O'Higgins at the dedication of the memorial to Liam Lynch. April 7, 1935.

April - Aibreán

BIRTHS

10, 1867 - George Russell (Author and Editor -- Lurgan, Co. Armagh)
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)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

 

7, 1865 - Former U.S. Irish Brigade commander Tom Smyth mortally wounded at battle of Farmville, VA.
8, 1886 - Home Rule Bill introduced in English Parliament by Gladstone.
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 Fermanagh while on hunger strike.
10, 1998 - Mitchell Agreement for Northern Ireland 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, 1811 - Stephen Moylan, cavalry commander in the American Revolution, dies in Philadelphia.

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Tags: American Civil War, Charles Gavan Duffy, History of Ireland, Liam Lynch, Roger Casement, Tom Smyth, Wild Geese, history, ireland, irish

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