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

LUAIN -- 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 a history of the Young Ireland movement and other works. He died on Feb. 9, 1903, and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

DEARDAOIN -- 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 a 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, the display of the tricolor flag was illegal in the six occupied counties of Northern Ireland.

AOINE -- On April 16, 1746, a battle was fought in Scotland that would have long-term implications for Ireland, as well as Scotland. It ended "Bonnie" Prince Charlie's Jacobite uprising, known in Scotland as simply, "The '45." It was the battle of "Culloden Moor." Elements of the Irish Brigade of France fought well in the losing cause that day. The Irish in France gave Charles all the support they could during "The '45," though some of their efforts were thwarted. Over 400 men from six infantry regiments and a detachment of Fitzjames' cavalry regiment joined "Bonnie" Prince in Scotland in '45, but many hundreds more were turned back by the British Navy. These Irish veterans were fresh off the victory at Fontenoy, where their late charge on the Duke of Cumberland's attacking force had been one of the decisive factors. Though initially successful, by April 1646 "Bonnie" Prince and his army were clearly in trouble. As he confronted the British at Culloden, a large portion of his exhausted, freezing forces had melted away to their homes. Facing about 9,000 veteran British soldiers under the same Duke of Cumberland who had been defeated at Fontenoy less than a year earlier, Prince Charles' army numbered about 4,000. Retreat would seem to have been the best course of action. "Bonnie" Prince Charlie ordered an attack. With moors on both sides, the Jacobites were forced into a narrow front. British artillery and massed musketry did tremendous damage to their formations. The Prince's army was soon in full retreat. Colonel O'Shea, with 60 troopers of Fitzjames' horse stopped 500 British dragoons who came dangerously close to capturing the Prince, and on the left of the line, the men of the combined Irish regiments, under the command of Brigadier Stapleton, were the last off the field, covering the retreat of Prince Charles and the remnants of his army. Stapleton was mortally wounded during that action. The Irish had given their blood to the cause of a Stuart King for the last time. Most of the surviving Irish surrendered at Inverness. The Prince himself eventually managed to make his escape to France.

Read more about the Irish Brigade of France.


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

Cold winds on the moors blow.
Warm the enemy's fires glow. 
Like the harvest of Culloden,
Pain and fear and death grow.
-- From "Culloden's Harvest" by Alastair McDonald

April - Aibreán


11, 1878 - Kathleen Daly Clarke (Wife of Tom Clarke and 1st female mayo or Dublin)
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)
14, 1868 - Annie Russell (Astronomer – Strabane, Co. Tyrone)
14, 1870 - John Quinn (Lawyer, arts patron, and anti-censorship leader - Tiffin, Ohio)
16, 1871 - John Millington Synge (Author-Dublin)


11, 1912 - The “Addergoole 14” board the Titanic in Cobh, County Cork.
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.
13, 1918 - Kerry Volunteers raid the RIC barracks at Gortatlea. Some arms are captured but two Volunteers are killed. Some consider it the first action of the War of Independence.
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, 1919 - Limerick Trades Council declares a general strike.
14, 1920 - “Miltown Massacre,” RIC and Black & Tans attack a crowd celebrating the release of Republican hunger strikers, killing 3 and wounded seven others, two of them school children.
14, 1922 - IRA occupies the Four Courts in Dublin.
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 - Three McCoy siblings survive the sinking of the Titanic.
15, 1912 - Westmeath piper Eugene Daly survives the sinking of the Titanic. 
15, 1912 - Eleven people from Addergoole, Lahardane, Co. Mayo die on the Titanic.
15, 1912 - Purser Hugh McElroy is lost on the Titanic.
15, 1921 - Irish Volunteers East Clare Brigade ambushed a motor car as it left Ballyturin House near Gort killing two army officers, along with an RIC District Inspector and his wife who were in the car and later kill an RIC Constable was wounded and died later. Lady Gregory’s daughter in law, Margaret Gregory, was in the car and survived unharmed.
15, 1941 - Free State fire brigades are sent to aid Belfast after Nazi raids cause numerous fires.
16, 1746 - Members of the Irish Brigade fight at the Battle of Culloden Moor.
16, 1918 - British Parliament passes a conscription act that will apply to Ireland.
17, 1849 – Irish born Count John Nugent, general in the Austrian army, dies in Austria.
17, 1949 - At midnight 26 Irish counties officially leave the British Commonwealth. A 21-gun salute on O'Connell Bridge, Dublin, ushers in the Republic of Ireland.

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Tags: Britain, Irish Freedom Struggle, On This Day


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