This Week in the History of the Irish: April 7 - April 13

DOMHNAIGH -- On April 7, 1865Brig. 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 a 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.

MÁIRT -- On the morning 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.

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

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.

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. 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.

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

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. Read more about Liam Lynch HERE.

AOINE -- 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.


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.

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


10, 1867 - George Russell (Author and Editor -- Lurgan, Co. Armagh)
10, 1911 - Joseph Jeremiah McCarthy (MOH – Chicago, Illinois)
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)


7, 1865 - Former U.S. Irish Brigade commander Tom Smyth mortally wounded at battle of Farmville, VA.
7,1941 - Luftwaffe bombing raid kills 13 people in Belfast. De Valera authorizes fire brigades from Dublin, Dundalk, Drogheda and Dun Laoghaire to give assistance
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 NI is signed by all parties to the talks.

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.

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Tags: American Civil War, Europe, History of Ireland, Irish Freedom Struggle, On This Day


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