This Week in the History of the Irish: August 4 - August 10

MÁIRT -- On August 6, 1775, Daniel O'Connell , 'The Liberator,' one of the most influential men in Irish history was born near Cahirciveen, County Kerry. Raised by his uncle, Daniel learned the Irish language and Irish lore in Kerry. O'Connell did part of his schooling in France during the revolution and later practiced law in Dublin. The violent excesses he witnessed in France, the slaughter of the '98 Rising and finally his own killing a man in a duel in 1815 led him to renounce violence forever. Moving into politics, O'Connell founded the Catholic Association in 1823, creating one of the first massive political movements in Europe or the Americas. When he was elected to Parliament in 1828, a position still forbidden to a Catholic, fear of the reaction of his millions of followers led to the passage of the Catholic Emancipation Bill. O'Connell worked for Home Rule for Ireland for the rest of his days but never achieved it. The British banned his mass Repeal (of the Union) rallies in '43 and jailed him for a time. The movement lost momentum at that point and the long years of hard work wore 'The Liberator' down. He died in Italy on May 15, 1847. Daniel O'Connell had failed in his greatest ambition, but he had reawakened the nationalist soul of Ireland.

DEARDAOIN -- On August 7, 1890 labor organizer and American Communist Party official Elizabeth Gurley Flynn (left: at a strike in Paterson, New Jersey, 1913) was born in Concord, New Hampshire. Elizabeth grew up being regaled by tales of Irish revolutionaries. According to their oral tradition all four of her great-grandfathers, Flynn, Gurley, Conneran and Ryan, were United Irishman, with grandfather Flynn being one of the leaders in Mayo when the French fleet landed there during the 1798 Rising . Perhaps parts of this were apocryphal, since it was the perfect family history for a labor activist. Elizabeth's father, Tom, was a socialist and around the turn of the century they moved to New York City, the perfect incubator for radical thought. On reaching adulthood Elizabeth, who had a natural speaking ability, began working for socialist causes joining the fledgling IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, AKA. Wobblies) in 1906. A newspaper editor at the time called her "an East Side Joan of Arc." One of her early mentors was James Connolly, while he was living in the United States. She worked tirelessly in the numerous labor-management strife of the times and managed to stay out of jail when many of the other IWW leaders were convicted of sedition during WWI. She was one of the founders of the American Civil Liberties Union in 1920. As the IWW faded away, Flynn moved into full-fledged Marxism, joining the Communist Party and writing a column of the "Daily Worker." She was elected to the Party's National Committee in 1938. In 1940 her Party membership caused her to be expelled from the ACLU. During the McCarthy era she was convicted of advocating the overthrow of the government and jailed from 1955 to '57. She traveled to Moscow in 1964, planning to write the 2nd volume of her autobiography there. It was never written, as she died there on September 4, 1964. She was given a state funeral in Moscow. In 1978 the ACLU posthumously reinstated her membership.

Josephine Bracken wearing traditional Filipino dress, 1896.

AOINE -- On August 9, 1876, Josephine Bracken, who's parent were from Belfast, was born in Victoria City, British Hong Kong. Her father James, a soldier in the British army, was a native of County Offaly. Josephine's mother, a McBride, died in childbirth. She was adopted by her godparents, the Taufers. At the age of 19 she traveled to the Philippines with her foster father. There she met, fell in love, and shared exile with Dr. Jose Rizal, a leading Philippine intellectual whose writings were inspiring a generation of nationalist fervor. When revolution came to his country in August 1896, Rizal, though a pacifist, was arrested and convicted of treason by the Spanish and sentenced to death. Like a scene from a melodrama, Josephine married Rizal minutes before his execution. Josephine joined the rebels, first as a nurse, and then apparently taking part in some fighting. She fled to Hong Kong in 1897 and wrote the story of her involvement in the revolt, and traveled to Japan and the United States to raise money for the cause. According to one researcher, she died a pauper's death in Hong Kong, and is buried in an unknown grave


'Poor old Dan! Wonderful, mighty, jovial and mean old man! ... What a royal yet vulgar soul! ... Pray ... that the good God who knew how to create so wondrous a creature may have mercy on his soul.'
         -- John Mitchel, writing of Daniel O'Connell in 1849

"Oh, we certainly have, we certainly have, in spite of all the difficulties, in spite of all the problems, the labor movement has made tremendous progress. There is a new role and a new outlook for youth today... to carry forward their responsibility to make this world a better world to live in."
        -- Flynn on her memories of the IWW, 1962


August -- Lúnasa

4, 1805 - Sir William Rowan Hamilton (Mathematician - Dublin)
4, 1878 - Margaret Pearse - (Teacher, politician - Dublin.)
6, 1775 - Daniel O'Connell (Politician - Cahirciveen, County Kerry)
6, 1837 – Henry Splaine (Col. Union Army, US Civil War, Muskerry, Co. Cork)
7, 1892 - Tom Falcon Hazell (WWI Ace, 43 kills - Clifden, County Galway)
7, 1890 – Elizabeth Flynn Labor organizer / American Communist Pary Official - Concord, NH)
9, 1876 - Josephine Bracken (Philippino revolutionary – Hong Kong.)


4, 1798 - Thomas Addis Emmet, Arthur O'Connor, and William James MacNeven deliver to government their 'Memoir or detailed statement of the origin and progress of the Irish Union' (on United Irish movement.
5, 1864 - Battle of Mobile Bay:14 Irishmen are awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
5, 1888 - Irish-American Gen. Phil Sheridan, one of the finest Union generals of the American Civil War, dies of heart disease in Nonquitt, Massachusetts.
6, 1864 - 10th Tennessee Infantry (Irish) fights at the battle of Utoy Creek, Georgia.
6, 1920 - The Dail Eireann orders a boycott of Belfast businesses operated by Unionists.
7-14, 1798 - Examination of United Irishmen MacNeven, O'Connor, Neilson, Thomas Emmet and Bond by secret committee of House of Lords.
7, 1920 - The East Limerick Flying Column under Donnacha O'Hannigan and George Lennon, joined forces with a Cork Column under Tom Barry to ambush a six-man RIC foot patrol near Kildorrery, County Cork. All the RIC men were wounded, one fatally (Ernest S. Watkins). Six revolvers and 250 rounds of ammunition were seized.
8, 1981 - Thomas McElwee dies on hunger strike.
9, 1850 - Irish Tenant League founded.
9, 1920 – Parliament passes Restoration of Order in Ireland Act authorizing the jailing of any Irish man or woman without charge or trial and the conducting of secret courts martial without legal representation for the defendant.
9, 1971 - British begin interment campaign in Northern Ireland, suspects imprisoned without trial.
10, 1316 – Battle of Athenry.
10, 1690 – With “Galloping” Hogan as their guide, Patrick Sarsfield’s cavalry departs Limerick in search of an approaching Williamite siege train.
10, 1890 – Author, poet, and republican John Boyle O’Reilly dies in Boston.

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Tags: Asia, History of Ireland, Irish Freedom Struggle, On This Day, United States


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