This Week in the History of the Irish: December 1 - December 7

Thomas Clarke Luby

DOMHNAIGH -- On December 1, 1901, Fenian Thomas Clarke Luby died in New York. Luby was born in Dublin in 1821. He was the son of a Church of Ireland minister and graduate of Trinity College. His first political experience was in the Young Ireland movement. After the failed rising in 1848, he and James Fintan Lawlor attempted further agitation in Dublin, and he was arrested and imprisoned for a short time. In 1858, he helped James Stephens found the Irish Republican Brotherhood, writing the oath that members would later swear to secretly. In '63, Stephens sent Luby to the United States to raise money but he had little success. Back in Ireland, he became co-editor of The Irish People, a Fenian paper founded by Stephens. He was among many Fenians arrested in a preemptive strike by the British in '65; he was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Luby was among the many Fenians released and deported in '71 (Devoy and Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa were also in this group). He traveled first to Belgium and then to America. In the United States. Luby joined Clan na Gael but opposed both Devoy's New Departure and the Land League. He was a supporter of Rossa's Skirmishing Fund, which ran the dynamite campaign against England. Luby worked as a journalist during his years in New York. He also published a book on the life of O'Connell and another on famous Irish figures from history. On December 1, 1901, the old revolutionary, who had been a Young Irelander, Fenian, and member of Clan na Gael, died in New York.


Michael Collins signature (in Irish) on the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Immediately after he signed, it he commented to a member of the British negotiating team that he had just signed his own death warrant. He would die at the hands of his former comrades in the IRA within the coming year.


AOINE-- In the early morning hours of December 6, 1921, representatives of the Irish government appointed by President Eamon de Valera, and those negotiating for the Crown signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, ending the Irish War of Independence against Great Britain. It was then, and remains, one of the most debated moments in Irish history. The British negotiating team, led by Winston Churchill and Prime Minister Lloyd George, was composed of old masters at the game of politics. Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins led the Irish team; they were brave and intelligent, but had nowhere near the political acumen of the British side.De Valera, a shrewd, experienced politician, may have been the only man in all of Ireland who might have matched them, but he refused to join the negotiations. With less reluctance about forcing their political opponents to negotiate "with a gun to their heads" than they appear to have developed recently, the British gave the Irish an ultimatum on the evening of Dec. 5: Sign the treaty as is, or face military annihilation in three days. (See quote below.) The treaty Collins and Griffith had signed contained several clauses that de Valera and his supporters would reject.Chief among them was the treaty's partition of the country and its requirement that Irish officials must swear an oath of allegiance to the Crown. The cabinet split 4 to 3 in favor of the treaty, and in January, the full Dáil Eireann accepted the treaty 64-57. The stage was set for the brutal Irish Civil War and the seeds of the tragic political mistake known as Northern Ireland were sown. Ever since, Irish historians have debated how events might have turned differently. Was Collins right to accept anything less than full Irish independence? Were the British bluffing? Did the world's -- especially America's -- revulsion at the atrocities of the Black and Tans make impossible the threat of Lloyd George's threatened siege of the Irish population? Would further resistance by the Irish have resulted in the dreamed-of 32-county republic, or might it have resulted in a continued 32-county colony? We will never know, and will always wonder.

The executioner of King Louis XVI shows the head of the King of France to the crowd. The king -- and Tipperary native William Bulkely -- were only two of the thousands of victims of the French Revolution's "Reign of Terror."

SATHAIRN -- On December 7, 1768, William Bulkely, an officer in the Irish Brigade of France, was born in Clonmel, County Tipperary. In 1785, the young Bulkely went to France. His uncle, Richard Butler, who had been a colonel in the Irish Brigade, used his influence to retain a spot for William in Walsh's regiment. William later married a well-to-do French widow. Like most of the Irish soldiers in France, Bulkely opposed the French Revolution and left the army when the republicans seized power. In 1793, he took part in the royalist insurrection, commanding the district of La Roche, near his wife's estate. He led an attack on the rebels at Les Sables, but the attack failed. Bulkely continued to fight for the royalist cause through 1793, and finally he and his wife were captured by the republicans and taken to Angers. While fighting the republicans, Bulkely's men had captured a number of prisoners and many of the royalists -- including his wife -- had urged him to shoot them. But Bulkely refused. Now a captive, Bulkely would not be so lucky. He was quickly tried by a military tribunal and condemned to death. On January 2, 1794, 25-year-old William Bulkely suffered the same fate as a number of other former officers of the brigade that shed much blood in the service of France: he was taken to the guillotine and bled for France one last time, another victim of the Revolution's bloody "Reign of Terror."

VOICES

'Here are the alternative letters which I have prepared, one enclosing the Articles of Agreement reached by His Majesty's Government and yourselves, the other saying that Sinn Fein representatives refuse the Oath of Allegiance and refuse to come within the Empire. If I send this letter, it is war - and war within three days. Which letter am I to send?'
        -- British Prime Minister Lloyd George to the Irish negotiating team on the evening of December 5, 1921

'Our Holy Mother Guillotine is busy at work. Within the last three days she has shaved 11 priests, a general and a man (William Bulkely) of splendid physique of 6 feet, whose head was too large for the guillotine; it is now in the sack.'
        -- The mayor of Angers, France, January 1794

BIRTHS

December - Nollaig

?, 1820 - Dion Boucicault (Playwright and actor - Dublin)
4, 1887 - Winifred Carney (Trade unionist, revolutionary - Bangor, Co. Down.)
5, 1841 - Marcus Daly (Mine owner, "the copper king" - Ballyjamesduff, Co. Cavan)
7, 1768 - William Bulkely (Officer in the Irish Brigade of France - Clonmel, Co. Tipperary.)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

1, 1901 - Thomas Clarke Luby, Fenian, dies in New York.
2, 1980 - Three nuns and a female Catholic lay missioner are raped and killed by the Salvadoran National Guard. (Three of the four women were of Irish ancestry.)
2, 1865 - The Fenian senate deposes founder John O'Mahoney as president, replacing him with William Roberts.
4, 1882, John Curran, Dublin magistrate, opens a special inquiry into the Phoenix Park murders, in which Parnell is falsely accused.
6, 1820 - Spanish Gen. Diego O'Reilly defeated by Peruvian revolutionaries.
6, 1921 - Signing of Anglo-Irish Treaty.
7, 1688 - The Apprentice Boys of Derry close the gates against King James' troops.
7, 1972 - "Special position" of Catholic Church removed from Irish constitution.

 

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Tags: Anglo-Irish Treaty, Arthur Griffith, Clan na Gael, Eamon de Valera, Fenian, French Revolution, Irish Brigade of France, Irish Republican Brotherhood, Michael Collins, Thomas Clarke Luby, More…William Bulkely, on this day

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