This Week in the History of the Irish: Feb. 24 - March 2

DOMHNAIGH -- On February 24, 1854,Daniel Florence O'Leary a general in Simon Bolivar's South American army, died in Bogota, Colombia. O'Leary was probably born about 1800 in Cork city, the son of a butter merchant. Little is known of his early life. In 1817, he traveled to London to enlist in a regiment being formed by Henry Wilson. Wilson was recruiting officers and NCOs to go to South America and form a Hussar regiment in service to Simon Bolívar, who would go on to liberate much of South America from Spanish rule.

(Right: Colección Hermanas Cantillo O'Leary - Daniel O'Leary, 1818)

O'Leary sailed for Venezuela with Wilson near the end of 1817, arriving in March 1818. O'Leary first met Bolívar away from the front shortly afterward and apparently Bolívar was impressed with the young Irish officer. In March 1819, O'Leary saw his first action and was promoted to captain. In July, after Bolívar's famous crossing through the Casanare Swamps and over the Andes, O'Leary received a saber wound in the battle of Pantano de Vargas but he quickly recovered and took part in the battle of Boyaca on August 9. Shortly after this, O'Leary became aide de camp to Bolivar. Two years later, after much more fighting, Venezuela was freed. During the next few years, as the fight continued to free the rest of South American from Spanish domination, O'Leary would perform many dangerous missions for "The Liberator," rising ever higher in his esteem. O'Leary continued to serve Bolívar well through the political and military intrigues that followed the freeing of South America from the Spanish. After the death of Bolívar in December 1830, the new Venezuelan government exiled O'Leary to Jamaica. There he wrote extensive memoirs that were later edited by O'Leary's son, Simon Bolívar O'Leary, and published in the 1870s and 80s. Simon was the eldest of six children O'Leary had with his South American wife. In 1833, O'Leary was able to return to Venezuela. He held a number of diplomatic posts for the Venezuelan government for the next 20 years, and on at least two occasions was able to visit his boyhood home of Cork. When O'Leary died in Bogota in 1854, he was buried there in Colombia's capital. The Venezuelans named a plaza after him in Caracas. In 1882, they obtained permission to take Daniel O'Leary's body from Bogota to Caracas, where it was laid to rest in the National Pantheon of Venezuela to lie forever in death next to the man had served so faithfully in life, Don Simon Bolívar.

LUAIN -- On February 25, 1891, Edward "Ned" Daly, one of the leaders of the Easter Rising, was born in a home on Frederick Street in Limerick city. Edward's family was staunchly republican. His father and uncle were Fenians. His uncle, John, served 12 years in English prisons. Edward's sister, Kathleen, married Thomas Clarke, another leader of the Easter Rising. Edward joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and became captain of one of their companies and then advanced to a battalion command.

(Left: National Library of Ireland - Edward Daly, 1916 martyr, in his Irish Volunteers uniform.)

His unit was charged with holding the Four Courts area during the Rising, which took place in April 1916. Though pressed hard and attacked by superior numbers of British troops, Daly's men managed to hold out until the very end, inflicting heavy casualties. After Patrick Pearse ordered the surrender Saturday evening, Daly was held at Kilmainham Jail. He was given the same quick sham court-martial at Richmond Barracks as the other leaders of the Rising. On the morning of May 4, Edward Daly died for Ireland, shot against a cold damp wall at Kilmainham Jail.

Read more about Ned Daly HERE.

CÉADAOIN - On February 27, 1735, Thomas Conway, a soldier in French and U.S. armies, was born in Cloghane, County Kerry. Conway was taken to France at the age of six to be educated and, in 1749, he joined the Irish Brigade of France and served in the Clare Regiment. He served in the French army until 1776, seeing combat and rising to the rank of colonel. When the Americans came looking for officers to help their fledgling army against the much better trained and armed British, Conway volunteered. He was made a brigadier general on arrival in America and served well in several battles. But when Washington refused to promote him to major general over several American generals, Conway turned against him. He entered into discussions and intrigues with several other officers with the intent of replacing Washington with General Horatio Gates. This group was later named after him as the "Conway Cabal." It failed, but Conway was promoted to major general and Inspector General of the army over several American brigadiers in spite of Washington's objections.

(Right: Thomas Conway.)

His fortunes in the U.S. Army went downhill from there. He asked to be Lafayette's second in command, but Lafayette refused and Conway had to accept being third. Later, he complained to his friends in Congress who had gotten him the first promotion, threatening to resign, as he had the first time. But his star was on the wane this time and they accepted it. Things went from bad to worse when he fought a duel with a militia general (some say over Conway's attitude toward Washington) and was shot in the mouth.

Conway lived, and during his recovery he wrong a conciliatory letter to Washington, but he never replied. The ill-starred general returned to France in 1779 and was welcomed back into the French army, shortly earning the rank of major general. He was made governor of all French possessions in India in 1787, but after the Revolution his royalist leaning caused him to be returned to France. There the veteran conspirator returned to that activity, this time in favor of the royalty. Unlike some other Irish Brigade veterans, he escaped with his head and was for a time an officer in an attempted "Irish Brigade" in the British army. He died in 1800. 

AOINE -- On March 1, 1776, Irish-born Andrew Lewis was appointed a brigadier general in the Continental Army. Andrew's father's reportedly fled to the colonies after killing his landlord in self-defense. The family settled in Virginia. Given their father's history in Ireland, it is not surprising that two of the Lewis brothers would fight in the revolutionary army. Andrew's brother William would rise from lieutenant to major before being captured in 1780. Andrew's military career predated the Revolution.

(Left: From Wikipedia: Statue of Andrew Lewis, Point Pleasant, West Virginia.)

He served with Washington during the French and Indian War, seeing extensive action after that with Braddock. Andrew was captured by the French in 1758 and sent to Montreal. After the war, he saw action against the Indians on the Virginia frontier during Dunmore's War. Another brother, Charles, was killed under Andrew's command during that war. Lewis' military experience led to his promotion to brigadier general in 1776. In July of that year, he helped drive British Governor Dunmore from Virginia. Ironically, this was the same man who gave his name to the war in which Lewis had earlier fought. Lewis took umbrage at his passing over for promotion in the years that followed. His old friend from the French and Indian War, George Washington, tried to console him, but Lewis resigned April 15, 1777, citing "ill health." Lewis remained in the Virginia militia, and died in 1781.

VOICES

"What a head he has and he's not yet 28!"
       
 -- Simon Bolívar speaking of Daniel O'Leary

'What a glorious reunion we'll have in Heaven, eh? Sure Katie, I'll give Tom* your love. First thing I'll do. As for me, girls, I'm proud of what I did. Next time, we'll win. I'm only sorry I won't be there to do my bit.'
        -- Edward Daly, during a visit to his cell by his mother and two sisters the night before he was shot. May 4, 1916. *Tom Clarke was Daly's brother-in-law, who was shot earlier that day.

February - Feabhra

BIRTHS

24, 1841 - John Holland (Inventor of the submarine - Liscannor, Co. Clare.)
25, 1891 - Edward Daly (Revolutionary - Limerick.)
27, 1735 - Thomas Conway (Soldier in French and U.S. armies, Cloghane, Co. Kerry.)
28, 1884 - Seán Mac Diarmada (Revolutionary - Kiltyclogher, Co. Leitrim.)
28, 1951 - Barry McGuigan (WBA Welterweight champion - Clones, Co. Monaghan.)

March - Márta

1, 1848 - Augustus St. Gaudens (Sculptor - Dublin)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

24, 1692 - The Treaty of Limerick is ratified by William of Orange.
24, 1854 - General Daniel Florence O'Leary, officer in Simon Bolivar's South American army, dies in Bogota, Colombia.
25, 1919 – Cork No. 3 Brigade Irish Volunteers attack RIC barracks in Timoleague and Mount Pleasant.
25, 1921 – Cork No. 1 Brigade Irish Volunteers ambush Auxiliaries at Coolavokig, Co. Cork.
27, 1830 - John Baron O'Brien, colonel in the Austrian army, dies in Austria.
27, 1945 – Gunnery Sgt. William G. Walsh is killed in action on the island of Iwo Jima. He was posthumously award the Medal of Honor.
28, 1587 - Queen Elizabeth I grants Sir Walter Raleigh 40,000 acres in counties Cork and Waterford.

March - Márta

1, 1776 - Irish-born Andrew Lewis is appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army
1, 1586 - Clanowen Castle, Co. Clare, is captured from Mahon O'Brien by Sir Richard Bingham.
1, 1776 - Irish-born John Armstrong is appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army.
1, 1776 - Irish-born William Thompson is appointed a Brigadier General in the Continental Army.
1, 1794 - Statutes of Dublin University amended to allow Catholics to take degrees.
1, 1965 - Roger Casement's body re-interred in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin.
1, 1981 - Bobby Sands begins his hunger strike at Long Kesh prison.

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

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