This Week in the History of the Irish: February 14 - February 20

DOMHNAIGH -- On February 14, 1895, Seán Treacy, a revolutionary leader during the Irish War of Independence, was born in Soloheadbeg, County Tipperary. Treacy joined the Gaelic League and the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1911. In 1913, Sean and his friend Dan Breen joined the Irish Volunteers. Treacy helped organize the Easter Rising and would spend several months in prison during 1917 and 1918. As 1919 began, Treacy was vice-commandant of the Third Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Volunteers. On January 21, Treacy was one of the participants -- along with his friend, Dan Breen -- in an ambush of RIC officers at Soloheadbeg, which is considered the beginning of the War of Independence. On May 13, he was wounded at Knocklong. In 1920, Treacy went to Dublin to work with Michael Collins. On October 12, he and his long-time comrade, Dan Breen, barely escaped capture in Dublin in a raid by British intelligence. Firing through the door, they killed two British officers and managed to escape the house by crashing through a window. They had been lucky to escape, but Sean's luck was running out. Two days later, he was confronted by a group of British soldiers and intelligence agents on Talbot Street. Treacy and Breen had once sworn to fight to the death rather than surrender -- now Treacy would make good on that pledge. Drawing his pistol, in spite of the tremendous odds against him, Treacy managed to fatally wound two of the British intelligence officers before he was shot and killed. It was said that Michael Collins was deeply saddened by Treacy's death.

Read more about Seán Treacy.
Read more about the dramatic rescue at Knocklong.

MÁIRT -- On February 16, 1822, Richard Busteed, Union general and federal judge, was born in County Cavan, Ireland. Most of the Irish men and women we have profiled here have had admirable lives but, as with any ethnic group, a few of our countrymen strayed from the righteous course; Richard Busteed was one of them.(Right: Library of Congress - Richard Busteed)

Busteed came first to Canada, then the U.S. with his family while a child. They settled in New York City, where Richard became a lawyer and a Democratic Party operative. He raised an artillery company in 1861 but resigned his commission when the unit was transferred into the 1st New York Light Artillery. In 1862 he somehow obtained a commission as a brigadier general and served at Fort Monroe, Virginia. Soon he was on the move again, appointed a federal judge in occupied Alabama. He would hold that post until 1874. His record there was spotty, at best. He presided over many cases but issued few convictions. This would seem to support the rumor that justice was for sale in his courtroom.

By 1874, Busteed had also become entangled in political infighting, as, though still a Democrat, he supported Republican candidates in 1872. Facing possible impeachment, he resigned his post and returned to New York City to practice law. Busteed died there on September 14, 1898, and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.

DEARDAOIN -- On February 18, 1817, Walter Paye Lane, Confederate general in the American Civil War, was born in County Cork. He emigrated to the United States with his parents when he was only 4 years old. Lane grew up in Ohio but traveled to Texas at 18. He fought with Sam Houston at San Jacinto and stayed on in Texas, becoming involved in several occupations including Indian fighter, a privateer in the Gulf of Mexico, and even a school teacher. He raised a company of Texas Rangers and served as their captain during the Mexican War.

After the war, Lane spent time mining in a number of western states as well as in South America, making and then losing large amounts of money. He joined the Confederate army in 1861 and was elected lieutenant colonel of the 3rd Texas Cavalry. Lane fought in the important early war battles of Wilson's Creek and Elkhorn Tavern and later in the Red River campaign. Lane was severely wounded at the Battle of Mansfield on April 8, 1864, and was out of action until October. He was recommended for promotion by Gen. Kirby Smith, who consider him a superior cavalry officer. The Confederate Congress confirmed his rank on March 10, 1865, the last day they met. After the war Lane wrote of his exploits and the life long bachelor became a well-loved figure in Texas and a particular favorite of the Daughters of the Confederacy. Walter Lane died on Jan. 22, 1892 in Marshall, Texas, where he is buried.

SATHAIRN -- On February 20, 1942, Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare became the first U.S. Navy ace of the war when he was credited with downing five Japanese bombers in a single day. O'Hare had an interesting family history. After his parents divorced when he was 13, his lawyer father moved to Chicago and took on Al Capone as a client. He later turned against Capone and gave evidence against him. This help led to his tax evasion conviction. In 1939, O'Hare's father, also Edward, was murdered, probably by members of Capone's gang.

Butch attended a military high school and graduated from Annapolis and then flight school in Pensacola, Florida, finishing his aviation training in 1940. On February 20, 1942, O'Hare was assigned to an F4F Wildcat squadron VF-3, stationed on the carrier USS Lexington, which was off the island of New Ireland in the South Pacific. With several flights of Wildcats off investigating earlier radar contacts, Butch and his wingman manned the only fighters able to intercept a formation of nine Japanese Betty bombers radar picked up coming from another direction. If this situation were not bad enough, as they closed on the bombers, O'Hare's wingman, "Duff" Dufilho, discovered his guns were jammed. Butch was going to have to take them on alone.

Diving into the formation from above, O'Hare quickly took out one of the last planes on the right of the Betty's vee formation, then swung across to hit the one on the left. Continuing his attack as the bombers came in range of the fleet's anti-aircraft guns it appeared that O'Hare had destroyed five Bettys, though post-war research would show he shot down three, and two that he damaged managed to return to their base. But O'Hare had undoubtedly disrupted their attacks, and no bombs hit the Lexington. By the time the Lexington returned to Pearl Harbor in late March, O'Hare's exploits had made him a hero. He was sent back to the mainland for a bond tour, and he was presented the Medal of Honor by Franklin Roosevelt at the White House, the first winner MOH awardee in naval aviation history.

O'Hare's combat career was not over, however. Promoted to Lt. Commander, Butch returned to the war in the Pacific. In November 1943 he was flying off the USS Enterprise in the Marianas Islands. Flying a dangerous night fighter mission, once again against Betty bombers, O'Hare's plane when down. A search of the area the following day found no sign of him. To this day it's not certain if he was shot down by a gunner on one of the Betty bombers, or friendly fire from the rear gunner of a US TBF Avenger that was nearby.

In 1945 the navy destroyer USS O'Hare (DD-889) was named in his honor. It would later serve in the Vietnam War. But the most famous honor awarded to him was the renaming of Chicago's Orchard Depot Airport as O'Hare International Airport in 1949.


"The greatest military genius of our race. ...'
        -- Dan Breen, speaking of his friend Sean Treacy

Edward "Butch" O'Hare in his Wildcat fighter.

"As a result of his gallant action -- one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation -- he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage."
        -- From "Butch" O'Hare's Medal of Honor citation.

February - Feabhra


14, 1895 - Sean Treacy (Revolutionary - Soloheadbeg, Co. Tipperary)
15, 1874 - Ernest Shackleton (Arctic explorer - Kilkea, Co. Kildare)
16, 1739 - James Napper Tandy (Revolutionary – Dublin)
16, 1822 
- Richard Busteed (Union General - Craven, Ireland)
17, 1740
 - General John Sullivan (Revolutionary War General and NH governor - Somersworth, NH)
18, 1817 - Walter Lane (Confederate General - Co. Cork)
20, 1794 - William Carleton (Author - Prillisk, Co. Tyrone)


14, 1779 - At the Battle of Kettle Creek, Georgia Irish-born James Boyd commands Loyalist American troops against rebel militia commanded by 1st generation Irish-American, John Dooly.
14, 1817 - Bernardo O'Higgins enters Santiago, Chile in triumph.
15, 1921 - Irish Volunteers of the 3rd Cork Brigade ambush a train in Upton, in West Cork.

17, 1968
Father Aloysius P. McGonigal is killed during fighting in Hue, South Vietnam, and is awarded the Silver Star Medal posthumously.
18 1366 - The Statutes of Kilkenny are passed.
18, 1820 - Dan Donnelly, professional boxing pioneer, dies in Dublin.
19 1992 - U.S. government deports Joseph Doherty, volunteer Oglaigh na hÉireann.
20, 1921 - 12 Irish Volunteers are killed when Crown forces surround a farmhouse in Clonmult, Co. Cork
20, 1942 - Lt. Edward "Butch" O'Hare becomes the first U.S. Navy ace of the war when he is credited with downing five Japanese bombers in a single day.

Views: 424

Tags: American Civil War, History of Ireland, Military History, Oceania, On This Day

Comment by Liam McAlister on February 14, 2021 at 3:44am

The picture shown in the article about General Walter P Lane is incorrect. The man shown is depicted in " Generals in Gray" by Erza J. Warner under Walter Paye Lane but this is an error. I attach a picture of General Lane.

Comment by Joe Gannon on February 14, 2021 at 10:51am

Thanks, Liam. I believe I did get that photo from "Generals in Gray." I'll replace it.

Comment by Liam McAlister on February 16, 2021 at 5:03pm

Any idea who he is? I've searched through a number of my reference books and can't find him! For some reason I have it, in my head, that he may have been from one of the Carolina States.

Comment by Joe Gannon on February 20, 2021 at 4:48pm

No idea who it really is, no. 


You need to be a member of The Wild Geese to add comments!

Join The Wild Geese

The Wild Geese Shop

Get your Wild Geese merch here ... shirts, hats, sweatshirts, mugs, and more at The Wild Geese Shop.

Irish Heritage Partnership

Start a Business Today!

Adobe Express:
What will you create today?


Extend your reach with The Wild Geese Irish Heritage Partnership.

Congrats to Our Winners

© 2024   Created by Gerry Regan.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service