This Week in the History of the Irish: February 9 - February 15

Belfast Central Library
Sir Edward Carson, leader of the Ulster's resistance to Home Rule.

DOMHNAIGH -- On February 9, 1854, Sir Edward Henry Carson, Unionist politician, was born in Dublin. Educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Carson was called to the Irish and then the English bar. In his most famous case he represented the Marquis of Queensbury against a libel suit by Oscar Wilde, and won. Carson was a Unionist MP from Dublin University from 1892 to 1918. He was elected leader of the Unionist party in 1910, and his opposition to Home Rule became more and more strident. His party's willingness to go to war over Home Rule – including collusion by British army officers in the procuring of arms -- pushed the British to retain six of nine counties in Ulster in the Anglo-Irish Treaty, leading to the present six-county statelet. In 1921, Carson gave up the leadership of the Unionist Party to Lord James Craig. Carson took a cabinet post in London, but was in poor health when he gave up the party leadership. He died in Kent, England, on October 12, 1935 and was given a state funeral in Belfast.

New York Public Library
An officer of Dillion's Regiment.

DEARDAOIN -- On February 13, 1782, Dillon's regiment of the Irish Brigade of France helped capture St. Kitts from the British during the American Revolution. Earlier, Dillon's regiment had helped France capture several other islands during the campaign against the British in the West Indies, also serving at the unsuccessful siege of Savannah, Georgia. The French, commanded by the Marquis de Bouillé, were entrenched around the British stronghold of Brimstone Hill, known as the "Gibraltar of the Antillies," for 31 days before the British finally surrendered. Count Arthur Dillon was made governor of the island and his regiment then formed the garrison until the end of the war. The capture of St. Kitts was the last major military action of the Irish Brigade of France. In 1791, after the French Revolution, the Brigade's close ties to the monarchy of France would cause the leaders of the new Republic to disband the famous unit. Count Arthur Dillon, whose family and regiment had sacrificed so much for France during its 100-years service, would later die on the Revolutionary government's guillotine.

  • Read about the Irish Brigade of France's exploits at Cremona.

AOINE -- On February 14, 1895, Sean Treacy, revolutionary leader during the Irish War of Independence, was born in Solohead, 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 Republican Army. 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.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Though our 'This Week ….' items have always coincided with exact dates of births, deaths, or events until now, there are numerous notable figures in the history of the Irish for whom no exact birth or death date is known. We will occasionally include some of them here. Daniel O'Mahony, whose name we mentioned with regard to two famous battles recently, seemed a perfect choice among many who fit this category.

Courtesy of
Flag of Berwick's regiment of the Irish Brigade of France. Two battalions of the regiment fought with O'Mahony at Alcoy.

- Sometime in the mid-1600s , Daniel O'Mahony, one of the most famous soldiers of the early history of Irish troops on the European continent, was born to Dermod and Mary O'Mahony of Dromore, County Kerry. Daniel served as a captain in the Jacobite army in Ireland in the Williamite war (1689-1691) went with that army to France in 1691. Joining the regiment of Dillon, he held the rank of major in 1702 when he commanded the regiment in the famous victory over Prince Eugene at Cremona during the War of Spanish Succession. Louis XIV promoted him to colonel for this action and Louis' grandson, King Philip V of Spain, was allowed to obtain O'Mahony's services commanding a regiment of dragoons in his army. The final years of O'Mahony's life would be spent in the uniform of Spain. Fighting at Almanza, Saragosa, Villavicosa, and the siege of Alcoy, O'Mahony distinguished himself in every action, earning the title, "Le fameux O'Mahoni." Before he died at Ocana, Spain, in 1714, he was a lieutenant general, a commander of the military order of Saint Jago, and a count of Spain. The younger of his two sons would be Spain's ambassador to Austria and the elder rose to high rank in the army of Naples. Count Daniel O'Mahony of County Kerry was one of the greatest of all The Wild Geese.


'We must be prepared … the morning Home Rule passes, ourselves to become responsible for the government of the Protestant Province of Ulster.'
        -- Sir Henry Carson in a speech at Craigavon, September 23, 1911


Arthur Dillon

'Count Dillon, we knew you to be a brave and able soldier, but we were not aware that you were so good a lawyer. We have investigated and have confirmed all your judgments, and all your decrees delivered during your government.'
        -- The British Lord Chancellor to Arthur Dillon after the isle of St. Kitts was returned to the British by treaty at the end of the American Revolution


Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

'Major Dan O'Mahony is at the barrack-gate
And just six hundred Irish lads will neither stay nor wait.
There's Dillon and there's Burke
And there'll be some bloody work
Ere the Kaiserlics shall boast they hold Cremona

Major Dan O'Mahony has reached the river-fort
And just six hundred Irish lads are joining in the sport.
"Come take a hand," says he,
"And if you'll stand by me,
Then there's glory to the man who takes Cremona.'

        -- From 'Cremona" by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

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

February - Feabhra


9, 1854 - Edward Carson, Lord Carson (Politician, Unionist - Dublin)
9, 1923 - Brendan Behan (Author - Dublin.)
11, 1820 - Theodore O'Hara (Confederate colonel and author of "The Bivouac of the Dead, Danville, Kentucky)
13, 1871 - Joseph Devlin (Nationalist - Belfast.)
13, 1898 - Frank Aiken (Revolutionary and politician - Camlough, Co. Armagh)
14, 1895 - Sean Treacy (Revolutionary - Solohead, Co. Tipperary)


9, 1773 - James Fitzgerald, officer in the Irish Brigade of France, dies in France.
10, 1844 - Daniel O'Connell convicted of "conspiracy," fined and sentenced to 12 months.
10-22, 1889 - Richard Piggott exposed as forger of 'Times' Phoenix Park letters.
12, 1795 - Grattan introduces Catholic relief bill in House of Commons.
12, 1817 - Bernardo O'Higgins' Chilean rebels defeat the Spanish at Chacabuco, Chile.
12, 1818 - O'Higgins declares the independence of Chile.
12, 1820 - The ships 'East Indian' and 'Fanny', with about 350 Irish emigrants aboard, leave Cork harbor for Cape Colony, carrying some of the "1820 settlers."
12, 1848 - John Mitchel publishes first "United Irishmen."
13, 1782 - Dillon's regiment of the Irish Brigade of France helps capture St. Kitts from the British.
13, 1820 -Leonard McNally, lawyer, English informer, dies.
13, 1862 - The 10th Tenn. (Confederate-Irish) fights and are captured at the battle of Erin Hollow, TN, Fort Donelson campaign.
14, 1817 - Bernardo O'Higgins enters Santiago, Chile in triumph.

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Tags: Daniel O'Mahony, Dillon's regiment, Europe, Irish Brigade of France, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, On This Day, Sean Treacy, Sir Edward Henry Carson, St. Kitts


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