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

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.

(Left: Belfast Central Library - Sir Edward Carson, leader of the Ulster's resistance to Home Rule.)

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.


 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.

(Right: New York Public Library - An officer of Dillion's Regiment.)

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 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.

VOICES

'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.

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

February - Feabhra

BIRTHS

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 - Soloheadbeg, Co. Tipperary)
15, 1874 - Ernest Shackleton (Arctic explorerer - Kilkea, Co. Kildare)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

9, 1773 - James Fitzgerald, officer in the Irish Brigade of France, dies in France.
9, 1920 - The No. 1 (East) Cork Brigade Irish Volunteers capture the RIC barracks at Castlemartyr, Co. Cork.
10, 1844 - Daniel O'Connell convicted of "conspiracy," fined and sentenced to 12 months.
10, 1855 – John Allen, associate of Robert Emmet and soldier in Napoleon’s Irish Legion, dies in Caen, France. 
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, 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.

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Tags: Americas, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, On This Day

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