This Week in the History of the Irish: January 23 - January 29

MÁIRT -- On January 24, 1862, Miles Byrne, United Irishman and officer in Napoleon's Irish Legion, died in Paris. He was active in the 1798 Rising in Wexford and fought all its major battles, right through the rebels' climactic defeat at Vinegar Hill.

(Left: Miles Byrne (from his 'Memoirs".)

He escaped to the hills and served with Michael Dwyer until the failure of the rising led by Robert Emmet, a close friend of Byrne's, in 1803. Byrne traveled to France hoping to arrange for more French aid to Ireland but after failing in that he joined the Irish Legion being formed in the French army. He had a long career in the service of France. Byrne rose to command a regiment and was made a chevalier of the Legion of Honor. After his retirement, he wrote his Memoirs, which were published in 1863, a year after his death in Paris. 

Thomas Charles Wright

AOINE -- On January 26, 1799, Thomas Charles Wright, an officer in Simón Bolívar's South American army and founder and first commander-in-chief of the Ecuadorian navy, was born in Drogheda, Co. Louth. Wright joined the British navy as a teenager and served against the United States in the War of 1812. In 1817 he was moved so strongly by Bolívar's struggle for South American independence that he sailed for Venezuela to join his army. Wright found many other Irish among Bolívar's troops, including his aide-de-camp, Colonel O'Leary. Wright served in a number of land battles with Bolívar's army, including Carabobo, Bombino, and Pichincha. Like Bernardo O'Higgins in Chile, Bolívar had come to understand the need for a naval force to combat the Spanish and was encouraging the formation of revolutionary naval forces. In early 1824, Wright transferred to the Peruvian navy of Admiral Guise and was made captain of the 18-gun-brigantine Chimborazo. Guise praised Wright's conduct when his fleet captured Callao from the Spanish, and Wright then commanded his own fleet of small vessels. With these, Wright helped Antonio Jose de Sucre win the final victory at Ayacucho on December 9, 1824, effectively freeing Peru. As often happens after revolutions, the departure of the colonial power led to fighting among the factions that once were united against the common foe. In 1827, Peruvian President José Lamar invaded Bolivia, then Ecuador. Wright had settled in Ecuador after the ouster of the Spanish, and now he took up the cause of his adopted home, forming the first Ecuadorian navy. Wright's navy fought two battles with the Peruvians in the Gulf of Guayaquil, breaking their blockade of the port and defeating and killing Wright's revolutionary comrade, Admiral Guise. Wright would spend the rest of his days helping to build the Ecuadorian navy and taking part in the politics of the country. It was said he always supported the cause of poor Ecuadorians, perhaps driven by memories of the downtrodden people of his native land. Thomas Charles Wright died in Guayaquil on December 10, 1835.

SATHAIRN -- On January 28, 1967, Helena Moloney, republican and trade unionist, died in Dublin. Moloney was born in Dublin in 1884. While only a teenager Moloney heard Maud Gonne give a pro-nationalist speech near the Customs House. Inspired by Gonne, Helena began a lifelong commitment to republicanism. Moloney joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Erin) in 1903 and five years later was named editor of Bean na hÉireann (Women of Ireland), a republican - as well as feminist - monthly founded by Moloney's role model, Maud Gonne. Helena began an acting career at this time as well, joining the Abbey Theater, but her commitment to political and then labor activism would eventually end her acting. During this time Helena also became more active in the Irish labor movement, where she worked closely with James Connelly and Countess Markievicz. Connelly made her secretary of the Irish Women Workers' Union in November 1915. She was jailed in 1911 for throwing stones during the protest of a royal visit, making her the first woman jailed in the cause of Irish freedom since the days of the Ladies Land League some three decades earlier. Moloney took an active role with Connelly's Citizen's Army during the 1916 Easter Rising. She took part in the attack on Dublin Castle, where her commanding officer, Sean Connolly, was killed. She was arrested and held until December of that year. Moloney opposed the treaty and supported the republican side during the Civil War. She continued to work for labor causes after the Civil War and was the first woman to become president of the Irish Trade Union Congress. She did not abandon the republican cause, however. She was active with the Women's Prisoner's Defense League and the People's Rights Association during the 1930s. Moloney continued to work for the causes she believed in until illness forced her to retire from public life in 1946.

VOICES

"Wright, as always, behaved well."
        
-- From the report of Peruvian Admiral Guise (later to lose his life in a naval battle versus Wright) after the battle of Callao.

"I was a young girl dreaming about Ireland when I saw and heard Maud Gonne speaking by the Customs House one August evening in 1903. She was the most lovely figure and she inspired me, as she did many others, with a love of Ireland." 
        -- Helena Moloney recalling the night she dedicated her life to the cause of Irish freedom

January - Eanáir

BIRTHS

26, 1799 - Thomas Charles Wright (Officer in Bolivar's army and founder of Ecuadorian navy - Drogheda, Co. Louth.)
26, 1904
- Séan MacBride (Revolutionary, Statesman - Paris.)
28, 1760 - Mathew Carey (Author, bookseller, and publisher - Dublin.)
28, 1807 - Robert John Le Mesurier M'Clure (Explorer - Wexford.)
28, 1892 - David Mary Tidmarsh (WWI Ace, 7 kills - Limerick.)
28, 1895Alleta Sullivan (Abel) (Mother of the five “Fighting” Sullivans brothers who died on the USS Juneau – Waterloo, Iowa)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

23, 1803 - Arthur Guinness, founder of the famous brewery, dies in Dublin.
23, 1875 – Irish-born John Dempsey wins the US Congressional Medal of Honor for saving a shipmate who fell overboard from the USS Kearsage in Shanghai, China.
23, 1898 - United Irish League founded by William O'Brien.
24, 1862
 - Miles Byrne, United Irishmen and soldier in Napoleon's Irish Legion, dies in Paris.
25, 1925
- Nellie Cashman "Frontier Angel" of western US miners, dies in Victoria, BC, Canada.
26, 1942
- US expeditionary troops land in Northern Ireland.
26, 1945
- In Holtzwihr, France, Audie Murphy fights in the action that will win him the Congressional Medal of Honor
27, 1975
 - Mother Mary Martin, founder of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, dies in Drogheda
28, 1921 - An IRA ambush party of men from the Cork No. 1 Brigade waiting to ambush a convoy of British troops at Godfrey's Cross is itself ambushed by British troops who had been alerted by an informer.
28, 1921 - Seán Moylan and the Cork No. 2 (North) Brigade of the Irish Volunteers ambush two RIC vehicle in Tureengarriffe, Co. Kerry, killing RIC Divisional Commissioner Philip Holmes.
28,1939 - William Butler Yeats dies in Monaco.
28, 1967 - Helena Moloney, republican and trade unionist, dies in Dublin.
29, 1794 - Archibald Hamilton Rowan, United Irishman, tried on charge of distributing seditious paper.
29, 1957 - The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association is formed in Belfast.

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

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