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

DOMHNAIGH -- On July 14, 1798, brothers John (left) and Henry Sheares, who were both lawyers and United Irishmen, were hung, drawn and quartered in Dublin. Sons of a wealthy banker and member of the Irish Parliament from Co. Cork, Henry was briefly an officer in the 51st Regiment of foot following his schooling, but did not find army life to his liking and resigned his commission. Both brothers became successful lawyers and could have lived out their lives in comfort, but they visited France together in 1792 and there acquired their revolutionary republican principles. On the boat home from France the met Daniel O'Connell, who may have also been inspired by the revolution in France, but was repulsed by the violence that had gone on there and did not join the United Irishmen. They joined the United Irishmen on their return to Dublin and John began to write articles for the Press, a nationalist paper and help organize the group in Cork. When most of the leaders of the United Irishmen were arrested in the spring of 1798, John became the defacto leader for a short time. The brothers were betrayed by an informer, Capt. Warnesford Armstrong, and arrested May 21. Found guilty of treason, they were publicly hung outside Newgate Prison in Dublin. Both are buried at Dublin's St. Michan's Church.

DEARDAOIN -- On July 18, 1874, Irish revolutionary Cathal Brugha was born Charles William St. John Burgess on Richmond Avenue in Dublin. Cathal joined the Gaelic League in 1899 and became a lieutenant in the Irish Volunteers in 1913. He would become one of the most uncompromising advocates of Irish republicanism among all the revolutionary leaders. Severely wounded during the Easter Rising, Brugha lived to become Chief of Staff of the IRA during the War of Independence. One of the fiercest opponents of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Cathal Brugha fought on O'Connell Street against the Free Sate government at the start of the Civil War. On July 5, 1922, surrounded and hopelessly outnumbered in the Hamman Hotel, Brugha ordered the men under his command to surrender. But after they did, Brugha burst into the street with two pistols blazing. He was fatally wounded, dying two days later.

AOINE -- On July 19, 1798, after months of begging and cajoling by Theobald Wolfe Tone, the French Directory finally authorized the sending of French troops to Ireland to aid the rising there. Since the death of his friend, Gen. Hoche, the previous September, Tone had lost some of his influence with the French. Tone and others must have known the chances for success had probably slipped away through endless delays; most of the members of the United Irishmen had already risen up and been defeated. Napoleon had set sail on his Egyptian adventure -- he would later admit he should have gone to Ireland instead. A plan was devised to send small numbers of French soldiers in numerous expeditions and help prop up the Irish resistance, which in truth, even then was nearly crushed. Gen. Jean-Joseph Humbert (left) would command the first French force of some 1,100 men.

SATHAIRN -- On July 20, 1866, at the battle of Lissa (depicted left by Eduard Nezbeda, 1911) in the Adriatic, an Austrian fleet defeated a numerically superior Italian fleet. Commanding one of the Austrian ships was Irishman Alfred Barry. Alfred, whose brother, Richard, was also an officer in the Austrian navy, was one of the greatest admirals in Austrian naval history. At Lissa, with the Italian fleet in a line formation, Austrian commander Admiral Count Wilhelm von Tegetthoff formed his ships in a wedge and drove them right through the Italians. Barry was commanding the Prinz Eugen on the right side of the formation, as they split the Italians Barry's ship was hit 21 times but he continued on, doffing his cap and making a showy bow to the captain of one of the Italian ships as they passed closely by. The Italians lost 3 ships and retreated, lifting the naval siege of Lissa. Barry was honored by Tegetthoff after the victory. Barry later helped build the Austrian navy into one of the world's best. He died in 1907 and is buried in Pula.

VOICES

"The accusation of which I speak, while I linger here yet a minute, is that of holding out to the people of Ireland a direction to give no quarter to the troops fighting for its defence. My lords, let me say thus, that if there be any acquaintances in this crowded court--I do not say my intimate friends, but acquaintances--who do not know what I say is truth, I shall be reputed the wretch which I am not; I say, if any acquaintance of mine can believe that I could utter a recommendation of giving no quarter to a yielding and unoffending foe, it is not the death which I am about to suffer that I deserve--no punishment could be adequate to such a crime. My lords, I can not only acquit my soul of such an intention, but I declare, in the presence of that God before whom I must shortly appear, that the favorite doctrine of my heart was that no human being should suffer death, but when absolute necessity required it."
         -- From John Sheares speech in the dock.

BIRTHS

July -- Iúil

14, 1830 - Richard Henry Jackson (Union General - Kennegad, Co. Westmeath)
15, 1899 - Sean Lemass (Politician - Ballybrack, Co. Dublin)
17, 1846 - John Mclure (Fenian) near Manhattan
18, 1874 - Cathal Brugha (Revolutionary - Dublin.)
19, 1922 - George McGovern (Senator, WWII bomber pilot - Avon, S. Dakota)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

14, 1921 - De Valera meets with Lloyd George in London.
14, 1798 - United Irishmen John and Henry Sheares executed in Dublin.
14, 1969 - First death of the troubles, a 70-year-old farmer is struck in a melee outside an Orange Hall in Dungiven, Co. Derry. He was probably just an onlooker.
15, 1580 - Fiach MacHugh O'Byrne rises in rebellion in Co. Wicklow.
15, 1729 - Count John Joseph Anton O'Dwyer, Lt. Field Marshal in the Austrian army, dies.
16, 1618 – Donal O’Sullivan Beare killed in Madrid by John Bathe.
16, 1777 - Irish-born Gustavus Conyngham, "The Dunkirk Pirate," is given command of the USS Revenge.
17, 1690 - Williamite forces begin an unsuccessful siege of the town of Athlone, where Col. Richard Grace commands Irish forces.
17, 1798 - Henry Joy McCracken, United Irishman, executed in Belfast
17, 1951 - Dublin's Abbey Theatre is destroyed by fire.
18, 1561 - Battle of Red Sagums - Shane O'Neill defeats English.
18, 1861 - Irish-born Col. Patrick Moore and his 1st Virginia fight at Blackburn's Ford.
19, 1798 - French Directory authorizes the sending of three expeditions to Ireland and gives command of the first one to Gen. Humbert.
20, 1616 - Hugh O'Neill, Earl of Tyrone, dies in Rome.
20, 1863 - Young Irelander John Mitchel's son, Confederate Capt. John C. Mitchel, is killed during a Union bombardment of Ft. Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina. His brother, Willie, was killed 17 days earlier at Gettysburg.
20, 1866 - The Austrian fleet, including the ship of Alfred Barry, defeats the Italian fleet at the battle of Lissa.

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

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