This Week in the History of the Irish: July 7 - July 13

LUAIN -- On July 8, 1770, Mary Ann McCracken -- patriot, philanthropist and sister of United Irish martyr Henry Joy McCracken -- was born in Belfast. Mary Ann was the fiercely independent daughter of a Presbyterian sea captain. With her sister, Margaret, she started a small muslin business while only in her late teens, unheard of for women at that time. She and her family helped revive interest in the Irish harp by founding the Belfast Harp Society.

(Right: Linen Hall Library - Mary McCracken's ill-fated United Irishman brother, Henry Joy)

Mary Ann was a supporter of Henry Joy's United Irish activities and may have helped him form many of his ideas regarding social reform and Catholic emancipation. Mary Ann worked hard to get a pardon for her brother in 1798 and even attempted to arrange an escape. When both these efforts failed, she accompanied Henry Joy to the gallows. After her friend Thomas Russell, in whom Mary Ann may have had a romantic interest, was executed for his United Irish activities in 1803, she withdrew from Irish politics. Much to her credit, however, Mary Ann did not become a bitter recluse -- she devoted most of the rest of her life to helping the poor and supporting the anti-slavery movement. She also contributed to Dr. Madden's famous 7-volume history of the United Irishmen. Mary Ann died in 1866 at the age of 96.

Linen Hall Library
Owen Roe O'Neill

LUAIN -- On July 8, 1642, Owen Roe O'Neill, nephew of Hugh O'Neill and an officer in the Spanish army, arrived at Lough Swilly and was immediately given command of the Irish army then in revolt. O'Neill had been serving in the Spanish army since 1610 and had made a name for himself during his defense of Arras against the French in 1640. Like the Jacobites later in the century, O'Neill would claim to be fighting for the King and legitimate ruler of England. O'Neill defeated the Scottish Parliamentarians at the battle of Benburb on June 5, 1646, but it would be the only major victory for the Irish forces during the revolt. Cromwell and his battle-hardened veterans landed in Dublin in August 1649. He quickly set into motion his plan for the reconquest of the island. O'Neill began marching south to attempt a junction with Ormond's Royalist army in November when he suddenly died. Some say he was poisoned but no evidence supports that.

MÁIRT -- On July 9, 1750, John Philpot Curran, lawyer, and nationalist, was born in Newmarket, Co. Cork. Curran, a Protestant, first gained fame by winning a judgment for a Catholic priest who had been horsewhipped by Lord Doneraile. A colleague of Gratton, Curran represented Rathcormack, Co. Cork, in the Irish Parliament and was a strong advocate of Catholic emancipation. During his career, he would defend many famous Irish revolutionaries, including Napper Tandy and the Sheares brothers.

(Right: John Philpot Curran, from the "Atlas and Cyclopedia of Ireland." 1905)

After the '98 Rising, he represented Wolfe Tone, and he opposed the Act of Union with Great Britain. But in 1803, when he discovered his daughter, Sarah, was secretly engaged to Robert Emmet, he refused to take Emmet's case and drove Sarah from his house. Curran retired to London in 1814, where he was friendly with Thomas Moore and Lord Byron until his death in 1817. John Philpot Curran's body was returned to Ireland and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

AOINE -- On July 12, 1691, the Jacobite army in Ireland fought the forces of William of Orange at the Battle of Aughrim. Although the battle of the Boyne fought a year earlier is seen by many today as decisive, the Jacobite army was still a grave threat to William's domination of Ireland.

(Above:  The Battle of Aughrim by John Mulvany. Right: Linen Hall Library - Baron Godert de Ginkel, commander of the Williamite forces at Aughrim.)

Far from beaten, the Jacobites controlled a large portion of Ireland in the southwest. William's forces that day were commanded by Dutchman Baron Godert de Ginkel, the Jacobites by Frenchman Marquis Saint-Ruth. After initially having his infantry stopped cold, Ginkel's cavalry battered the Jacobite's left flank. At this same moment, Saint-Ruth was decapitated by a cannonball, and this added demoralization contributed to the rout that followed. Sarsfield's cavalrymen, held in reserve through most of the battle, did their best to cover the retreat, but they suffered massive casualties. As the Jacobites retreated toward Limerick, their cause in Ireland was in desperate trouble. After the defeat at the Boyne, the Jacobites had still been a threat to attack. After Aughrim, that threat was removed, and the Jacobites would spend the rest of the war under siege.

SATHAIRN to DOMHNAIGH  -- From July 13 to 16, 1863, one of the more regrettable incidents related to Irish-American history occurred --the New York City Draft Riots. The slogan, "rich man's war, poor man's fight," was the cry of many in the Northern states. Fueled by understandable anger at a draft that allowed rich men to buy their way out, worried that the eventual emancipation of blacks would rob them of their jobs, and egged on by some politicians and Southern agents, many Irish participated in rioting that engulfed the city two days after the draft began. Through the years the story has been told as if only Irish rioted, but in fact many besides the Irish took part, and many Irish policemen, firemen, priests, and trade unionists were among the most influential in quelling them. Still, it cannot be denied -- a large number of Irish did participate in the burning of a black orphanage and murder of blacks in the city. This unfortunate episode left a lasting stain on the reputation of New York's Irish community.


Army of Ulster, tomorrow we march on Antrim; drive the garrison before you and hasten to form a junction with your Commander-in-Chief.'
         -- From the proclamation of Mary McCracken's brother, Henry Joy, in June 1798.

We thought you would not die, we were sure you would not go
And leave us in our utmost need to Cromwell's cruel blow.
Sheep without a shepherd when the snow shuts out the sky -
Oh! why did you leave us, Eoghan, why did you die?
         -- From 'Lament for the Death of Eoghan Ruadh (Owen Roe) O'Neill' by Thomas Davis

She said, “Ten times they fought for me,
ten times they with might and main
Ten times I saw them beaten down,
Ten times they rose, and fought again.”

She said, “I stayed alone at home,
A dreary woman, grey and cold
I never asked them how they fared,
Yet still they loved me as of old.
         -- From the poem "After Aughrim" by Emily Lawless.


July -- Iúil

7, 1823 - John Kells Ingram (Poet - Temple Carne, Co. Donegal.)
7, 1827
 - William Browne (Confederate General - Co. Mayo)
8, 1770 - Mary Ann McCracken (Patriot - Belfast.)

9, 1750
 - John Philpot Curran (Barrister - Newmarket, Co. Cork
11, 1879
 - Hugh Kennedy (First Chief Justice of the Irish Free State - Dublin)
11, 1915 - Colin Purdie Kelly Jr. (One of the first US heroes of WWII - Madison, Florida)
13, 1886
 - Edward Flanagan (Priest, founder of “Boy’s Town” – Leabeg, Co. Roscommon.)


7, 1735 - Daniel O'Donnel, Irish-born general in the French army, dies at St. Germain-en-Laye.
7, 1739 - Christian Davies, woman soldier with the Royal Inniskilling Regiment, dies in Chelsea.
7, 1754 - English Gen. Braddock defeated at Monongohela, some Irishmen captured here later join the Irish Brigade of France.
7, 1913 - Home rule bill passes in Commons for the second time; defeated in Lords for the second time (July 15).
7, 1922 - Cathal Brugha dies from wounds received fighting for the Republican side in Dublin during the Irish Civil War.
7, 1939 - Valentine Trant McGillycuddy, doctor, surveyor, and Sioux tribe Indian agent dies in California.
8, 1642 - Owen Roe O'Neill arrives in Ireland to lead revolt.
8, 1981 - Joe McDonnell dies on hunger strike.

9, 1797
 - Edmund Burke, political writer and orator, dies in London.

10, 1917
 - De Valera wins election to Parliament from Clare as Sinn Fein candidate.
10, 1921 – Kerry Volunteer No. 2 Brigade ambushes British soldiers at Castleisland, killing 3

10, 1997 - For the second time in three years, IRA declares a cease-fire.
11, 1921 - Truce declared between IRA and British army.
12, 1691 - Battle of Aughrim.
12, 1734 - James Fitzjames, the Marshal, Duke of Berwick, illegitimate son of James II and officer in the Irish Brigade of France, is killed at the siege of Philipsburg.
12, 1796 - First Orange parades in Lurgan, Waringstown, and Portadown.
12, 1813 - First recorded "Twelfth of July" sectarian riots in Belfast.
12, 1849 - 30 Catholics killed in rioting after Orange Order march through Dolly's Brae near Castlewellan.
12, 1862 - Medal of Honor authorized by Congress.
12, 1862 – Co. Laois  native Col. Thomas Cass dies of wounds suffered at the Battle of Malvern Hill.
12, 1922 - Michael Collins named head of Free State army with rank of general.
12, 1998 - In the early morning hours Quinn brothers Richard, 11, Mark, 10, and Jason 9, are burned to death by a Loyalist firebomb in Ballymoney, 40 miles northwest of Belfast.
13, 1825 - Catholic Association, dissolved by law on May 18th, is reconstituted. 
13-16, 1863 - Draft riots in New York City.
13, 1981 - Martin Hurson dies on hunger strike.
14, 1798 - United Irishmen John and Henry Sheares executed in Dublin.
14, 1881 - Henry McCarthy, AKA “Billy the Kid,” is killed in Fort Sumner, New Mexico.
14, 1921 - De Valera meets with Lloyd George in London.
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.

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Tags: History of Ireland, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, On This Day, United States


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