This Week in the History of the Irish: June 25 - July 1

DOMHNAIGH -- On June 25, 1870Robert Erskine Childers, whose mother was from County Clare, was born in London. Childers was raised at the home of family members at Glendalough, County Wicklow. He was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. After serving in the British army during the Boer War he became an Irish nationalist. In 1914, Childers smuggled German rifles into Ireland on his yacht, Asgard. Though he served as the principal secretary to Collins and Griffith at the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations, Childers opposed the treaty, supporting the anti-treaty forces during the Civil War. Childers was captured by Free Staters in November 1922 with a pistol shortly after the Free State had passed legislation making such possession a capital offence. Ironically, the revolver Childers possessed was a gift from a former comrade – Michael Collins, who led the Free State until his death in an ambush three months earlier. Childers was found guilty on November 19 and executed on November 24, during the tragic exchange of atrocities by the two sides. Before they shot him, Childers shook the hand of each member of his firing squad. Childer's son, also called Erskine, would one day be President of Ireland.

MÁIRT -- On June 27, 1862, the Irish 9th Massachusetts Infantry regiment of the Union Army was heavily engaged at the battle of Gaines Mill, Virginia, during McClellan's Peninsula Campaign. Put into an exposed, forward position near the bridge over Powhite Creek, the regiment sustained heavy casualties while delaying the advance of A. P. Hill's division, allowing other Federal forces to improve their defenses. Among the Confederates attacking the 9th's position was the Irishmen of Company K, 1st South Carolina.

(Left: Meagher and his Irish Brigade come to the relief of the 9th MA at Gaines Mill as depicted by Don Troiani in "Brothers of Ireland.")

After pulling back to the main Federal line, the regiment would be hotly engaged again later in the day. Numerous attacks by Hill's Confederates were repulsed through the day, and the 9th would also help cover the retreat of their brigade. The 9th was one of the last regiments of the 5th Corps remaining on the field as Gen. Thomas Francis Meagher and his Irish Brigade rushed into line to relieve the beleaguered remnant of the brave Massachusetts regiment. Seeing the green flags of the Irish Brigade coming to the 9th's aid, Lt. Col. Patrick Guiney, who had been watching his regiment shrink in number all day, shook the hand of Meagher and exclaimed, "Thank God, we are saved." The 9th lost 82 killed and 167 wounded that day.

Read more about the battle HERE.

CÉADAOIN -- On June 28, 1920, at Wellington barracks in Jullundar, India, 350 Irish members of the famous Connaught Rangers regiment of the British army laid down their arms and refused to keep soldiering as long as British troops remained in Ireland. The mutiny soon spread to Ranger detachments in Solon and Jutogh. The leader of the rebellious Rangers in Solon was James Daly.

(Right: James Daly, executed leader of the Connaught Rangers mutiny in India.)

While the Rangers at Jullundar, including Daly's brother, had not attempted anything beyond refusing to soldier, at Solon, Daly led a nighttime raid on the armory in an attempt to recover the arms they had voluntarily turned in that day. During that confrontation, Daly shouted to the officers guarding the munitions, "If you want to know who the leader is, I am, James Daly, number 35025 of Tyrellspass, Co. Westmeath. Two of the mutineers were killed that night -- Patrick Smythe and Peter Sears. Eventually, 61 Rangers were convicted by courts-martial and 14 sentenced to death. James Daly was the only one shot, on Nov. 2, 1920. We believe it noteworthy that an Irishmen remains the last soldier executed by the British army for a military offense.

SATHAIRN -- On July 1, 1897, Gen. Tom Barry, one of the finest guerrilla leaders of Ireland's War of Independence, was born in Killorglin, Co. Kerry. Barry joined the British army in 1915 and served in Mesopotamia during World War I. When he returned home in 1919, Barry joined the IRA and put his experience to work organizing and training the IRA's West Cork Flying Column. He turned it into one of the most effective Irish fighting units during the War of Independence.

(Left: Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork - 'Men of the South' by Sean Keating, depicting the men of an IRA Flying Column during the War of Independence.)

Barry also proved an excellent tactician during the war. His column's most famous actions were at Kilmichael and Crossbarry. Barry took the anti-treaty side during the Civil War and remained on the IRA's Army Council afterward but resigned from the IRA in 1938 in disagreement with its bombing campaign in England. His story of the War of Independence, Guerrilla Days in Ireland, published in 1949, is one of the best.

At Gaine's Mill, Colonel Thomas Cass's gallant 9th Massachusetts Volunteers of Griffin's brigade obstinately resisted A.P. Hill's crossing, and were so successful in delaying his advance, after crossing, as to compel him to employ large bodies to force the regiment back to the main line.' 
         -- Union General Fitz-John Porter, writing in Century Magazine in 1884.

'It must be evident to any student of the period that Barry was unique in the measure of success he achieved, in careful planning of every action, and in his domination of such afterwards famous people as (Sir Bernard) Montgomery and (Arthur E.) Percival.'
-- Michael Costello, Lt. Gen. Irish Defense Force and veteran of the War of Independence, on Tom Barry.


June -- Meitheamh

25, 1870 - Erskine Childers (Author and Revolutionary - London, England)
27, 1846
 - Charles Stewart Parnell (Politician - Avondale, Co. Wicklow)
27, 1850 - Lafcadio Hearn (Author on Japanese subjects – Lafcadio Island, Greece.)
28, 1844
 - John Boyle O’Reilly (Author, poet, and republican - Dowth Castle, Co. Meath)
29, 1771
 - John Edward Newell (Informer - Downpatrick, Co. Down.) 

July -- Iúil

?, 1888 - Linda Kerns (Republican and nurse - Cromard, Co. Sligo.)
1, 1897
 - Tom Barry (IRA general during War of Independence - Killorglin, Co. Kerry.)


June -- Meitheamh

25, 1690 - Waterford surrenders to the Williamites.
25, 1876 
Myles Keogh and over 30 other Irish-born troopers are killed with Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in Montana.
26, 1757
 - Count Maximilian Ulysses Brown, Austrian Field Marshal, dies in Prague.
26, 1798 - Battle of Kilcumney Hill in County Carlow.
26, 1798 - Bagenal Henry, United Irishman, hung from Wexford bridge.
26, 1846 - England repeals Corn Laws.
27, 1743
 - Irish Brigade of France fights at the battle of Dettingen. 
27, 1783 - Hibernia regiment of Spain's Irish Brigade arrives to garrison Augustine, Fla.
27, 1862 - Battle of Gaines Mill, VA (Federal Irish Brigade, 9th MA, Confederate 6th LA engaged)
27, 1898 - Ancient Order of Hibernians in US revived at unity conference.
27, 1963 - President John F. Kennedy arrives for his famous visit to his ancestor’s homeland.

28, 1861 - Robert Burke, of Co. Galway, dies of starvation while exploring Australia.      
28, 1920
 - India Mutiny by Irish members of Connaught Rangers.
28, 1922 
- Irish Civil War begins. Free State forces attack Republicans in Four Courts, Dublin.
29, 1315 
- Edward the Bruce of Scotland and his Irish allies take the town of Dundalk.
29, 1733 
- Irish Brigade of France fights at the battle of Parma.
29, 1775 - At the Battle of Bemis Heights (Second Saratoga) Timothy Murphy’s shooting of Sir Francis Clerke and General Simon Fraser is one of the keys to the American victory.
29, 1798 - Engagement of Ballyellis.
30, 1691
 - Colonel Richard Grace is killed in Williamite attack on Athlone.

July -- Iúil

431 A.D - A feis is held in Tara to reaffirm national unity and security.
1, 1681 - St. Oliver Plunkett hung, drawn, and quartered in England.
1, 1690 - Battle of the Boyne.
1, 1694 - Justin McCarthy, Lord Mountcashel, first commander of the Irish Brigade of France, dies of complications from previous battle wounds in France.
1, 1862 - Battle of Malvern Hill, VA. (Federal Irish BrigadeConfederate 6th LA, engaged.)
1, 1867 - Thomas Francis Meagher drowns in the Missouri River.
1, 1916 - Beginning of the Battle of the Somme.

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Tags: American Civil War, Americas, Asia, Britain, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, On This Day, United States


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