This Week in the History of the Irish: June 30 - July 6

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.

LUAIN -- On July 1, 1897, Gen. Tom Barry, one of the finest guerrilla leaders of Ireland's War of Independence, was born in Rosscarbery, Co. Cork. 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. 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 afterwards 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 accounts from that war.

Photo by Joe Gannon
A re-enactor in the uniform of a grenadier of Dillon's Regiment of the Irish Brigade of France.


MÁIRT -- On July 2, 1779, on the West Indies isle of Grenada, whose name would be famous again in the 1980s, Colonel Arthur Dillon and his regiment of the Irish Brigade of France were among 2,300 troops landed from ships commanded by the Count d'Estaing. Another Irishman, Lord Macartney, was in charge of the British troops on the island. As the French came ashore, he retreated to the heights of Morne de l'Hopital. Macartney had only 700 troops, but his defensive position on the fortified heights was very strong. Besides the steep incline, there were several walls on the hillside placed to impede the progress of any attackers. D'Estaing sent Colonel Dillon and some other officers to reconnoiter the possible assault routes just before dark on the 3rd and then ordered a rare night-assault on the position. The French attacked with a three pronged assault; Dillon's regiment made up much of the center and left columns of the assault. Count d'Estaing showed his respect for the Irish by personally leading the grenadiers of Dillon's regiment. Despite the obstacles in their way, the French and Irish troops fought their way up the slope and had taken the position by morning, forcing Macartney's surrender. Several officers of Dillon's regiment were among the 106 French casualties.

Photo by Kevin O'Beirne
Re-enactors portraying the men of the 69th Pennsylvania await the assault of others portraying Confederate infantrymen, near the "Copse of Trees" during 1998's 135th anniversary re-enactment of "Pickett's Charge."


CÉADAOIN -- On July 3, 1863, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, as the sun rose behind the men the Colonel Dennis O'Kane's Irish 69th Pennsylvania Vol. Infantry on Cemetery Ridge, the most famous assault of the American Civil War was being prepared across the mile of open field in front of them. The 69th PA would be at the very vortex of that assault, now known to posterity as "Pickett's Charge". At 1 p.m. a tremendous cannonade by the Confederate guns would sail mostly over the heads of the 69th. About 3 p.m. the barrage slacked, and the rebel infantrymen began their assault. "And let your work this day be for victory or to the death," Col. Dennis O'Kane told his men as the furious rebel onslaught approached. Soon they were forced to refuse both flanks as the Confederate tide rolled up to them and lapped around both sides. While many around them ran, the 69th stood fast. The regiment's tenacious stand in front of the famous copse of trees was a pivotal part of the crucial Union victory achieved at Gettysburg. Good to his word, Col. O'Kane was killed, and lying dead near the 69th's position; wearing gray lay Pvt. Willie Mitchel of the 1st Virginia Infantry, son of Irish patriot John Mitchel. At the most crucial battle of America's Civil War, Irish were killing Irish on a foreign field once again.

AOINE -- On July 5, 1812, Frederick Maning, who would become beloved in New Zealand by its native Maori people, was born in Johnville, Co. Dublin. Maning immigrated to Australia with his father in 1824 and then to New Zealand on his own in 1833, when few Europeans were living there. His great size and strength, and his personality, so impressed the Maori that they called him 'Pakeha Maori,' naturalized citizen. He acquired some land near Onaki and settled there, marrying a Maori woman. In 1865, he became a judge when the British court system was established. Maning published a book on Maori life titled Old New Zealand. When Maning became ill in 1881, he traveled to England seeking a cure. He did not find one, and died in London on July 25, 1883. His body was returned to New Zealand for burial

VOICES

'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.

'Is the Morne taken? .... Well, then, I die content.'
         -- The last words of Lt. Patrick Mac Sheehy of Dillon's Regiment, Irish Brigade of France, Grenada, July 4, 1779.

'I do not believe that there was a soldier in the regiment that did not feel that he had more courage to meet the enemy at Gettysburg than upon any field of battle in which we had yet been engaged, stimulus being, that we were upon the soil of our own state.'
         -- Private McDermott, 69th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, July 3, 1863

BIRTHS

July -- Iúil


?, 1888 - Linda Kerns (Republican and nurse - Cromard, Co. Sligo.)
1, 1897 - Tom Barry (IRA general during War of Independence - Rosscarbery , Co Cork.)
4, 1746 - Henry Grattan (Politician, patriot - Dublin)
5, 1812 - Frederick Edward Maning (the "Pakeha Maori" - New Zealand judge - Dublin.)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS


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 Brigade, Confederate 6th LA, engaged.)
1, 1867 - Thomas Francis Meagher drowns in the Missouri River.
1, 1916 - Beginning of the Battle of the Somme.
2, 1779 - Dillon's Regiment of France's Irish Brigade land on the island of Grenada, which they help to take on the 4th.
2, 1798 - Execution of Father John Murphy and his bodyguard, James Gallagher, at Tullow, County Carlow.
2, 1798 - Engagement at Ballygullen, Cranford, west of Gorey.
2, 1874 - Isaac Butt's Home Rule motion defeated in House of Commons 458-61.
2, 1863 - Battle of Gettysburg (PA) - Second day - Irish Brigade fights in the "Wheatfield."
3, 1863 - Battle of Gettysburg - Third day - 69th Pennsylvania helps repulse Pickett's Charge.
3, 1918 - Sinn Fein party banned by British government.
3, 1970 - Riots in Belfast, six killed.
4, 1581 - Con O'Donnell defeats his uncle, Hugh MacManus O'Donnell in battle at Kiltole.
4, 1690 - James II flees Ireland for France.
4, 1776 - A cannon at Elizabethtown, N.J., under the command of Irish-born Capt. Daniel Neil, fires first shot at the British after the Declaration of Independence.
5, 1828 - Daniel O'Connell elected MP from Clare.
5, 1845 - Anti-Catholic American Republican party holds a national convention in Philadelphia (genesis of Know-Nothing Party).
6, 1918 - John Purroy Mitchel, grandson of Young Irelander John Mitchel and former mayor of New York, is killed in a flight-training accident while serving in the U.S. Army.
6, 1920 - Jeremiah Mee and several others resign from the Royal Irish Constabulary protesting British policies.

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Tags: 69th PA, American Civil War, Europe, Gettysburg, Grenada, Irish Brigade of France, Irish Freedom Struggle, Military History, United States, dennis O'Kane, More…frederick mannng, new zealand, pickett's charge, tom Barry, war of independence, west indies, willie mitchel

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