This Week in the History of the Irish: May 19 - May 25

DOMHNAIGH -- On May 19, 1798, Lord Edward Fitzgerald, military leader of the United Irishmen, was captured by the British in Dublin. From one of the most distinguished families in Ireland, a descendant of 'Silken Thomas' Fitzgerald, who was executed by the English in 1537, and brother of the Duke of Leinster, Lord Edward had served in the British army against the American colonists during the American Revolution.

(Left: The arrest and mortal wounding of Lord Edward Fitzgerald, who stands to the left.)

He spent time in Paris after the war, where one of his companions was American political theorist Thomas Paine. There Fitzgerald acquired his republican ideals. He had escaped capture in March when many of the United Irish leaders had been arrested, but a spy had betrayed his hiding place on Thomas Street. Lord Edward fiercely resisted arrest, stabbing to death one of his captors, but another shot him, and he died of his wounds 16 days later.

MÁIRT --  On May 21, 1745, Count Daniel O'Connell, the uncle of the 'Liberator,' and an officer in the Irish Brigade of France, was born in Derrynane, Co. Kerry. Young Daniel became a cadet with the French army in 1761. He served in Clare's Regiment of the Irish Brigade, eventually rising through the ranks to become colonel of the regiment. O'Connell was made a count in 1788 and was an opponent of the French Revolution. That opposition would lead him to organize an Irish unit for the British army. This scheme was short-lived and the unit soon disbanded. Count O'Connell returned to France and the French army when the Bourbons were restored to the throne after the defeat of Napoleon. O'Connell left the French army after the revolution of 1830 and retired. Count Daniel O'Connell, the last colonel of the Irish Brigade, died at his chateau near Blois in 1833.

CÉADAOIN -- On May 22, 1805, Young Irelander Michael Doheny (right) was born in Fethard, Co. Tipperary. Doheny joined O'Connell's Repeal Association in the 1830s and wrote for the Young Irelanders' publication, The Nation, under the name Eiranach. He fled to the United States in 1848, along with James Stephens, after the failure of the Young Irelander's uprising. In the United States, Doheny helped found two famous Irish organizations: the 69th New York militia and the Fenian Brotherhood. Doheny wrote a well-known account of the '48 Rising, "In the Felon's Track," which was published in 1867. He did not live to see it published, however. After seeing Ireland one more time, when he accompanied the body of Terence MacManus home for burial in Dublin, Doheny returned to New York City, where he died suddenly in April 1862. Michael Doheny was laid to rest in Calvary Cemetery in the city's borough of Queens.


SATHAIRN -- On May 25, 1798 in Co. Wicklow, as the British authorities began to receive news of people rising up in several parts of the island, anxious loyalist militia units committed two massacres of men they suspected of being rebels. In Dunlavin, 28 or more innocent Catholic members of the Yeomanry were taken from the jail and shot. None of these men had taken part in any actions against the government.

(Sir Thomas Judkin Fitzgerald, High Sheriff of Co. Tipperary, better known as “Flogging Fitzgerald,” flogging a United Irishman.)

With many Catholic members of local Yeomanry militia units going over to the rebels, the victims at Dunlavin were killed on the mere suspicion of some connection to those who had risen. That same day, in Carnew, another 24 or more were taken from the prison in town and murdered in an alley. Several months of the worst fighting and atrocities in Irish history lay ahead.

VOICES

'What a noble fellow. Of the first family of Ireland, with an easy fortune, a beautiful wife, a family of lovely children, the certainty of a splendid appointment under the government, if he would condescend to support their measures; he has devoted himself wholly to the emancipation of his country.'
         -- United Irish commander Theobald Wolfe Tone (left) commenting on Lord Edward Fitzgerald (right) in his diary

'So long as the sanguine heart that carried Michael Doheny undaunted along the Felon's Tracks beats in the breast of his country, the Irish Nation will be indestructible.'
       -- Sinn Fein founder Arthur Griffith (right).

And wherever we march, thro' the country or town,
In ditches or cellars, the croppies* lie down.
Down, down, croppies lie down.
         -- From the loyalist song 'Croppies Lie Down.' (*Wexford rebels were called croppies because of their close-cropped French-Jacobin style haircuts.)

BIRTHS

May -- Bealtaine

21, 1745 - Count Daniel O'Connell (Soldier, uncle of the "Liberator" - Derrynane, Co. Kerry.)
22, 1805 - Michael Doheny (One of the founders of the 69th New York - Fenian - Fethard, Co. Tipperary.)
22, 1859 - Arthur Conan Doyle (Author of Sherlock Holmes books, born of Irish immigrant parents in Edinburgh, Scotland.)
22, 1870 - Eva Gore-Booth (Poet - Trade Unionist- Feminist - Lissadell, Co Sligo.)
24 1877 - Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington (Suffragist, socialist, republican - Kanturk, Co. Cork)
25, 1896 -William Cochran-Patrick (WWI Ace, 21 kills - Ireland.)
25, 1898 - Gene Tunney (Heavyweight boxing champion - New York City.)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

19, 1797 - Presses of Belfast Northern Star (United Irishmen) broken up by Monaghan militia.
19, 1798 - Lord Edward Fitzgerald, United Irish leader, shot while being apprehended. (He died on June 4.)
19, 1870 - Isaac Butt founds Home Rule movement; first public meeting of Home Government Association.
19, 1921 - British troops surprised an IRA ambush party at Kilmeena, Co. Mayo. Five Irish volunteers were killed and seven wounded, one RIC constable and one Black & Tan killed.
19, 1993 - Former Light-Heavyweight Champ of the World Billy Conn dies in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
20, 1836 - Irish Constabulary established (Later named Royal Irish Constabulary).
21, 1800 - Bill for Union introduced in Irish Parliament.
21, 1981 - Patsy O’Hara dies on hunger strike.
21, 1981 - Raymond McCreesh dies on hunger strike.
23, 1706 - Irish Brigade of France fights at the battle of Ramillies.
23, 1723 - Charles O'Brien, 5th Viscount Clare, soldier in the Irish Brigade of France, is killed at Ramilles.
23, 1794 - United Irishmen suppressed. Dublin United Irish Society's premises at Tailors Hall raided.
23-4, 1798 - United Irish rebellion begins in Leinster.
24, 1798 - Enniscorthy Yeomen Cavalry flog a man to death in village of Ballaghkeen - Enniscorthy Yeomen Cavalry flog a man to death in village of Ballaghkeen. 
25, 1798 - Twenty-four United Irish prisoners shot in the ball alley at Carnew. Four hundred and sixty United Irishmen killed in the unsuccessful attack on Carlow town. Thirty-five suspected United Irish prisoners shot in Dunlavin.
25, 1862 - The Irish 6th Louisiana fights in the 1st battle of Winchester, Virginia.
25, 1870 - Gen. John O'Neill and a small force of Fenians invade Canada near St. Alban's, Vermont.
25, 1921 - Customs House burned by IRA in Dublin.

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Tags: Europe, History of Ireland, Irish Freedom Struggle, On This Day

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