This Week in the History of the Irish: May 24 - May 30

LUAIN -- 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.

MÁIRT -- On May 26, 1706, Col. Charles O'Brien, 5th Viscount Clare, died from wounds suffered at the battle of Ramillies. O'Brien was born in 1670. He had commanded one of the regiments raised by his father, Daniel, during the Williamite War in Ireland. After the Treaty of Limerick, he was one of the soldiers who traveled to France with Sarsfield's army. O'Brien fought at the battle of Marsaglia in 1693, where his brother was killed. In 1696, he was appointed Colonel of his own regiment of the Irish Brigade of France, which became famous as the regiment of Clare, after his title. O'Brien led his regiment in numerous battles all over Europe in the next ten years. At the battle of Ramillies, on May 23, 1706, his regiment was heavily engaged. Though the French lost the battle, Clare's regiment fought gallantly, capturing a pair of colors from the enemy, one Scottish and one English. But in leading his regiment through the heated action there, Lord Clare received nine wounds. He died three days later, sharing that fate with 37 other officers and 326 soldiers of his regiment. Charles O'Brien, Lord Clare, was buried at the Church of the Holy Cross at Louvain, where his wife erected a monument to his memory. O'Brien's son, the 6th Viscount, was also Charles, and was likewise a famous soldier in the Brigade.

CÉADAOIN -- On May 27, 1798, a North Cork militia and local yeomanry force of around 128 was headed towards the rebel held town of Oulart, Co. Wexford. The yeomen, commanded by Colonel Foote, a veteran of the American Revolution, were met by the numerically superior but poorly armed rebels of Father John Murphy on Oulart Hill. Foote was reluctant to attack Murphy's men, who were well posted on high ground; but Col. Foote's men were supremely confident that they could easily sweep the ill-armed, untrained Irish rebels from the hill. They had also looted and burned a public house in Ballinamonabeg on their way, which may have increased their courage.

(Left: Father John Murphy, who commanded the rebels at Oulart Hill.)

While Foote was writing a request for more men, his enthusiastic soldiers began an assault without orders. Foote's subordinate, Major Lombard led the attack on the United Irishmen. Seeing a possible disaster in the making, Foote rode after them, trying to restrain his troops but it was too late. The Irish did not run away, as so many of the yeoman were sure they would. They held their ground until the yeomen came near and then overwhelmed them. Of the 128 men in his command, only Col. Foote, a sergeant and two privates survived the battle.

DEARDAOIN -- On May 28, 1779, poet and songwriter Thomas Moore (right) was born at 12 Aungier Street in Dublin. Moore attended Trinity College with Robert Emmet, whom he befriended there, though he did not become personally involved with the United Irishmen. Moore traveled to London in 1799 to study law. He was appointed to a government job in Bermuda in 1803 but soon tired of it and he returned to London. His talents as a writer of verse soon overcame any other career pursuits. Although he wrote some prose as well, today Moore is most remembered for his 'Irish Melodies,' his lyrics put to the music of traditional Irish tunes, published sporadically between 1807 and 1834. Many, such as The Minstrel Boy, had patriotic Irish themes and are still widely known and sung to this day.


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.)

Courtesy of Ian Croxall
The flag of Clare's regiment of the
Irish Brigade of France

'Lord Clare himself was noted in the French army for his intrepidity in action. At Ramillies, we see Clare's regiment shining with trophies and covered with laurels again, even in the midst of a discomforted, routed army.'
       -- From an Allied writer (The Allies opposed France.)

And said, 'No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and bravery!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free,
They shall never sound in slavery!
         -- "The Minstrel Boy" by Thomas Moore.


May -- Bealtaine

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.)
26, 1897 - Ernest Bernard O'Malley (Irish Revolutionary and author – Castlebar, Co. Mayo)
28, 1779 - Thomas Moore (Author and Balladeer - Dublin)


24, 1798 - Enniscorthy Yeomen Cavalry flog a man to death in the village of Ballaghkeen - Enniscorthy Yeomen Cavalry flog a man to death in the 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.
26, 1315 - Edward the Bruce of Scotland lands in Larne with his Scottish expeditionary force.
26, 1650 - Cromwell leaves Ireland.
26, 1706 - Col. Charles O'Brien, 5th Viscount Clare, dies from wounds suffered at the battle of Ramilles.
26, 1798 - Battle of the Harrow.
26, 1798 - Rebels defeated at Tara, Co Meath.
26, 1798 - Battle of Carlow.
26, 1868 - Fenian Michael Barrett is hung in front of Newgate Prison, the last public execution in Great Britain.
26, 1873 - Religious tests for entrance to Trinity College, Dublin abandoned by Act of Parliament.
27, 1595 - Battle of Clontibret
27, 1798 - Battle of Oulart Hill, Co. Wexford; detachment of North Cork militia defeated by Father Murphy's United Irishmen.
27, 1936 - First Aer Lingus flight - Baldonnel military aerodrome to Bristol, England.
28, 1798 - Capture of Enniscorthy.
28, 1974 - Unionist strike brings down the Sunningdale power-sharing agreement.
29, 1879 - Irish born Daniel O'Connor, colonel in the Austrian army, dies in Vienna.
29, 1798 - 350 rebels killed at Curragh, Co Kildare, by troops under Sir James Duff.
29, 1896 - Irish Socialist Republican Party founded by James Connolly.
30, 1798 - Battle of the Three Rocks, Wexford town captured by rebels.
30, 1844 - Daniel O'Connell fined and sentenced to 12 months in prison for 'conspiracy.'

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


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