This Week in the History of the Irish: September 22 - September 28

From "History of the Irish Rebellion of 1798," published in 1799
The battle of Ballinamuck, after which Bartholomew Teeling was captured.

MÁIRT -- On September 24, 1798, United Irishman Bartholomew Teeling was executed in Dublin. Teeling was the son of wealthy linen merchant in Lisburn, County Antrim. His father was involved in both the Defender and United Irish movement and Bartholomew and his brother joined him in the Defenders while still teen-agers. Bartholomew traveled to France with Theobald Wolfe Tone in 1796, when he was only 26. In August 1798, Teeling, along with Wolfe Tone's brother, Matthew, accompanied French General Joseph Humbert's landing in County Mayo. Teeling performed admirably as an aide-de-camp to Humbert during the actions in Ireland. At the battle of Carricknagat, outside Collooney, on September 5, Teeling helped turn the tide of battle in favor of the Franco-Irish by riding directly up to a British cannon whose gunner had been doing terrible damage to them and killing him with his pistol. As he dashed back though a hail of musket balls he was given a hero's welcome by the Franco-Irish soldiers, who soon after routed the British. Three days later, when Cornwallis and Lake finally cornered Humbert's outnumbered army at Ballinamuck, Teeling managed to escape briefly, trying to avoid the death sentence he must have surely known awaited him. He was captured shortly afterward, however, and was hanged at Arbour Hill barracks, along with Matthew Tone. Today a street in Sligo town bears Teeling's name, and in 1898 a statue of Teeling was erected at Carricknagat.

Thomas Ashe

CÉADAOIN -- On Sept. 25, 1917, republican leader Thomas Ashe died on hunger strike. Trained as a teacher, Ashe was the principal of the Corduff National School, in Lusk, County Dublin, from 1908-16. A member of the Gaelic League and the Irish Volunteers, Ashe raised funds for the cause in American in 1914. Fifty men under his command captured a police barracks north of Dublin, most notably with a victory over superior forces at Ashbourne, County Meath. His was one of the few successful actions by the Volunteers during the '16 Rising. Sentenced to life in prison for that action, he was released in June 1917 and went to work organizing for Sinn Fein. Ashe was arrested in August and convicted of inciting the civil population. On September 20 he organized a hunger strike among Sinn Fein prisoners. Five days later prison authorities attempted to force-feed him and he sustained injuries that resulted in his death. Ashe's cruel death created another martyr for Ireland's freedom and another monument to British misrule. A branch of Ashe's family would produce a famous cousin here in the United States -- actor Gregory Peck.

SATHAIRN -- On September 26, 1791, the Queen, the first ship loaded with Irish “criminals,” arrived in New South Wales, Australia. More than 150 people were on board, members of one of the most abjectly poor groups of people in western Europe. That the Irish were this poor was no accident of birth; a strong case can be made backing the theory that keeping the Irish that poor was of great benefit to the British Empire. With few avenues open to make a living, millions of Irishmen had joined the British army in the 200 preceding years; some estimates say that army was often 50% Irish. It could be argued that the British Empire was in large part won for the English by Irishmen. But England also faced a problem in Ireland thanks to their impoverishment of these impoverished people; such people often turn to crime. England’s solution to the often petty crimes of Ireland’s lost generations: deportation to southern Australia, “Van Diemen’s Land.”

AOINE -- On Sept. 27, 1847, Civil War veteran and middleweight champion 'Professor' Mike Donovan was born in Chicago to Irish-born parents. The first of many memorable events in Donovan's life came when he fought for the Union Army, serving in Sherman's army in its march through Georgia. After the war, Mike began a boxing career that would associate him with some of the best-known people of his age -- in and out of the ring. In 1868, he defeated John Shaunessy in a bout refereed by famous Western lawman Wyatt Earp. Donovan won the middleweight title in 1887 in San Francisco. Donovan was in the ring with the most famous Irish boxing champion in history, John L. Sullivan, fighting two four-round fights with him in 1880 and 1881. After his boxing career ended, he worked with several famous Irish fighters. He was in Jake Kilrain's corner when he lost to John L. Sullivan in the last bare-knuckle heavyweight championship fight, and he also helped James Corbett when he defeated Sullivan for the title in 1892. Donovan had a fan in the White House -- Teddy Roosevelt loved boxing and sparred with Donovan several times. He earned the sobriquet 'Professor' for his scientific approach to his own career and in his later teaching of the sport. The 'Professor' left a legacy, as well. His son Arthur was a famous boxing referee in the 1930s and '40s and is enshrined in the Boxing Hall of Fame along with the 'Professor,' the only father-son combination so honored. His grandson, also Art, played for the Baltimore Colts in the National Football League; he is enshrined in the Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, Ohio. You can learn more about Mike Donovan and many other Irish fighters from the early days of boxing at the International Boxing Hall of Fame Web site.

AOINE-- On Sept. 27, 1725 Patrick Darcy, scientist and soldier in the Irish Brigade of France was born in Kitulla, Co. Galway. Like many Catholics before and after him during the years of the Penal Laws, Patrick was sent to France to be educated. He studied under the French mathematician Clairaut. Perhaps seeking more adventure than an academic life could provide, he enlisted in the army. He fought in Germany in the regiment of Condé, and served as an aide-de-camp to Marshal Saxe at the battle of Fontenoy. He sailed for Scotland in 1745, attempting to fight in "Bonnie" Prince Charlie's rising, but his ship was captured and he was taken prisoner. Shortly he was released and returned France where he continued both his scientific and military careers. He published several scientific papers, including an "Essay on Artillery" in 1760, and was named to the French Academy of Science. He served with Fitzjames' cavalry regiment of the Irish Brigade in the "Seven Years War" with the rank of colonel. Following the war he concentrated on his scientific studies, contributing more papers to the French Academy of Science. This work earned him great respect within the French scientific community. He received the title of Count was admitted to many exclusive royal court circles. He died of cholera in Paris on October 18, 1779

VOICES

'Fellow-citizens, I leave you with the heartfelt satisfaction of having kept my oath as a United Irishman, and also with the glorious prospect of the success of the cause in which we have been engaged. Persevere, my beloved countrymen. Your cause is the cause of Truth. It must and will ultimately triumph.'
         -- From Bartholomew Teeling's gallow's statement, which he was not allowed to read.

'Nothing additional remains to be said. That volley which we have just heard is the only speech which is proper to make above the grave of a dead Fenian.'
         -- Michael Collins in his oration at the graveside of Thomas Ashe, September 1917

BIRTHS

September -- Meán Fomhair

22, 1821 - Patrick Moore (Confederate General - Kitulla, Co. Galway)
27, 1725 - Patrick Darcy (Scientist and soldier - Galway)
27, 1847 - Professor Mike Donovan (Civil War Union soldier & pro boxer)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

22, 1864 - Col. James Mulligan, who commanded the western Irish Brigade, dies of wounds sustained at the 3rd Battle of Winchester three days earlier.
22, 1920 - Mid-Clare Brigade, IRA, kill six policemen near Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare.
23, 1867 - Dick Dowling, the Irish-born Confederate hero of Sabine Pass, dies of Yellow Fever in Houston.
24, 1798 - United Irishmen Bartholomew Teeling is hung in Dublin.
25, 1697 - Catholic clergy banished from Ireland by Act of Parliament.
25, 1917 - Thomas Ashe, Republican, dies on hunger strike in Mountjoy Jail.
26, 1791 - The first ship delivering Irish convicts arrives in Sydney harbor Australia.
26, 1920 - Anti-Catholic pogrom in Belfast.
28, 1920 - Cork No. 2 Brigade, IRA, attacks and captures a military barracks, Mallow, Co. Cork. English later burn and sack the town.

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Tags: Bartholomew Teeling, Europe, Fitzjames' cavalry, General Joseph Humbert, Irish Brigade of France, Irish Freedom Struggle, John L. Sullivan, On This Day, Patrick Darcy, Professor Mike Donovan, More…Thomas Ashe, United Irishmen

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