DOMHNAIGH -- 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.
LUAIN -- 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.”
MÁIRT -- 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.
MÁIRT -- 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.
DEARDAOIN -- On Sept. 29, 1972, Kathleen Clarke, wife of Easter Rising martyr Tom Clarke, died in Liverpool, England. Kathleen's uncle was Fenian John Daley, who spent time in prison with Tom Clarke; her brother was Edward Daley, one of the leaders of the '16 Rising.
(Left: National Museum of Ireland - Kathleen Clarke)
Kathleen married Clarke in 1901 and lived with him in the United States until 1907. When they returned, Kathleen became one of the leaders of Cumann na mBan. After the Rising, as her husband and brother were being given rapid sham trials and then murdered, she was held prisoner in Dublin Castle. Shortly after, she suffered a miscarriage, losing a child that would have been a living link to her dead husband. But Kattie Clarke continued his work, never wavering in her support of an Irish Republic. Clarke was jailed again in 1918 as part of England's bogus "German Plot." After the Civil War, like many other women in the Irish republican movement, Clarke was dismayed by de Valera's seeming lack of respect for women in government. In 1939 she was the first woman elected Lord Mayor of Dublin, a post she held for five years. In 1968 the National University of Ireland gave Kathleen an honorary doctorate of law to help mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. In 1972, after seeing nearly all the family and friends of her youth pass away, this heroine of Irish freedom died and was given a well-deserved state funeral in Dublin.
'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
'That's easy. We're Irish. For us, YOU are the enemy!'
-- Kathleen Clarke's reply to a British officer who asked her how she and her husband could "assist the enemy" shortly after she learned of Tom's execution, May 4, 1916
September -- Meán Fomhair
27, 1725 - Patrick Darcy (Scientist and soldier - Galway)
27, 1847 - Professor Mike Donovan (Civil War Union soldier & pro boxer)
29, 1778 - Catherine McAuley (Founder of the Sisters of Mercy - Drumcondra, Co. Dublin.)
29, 1678 - Count Peter Lacy (Field-marshal, Russian army - Killedy, Co. Limerick.)
October -- Deireadh Fomhair
1, 1936 - Patrick Henry Brady, (MOH winner in Vietnam, Philip, SD).
September -- Meán Fomhair
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.
27, 1662 - An "act for encouraging Protestant strangers and others to inhabit and plant in the kingdom of Ireland" passes the Irish Parliament under Charles II.
27, 1942 - Edwin O'Hara heroically dies helping to save his comrades on the SS Stephen Hopkins.
28, 1920 - Cork No. 2 Brigade, IRA, attacks and captures a military barracks, Mallow, Co. Cork. English later burn and sack the town.
28, 1966 – Riots in Belfast after the RUC remove a tricolor flag from the window of the election HQ of a Sinn Féin candidate under the Flags and Emblems Display Act (1954).
29, 1798 - Tandy and other Irish political prisoners in Hamburg are handed over to British authorities.
29, 1825 – Daniel Shays, son of an Irish immigrant father, Revolutionary War captain and leader of Shays’ Rebellion, dies penniless in Sparta, NY.
29, 1860 - Elements of the St. Patrick's battalion of the Papal army fight at the battle of Anacona.
29, 1898 - Fenian Thomas Clarke is released from Portland Prison.
29, 1920 - The East Clare Brigade Irish Volunteers attack the RIC on O’Brien’s Bridge, killing two constables.
29, 1972 - Kathleen Daly Clarke, revolutionary and politician, dies in Liverpool.
30, 1783 - Irish-born Walter Stewart is breveted to Brigadier General in the Continental Army.
30, 1900 - Arthur Griffith forms Cumann na nGaedheal. It later becomes Sinn Féin.
October -- Deireadh Fomhair
1, 1864 - Rose O'Neal Greenhow ("The Confederate Rose"), Confederate spy, drowns in a shipwreck off Wilmington, N.C.