This Week in the History of the Irish: September 27 - October 3

DOMHNAIGH -- 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.

DOMHNAIGH -- 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 to 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.

MÁIRT -- 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.

SATHAIRN -- On Oct. 3, 1691, the Treaty of Limerick was signed, ending the Williamite War in Ireland. It has been said that Irish history is something the Irish should never remember and the English should never forget, but the recollection of this treaty is another example of the opposite being true. That the English wish to forget this event is not surprising, it is one of the most disgraceful moments in their long and dishonorable history of persecution of the Irish nation. Patrick Sarsfield and his army had frustrated William of Orange's plan for a short, decisive campaign in Ireland; William was desperate to end those hostilities and send his forces in Ireland to reinforce his army on the continent.

(Right: The Limerick Treaty Stone near the Thomond Bridge. Though the legend of the signing on this rock is probably false, it stands as a monument to that dishonored treaty.)

The terms Baron van Ginckel negotiated in the name of William of Orange reflected the fact that Sarsfield's army was far from militarily defeated. Sarsfield and his men were to be allowed to march out of the city under arms, retaining banners, and all that wished would be transported to the continent at England's expense. In addition, Irish Catholics were promised near-equality with the English occupiers of their home island.

Photo by Kieron Punch
Part of the walls of King John's Castle in Limerick, where Sarsfield and his men held out. The brickwork in the center tower was done to repair damage from Williamite artillery.

About two weeks after Sarsfield signed the treaty, a French fleet arrived at the mouth of the Shannon. Some urged him to now renounce the treaty and fight on, but he honored his word. It is also quite likely that Ginckel expected his side would honor the word he had pledged in the treaty negotiations, but Ginckel's signature on the treaty would prove worthless. With the Jacobite army safely removed to France, the vindictive Anglo-Irish members of the Irish Parliament felt free to tear up the treaty and pass the infamous Penal Laws in its stead. It was said that this dismayed William of Orange, and perhaps it did, but to his everlasting discredit, he allowed the Penal Laws to stand. These laws ingrained a tradition of religious intolerance in the Anglo-Irish Ascendancy that survives to this day. They forced the native Catholic population of Ireland into well over 100 years of poverty and deprivation, driving most of the best members of every succeeding generation to seek their fortune abroad. They would be known as The Wild Geese and they would prove to be a thorn in England's side. Many thousands of them, including Sarsfield, would find a soldier's grave on hundreds of battlefields across Europe.


National Gallery of Ireland
Patrick Sarsfield

'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

'As low as we now are, change but kings and we will fight it over again with you.'
         -- Patrick Sarsfield to an English officer during the Limerick Treaty discussions, criticizing King James' uninspired performance in Ireland, September 1691


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).
2, 1833 - Father William Corby (Chaplain of the Irish Brigade, Detroit, MI.)


September -- Meán Fomhair

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.
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.
2-5, 1600 - Battle of Moyry Pass
3, 1691 - Surrender of Limerick (Treaty of Limerick signed.)
3, 1750 - Highwayman James MacLaine (McLean) hanged at Tyburn.
3, 1871 - Gen. John O'Neill and a small force of Fenians invade Canada at Pembina, Manitoba.

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Tags: Irish Freedom Struggle, On This Day, Sports, United States, Women


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