ON THIS DATE (27TH MARCH) 369 YEARS AGO : KILKENNY FALLS TO A BRITISH CRIMINAL.
“I came to Kilkenny in 1650 to suppress the Papist extremists. The city was well fortified, however we breached the walls at St.Francis’ Abbey, caused collateral damage to much of the ecclesiastical property and confiscated much private property, exiling leaders of the Confederation and Papist landowners to the West of Ireland…” – Oliver Cromwell, who was born on the 25th April, 1599, and was christened in Saint John the Baptish church in Huntingdon, England, on the 29th of that month. Decades later, when someone was trawling through the birth records for that period, they came across an unofficial addendum to that particular entry : it read – “England’s plague for five years”.
‘March 1650, and the city of Kilkenny was increasingly surrounded. The heart of the Confederate movement since the foundation of that entity, it was now just another beleaguered Royalist stronghold, waiting for the Parliamentarian hammer to fall. The Kilkenny area, including the city, had been put in the overall command of James Tuchet, the Earl of Castlehaven, an appointment he does not really seem to have enjoyed being given. With Ormonde and what existed of the Royalist ‘government’ fleeing west over the Shannon, Castlehaven was left with a great deal of leeway and authority to attempt to resist Cromwell. What he didn’t have was substantial numbers of men. A bout of plague had rapidly reduced the number of soldiers in the Kilkenny garrison to little more than a few hundred troops, and whatever civilian levy was willing to assist them. Castlehaven’s army, bolstered by a strong-ish regiment of Ulster Army men, reached 3’000 according to his own memoirs, but it’s likely that this is an exaggeration.
Ormonde and Castlehaven hoped to be assisted by forces of the Viscount Thomas Dillon, one of the original confederates and a controversial Catholic convert. Accused of corruption and “false musters” by many, Dillon still controlled a few thousand men in the more northerly parts of Leinster that would have greatly aided Castlehaven, but the troops never marched south. Dillon claimed that the troops needed to stay put in case the Ulster Army decided to ravage Leinster ; more likely he did not want to throw them into a losing cause, and as one of the Rinuccini’s former confidantes was unwilling to play second fiddle to the likes of Castlehaven.
Castlehaven and his subordinates were on their own. Receiving intelligence from spies among the New Model Army and the Irish countryside, he discovered the marching route of Colonel Hewson’s Dublin column. Marching quickly and avoiding his adversary, Castlehaven swopped on the recently taken town of Athy in Kildare, which (according to him) had a garrison of 700 and a substantial supply of powder. Castlehaven took the place by storm and with very little loss, taking the defenders totally by surprise. But while this was an impressive success, it was relatively meaningless. Castlehaven had taken the action on his own initiative, as Athy was nowhere near where he was supposed to be, and the taking of it could little help Kilkenny. He lacked the men or the supplies to hold Athy, or even to take care of the prisoners he had taken. He thus abandoned Athy and his prisoners, hoping Cromwell would recognise the mercy. It was shortly before the massacre at Gowran.
Castlehaven’s little venture thus came to nothing. It certainly did not slow the Parliamentarian advance. Castlehaven and his army marched back towards Kilkenny but found it beleaguered upon their arrival. The Ulster Army units left his command and went north, apparently fearing the plague as a sign from God. They took most of Castlehaven’s strength with them. Kilkenny was on its own. Its commander was a kinsman of Ormonde, Sir Walter Butler. Butler is a little noted figure in history, but at that moment he held the fate of Kilkenny and its residents in his hands. Surrender and he could probably save their lives from a Drogheda-style slaughter. Fight, and they could all suffer…’ (more here.)
Included in the many other instances when Oliver Cromwell and his army ‘kept the peace’ was their nine-day siege of Drogheda, which began on the 3rd September in 1649, after which thousands of its inhabitants were butchered. The ‘peacekeepers’ are also remembered for the infamous ‘Death March’ that they forced on the survivors after the battle of Dunbar (on the 3rd September 1650) and, one year later on that same date (3rd September), they wallowed in more blood and guts, this time in their own country, at the battle of Worcester. In between the above ‘adventures’, as we in Ireland know only too well, they ‘visited’ Kilkenny, which fell to them on this date, 27th March, in the year 1650.
‘Cromwell is dead, and risen ;
and dead again,
And risen the third time after he was slain
No wonder! For he’s a messenger of Hell :
And now he buffets us, now posts to tell
What’s past ; and for one more game new counsel takes
Of his good friend the Devil, who keeps the stakes…
‘BRITISH FORCES MUST GO, DEMANDS SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, December 1954.
Tomas O’ Dubghaill’s speech to the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, 7th November 1954 (…continued).
POLITICIANS TRUE TO FORM…
“The politicians, by misrepresenting these actions as attacks on the minority in the country, are deliberately falsifying the facts and in effect playing England’s game for her. The key to what is called ‘the partition question’, but which we maintain is more correctly termed ‘the conquest of Ireland by division’, is contained in the message sent by Lloyd George to Craig in May, 1921, when he said – “Ulster, whether she wills it or not, must not be allowed merge with the rest of Ireland”. That was the determination of the British government then, just as it is today, and they enforce that determination by keeping a British Army of occupation in the Six County area.
The urgent purpose of the Irish people should be to get those occupation forces out. As the kernel of the Sinn Féin programme is “to deny the right and to oppose the claim of the British Government to rule Ireland or any portion of Ireland”, so we delight in the fact that there are still men willing to fight and if necessary to die to get the invaders out of our land. We call on all our people to unite with us in one urgent demand – the British occupation forces must go! England – get out of our country!”
IMMEDIATE TASK OF SINN FÉIN.
“Sinn Féin, as the civilian arm of the Republican Movement, has a definite part to play. Our immediate task is the contest of all twelve constituencies in the Six Counties area sending representatives to Westminster. We will enter this contest with the demand for the re-establishment of the 32-County Republican Parliament. Our candidates will not take their seats in any other but an All-Ireland Parliament. In contesting these elections, it is our purpose to mobilise every single vote in the Six County area in support of the unity and freedom of our country..” (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (27TH MARCH) 101 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF FAMOUS IRISH PRO-INDEPENDENCE ATHLETIC.
Martin John Sheridan was born on the 28th March in 1881 in Bohola, County Mayo, and died in Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, New York, at only 36 years of age (he would have turned 37 the next day), on the 27th March 1918 – 101 years ago on this date – about a week after he had contracted pneumonia. He is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, in that city, and the following verse is inscribed on his headstone –
‘An Intrepid American,
An ardent lover of his motherland ;
A Peerless athlete ;
Devoted to the institutions of his country
And to the ideals and aspirations of his race. Athlete. Patriot’
He had emigrated to America in 1899, at only 18 years young, and was not shy about letting people know that he was annoyed that he was forced to emigrate because of the political situation in Ireland, and expressed his opinion that the fact that Ireland was not an independent country “was an injustice which had to end”.
He is perhaps best known for his association with USA-team Flagbearer Ralph Rose who, in 1908, at the London Games, refused to ‘dip the flag’ to the British ‘king’, Edward VII, and his ‘royal’ entourage in the ‘royal box’ – the ‘dipping of the flag’ was a symbol of respect for the British ‘royal family’. That protest/act of defiance was said to be in support of the Irish struggle against British imperialism and legend has it that Martin John Sheridan, when asked about the incident afterwards, replied “this flag dips to no earthly king”, and is apparently the reason why several decisions at those 1908 Games by British judges went against American athletes, which led to some friction between the two countries.
By the time he retired from athletics, Martin John Sheridan had won five gold, three silver and one bronze medal at Olympic Games and had also created 16 world records in various track and field disciplines, as well as winning multiple US championships. But he never forgot his Irish roots.
‘TIMES HAVE NOT CHANGED’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, January 1955.
We publish hereunder an extract from the Editorial in ‘The Nation’ newspaper from Saturday, 3rd June, 1848. It is still apt now that eight more ‘felons’ have been borne away, despite the interval of 106 years –
‘The ‘law’ has triumphed. It lay in wait for its victims, like a robber, or a detective, and it has got him at last. The first ‘felon’ is borne away by England, manacled with her irons and guarded by her soldiers. He is borne from our shores in no stealthy and hurried retreat, over no bloody corpses, after no desperate conflict, but ostentatiously in the open day, amid unarmed citizens, from whom only fall tears and curses. He is borne through an Irish city, carried on Irish seas, degraded within the Irish confines, and no blow is struck for his deliverance.
And once again we appeal to all young men who really love this country that for her sake they will unite, organise and arm. Once more we say ‘let all the past be blotted out, except the monuments of England’s crimes against us, and let the present compel our sole and undivided thoughts’.
For at last we are matched with our enemy and there is no way of honour left but one.’
(END of ‘Times Have Not Changed’. NEXT – ‘The Spreading Of The News’ and ‘Back To The Old Days Of Sinn Féin’, from the same source.)
WHEN AN IRISH CITIZEN IS NOT A CITIZEN…
By Adrian Langan. From ‘Magill’ Magazine, May 2002.
The recent High Court judgement on the Czech Lobe family has cast this existing system into doubt. The outcome of this case, if upheld in the Supreme Court, would be to effectively negate the provision in the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ in that an Irish citizen, born in Ireland, would have to effectively abandon their citizenship until they were 18 or remain in Ireland and be separated from their parents.
Ireland and other European States are still going to need immigration, even in the context of rising unemployment*. Population growth is slowing and poses a major threat for the labour force base of all advanced industrialised economies. The implications this will have for the tax base and on pensions policy dominates the political agenda right across Europe. It is in this context that this debate in Ireland becomes so central (‘1169’ comment – Rule Number One = don’t let others be solely responsible for setting the ‘context/agenda’ for this [or any other] discussion/meeting etc you might be having, otherwise you’ll find that you have assisted them in ‘winning’ the day). Immigration will have to occur to fill these gaps but immigration without naturalisation is highly problematic (‘1169’ comment – as, indeed, is immigration without the proper facilities being in place beforehand).
Germany has struggled since 1961 to deal with the millions of Turks who were effectively legally-accepted strangers in the country that many of them were born in. Integrating immigrants into a society requires respect for difference but also the acceptance by all of common rules and bonds…
(*‘1169’ comment – what a ludicrous notion! The portion of the State [financial etc] ‘cake’ that manages to slip ‘down the ladder’ – after the powers-that-be have fed, watered and pensioned themselves with the most of it – is inadequate to assist those already in this State and simply cannot be stretched to financially etc properly accommodate the needs and requirements of even more people. It’s a new system of distribution that’s required, not expecting even more people to try and survive on the crumbs that slip through the greedy net of the ‘establishment’.) (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.