‘William Henry O’Shea [pictured] (pronounced “O’Shee”, a fact that gave rise to much worthless humour in the clubs and music halls at the time of the divorce decree) was born in 1840, the son of a Catholic Limerick solicitor. He was educated in England. He travelled at his father’s expense before his father purchased a commission (for him) in the 18th Hussars…

He married Katharine Wood in 1867. Profligate and commercially unsuccessful (he was made bankrupt in 1869, and would be again), he and Katharine were increasingly dependent on the generosity of her extremely wealthy aunt..he was a member of parliament for Clare 1880-5 and was imposed by Parnell on Galway in 1886. He abstained on the Home Rule Bill and resigned. He gave evidence against Parnell at the special commission and in late 1889 instituted proceedings for divorce. His divorce broke Parnell’s leadership of the Irish Party. O’Shea descended into the obscurity in which he died (on the 22nd April) at Hove in 1905. As one re-approaches Capt O’Shea one might think perhaps that he had been stereotypically cast as a knave…(but he was)..a villain of resilience. His caricatural aspects work in an almost Dickensian way to mitigate his profound unpleasantness of character…’ (from here.)

And there’s more here about this unsavoury political character, but…as our readers in America would say – “Enough Already..!

God knows that there are more than enough ‘unsavoury political characters’ out there to write about, especially so during this Covid 19 period, which has brought even more rogue characters of that type – from Leinster House to the White House, and other political institutions in between – into the public eye.

Instead, a few paragraphs on the innocent bystander (!) in Mr. O’Shea’s life (he died, by the way, on the 22nd April, 1905 ; 115 years ago on this date) : Katharine Wood –

Born in 1846, on the 30th January, Katharine Wood (pictured) matured into an unwitting femme fatale, said to be practically solely responsible for ‘the most notorious scandal of the late Victorian Age’ – the downfall of Charles Stewart Parnell and the split which followed in the ‘Home Rule Movement’.

‘Kitty’ was a name she would have hated, as it was slang for a woman of loose morals. In fact, she only loved two men in her life and married both of them, though the marriage to Parnell was to prove tragically short-lived as he died in her arms after a few brief months of happiness. She was born Katharine Wood and was known as Kate to her family. Her father was a baronet, a member of the British aristocracy and her brother a Field Marshall, although their grandfather had started life as an apprentice and was a self-made man.

The Woods were closely linked with the Gladstone family and Katharine often acted as a go-between with William Gladstone when Parnell was trying to persuade the British government to grant Ireland independence. She had married William O’Shea at the age of twenty-one, not long after the death of her father, and the marriage had produced a son and two daughters. O’Shea neglected his wife and pursued his own pleasures while she was often left to bring up the children alone, while also looking after her elderly aunt. She played the part of a dutiful wife, however, and hosted dinner parties to help her husband’s career. Parnell, an important figure in Irish politics, was always invited, always accepted and yet never showed up.

Annoyed and perplexed by these apparent snubs she went to confront him in person at his office in Westminster in July 1880. The effect was immediate ; “This man is wonderful and different,” she was to write later. Parnell was a bachelor who had once loved and been rejected, and never took an interest in women again until he met Katharine. It was a suicidal love as she was married to a fellow Irish MP and was a respectable wife and mother. The power of the attraction between the two, however, was impossible to resist and before long they were living together in her home in Eltham in the suburbs of London.

They had an illicit ‘honeymoon’ in Brighton and Katharine was to bear three children to Parnell while still married to O’Shea, the first of whom died soon after being born. It is even thought that she bore Parnell a son who could take his name after they finally married, although this child was stillborn. O’Shea knew of the relationship but turned a blind eye to it. Then the Aunt died and left Katharine a large inheritance and he decided to divorce his wife and shame Parnell publicly. The ensuing scandal ruined Parnell’s career and his health.

His traditional supporters in Catholic Ireland turned away from him when they learned he had been living with a married woman even though he and his beloved Katharine became man and wife after they married at Steyning register office in Sussex, the county where they made their home. In an attempt to revive his flagging fortunes, Parnell went to Ireland and spoke at a public meeting in County Galway. He was caught in a thunderstorm and developed a chill from which he never recovered. Seriously ill, he returned to be with Katharine and died soon afterwards.

They had been married for only four months. It is estimated that half a million people lined the streets of Dublin to pay their respects to Parnell as his coffin was taken to Glasnevin cemetery to be buried near Daniel O’Connell. Later Eamon de Valera and Michael Collins were also laid to rest nearby. On the granite stone above his grave lies just one word – ‘Parnell’, enough to identify Ireland’s flawed hero whose dream of a free and united country at peace with Britain was destroyed by his love for a married woman.

And what happened to Kitty, as the world now knew her? It was all too much for her and she lived out her days quietly in Sussex. She never married or fell in love again but looked after her children and died at the age of seventy-five. When she was buried, only her immediate family came to the funeral and on her grave monument were the names of both her husbands with that of Parnell, the great love of her life, above that of O’Shea who gave her the name she is known by. There is no sign of ‘Kitty’, however. By the gravestone is a plaque placed by the Parnell Society with Parnell’s promise to her: “I will give my life to Ireland, but to you I give my love..” Katharine Wood died on the 5th February 1921, at 75 years of age, in Littlehampton in Sussex, England, and is buried there. (from here.)

And there you have it – O’Shea and Parnell were both bounders who attempted to take advantage of an innocent woman. That’s my take on it, and I’m stickin’ to it, regardless of what the other team members of this blog think about it..!


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.

Two Prisoner Candidates Elected To Thirty-Two County Parliament!

Northern republicans on road to freedom : Thursday, May 26th 1955, is a landmark in Irish history. A new chapter has been opened. The total vote cast for Sinn Féin candidates, great though it was, is of secondary importance to the new spirit of co-operation and voluntary service to Ireland that has spread throughout the country.

We are proud of the response made by the republicans in the North to Ireland’s call for freedom and unity ; after years of betrayal and confusion – in spite of enemy tactics to disrupt and ‘friendly’ efforts to discourage – the republicans of the North have proved that the courage and idealism of the O’Neills and the O’Donnells lives on. The election is a phase in the Sinn Féin campaign to organise all Irishmen into one united people to end forever British occupation and influence in Ireland, to restore to the Irish people their fundamental right to govern themselves and to develop the resources of Ireland for the happiness and prosperity of the Irish people.

It is now the task and duty of all Irishmen to rally to the support of Northern republicans in their demand for a 32-County Parliament. Sinn Féin has the plans, you have the power – join Sinn Féin and unite the Nation!

(END of ‘Sinn Féin Victory’. NEXT – ‘Disruption Tactics Fail’, ‘National Unity’ and ‘Democracy!’, from the same source


On the 22nd April, 1875, Michael Joseph O’Rahilly (‘The O’Rahilly’) was born in Ballylongford, in County Kerry. He had a busy, well-travelled and interesting life and took part in the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland, during which he was killed in the fighting.

“Friday April, 29 1916. The General Post Office in Dublin, occupied on the Monday as the headquarters of republican insurrection, was burning fiercely. The insurgents inside had decided they had to make their escape across Henry Street to the network of small houses and shops on Moore Street.
A small party of twenty armed men dashed across the open street to establish a toehold there and to clear out a British barricade. At their head was a distinguished looking gentleman in green uniform, complete with Victorian moustache and sword.

The charging party was hit by volleys of British bullets from the barricades on both sides. Four Volunteers were killed outright. Their leader, the moustached gentleman, fell wounded in the face. He managed to drag himself out of the line of fire to Sackville Lane, where he lay, bleeding, grievously injured. His name was Michael O’Rahilly…” (from here.)

More information re ‘The O’Rahilly’ himself – ‘His interest in Irish history led him slowly and inexorably towards nationalism. The first indication of nationalism is in a letters controversy in 1899 in the European edition of the New York Herald, following celebrations of Queen Victoria’s 80th birthday. Rahilly criticised the celebrations, pointing out the miseries her reign had inflicted on Ireland. Some of his criticism was censored by the paper as too offensive..’ – can be read here, and his family history can be read here.

‘SING of The O’Rahilly,

Do not deny his right;

Sing a “The” before his name;

Allow that he, despite

All those learned historians,

Established it for good;

He wrote out that word himself,

He christened himself with blood.

How goes the weather?

Sing of The O’Rahilly

That had such little sense

He told Pearse and Connolly

He’d gone to great expense

Keeping all the Kerry men

Out of that crazy fight;

That he might be there himself

Had travelled half the night.

How goes the weather?

“Am I such a craven that

I should not get the word

But for what some travelling man

Had heard I had not heard?”

Then on Pearse and Connolly

He fixed a bitter look:

“Because I helped to wind the clock

I come to hear it strike.”

How goes the weather?

What remains to sing about

But of the death he met

Stretched under a doorway

Somewhere off Henry Street;

They that found him found upon

The door above his head

“Here died The O’Rahilly.

R.I.P.” writ in blood.

How goes the weather?

(By William Butler Yeats.)

(‘The O’Rahilly’s’ grandson, Ronan, 79 years of age, died on Monday last, 20th April. The poor man was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2013 and had been resident in a nursing home in Carlingford in County Louth for the last years of his life. “How goes the weather”, Ronan? Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.)


As social work in Ireland reaches a landmark, Phil MacGiolla Bháin argues that the profession is flawed beyond salvation.

From ‘Magill’ magazine, July 2002.

This is a landmark year for social work in Ireland, with the ‘Irish Association of Social Workers’ celebrating 30 years of existence ; as good a time as any to evaluate what social work has become over its relatively short lifespan.

There is no social work equivalent of the ‘Irish Medical Council’ which, last year, found against Dr. Moira Woods in relation to her investigation into child sex abuse at the Rotunda Hospital more than a decade before. Social workers, rather than being practising professionals, are employees of health boards. There is no ‘Fitness to Practise Committee’ for social work, and so there is little formal sense of what is good or bad social work practice.

Perhaps the most telling piece of evidence about what social work actually is right now was contained in an article in the summer/autumn 2001 edition of ‘Irish Social Worker’ on “Evidence Based Social Work”, the newest fad in social work. All social work practice must now be ‘evidence based’, it told us, which might lead the reasonable person to ask – ‘If you are now basing what you do on evidence, what did you base it on before you were relying on evidence…?’ (MORE LATER.)


“Seán Quinn was a high ranking officer in the Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army and staunchly anti-treaty. He was ultimately killed by his own countrymen, Irish Free State troops…according to the sources, Seán was at safe house in Castlebellingham in County Louth on April 22, 1923 with his brothers Padraig and Malachi, and other anti-treaty IRA leaders. A Catholic priest who said Sunday Mass betrayed them and soon a large force of Free State troops surrounded their safe house when Seán decided they had to shoot their way out. Both Seán and Padraig were shot and captured. The others escaped. A week later, the civil war ended. Seán died from his injuries a month later on May 22, 1923 in St. Bricin’s Hospital in Dublin…(he) ultimately died for a cause he believed in – total Irish independence from Britain with no strings attached…” (from here.)

On Sunday, 22nd April 1923 – 97 years ago on this date – Seán Francis Quinn (Seán Proinsias Ó Cuinn), an Adjutant General in the Fourth Northern Division of the Anti-Treaty IRA, was in a safe house in Castlebellingham in County Louth, temporarily keeping a low profile with his two brothers, Padraig (Quartermaster General) and Malachi. IRA Volunteer Ned Fitzpatrick was there as well, as was their Officer Commanding, Frank Aiken. In the confusion caused by the shoot-out, after they were surrounded by the Staters, Frank Aiken escaped (Malachi and Ned escaped capture by hiding in the attic) and, just over a month later (on the 24th May, 1923 – two days after Seán died) Frank Aiken issued a ‘Ceasefire’ order and instructed ‘all Units to dump arms’.

Mr. Aiken went on to make a political career for himself in the same political institution he had fought against – the Leinster House administration. He
campaigned for, and won, a seat in Leinster House that same year
(1923) and, in 1926, assisted other turncoats to establish the Fianna Fáil party. He served the Free State faithfully until he died in 1983, at 85 years of age ; he was second-in-command (‘Tánaiste’) of the political apparatus in the Free State from 1965 to 1969, ‘Minister for External Affairs’ twice, State Minister’ for Finance, and for the ‘Co-Ordination of Defensive Measures’, and for Defence, and for Lands and Fisheries. A very busy man, then, who spent his time shoring-up that which he once fought to tear down.

He died from ‘natural causes’, at 85 years of age, on the 18th May, 1983, and was buried with full Free State ‘honours’ in Camlough, County Armagh – one of our six counties which remain under British jurisdictional control. For now, anyway…


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.

We have been asked what do we think of the “wonderful” replies that Mr. de Valera has being giving to Basil Brooke and the verbal thrust and parry they have been carrying on during the last two weeks or so. These queries are usually accompanied by remarks like “Dev shook him that time” or “Dev didn’t leave him a leg to stand on.”

Quite frankly, we are thoroughly sick of this ‘Punch and Judy’ show – the type of nonsense which has been carried on between the Leinster House and Stormont puppets since 1922. It has got us nowhere and it will get us nowhere. That is the fact and we must face it ; Stormont is a puppet operating under the protection of the British armed forces of aggression and Leinster House is also a puppet, born out of the surrender of 1922, and operating “by the leave” of the British invader and ever watchful not to do anything which would discommode him or cause him to make effective his threat of “immediate and terrible war”.

But we will be told that Mr. de Valera did not accept the surrender in 1922. No, maybe not, though recent speeches make even that doubtful. What is fact is that he has worked the Free State according to the rules laid down by the British, for many more years than anyone else. The very fact that some people still imagine him to be a republican make him a much more effective instrument for carrying out British policy in Ireland than any of the first Free Staters.

(END of ‘Puppets’ ; NEXT – ‘Republican Aid Committee’ and ‘Fr. Liam Pilkington Departs For Ireland’, from the same source.)

(‘1169’ comment – that last paragraph can be best summarised by the old adage ‘if you get a name as an early riser you can stay in bed all day’. There are still those today in Leinster House ‘that some people still imagine to be republicans’ and are therefore ‘more effective instruments’ at implementing Free State and British fiscal etc policy in this State than either Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael are ; the supporters of those ‘republicans’ will tell you [as they themselves have been told by their political leadership] that it’s “all part of the bigger picture…the leadership have a plan, they know what they are doing..”. They forget, or don’t want to acknowledge – because it doesn’t suit their narrative – that throughout our history there are very well recorded instances of ‘republicans’ going into Free State and/or British-imposed ‘parliaments’ to “change the system…bring it down from the inside..” only for them to become part of that system. They become politically contaminated and the coin in their pocket becomes their endgame.)

Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team. Stay safe – watch what you do, and where you do it!

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
This entry was posted in History/Politics. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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