“Nor one feeling of vengeance presume to defile

The cause, or the men, of the Emerald Isle.”

– the words of William Drennan, physician, poet, educationalist political radical and one of the founding fathers of the ‘Society of United Irishmen’, who was born on the 23rd May in 1754, 266 years ago in this month.

As well as his involvement with the ‘United Irishmen’, William Drennan will be forever associated with the descriptive term ‘Emerald Isle’ being used as a reference for Ireland, although he himself stated that that expression was first used in an anonymous 1795 song called ‘Erin, to her own Tune’.

When he was 37 years of age, a group of socially-minded Protestants, Anglicans and Presbyterians held their first public meeting in Belfast and formed themselves as ‘The Belfast Society of United Irishmen’ (the organisation became a secret society three years later), electing Sam McTier as ‘President’, strengthing the link that William Drennan had forged with that revolutionary organisation – Sam McTier was married to Martha, who was a sister of William Drennan.

‘..he was born on May 23, 1754, at the manse of the First Presbyterian Church, Rosemary Street, Belfast, where his father was minister. A doctor by profession, he became one of the pioneers of inoculation against smallpox. Drennan became one of the founder members of the United Irishmen, and upon moving to Dublin in 1789 was appointed its chairman…after he was tried and acquitted of sedition in 1794, he withdrew from the movement and emigrated to Scotland (but remained) committed to radical politics..he married Sarah Swanwick in 1800, and they had four sons and a daughter…’ (from here.)

William Drennan died on the 5th February 1820, at 66 years of age, and is buried in Clifton Street Graveyard, Belfast.


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

Election Committee : A Sinn Féin Election Aid Committee was set up in New York toward the end of April to raise money for the Sinn Féin candidates in the Six County elections.

A couple of socials and meetings were planned and great interest was shown from the outset by many in the re-activisation among the exiled Irish of the Sinn Féin idea.

Veteran Kerry republican Seán O’ Riada, who first took a leading part in Irish-Ireland affairs back during the ’98 Centenary celebrations (57 years ago) and hasn’t ceased to work for the Irish Republic since then, was appointed Chairman, Peter Loughran (Armagh) was elected Co-Chairman, the Secretary is Seán Canning (Derry), whose brother, Manus Canning, is serving a penal servitude term in Wormwood Scrubs, and the Treasurer is Joseph Sullivan (Louth), a trade union leader in New York.

Committee workers include Mrs. Michael Fearon, Armagh, John McGovern, Cavan, Jeremiah Carroll, Cork, Henry McGuigan, Armagh, Hubert MacManus, Dublin, John Carroll, Galway, George Harrison, Mayo, Simon Farrelley, Cavan, and many others… (MORE LATER.)


The heavy-handed official response to a number of Irish publications and websites has drawn attention to this country’s growing satirical network. Which can only be a good thing. By Noel Baker.

From ‘Magill’ magazine, July 2002.

In one unremarkable Dublin hostelry there is a glass-case partition containing your typical smattering of Oirish pub bric-a-brac. Amidst the clutter of museum-piece Oxo cube boxes and random bits of clay is a red-covered magazine declaring itself to be ‘The National Humorous Journal of Ireland’ – no problem there, except that the magazine is called ‘Dublin Opinion’. Either the title itself was meant to be ironic, or else Ireland’s humourists really didn’t give a toss about people outside of the Pale. Well…it was from the 1950’s, I suppose, and the barman wouldn’t let me prise open the casing to find out.

Of the modern day successors to ‘Dublin Opinion’, monthly magazine The Slate shares a similar attitude towards people who don’t live by the Liffey (or ‘culchies’, as they are invariably referred to), and it’s hard to imagine a copy making an appearance in a kitschy pub cabinet any time soon.

But if you can gauge the success of a satirical publication by the amount of official opprobrium thrown in its direction, ‘The Slate’ is carrying out its job to perfection. A visceral but brutally funny read, ‘The Slate’ administers a sound kicking to virtually every feature of contemporary Ireland (including ‘Magill’ magazine, obviously) (MORE LATER.)


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.

Eithne Nic Suibhne (pictured) stated, in her letter –

“I was going to suggest that the Standing Committee (of Sinn Féin) send a circular to all County Councillors, Corporations and Urban Councils asking them to demand a public declaration that this country is to be strictly neutral in case of any war and to be really neutral – not make-believe, as it was the last time. If the Circular were worded so as to bring out the horror of the Atomic and Hydrogen bombs, and if the Councils were called to take their individual stand for the people they represent and called on not to try to evade their duty by saying ‘we leave it to the government’.

They will not escape responsibility if they do not do all in their power to keep these horrors from our land, and warning them that the attempt to mark the letter ‘read’ will be taken as a deliberate alliance with those who wish to embroil this country in England’s wars and not only to send our boys as cannon fodder for her advantage, but bring destruction and incalculably appalling diseases on the land.

If the Circular did this, and in addition pointed out that once England gets into war mood she will immediately begin to ‘fight for Christianity’ and the ‘Free World’ against ‘Godless Russia’ etc, but we have heard that before and will decline to be fooled or let our people be fooled…”

Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team. Stay safe, and ‘play’ safe. Or at least don’t be as reckless as the old you. Or, if you must be, don’t get caught. But if you do get caught, leave our name out of it…!

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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