THE COUNTESS OF IRISH FREEDOM

She was called the Countess of Irish Freedom by playwright Sean O’Casey and though she was born with a silver spoon in her mouth, she spat it out and risked her life for the common people of Ireland that she loved so much. Constance Gore-Booth was born into a well-to-do Anglo-Irish family on Feb. 4, 1868 in London.  Her father had a large estate in Co. Sligo where she moved in the circles of the Protestant Ascendancy growing up as a noted horsewoman and a crack shot as well as a beautiful … [Read more...]

A January Remembrance

A joint meeting of all the Wolfe Tone Societies took place in Derry in August 1966 in which it was proposed that a non-partisan civil rights campaign be started to influence cultural and political trends in the country and by using democratic means, weaken the bigoted Unionist government of Northern Ireland.  IRA Chief of Staff Cathal Goulding was present and pledged support.  The IRA had ceased military operations four years earlier after the failure of its Border Campaign and felt that it was … [Read more...]

LIGHTS FROM THE PAST

There are more than just Christmas lights illuminating the darkness as the sun rises on the Winter Solstice in Ireland.  On December 21, a marvelous event occurs at Bru na Boinne.  On a hill in the Boyne Valley of Co. Meath stands a complex of three monuments to the early settlers of Ireland, and their civilization: Knowth, Dowth and Newgrange.  Built more than 5000 years ago, they are among the oldest man-made, still-standing structures on the planet.  Newgrange, in particular, is surrounded by … [Read more...]

Saint Oliver Plunkett

St_Oliver_Plunkett

On November 1, 1625, Oliver Plunkett was born at Loughcrew, Co. Meath into an influential Anglo-Norman Catholic family with connections to the Earls of Finglas and Roscommon, Lord Dunsany and Lord Louth.   Until his 16th year, his education was entrusted to his cousin Patrick Plunkett, Abbot of St Mary's, Dublin and brother of Luke Plunkett who became Bishop of Ardagh and of Meath, so it is not surprising that young Oliver developed a vocation to the priesthood.  When he was 16, he was sent to … [Read more...]

A CENTURY AGO – 1914

One hundred years ago, in the Ireland of 1914, many pacifists adhered to the legacy of Daniel O’Connell’s and Charles S. Parnell’s non-violent course and put their hopes in Home Rule and John Redmond’s Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) as an answer to equal rights for the native Irish.  Unfortunately, Home Rule meant different things to different people.  O’Connell had seen a domestic Parliament for Ireland under the Crown while Young Ireland and the Fenians saw Home Rule as total separation from … [Read more...]

To Commemorate Or Not To Commemorate

One hundred years ago was a great time to be in Ireland to paraphrase Thomas J. Clarke who had been sent by Clan na Gael leader John Devoy to revitalize the dormant IRB.  Clarke was, of course, talking about rising nationalist sentiment across Ireland and the growth of the Irish Volunteers as an army of his dream of a new Irish Republic!  We are currently in a decade-long period from 2013 to 2023 when the centenary of many of the events along the road to that Republic should be commemorated.  … [Read more...]

Jim Sullivan

August 7, 1916 is significant in Irish history because it marks the premiere of Ireland’s first motion picture O’Neil of the Glen. It also led to another link between Ireland and America. There are so many Irish-American patriots who deserve to be remembered for the contributions they made for the sake of Ireland, yet their names have faded. One Irish-American was really an American Irishman, for even though he was raised in America, he was born in Kerry. His name was James Mark Sullivan and his … [Read more...]

From Dublin Drunk to Servant of God

In June the world celebrates Bloomsday, a day in the life of James Joyce’s fictional character - Leopold Bloom, as he walks the back streets of Dublin. Some seem to know why, but most do it for the craic (merriment) - an exercise in self indulgence. Incredible as it may seem, in 1856, a man was born into those very same dirty Dublin streets who deserves more to be honored and revered than all the characters in Joyce’s book; more than even Joyce himself. His name was Matthew Talbot. One of 12 … [Read more...]

Brian Boru

A thousand years ago, April 23 was an important date – it was Good Friday, a date significant to Christians everywhere.  However, in Ireland it had another significance.  It was the day that the forces of High King Brian Boru met the Vikings on the field of Clontarf and broke Viking power in Ireland forever – the only country ever to do so. It really all began about the year 941, when Brian was born to Kennedy MacLorcain,  Chieftain of the Dalcassian clan in County Clare.  He was born near … [Read more...]

Irish Harpers

Many don’t know that the national symbol of Ireland is the harp, not the shamrock!  Ancient Irish harpers were professionals of the highest order.  Because their status was one of great honor, their training was long and rigorous.  It generally began before the age of 10, and the student had to become the absolute master of three forms of Irish music, the history of the instrument, its maintenance, and all of the scales and arpeggios related to it.  It’s no wonder then, that the excellence of … [Read more...]