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...]

The Fighting Doctor

The month was February in 1861 and the place was Fort Buchanan – a military installation near Apache Pass in the southeastern Arizona territory.  At the time, tension was high between the American military and the Chokonen band of Chiricahua Apaches led by a young chief named Cochise.  An unrelated Coyotero Apache raiding party had stolen cattle and kidnapped the 12-year old son of a local rancher named John Ward.  Ward blamed Cochise and demanded action by the local U.S. Army at nearby Fort … [Read more...]

Thomas Patrick Ashe

January 12, 1885 saw the birth of Thomas Ashe, a most beloved poet, piper and patriot in Ireland’s cause of independence.   He was born in Lispole, Co. Kerry and educated in the nearby town of Dingle where he attended Ardamore National School.  After completing his education there, he began a five year term as assistant teacher in Ardamore.   His deep interest in the Irish language and culture led him to become an active member of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Gaelic League, an … [Read more...]

December in Irish History

December is a memorable month for the Irish for it marks the celebration of the birth of Christ.  Yet, there are other dates in December that are also significant.  For example, it was on December 24, 1601, that the most significant battle in Irish history was joined.  It was the Battle of Kinsale.  It put an end to Ireland's hopes for independence at the time and destroyed Gaelic aristocracy forever.  And it was all due to a tactical blunder. The conflict known as the Nine Years War was … [Read more...]

The Murder of Private Daly

In 1793, England needed soldiers to support a war with France. On Oct 3, they advertised in the Connaught Journal for volunteers to start a British Army regiment to be called the Royal Regiment of Connaught Rangers.  That advertisement became an invitation to death for thousands of men of the Irish west who gained fame on international battlefields as the Connaught Rangers.  It was a time when military service provided the only steady employment an Irishman could find that offered an escape from … [Read more...]

A Rivalry that Became a Friendship

On October 30, 1963, Cahirciveen, County Kerry saw the largest outpouring of grief since the loss their favorite son, the great Daniel O’Connell in 1847.  This time it was for another one of their own – Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty.  Although he was born in Kiskeam, County Cork and grew up in Killarney, where his father was the steward of the old Killarney Golf Club, Hugh retired to Cahirciveen three years before his death and was honored as one of their own.  He was also honored with many … [Read more...]

Plantation of Ulster

Four hundred and five years ago on September 4, 1607, the last of Ireland’s great Gaelic Royalty left for the continent and the ancient Celtic system of government came to an end.  It was known in history as the Flight of the Earls and it was only supposed to be a temporary abdication.  However, it was never redeemed.  Most are familiar with the English incursions into Ireland since the Norman invasion and the reaction of the Irish Chieftains to them.  Some led rebellions against the invaders … [Read more...]

The Irish In Labor

One hundred years ago on August 19, a force was born that changed Irish history.  It is doubtful that the Easter Rising of 1916 could have taken place without the organizational ability of the Irish Citizen Army which sprang from the labor union movement in Dublin and the effects of the Great Dublin Labor Lockout.  Yet, that movement was very slow to organize in Ireland compared to the remarkable impact that the Irish had on organizing labor earlier in America which will be presented in Part … [Read more...]

Thomas Francis Meagher

On July 1, 1867, three nations mourned the loss of one of their heros  Ireland, Australia and the United States.  The heros name was Thomas Francis Meagher and he was born on August 3, 1823.  His grandfather's successful trading business made it easy for his father to own a small hotel and pub in Waterford, where he was educated at a Jesuit boarding school.  Later at a Jesuit college in England he earned a reputation as an effective orator. He returned to Ireland in 1843, just two years before … [Read more...]