THE GALLOPING HOGAN

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After Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland, more than 40,000 Irish were relocated west beyond the Shannon by the end of 1654. Those who didn’t were press-ganged into the British Navy, or sold as indentured servants to the colonies. There was one group however, who refused to relocate. They eluded capture in the hills and glens near their ancestral homes, and raided the new settlers on the lands of their clans. They led an outlaw existence, and the British called them highwaymen; the Irish called them … [Read more...]

Hibernian Rifles in Ireland

As the American Irish and their Irish-American sons and daughters coalesced into a wage-earning community of  Diaporadoes, organizations like the Ancient Order of Hibernians were formed in 1836 from early Ribbon societies to defend Catholic values.  They also nursed a dream of an independent Ireland and maintained links with their Ribbon mentors.  In the 1850s, several Ribbon groups in Ireland adopted the AOH name and, facing extreme anti-Catholic bias, fought fire with fire and became … [Read more...]

JEREMIAH O’DONOVAN ROSSA

100 years ago, on June 29, an Irish hero died who has the unique position in history to be remembered by more people for what was said at his grave than for what he did in life.  It should be otherwise for he was a key part of Irish independence.  Further, what was said at his grave was inspired by his life and can be considered his final act of rebellion because as a result, enrollment in the Irish Volunteers soared.  But, who was this man that he could inspire such action – even from the … [Read more...]

BRIAN BORU

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A centenary is a 100-year anniversary and next year we will commemorate the Centenary of the Easter Rising.  However, last year Ireland commemorated a millenium, or a thousand year anniversary, of the battle of Clontarf in which the power of the Vikings in Ireland was forever broken – the only country to ever do so.  Wherever Vikings settled, they took control, but when they tried to control Ireland they failed.  For two centuries they attacked towns and monasteries, making quick raids and … [Read more...]

CUMANN na mBAN

On Saturday, April 29, 1916, after leaving the burning GPO for their substitute Moore Street HQ, Pádraic Pearse said that, when the history of this fight would be written, the foremost page in the annals should be given to the women of Dublin who had taken their place in the fight for the establishment of the republic.  He also told the women that their presence had inspired the men whose heroism, wonderful though it was, paled before the devotion and duty of the women of Cumann na mBan and he … [Read more...]

GRACE

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One of Ireland’s most tragic daughters, Grace Evelyn Gifford, was born on March 4, 1888, the second youngest of 12 children of a Catholic father and a Protestant mother in Rathmines, Dublin.  As was then the practice, the boys were brought up Catholic and the girls as Protestants.  Grace went to school in Dublin and later studied under Irish artist William Orpen who regarded her as most gifted.  In 1907 she attended a Fine Art School in London and  returned to Dublin in 1908 to work as a … [Read more...]

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

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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...]