Saint 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...]

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...]