Prior to the American Civil War, the regular Army was small reflecting the logic that America was best defended by hundreds of volunteer militia units. Many were little more than glorified fraternal organizations, filled with men who liked to parade, drink, and sometimes drill. New York had the Continental Guards, German Black Sharp-shooters and Hungarian Kossuth Rifles among others. Not to be outdone, the Irish formed the O'Connell Guards, Irish Rifles and Irish Zouaves. The more serious of … [Read more...]


thomas osborne davis

There are few events in Irish history as tragic as the death of Thomas Osborne Davis. He was a rare man whose impact on the history of Ireland has never been truly appreciated. Born in Mallow, Co Cork on Oct 14, 1814, the son of a British Army Surgeon, he was educated at Trinity College and called to the Bar in 1838, but Davis heard another call: the call of Ireland. He heard it in the voice of Dan O'Connell when the Great Emancipator visited his home town in 1842, and asked a crowd of 400,000, … [Read more...]



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...]


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...]



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...]


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...]


09-12-grace-gifford 175x175

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...]


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...]