THE FIRST COFFIN SHIPS IN AMERICA

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Wallabout Bay is small body of water along the northwest shore of Brooklyn, NY. In 1801, a settlement called Vinegar Hill was built on that bay to attract Irish immigrants to settle there and provide the labor to build the Brooklyn Navy Yard which opened in 1806. However, Vinegar Hill was built on an area which, 20 years earlier, had seen incredible horror! During the American Revolution, the British had captured thousands of soldiers, sailors, and even private citizens who would not swear … [Read more...]

THE PATRIOT GAME

World War II brought change to Northern Ireland as Loyalists and Nationalists who shared the same bomb shelters broke down the barriers of prejudice erected by the Unionist Ascendancy to keep them divided. The war also created jobs and the small measure of prosperity experienced by the nationalists satisfied many grievances. After the war, England rebuilt the barriers to maintain control of the north. Churchill publicly blasted the Irish Free State for neutrality during the war despite the … [Read more...]

THREE ANCIENT OBSERVATORIES

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The Boyne Valley, some 20 miles northwest of Dublin in County Meath, is one of the most remarkable sites on earth, for there stands three monuments to the early settlers of Ireland, and their civilization. At first they appear to be huge mounds or hills, but closer investigation reveals them to be man-made structures. They are, in fact, more than 5000 years old and the oldest, still-standing, man-made structures on the planet. They are known as Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth and celestial … [Read more...]

THE IRISH BRIGADE COMES HOME

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 DAVIS

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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...]

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...]