August 11: TODAY in Irish History:
Today in Irish History: Curated by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks
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August 11: TODAY in Irish History:
1817: Christopher Augustine Reynolds is born in Dublin. Reynolds was the first Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide Australia (1873-1877)
Breen was involved in what is accepted as the first action of the War of Independence 1919-1921 when with Sean Treacy and others, he ambushed and killed two RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) constables James McDonnell and Patrick O’Connell, both of them Catholic and reputedly popular in the community in what has become known as the Soloheadbeg Ambush (Co. Tipperary.)
In his memoir, My Fight for Irish Freedom Breen outlines what happened at the ambush:
‘Hands up!’ The cry came from our men who spoke as if with one voice. ‘Hands up!’ In answer to our challenge they raised their rifles, and with military precision held them at the ready. They were Irishmen, too, and would die rather than surrender. We renewed the demand for surrender. We would have preferred to avoid bloodshed; but they were inflexible. Further appeal was useless. It was a matter of our lives or theirs. We took aim. The two policemen fell, mortally wounded.”
The action was unauthorized by Irish leadership, but shortly after all, British armed forces and policemen were deemed legitimate targets.
The British government offered a reward £1,oo0 for Breen and later raised it to £1o,o00. Breen writes “Nobody ever tried to earn it with the exception of a few members of the RIC. They failed; many of them never made the second attempt.”
Breen was seriously wounded on a number of occasions during the conflict. Following the Irish Civil War where he fought on the Anti-Treaty side, he was elected to Dail Eireann in Jan 1927, lost his seat later that year, but went on to represent Tipperary from 1932 through 1965.
READ EXCERPT from My Fight for Irish Freedom is an interesting memoir about the escapades of a man who like many of his compatriots could often be chillingly brutal in a brutal war. The following interview shows the mindset of the IRA during the War of Independence.
1927: In the General Election, Eamonn De Valera’s Fianna Fail party wins 44 seats. Despite originally stating they would not enter Dail Eireann and take the Oath of Allegiance to the King, Dev reversed policy, declared the oath was an empty formula and proceeded to take their seats in the Irish parliament.
The “brilliant, austere De Valera” as JFK described him was on his way to dominating Irish political life.
Five years later, Fianna Fail would win election and De Valera would become Taoiseach (PM).
1971: BallyMurphy Massacre: Two days after the introduction of internment without trial in Northern Ireland, 11 people have been killed by British paratroopers in the Nationalist Ballymurphy area of Belfast. Community activists who are still trying to get a neutral inquiry into those terrible two days claim all 11 killed were innocent civilians. To those not involved at the time, that claim may seem ludicrous, but those killed include a Catholic priest Father Hugh Mullan who was helping a wounded parishioner and a mother of eight who was involved in a similar exercise. Almost certainly, the most aggressive activity (if any) of those killed would have been stone-throwing and goading of the British soldiers.
Trying to make sense of what happened is impossible but SEE:
Internment was a disaster for the people of Northern Ireland no matter what side of the divide. Within six months, approximately 1,600 of those who had been unceremoniously arrested were released without charge, but, internment, Ballymurphy and the events of Bloody Sunday some months later encouraged many young men to join the IRA which itself was involved in numerous atrocities including Bloody Friday. On the other side of the divide, Loyalists perpetrated massacres like the McGurk Pub bombing which killed 15 Catholics.
The madness would continue for more than twenty more years.
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This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humoristIrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment button.
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