Sean MacBride Born. International Holocaust Memorial Ireland

January 26: TODAY in Irish History (by IrishmanSpeaks)
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1904: Sean MacBride is born in Paris, the son of executed 1916 leader Major John MacBride and Maud Gonne, the love of William Butler Yeats’ life. Macbride’s illustrious history included fighting in the Irish War of Independence, siding with Anti-Treaty forces in the Irish Civil War before going on to become an acclaimed international jurist and advocate for peace. MacBride was a co-founder of Amnesty International, Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists, and UN Commissioner for Namibia.  He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1974.

Sean MacBride

Sean MacBride

1907: John Millington Synge’s Playboy of the Western World opens at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin to riots, literally! What happened is best described by two telegrams Yeats (a founder of the Abbey) received while he was in Aberdeen from a fellow Abbey supporter Lady Gregory. Telegram one read “Play a great success.” Two acts later, she updated the great poet, “Play broke up in disorder at the word ‘shift’,” (Yes, they rioted over the mention of a piece of lady’s underwear)  riots  which the Irish Independent deemed “a tribute to the good taste and common sense of the audience”.

2003: The first Holocaust Memorial Day is held in Ireland. Justice Minister Michael McDowell apologized for an Irish wartime policy that was inspired by “a culture of muted anti-semitism in Ireland.” He said that “at an official level the Irish state was at best coldly polite and behind closed doors antipathetic, hostile and unfeeling toward the Jews”.

The Stephen Roth Institute suggests “only 30 Jews were given asylum before the war, none during it, and only a handful afterwards.” Although not directly related, one of the less savory incidents in Irish diplomatic history occurred May 2nd 1945, when Taoiseach Eamonn De Valera called on Dr Hempel, the German minister in Dublin,to express his condolences on the death of Hitler. De Valera justified it stating it was normal diplomatic etiquette for a neutral state, as he stated in a letter to the Irish envoy in Washington: “So long as we retained our diplomatic relations with Germany, to have failed to call upon the German representative would have been an act of unpardonable discourtesy to the German nation and to Dr Hempel himself.”

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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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