De Valera Escapes Jail – Oscar Wilde’s Mother – Val Doonican at Today in Irish History

February 3: TODAY in Irish History:

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eamonn de valera 1916 rising

De Valera arrest 1916

Snippets of Irish History by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks

Conor is a Chicago based Motivational Humorous Business Speaker, Author and History buff.

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1896: Death Speranza – Oscar Wilde’s Mother

Lady Jane Wilde (Speranza), mother of Oscar Wilde dies in London. At the time, Oscar Wilde was incarcerated in Wandsworth Prison, serving two year of hard labor for “gross indecency” – homosexuality. Despite her dying wish, she was not allowed see him.

Lady Jane Wilde

Lady Jane Wilde was famous in her own right as a writer and poet under the name of “Sperenza.” Sperenza was an ardent nationalist in addition to being a staunch feminist. Her most famous poem is probably The Famine Year.

Weary men, what reap ye?—Golden corn for the stranger.
What sow ye?— human corpses that wait for the avenger.
Fainting forms, hunger–stricken, what see you in the offing?
Stately ships to bear our food away, amid the stranger’s scoffing.
There’s a proud array of soldiers — what do they round your door?
They guard our masters’ granaries from the thin hands of the poor.
Pale mothers, wherefore weeping— would to God that we were dead;
Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.

SEE: The complete poignant poem The Famine Year at very bottom of this post

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READ: Speranza, The Hope of the Irish Nation by Professor Christine Kinealy

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Image of Oscar Wilde in For the Love of Being Irish by Conor Cunneen. Illustrations my Mark Anderson.

Purchase Author Signed Copies at My Irish Gift Store

Oscar Wilde illustrated in For the Love of Being Irish

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1919: De Valera’s Jail Escape

eamonn de valera 1916 rising

Eamonn De Valera escapes from Lincoln Jail. As is often with Irish history, the “Long fellow’s” escape became the stuff of folklore. The New York Times initially reported “Irish Girls aided De Valera Escape. Sympathizer warbled Gaelic ballads to advise him of deliverance.”

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READ: NY Times report of De Valera escape

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He returned to Ireland and was elected President of the new Dail before he traveled to the United States to seek financial support for the Irish cause. He would return to Ireland in 1920, ultimately leading the anti-Treaty movement in 1922 precipitating a devastating civil war.

See NY Times article: Irish Girls Aided De Valera’s Escape.

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1927: Waterford’s Val Doonican

Crooner Val Doonican is born in Waterford. Doonican was a hugely popular performer in Ireland and UK in 60s and 70s during which time he had five successive albums in the UK Top Ten spending more than 160 combined weeks in the charts.

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Want to learn more about Ireland? See these images and more in the acclaimed For the Love of Being Irish

Irish gift ideas. Best selling Irish booksRonnie Drew and Luke Kelly - Musical Irish Gifts to the worldJoyce Image in For the Love of Being IrishMichael Collins: Image from For the Love of Being Irish

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This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humorist IrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment button.

Visit Conor’s YouTube channel IrishmanSpeaks to Laugh and Learn.

Tags: Best Irish Gift, Creative Irish Gift, Unique Irish Gifts, Irish Books, Irish Authors, Today in Irish History TODAY IN IRISH HISTORY (published by IrishmanSpeaks)

THE FAMINE YEAR by Sperenza

Weary men, what reap ye?—Golden corn for the stranger.
What sow ye?— human corpses that wait for the avenger.
Fainting forms, hunger–stricken, what see you in the offing?
Stately ships to bear our food away, amid the stranger’s scoffing.
There’s a proud array of soldiers — what do they round your door?
They guard our masters’ granaries from the thin hands of the poor.
Pale mothers, wherefore weeping— would to God that we were dead;
Our children swoon before us, and we cannot give them bread.

Little children, tears are strange upon your infant faces,
God meant you but to smile within your mother’s soft embraces.
Oh! we know not what is smiling, and we know not what is dying;
We’re hungry, very hungry, and we cannot stop our crying.
And some of us grow cold and white — we know not what it means;
But, as they lie beside us, we tremble in our dreams.
There’s a gaunt crowd on the highway — are ye come to pray to man,
With hollow eyes that cannot weep, and for words your faces wan?

No; the blood is dead within our veins — we care not now for life;
Let us die hid in the ditches, far from children and from wife;
We cannot stay and listen to their raving, famished cries—
Bread! Bread! Bread! and none to still their agonies.
We left our infants playing with their dead mother’s hand:
We left our maidens maddened by the fever’s scorching brand:
Better, maiden, thou were strangled in thy own dark–twisted tresses—
Better, infant, thou wert smothered in thy mother’s first caresses.

We are fainting in our misery, but God will hear our groan:
Yet, if fellow–men desert us, will He hearken from His Throne?
Accursed are we in our own land, yet toil we still and toil;
But the stranger reaps our harvest— the alien owns our soil.

O Christ! how have we sinned, that on our native plains
We perish houseless, naked, starved, with branded brow, like Cain’s?
Dying, dying wearily, with a torture sure and slow—
Dying, as a dog would die, by the wayside as we go.

One by one they’re falling round us, their pale faces to the sky;
We’ve no strength left to dig them graves— there let them lie.
The wild bird, if he’s stricken, is mourned by the others,
But we— we die in a Christian land—we die amid our brothers,
In the land which God has given, like a wild beast in his cave,
Without a tear, a prayer, a shroud, a coffin or a grave.

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