President John F Kennedy – Horrors of 1798 Rebellion at Today in Irish History

May 29: TODAY in Irish History:

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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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1798: Irish Rebel Prisoners Massacred

Between 300-500 Irish rebels are massacred by English troops at Gibbeth Rath,  Co. Kildare after agreeing surrender terms. Tensions were running extremely high on all sides following reports of atrocities by both parties.  A force of 2,000 Irish rebels had agreed surrender terms with General Dundas. Having surrendered their arms, the prisoners were attacked by militia under the command of General Duff. There is little agreement as to what happened. Irish rebel sources suggest an unprovoked assault while Duff claimed his troops were fired on. Duff’s original report on the battle read:

“My Dear Genl. (I have witnessed a melancholy scene) We found the Rebels retiring from this Town on our arrival armed. We followed them with Dragoons; I sent on some of the Yeomen to tell them, on laying down their arms, they should not be hurt. Unfortunately some of them Fired on the Troops; from that moment they were attacked on all sides, nothing could stop the Rage of the Troops. I believe from Two to Three hundred of the Rebels were killed. (They intended, we are told, to lay down their arms to General Dundas). We have 3 men killed & several wounded. I am too fatigued to enlarge. I have forwarded the mails to Dublin.”

The horror and anger of participants can be seen in a separate note written by a Captain John Giffard whose 17 year old son Lieutenant William Giffard was killed by rebels

“My troops did not leave my hero unavenged – 500 rebels bleaching on the Curragh of Kildare—that Curragh over which my sweet innocent girls walked with me last Summer, that Curragh was strewed with the vile carcasses of popish rebels and the accursed town of Kildare has been reduced to a heap of ashes by our hands.”





1917: John Fitzgerald Kennedy 

John Fitzgerald Kennedy is born the second son of Joe and Rose Kennedy in Brookline, Massachusetts.

JFK image in For the Love of Being Irish

Image of JFK in For the Love of Being Irish: An A-Z of Ireland by Conor Cunneen


Kennedy visited Ireland on a number of occasions prior to becoming President. His final visit in June 1963 was to a rapturous response visiting Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and his home county of Wexford. He spoke for 25 minutes to Dail Eireann in a wide ranging, historical speech that was maybe not always accurate. e.g. Ireland “is not neutral between liberty and tyranny and never will be.” Just twenty years previously, Ireland remained neutral in the face of the horrors of Hitler.

But the speech was uplifting and motivating to an Irish nation that was still young. Kennedy said

“This has never been a rich or powerful country, and yet, since earliest times, its influence on the world has been rich and powerful. No larger nation did more to keep Christianity and Western culture alive in their darkest centuries. No larger nation did more to spark the cause of independence in America, indeed, around the world. And no larger nation has ever provided the world with more literary and artistic genius.

This is an extraordinary country. George Bernard Shaw, speaking as an Irishman, summed up an approach to life: Other people, he said “see things and . . . say ‘Why?’ . . . But I dream things that never were– and I say: ‘Why not?'” ”


Listen:  JFK’s speech to Dail Eireann (Irish parliament) on June 28th 1963.

Kennedy of course was a master of the public platform as his TV election debates in 1960 with Richard Nixon (another President of Irish extraction) proved. Kennedy would be elected President November 9th 1960 and be inaugurated on January 20th 1961.

His assassination in Dallas on November 22nd 1963 shocked the world and marked the end of “Camelot.”




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


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)


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