Air Ace Paddy Finucane – Seán Lemass – Death of Countess Markivicz

July 15: TODAY in Irish History:

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paddy Finucane RAF pilot

Dublin born RAF air ace Paddy Finucane.     Note shamrock on plane

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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1899: Seán Lemass

Sean Lemass image

Future Taoiseach Seán Lemass is born in Dublin. Lemass would bring elements of modern international thinking and economics to a nation bedevilled by De Valera’s isolationist and anti-English thinking. His partnership in economic affairs with Sean T. Whitaker is seen by many as the start of modern Ireland.

A veteran of the 1916 Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War, Lemass was first elected as a Sinn Féin Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South constituency in a by-election on 18 November 1924 and was re-elected at each election until his retirement in 1969. He was a founder-member of Fianna Fáil in 1926, serving in numerous cabinet positions under Eamonn De Valera until he became Taoiseach in 1959.

sean lemass 1924 election
A victorious Sean Lemass 1924 General Election

In 1965 Lemass met the Prime Minister of Northern Ireland (Terence O’Neill) meet for the first time since the partition of Ireland in 1922. It was a truly historic meeting that began a thaw in relations between the two states. The meeting at Stormont Castle of two distrustful parties was so momentous and prone to disruption that it was not announced prior to the event. The meeting evoked generally positive reaction in the Republic but caused major problems for O’Neill. While moderate unionists supported talks on non-constitutional issues such as co-operation on tourism, the meeting did not sit well with Protestant fundamentalist like Rev. Ian Paisley who saw it as the start of a sell out. O’Neill paid a reciprocal visit to Dublin in February.

Terence O'Neill and Sean Lemass
Terence O’Neill and Sean Lemass


1927: Death of Irish revolutionary and 1916 participant Countess Markievicz.

Countess_Markiewicz 1868-1927

She was born Constance Georgine Gore-Booth  to English Protestant Ascendency in London in 1868. Her family had a property in County Sligo where she spent much of your youth and became friendly with William Butler Yeats.

At an early age, she developed a strong passion for helping the poor, the women’s suffragette movement and Irish nationalism.

Countess Markievicz Timeline:

1902: While in France Constance met and married a Polish-Russian nobleman, Count Casimir Markiewicz.


1908: Joins Sinn Fein

1911: Arrested for protesting visit of King George V to Ireland

1913: Joined Irish Citizens Army

1916: Involved in Rising in Dublin. Sentenced to death but commuted.

Constance Markievicz mug shot
Constance Markievicz mug shot. She was arrested numerous times, both by British and Free State authorites

1917: Released from prison as part of a general amnesty.

1918: Is the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons in the General Election. As with all Sinn Fein MPs, she refuses to take her seat.

1922: Votes against the Anglo-Irish Treaty and joins with De Valera and others in Irish Civil War fighting Free State forces led by Michael Collins.




SEE: Lisadell House (home of Countess Markievicz)




1942: Irish Air Ace Paddy Finucane Killed

paddy Finucane RAF pilot

– Brendan (‘Paddy’) Finucane from Rathmines, Co.  Dublin – the RAF’s youngest ever Wing Commander at 21 years of age – is shot down and killed off the French coast. He had 32 confirmed “kills.” Finucane – whose father fought in Boland’s Mill with Eamonn De Valera against the English in the 1916 Rising – joined the RAF in 1938.

Air Aces of WW2 writes of Finucane’s demise:

“After attacking German shipping at Ostend and strafing three German airfields on July 15th, 1942, Finucane’s wing regrouped to return to Hornchurch. As the group passed low-level over the beach at Pointe Du Touquet, Finucane’s Spitfire was hit by machine gun fire that severely damaged his radiator. The engine overheated and quit, and the Spitfire was too low to allow Finucane to bail out. Losing altitude swiftly, Paddy was heard to say; “This is it, Chaps.” Witnesses reported that after a near perfect “splash” the Shamrock-Spit sank like a stone, and despite all efforts, was never to be seen again.”


LISTEN to superb RTE Radio documentary on Paddy Finucane. Available in podcast.




WATCH: A Short History of Ireland

Want to learn more about Ireland? See these images and more in the acclaimed 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)


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