Ellis Island Closes – James Curley Boston’s Irish Mayor – Wolfe Tone – John McGahern

November 12: TODAY in Irish History:

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Irish Family at Ellis Island

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: Wolfe Tone Execution Day

Due to be executed today, Irish nationalist Wolfe Tone attempts suicide by cutting his throat. Critically wounded he dies 7 days later on November 19th.

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Wolfe Tone
Wolfe Tone 1763-1798

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Tone was one of the founders of the United Irishmen. In efforts to free Ireland from English rule, he had encouraged a French invasion of Ireland which due to bad planning and bad luck was never successful. In October 1798, French forces consisting of eight frigates were intercepted by British ships off Buncrana, Co. Donegal.  Retreating French ships offered Tone escape but he allegedly said “Shall it be said that I fled, whilst the French were fighting the battles of my country?” He was captured on the ship Hoche.

Two years previously,  Wolfe Tone had attempted to land at Bantry Bay, Co. Cork on another French “invasion.” High winds and storms would mean the planned landing would be aborted some days later. He w wrote in his journal:

“We are now, nine o’clock, at the rendezvous appointed; stood in for the coast till twelve, when we were near enough to toss a biscuit ashore; at twelve tacked and stood out again, so now we have begun our cruise of five days in all its forms, and shall, in obedience to the letter of our instructions, ruin the expedition, and destroy the remnant of the French navy, with a precision and punctuality which will be truly edifying.”

In his final speech from the dock, Tone said “From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Great Britain and Ireland as the curse of the Irish nation, and felt convinced that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy. My mind has been confirmed in this opinion by the experience of every succeeding year, and the conclusions which I have drawn from every fact before my eyes.”

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READ: Wolfe Tone Speech from the Dock

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READShort History of Wolfe Tone

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1847: Letter published in the Cork Examiner on The Famine

SIR– On Friday last, the day for distributing a scanty ration, a large body of those who have been looked upon as “able-bodied,” but who are now in reality infirm from hunger, assembled around the issue-shop, in the vain hope that a few “crumbs” might remain for them. Their hope was vain. Even some of those who were legally entitled to relief, did not get it; owing to the parsimonious economy of the Board of Poor-law Guardians in not passing the Relieving Officer’s estimate for the current fortnight.

On the relieving officer announcing to them that he had no more meat for the present, no one can describe their consternation. They were struck dumb for a moment. Soon after they burst forth into a cry which continued for several minutes; when, as if by common instinct, they proceeded to the residence of their parish priest, the Rev. Mr. Tuomy. There again theyrenewed their wailings with redoubled earnestness. These unusual sounds at such a late hour in the night (between 7 and 8 o’clock), at first startled the rev. gentleman. But on a moment’s reflection he judged the cause and proceeded forthwith to the door. There he saw numbers of his parishioners of all ages assembled, with the tears rolling down their emaciated cheeks, asking for bread. He could not be otherwise than deeply affected, and he divided amongst them his last shilling.

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1954: Ellis Island closes.

From 1892 to 1954, an estimated two million Irish immigrants entered the United States through the portal of Ellis Island, a small island in New York Harbor. The first official immigrant was 15 year old Annie Moore, accompanied by her two brothers from County Cork.

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Irish Family at Ellis Island
Irish Family Ellis Island (at EllisIsland.org)

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Ellis Island
Ellis Island

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1934: Author John McGahern

Birth of Irish author John McGahern in County Leitrim

john-mcgahern Irish author
john-mcgahern 1934-2006

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McGahern may not be as well known as other Irish authors, the Guardian newspaper suggested in his obituary that McGahern was arguably the most important Irish novelist since Samuel Beckett. His most famous novel The Dark was banned for a period of time by Irish censorship authorities.

Other  novels y McGahern include: The Barracks, The Leavetaking, The Pornographer, Amongst Women, That They May Face the Rising Sun.

His short stories include Nightlines, GettingThrough, High Ground

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Read: John McGahern

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1958: James Michael Curley

Death of four time Boston Mayor James M Curley, Congressman and one term Governor of Massachusetts.

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James Michael Curley
James Michael Curley1874-1958

Curley’s father emigrated from Ireland at age of fourteen. Curley first won the mayoralty in 1914, succeeding his arch-rival John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald was the maternal grandfather of John F Kennedy. Born in 1874 to an Irish immigrant and petty criminal father, Curley was no saint himself. Over a lengthy career, he served two jail terms, the latter being for corruption in 1947 while in his final term as mayor. Curley spent five months in jail before his sentence was controversially commuted by President Truman, who finally pardoned him in 1950. On his release from prison, Curley returned to the mayoral role until 1950.

At TrumanLibrary.org an oral history interview by Robert Fuchs with Federal Agent Harold G. Washington provides a fascinating glimpse into the shenanigans of Curley.

ROBINSON: He (Jim Curley) had this Engineer’s Group. Anybody that came down from Jim’s bailiwick would just go over to the Engineer’s Group, and they’d redesign your project or do a lot of shuffling of papers, and charge you a fee for it; and then they’d present it to the War Department and you’d get your contract.

FUCHS: What was the Engineer’s Group?

ROBINSON: It was a shakedown. Do you want it in plain, unvarnished language, that’s all it was.

FUCHS: Where were they headquartered?

ROBINSON: Back of the Mayflower Hotel.

FUCHS: Who were they supposed to be?

ROBINSON: Oh, they had a bunch of high-sounding names, but it was basically Jim Curley, and he was convicted of it. Did time in Danbury Reformatory, or prison, there at Danbury, and I don’t think he was out when they re-elected him Mayor,

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As his consistent election victories suggest, Curley was a master politician and media player who was exceptionally popular with his constituents. As the following graphic shows, he liked to convey a “Man of the People” image.

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James m curley election poster

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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

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)

   

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