September 7: 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.
An insightful, realistic, yet humorous book on the job search process by Today in Irish History Curator Conor Cunneen
1533: Elizabeth I – Queen of England and Ireland
Elizabeth I is born to Henry VIII and second wife Anne Boleyn. She would become Queen of England and Ireland from 1558-1603.
Elizabeth’s relationship with Ireland was a pretty rocky one as Wikipedia suggests:
“Although Ireland was one of her two kingdoms, Elizabeth faced a hostile—and in places virtually autonomous—Irish population that adhered to Catholicism and was willing to defy her authority and plot with her enemies. Her policy there was to grant land to her courtiers and prevent the rebels from giving Spain a base from which to attack England. In the course of a series of uprisings, Crown forces pursued scorched-earth tactics, burning the land and slaughtering man, woman and child. During a revolt in Munster led by Gerald FitzGerald, Earl of Desmond, in 1582, an estimated 30,000 Irish people starved to death. The poet and colonist Edmund Spenser wrote that the victims “were brought to such wretchedness as that any stony heart would have rued the same”. Elizabeth advised her commanders that the Irish, “that rude and barbarous nation”, be well treated; but she showed no remorse when force and bloodshed were deemed necessary.
Between 1594 and 1603, Elizabeth faced her most severe test in Ireland during the Nine Years’ War, a revolt that took place at the height of hostilities with Spain, who backed the rebel leader, Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone. In spring 1599, Elizabeth sent Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, to put the revolt down. To her frustration, he made little progress and returned to England in defiance of her orders. He was replaced by Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, who took three years to defeat the rebels. O’Neill finally surrendered in 1603, a few days after Elizabeth’s death. Soon afterwards, a peace treaty was signed between England and Spain.”
1948: The Republic of Ireland
Taoiseach John A. Costello announces that the Irish Free State will become a republic with and break all dominion ties with Great Britain. The Republic of Ireland Act was signed into law December 21 1948 and came into effect April 1949.
The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948
An Act to repeal the Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936, to declare that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland, and to enable the President to exercise the executive power or any executive function of the state in or in connection with its external relations. (21 December 1948)
Be it enacted by the Oireachtas as follows:—
1.—The Executive Authority (External Relations) Act, 1936 (No. 58 of 1936), is hereby repealed.
2.—It is hereby declared that the description of the State shall be the Republic of Ireland.
3.—The President, on the authority and on the advice of the Government, may exercise the executive power or any executive function of the State in or in connection with its external relations.
4.—This Act shall come into operation on such day as the Government may by order appoint.
5.—This Act may be cited as The Republic of Ireland Act, 1948.
1950: Peggy Noonan, Reagan’s Speechwriter
Ronald Reagan speech writer and conservative columnist Peggy Noonan is born in New York, a second generation American.
As might be expected from a very competent wordsmith, Noon writes evocatively in the Wall Street Journal of her grandfather who emigrated in the early 20th century.
“I don’t know that when my grandfather Patrick Byrne and his sisters, Etta and Mary Jane, who had lived on a hardscrabble little farm in Donegal, on the west coast of Ireland, felt about America when they got here. I don’t know if they were “loyal to America.” I think they were loyal to their decision to come to America. In for a penny, in for a pound. They had made their decision. Now they had to prove to themselves it was the right one. I remember asking Etta what she’d heard about America before she got here. She said, “The streets were paved with gold.” All the immigrants of the late 19th and early 20th century used that phrase.
When I was in college in the 1970s, I got a semester abroad my junior year, and I took a boat from England to Ireland and made my way back to Donegal. This was approximately 55 years after my grandfather and his sisters had left. There I met an old man who’d been my grandfather’s boyhood friend. He lived by himself in a shack on a hill and was grateful the cousins I’d found had sent me to him. He told me he’d been there the day my grandfather, then a young man, left. He said the lorry came down the lane and stopped for my grandfather, and that his father said goodbye. He said, “Go now, and never come back to hungry Ireland again.”
The “Great Communicator” received a lot of good copy from Peggy Noonan.
Noonan is best known for scripting Ronald Reagan’s powerful speech on The Boys of Pointe du Hoc which he delivered on the 40th anniversary of D Day. It was a masterful piece of writing, delivered by a masterful communicator.
“The Rangers looked up and saw the enemy soldiers at the edge of the cliffs, shooting down at them with machine guns and throwing grenades. And the American Rangers began to climb. They shot rope ladders over the face of these cliffs and began to pull themselves up. When one Ranger fell, another would take his place. When one rope was cut, a Ranger would grab another and begin his climb again. They climbed, shot back, and held their footing. Soon, one by one, the Rangers pulled themselves over the top, and in seizing the firm land at the top of these cliffs, they began to seize back the continent of Europe. Two hundred and twenty-five came here. After two days of fighting, only ninety could still bear arms.”
Noonan was also the lead writer for Reagan’s emotional Challenger address. The final lines of that address when Reagan said they “slipped the surly bonds of earth …. to touch the face of God” are from a poem by Irish American airman and poet John Gillespie Magee who was killed in 1941 while flying with the Royal Canadian Airforce.
1982: Christy Brown
Death of author and artist Christy Brown.
Brown is referenced by Conor Cunneen in For the Love of Being Irish.
“The film My Left Foot: The Story of Christy Brown encapsulates all that makes Irish acting, theater, writing and film making so compelling. Christy Brown was born into a poor, working class family in 1932 Dublin with severe cerebral palsy.
Encouraged by a loving mother, the incapacitated child learned to communicate through writing and painting with his left foot (and nearly unintelligible speech laced with numerous profanities!)
Christy developed a sufficient skill set to write his autobiography My Left Foot, published in 1954. This funny, poignant work was brought to the screen by Director Jim Sheridan, receiving Oscar nominations for Best Director and Best Screenplay. AND Dublin’s Brenda Fricker (Best Supporting Actress) AND Daniel Day-Lewis (Best Actor) as Christy Brown took home the gold statuette. Daniel is son of Irish born Poet Laureate Cecil Day-Lewis.”
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
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.
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