Thursday, December 17, 2015

Celtic Corner - December 2015


     I suppose most Irish born & some Irish Americans know the basic story of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rebellion. I just wonder if we know what happened to the bodies of those leaders and the disgraceful actions by the British Government.

The bodies of the men were thrown onto the back of a truck and taken to Arbour Hill prison, where they were dumped, without rite or coffin, into a pit and had quicklime poured over them. Some of the men’s families had requested that their executed bodies be released to them – Major General Sir John Maxwell, the Commander in Chief of the British forces in Ireland, made a decision not to concede to their wishes for fear that the men’s graves might become a place of pilgrimage or, worse, a rallying point for further insurrection

We do not have a great record where the mortal remains of our patriot dead are concerned.

More than a century before the 1916 Rising, after a sentence of death had been passed on him during his trial for treason, Robert Emmet made one of the most famous speeches in history, instructing that ‘when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then and not till then, let my epitaph be written’.

But by the time Ireland ‘took her place’ and joined the United Nations in 1955, Emmet’s remains had long been lost.

Opinion has been divided as to whether the orator’s final resting place was in the vault of a now demolished church in Dawson Street, another in Aungier Street or in a family vault in Glasnevin.

With the exact location still a mystery, Emmet’s epitaph was never written.

Although the remains of the Rising’s leaders were not mislaid, in death, they scarcely fared much better than Emmet. None is commemorated in epitaph; the mass grave in Arbour Hill is unmarked and identifiable only by its proximity to a wall listing the names of the executed men, alongside the reproduced words of the Proclamation of the Republic. Aside from being the location for an annual Fianna Fáil-organised commemoration ceremony, Arbour Hill is remarkable for little else.

There is no eternal flame, no individual tributes to the executed men. It is unloved and rarely visited. Several Dublin tourism websites suggest that visitors to the capital bypass the cemetery at Arbour Hill altogether, on the basis that there is so much to do, and so little time to do it.

The majority of the men executed for their part in the Easter insurrection were deeply committed Catholics – only Connolly was an avowed atheist – and while that might sit uneasily in a modern context, there is no doubt that their Catholic faith meant a great deal to the executed men.

Contemporary reports from the occupied sites during the Rising tell of the Rosary being said almost continuously. One account has a passing Finnish sailor, who found himself caught up in the fighting, joining in with the Rosary as it was recited in Irish. Confessions were heard before battle, the Last Rites were administered to the fallen in the GPO and beyond.

Capuchin priests and Vincent de Paul nuns ministered to the wounded and dying on the streets all week.

After it was all over, Joseph Mary Plunkett was famously, poignantly, married to Grace Gifford in the hours before his execution, the couple exchanging vows in front of a Catholic priest at the tiny chapel in Kilmainham Gaol.

Another of the leaders, Michael Mallin, on the night before his execution on May 8, wrote to his family, telling his baby son: ‘Joseph, my little man, be a priest if you can.’ The two-year-old Joseph Mallin did indeed become a Jesuit priest. At 98 years of age, he is the last surviving child of any of the Easter Rising leaders.

In Kilmainham Gaol, all the men to be executed were visited by priests from the nearby Capuchin Friary on Church Street, and were given Confession and Communion. Even James Connolly received Communion – his first religious observance since his wedding in 1890.

A priest was allowed to witness the executions in the Stonebreakers’ Yard but crucially, was prevented from giving the Last Rites or anointing the bodies of the executed men, in accordance with Catholic practice.

There were no clergy in attendance at Arbour Hill when the bodies of the men were dumped, without ceremony, in their quicklime pit. It may not seem such a sin of omission today, but these were deeply religious and devout men, many of whom compared their own sacrifices to those of the early Christian martyrs.

On this day in 1916, the last execution of the Rising leaders took place in the bleak Stonebreakers’ Yard of Kilmainham. But few know that their bodies were flung into a pit, without respect or honor. It is time to give them at long last the rituals their sacrifice so richly deserves.

“Many suffer so that someday all Irish people may know justice and peace.” Theobald Wolfe Tone

Frank Darcy

Monday, November 9, 2015

Celtic Corner - November 2015


In the last two Celtic Corners, I felt the two most influential leaders of the Rebellion were James Connolly and Padraic Pearse but just as important were the five additional signers of the Proclamation and the nine other leaders all who were executed. These brave men are:

Éamonn Ceannt: Born in Galway in 1881, prior to the Rising Ceannt was an employee of the Dublin Corporation. He was a co-founder of the Irish Volunteers, partaking in the successful Howth gun-running operation of 1914. His involvement in republican activities was complemented by his interest in Irish culture, specifically Irish language and history, although he was also an accomplished uileann piper .As the commander of the Fourth Battalion of Irish Volunteers during the Rising, he took possession of the South Dublin Union, precursor to the modern-day St. James’s Hospital. He was executed on 8 May 1916.

Thomas James Clarke: Born on the Isle of Wight in 1857, Clarke’s father was a soldier in the British army. During his time in America as a young man, he joined Clann na nGael, later enduring fifteen years of penal servitude for his role in a bombing campaign in London, 1883-1898. In 1907, having returned from a second sojourn in America, his links with Clan na nGael in America copper-fastened his importance to the revolutionary movement in Ireland. He held the post of Treasurer to the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and was a member of the Supreme Council from 1915. The first signatory of the Proclamation of Independence through deference to his seniority, Clarke was with the group that occupied the G. P. O. He was executed on 3 May 1916.

Seán MacDiarmada: Born in 1884 in Leitrim, MacDiarmada emigrated to Glasgow in 1900, and from there to Belfast in 1902. A member of the Gaelic League, he was acquainted with Bulmer Hobson. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood in 1906 while still in Belfast, later transferring to Dublin in 1908 where he assumed managerial responsibility for the I. R. B. newspaper Irish Freedom in 1910. Although MacDiarmada was afflicted with polio in 1912, he was appointed as a member of the provisional committee of Irish Volunteers from 1913, and was subsequently drafted onto the military committee of the I. R. B. in 1915. During the Rising MacDiarmada served in the G. P. O. He was executed on 12 May 1916.

Thomas MacDonagh: A native of Tipperary, born in 1878, MacDonagh spent the early part of his career as a teacher. He moved to Dublin to study, and was the first teacher on the staff at St. Enda’s, the school he helped to found with Patrick Pearse. MacDonagh was well versed in literature, his enthusiasm and erudition earning him a position in the English department at University College Dublin. His play When the Dawn is Come was produced at the Abbey theatre. He was appointed director of training for the Irish Volunteers in 1914, later joining the I. R. B. MacDonagh was appointed to the I. R. B. military committee in 1916. He was commander of the Second Battalion of Volunteers that occupied Jacob’s biscuit factory and surrounding houses during the Rising. He was executed on 3 May 1916.

Joseph Mary Plunkett: Born 1887 in Dublin, son of a papal count, Plunkett was initially educated in England, though he returned to Ireland and graduated from U. C. D. in 1909. After his graduation Plunkett spent two years travelling due to ill health, returning to Dublin in 1911. Plunkett shared MacDonagh’s enthusiasm for literature and was an editor of the Irish Review. Along with MacDonagh and Edward Martyn, he helped to establish an Irish national theatre. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913, subsequently gaining membership of the I. R. B. in 1914. Plunkett travelled to Germany to meet Roger Casement in 1915. During the planning of the Rising, Plunkett was appointed Director of Military Operations, with overall responsibility for military strategy. Plunkett was one of those who were stationed in the G. P. O. during the Rising. He married Grace Gifford while in Kilmainham Gaol following the surrender and was executed on 4 May 1916.

Roger Casement: Born in 1864 in Dublin, Casement was knighted for his services to the British consulate. He campaigned tirelessly to expose the cruelty inflicted on native workers in the Belgian Congo in 1904, and again in Brazil from 1911-1912, causing an international sensation with his reportage. Casement had become a member of the Gaelic League in 1904, beginning at that time to write nationalist articles under the pseudonym ‘Seán Bhean Bhocht’. He retired from the British consular service in 1913, after which he joined the Irish Volunteers. Casement was dispatched to Germany on account of his experience to raise an Irish Brigade from Irish prisoners of war. He was captured in Kerry in 1916 on Good Friday having returned to Ireland in a German U-Boat. Casement was imprisoned in Pentonville Gaol in London, where he was tried on charges of High Treason. He was hanged on 3 August 1916, the only leader of the Rising to be executed outside of Ireland.

Con Colbert: Born in 1888, Colbert was a native of Limerick. Prior to the Easter Rising he had been an active member of the republican movement, joining both Fianna Éireann and the Irish Volunteers. A dedicated pioneer, Colbert was known not to drink or smoke. As the captain of F Company of the Fourth Battalion, Colbert was in command at the Marrowbone Lane distillery when it was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. His execution took place on 8 May 1916.

Edward Daly: Born in Limerick in 1891, Daly’s family had a history of republican activity; his uncle John Daly had taken part in the rebellion of 1867. Edward Daly led the First Battalion during the Rising, which raided the Bridewell and Linenhall Barracks, eventually seizing control of the Four Courts. A close friend of Tom Clarke, their ties were made even stronger by the marriage of Clarke to Daly’s sister. Daly was executed on 4 May 1916.

Seán Heuston: Born in 1891, he was responsible for the organization of Fianna Éireann in Limerick. Along with Con Colbert, Heuston was involved in the education of the schoolboys at Scoil Éanna, organizing drill and musketry exercises. A section of the First Battalion of the Volunteers, under the leadership of Heuston, occupied the Mendicity Institute on south of the Liffey, holding out there for two days. He was executed on 8 May 1916. Heuston Railway station in Dublin is named after him.

Thomas Kent: Born in 1865, Kent was arrested at his home in Castlelyons, Co. Cork following a raid by the Royal Irish Constabulary on 22 April 1916, during which his brother Richard was fatally wounded. It had been his intention to travel to Dublin to participate in the Rising, but when the mobilization order for the Irish Volunteers was cancelled on Easter Sunday he assumed that the Rising had been postponed, leading him to stay at home. He was executed at Cork Detention Barracks on 9 May 1916 following a court martial. In 1966 the railway station in Cork was renamed Kent Station in his honor.

John MacBride: Born in Mayo in 1865. Although he initially trained as a doctor, MacBride abandoned that profession in favor of work with a chemist. He travelled to America in 1896 to further the aims of the I. R. B., thereafter travelling to South Africa where he raised the Irish Transvaal Brigade during the Second Boer War. MacBride married the Irish nationalist Maude Gonne in 1903. He was not a member of the Irish Volunteers, but upon the beginning of the Rising he offered his services to Thomas MacDonagh, and was at Jacob’s biscuit factory when that post was surrendered on Sunday, 30 April 1916. He was executed on 5 May 1916.

Michael Mallin: A silk weaver by trade, Mallin was born in Dublin in 1874. Along with Countess Markievicz, he commanded a small contingent of the Irish Citizen Army, of which he was Chief of Staff, taking possession of St. Stephen’s Green and the Royal College of Surgeons. He was executed on 8 May 1916.

Michael O’Hanrahan: Born in Wexford in 1877. As a young man, O’Hanrahan showed great promise as a writer, becoming heavily involved in the promotion of the Irish language. He founded the first Carlow branch of the Gaelic League, and published two novels, A Swordsman of the Brigade and When the Norman Came. Like many of the other executed leaders, he joined the Irish Volunteers from their inception, and was second in command to Thomas MacDonagh at Jacob’s biscuit factory during the Rising, although this position was largely usurped by the arrival of John MacBride. His execution took place on 4 May 1916.

William Pearse: Born in 1881 in Dublin. The younger brother of Patrick, William shared his brother’s passion for an independent Ireland. He assisted Patrick in running St. Enda’s. The two brothers were extremely close, and fought alongside each other in the G. P. O. William was executed on 4 May 1916. Pearse railway station on Westland Row in Dublin was re-named in honor of the two brothers in 1966.

“The fools the fools the fools

They have left us our Fenian dead

And while Ireland holds these graves

Ireland Unfree shall never be at peace”

Padraic Pearse



Frank Darcy

Monday, October 5, 2015

Celtic Corner - October 2015

Patrick Pearse
     Perhaps no one looks like a revolutionary, but Patrick Henry Pearse looked even less so, and some historians would argue that he didn’t have the heart for it either. Before the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland, Pearse was a schoolteacher, as well as a writer and poet of some note and a spellbinding public speaker.
        He was also a man with a great reverence for Irish culture and language. Until the 1830s the vast majority of people in Ireland spoke and read Gaelic, but in 1831 the use of the language was outlawed by the British. Then when the Great Famine came along in the 1840s, Irish was used mostly by the peasantry and became a symbol of inferiority. The language gradually faded, pushed along by practices in school that included punishing young students for lapsing into Irish. But Pearse cherished and used Gaelic, reveled in Irish culture and sought to inspire his students the same way.
        For a long time, Pearse had thought that the way to achieve Irish independence was through peaceful means, but there came a time when he, like so many other Irish revolutionaries, concluded that only a revolt that involved bloodletting would set Ireland free. So he dedicated himself to the task.
        On August 1, 1915, the body of one of the Fenians, Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, who decades earlier had plotted against the British but had gone to America to work on the Irish People newspaper, was returned to Dublin. He had finally come home, and Pearse delivered a powerful oration at the graveside that was to become famous and was the measure of his resolve:
“The fools, the fools, the fools!-they have left us our Fenian dead, and while Ireland holds these graves, Ireland un-free shall never be at peace.”
Pearse was one of a handful of men who actually planned the details of the revolt, and though at one point the British sensed that something was brewing, most officials scoffed that anything would come of it. Still, they debated back and forth whether to arrest Pearse and his cohorts, and finally on Easter Monday morning, led by Lord Winmere, they decided to do just that.

They were too late. The attack had begun. The revolutionaries held out for five days, but on April 29 at a quarter to four in the afternoon Pearse, who had become commander in chief of the IRB, was forced to surrender. He and other ringleaders were arrested.

        Their efforts seemed to have done nothing, but the British turned public opinion against themselves with the executions of the rising’s ringleaders.

        Patrick Henry Pearse was the first to be executed, and it was clear that the judge who passed sentence did not relish the idea. Later, he would remark that it was terribly difficult sentencing a man of such courage to death.

        Though others were killed, Pearse’s death had a greater impact because he was a leader, a poet, a speaker and someone who had perpetuated the love of things Irish. When he was killed, a part of Ireland died with him. His death affected his countrymen greatly.

        Just before he died, Pearse wrote a final letter to his mother, a stunning, moving document informed by everything he was-including a desire to make his mother feel good on the most terrible day any mother can have. What he wrote to his mother, who was not allowed to see him, was a single sheet of paper and is today on display in the National Museum of Ireland:

                        Dear Mary, that didst thy first born son

                        Go forth to die amidst the scorn of men

                        For whom he died

                        Receive my first born son into thy arms

                        And keep him by thee till I come to thee

                        Dear Mary, I have shared thy sorrow and

                        Soon shall share thy joy.



Frank Darcy


Monday, September 14, 2015

Celtic Corner - September 2015


JAMES CONNOLLY (1868-1916):

        James Connolly was born in the Irish ghetto of Cowgate in Edinburgh, Scotland on June 5, 1868. His father John Connolly (1833-1900) and his mother Mary McGinn (1833-1892) both came from the vale of Analore near Ballybay, Co. Monaghan. They were married on October 20, 1856 and had three children, John (born 1862), Thomas (born 1866) and James (born 1868). Many people believed that he was born in Monaghan; this was due to his reluctance to acknowledge his ghetto origins.

          More than any other patriot he epitomized the poverty and misery that led to the Irish race being displaced and cleared from their land in the aftermath of the Great Hunger. Scotland had seen the worst of the refugees being close to the north of Ireland. It was the destination for the weakest and most vulnerable of the estimated 3,500,000 that fled the shores of Ireland in the forty years that followed The Famine.

          Many of the economic refugees resented the fact that they were forced from a land that they loved so much and many like Connolly knew that Ireland had tremendous potential given a government that would act in the interests of its people. Many Irish poor were victims and personally suffered from the deliberate policies of clearance from the land. The London Government’s policies had led to their destitution. Born outside their homeland, many never accepted that they had left Ireland at all. I have met people all over the world, generations removed from Ireland, that still regard their country of origin as Ireland and Ireland as their homeland.

          James Connolly spent his life wandering and speaking to the displaced Irish in Scotland, England, the U.S. and Canada as well as in Ireland itself. The eight years that he spent in the United States, from 1902-1910, were important for both the Irish and U.S. labor movements. The communities he addressed were those which had survived the previous generations since the Famine. They we fully aware of the hardships that the exiled endured just to survive in the Irish slums of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee The tenements of New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia and Albany were no different, but they did offer the hope of the American dream and the possibility of social advancement.

        After spending several years in Troy NY where textile and manufacturing industry developed Connolly worked tirelessly and successfully to introduce Unionism. A statue to memorialize Connolly remains to this day in Troy, NY.

          Connolly moved on to Newark, NJ. He worked for Singer Sewing Machine Co. as a machinist. All of Connolly’s free time was spent speaking on the street corners of Newark and Elizabeth, sometimes in the company of Elizabeth Gurley Flynn.

          Connolly and his family always lived in poverty but made lives better for working men and women. He preached, organized and won contracts for unions.



          James Connolly returned to Ireland and accepted the position of organizer for the Belfast branch of James “Big Jim” Larkin’s new union, the ITGWU  (Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union). Connolly came to Dublin to help and during the 1913 Lockout was instrumental in developing the Irish Citizen Army into a well-disciplined socialist revolutionary force.

          At noon on Saturday April 29, 1916, Connolly supported the majority view of the leaders that they should surrender, as he “could not bear to see his brave boys burnt to death”. His expectation was that the Rising’s organizers would be shot and the rest set free. Under military escort, Connolly was carried to the Red Cross hospital at Dublin Castle were hours later he signed Pearse’s surrender order on behalf of the Irish  Citizen Army. He was court-martialed there on May 9th while propped up in his bed. At his trial he read a brief handwritten statement which state that: “The cause of Irish freedom is safe-as long as Irishmen are ready to die endeavoring to win”. His execution took place at Kilmainham Gaol after dawn on May 12th. He was the last of the rebel leaders to face the firing squad.

          James Connolly was shot by firing squad on May 12, 1916. A member of the British Army Firing Squad (the son of a Welsh miner) was so moved by the experience of having to shoot a badly wounded man in a chair that he later paid a visit to the family home of James Connolly.  

No Irish patriot is remembered quite as affectionately as James Connolly. His house in Dundee, Scotland, his statue in Troy, New York, his house in Malden, Massachusetts, and the plaque in Edinburgh, Scotland have all been pointed out with pride by American and Scottish Irish patriots and political activists abroad, some of them generations removed from Ireland and many who have never visited their homeland.

                   He went to his death like a true son of Ireland

                   The firing party he bravely did face

                   Then the order rang out, “present arms and fire”

                   James Connolly fell into a ready made grave


Tom Giblin is heading up a committee to memorialize James Connolly in Newark, NJ.

This is perfect timing being 2016 is the 100 year celebration of a 26 county Irish Republic.


Frank Darcy

Friday, June 5, 2015

Celtic Corner - June 2015


Eamon de Valera (1882-1975)

        There are different opinions about the impact of Eamon de Valera on Ireland, some quite negative. For example, author Frank McCourt characterized him as a “drag” on Ireland’s progress in the twentieth century. However, one thing about de Valera is indisputable: He dedicated his life to freedom for and betterment of his countrymen, which included his risking his life and spending time in prison. Though there might have been individual acts of other Irish that were greater than anything de Valera ever did, his impact on the country was massive, and he richly deserves the sobriquet “Father of Modern Ireland.” 

          De Valera came, as it were, a long way from Brooklyn, New York, where he was born on October 14, 1882. His given name was Edward, but he changed to the Irish equivalent, Eamon. If he had stresses throughout his adult life, he had stresses when he was young too.

          Eamon’s Irish born mother, Catherine, was not yet married when she emigrated-or fled- from Ireland in the 1870s. At the time, Ireland was experiencing a partial failure of the potato crop, and anyone who had heard about or experienced the Great Famine was not about to endure the same thing again. Arriving in New York, she became a domestic servant, or “Brigid,” as such servants were called, to a French family named Giraud. The well-off Girauds employed for their children a music instructor name Vivion de Valera, who was Spanish, and it wasn’t long before he and Catherine were involved, then married.

          The marriage was haunted by Vivion’s illness. He was advised by his doctors to go to Denver, which he did, but the change didn’t help. In 1885 he died.

          This story has not been confirmed; in fact, Vivion de Valera may have deserted Catherine and Edward. One writer who checked for the marital records of Catherine and Vivion could find none. All his life, Eamon heard the charge that he was illegitimate.

          Following his father’s death, Catherine treated him more like a problem than a loved one. She deposited him in the home of a friend, Catherine Doyle. From that time on, all he remembered of his mother were the occasional visits of a woman dressed in black.

          When he was two years old, his mother sent him to live in Ireland with his grandmother, and it was there that he was later influenced by a Land League priest named Eugene Sheehy, from whom, he said, he learned patriotism.

          Ultimately, Catherine was remarried, to an Englishman named Charles Wheelwright, and settled in Rochester, New York. Her relationship with Eamon was not unfriendly, but he lived in Ireland and she in the United States.

          De Valera excelled in school, being particularly skilled in mathematics, and after a while he won a variety of scholarships and awards. In 1903 he was made a professor of mathematics at Rockwell College, County Tipperary.

          In 1908, he joined the Ard-Charaobh of the Gaelic League, the beginning of what biographer Henry Boylan said was “a lifelong devotion to the Irish.” It was there that he met an instructor four years his senior, Sinead Flanagan, whom he would ultimately marry.

          In the early 1900s, a strong feeling of nationalism had developed in Ireland, and when de Valera attended a public meeting in Dublin in 1913, he was fired up by it. He became a captain in a volunteer force, and plans were made for a rising.

          When the rising-the famous Easter Rising- began on April 24, 1916,

de Valera commanded one of the forces covering the southeastern approaches to the city. When the rising was put down he was arrested, court martialed and sentenced to death. (It has been said that he was saved from execution because of hi American birth, but there is no proof of this. His mother also came back and appealed for his life.) Perhaps the reason he was not executed was that a general revulsion of killings by both British and Irish citizens had developed.

          Following his release in 1917, de Valera began a lifelong career in Irish politics. For his first position, he was appointed president of Sinn Fein, Arthur Griffith having stepped aside.

          For the next fifty years, until his retirement in June 1973, de Valera was intimately involved in Irish politics, his career going from the heights as leader of the country to the depths, when he took part in the civil war triggered by the Treaty of 1921, “the war of the brothers,” and was forced to witness and take part in the deaths of men whom he had fought beside against the British.

          De Valera was a master politician, and one of his greatest feats was keeping Ireland neutral during World War II, when both the Allies and the Axis were pressuring Ireland to join them.

          One action that has been roundly criticized is the economic war he precipitated between Ireland and England, which involved each county’s barring the importation of the other’s products. It caused great hardship. But he was also a man who was three times premier and founder of Fianna Fail (the political party whose name means “armed men of Ireland”) and president of Ireland from 1959 to 1973.

          The list of honors bestowed on de Valera is long, and when he was buried at Glasnevin Cemetery after a state funeral, the greatness of the man could still not diminish a sad and central fact: The ending of partition-for which he had fought so hard for so any years, the central goal of his life- had eluded him.


The future is not set,

there is no fate but

what we make for ourselves


Frank Darcy

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Celtic Corner - May 2015


The Truce- an uneasy peace

        The war ended in a Truce on July 11, 1921. In some respects, the conflict was at a stalemate. Talks that had looked promising the previous year had petered out in December when Lloyd George insisted that the IRA first surrender their arms. Fresh talks, after the Prime Minister had come under pressure from Hebert Henry Asquith and the Liberal opposition the Labour Party and the Trades Union Congress, resumed in the spring and resulted in the Truce. From the point of view of the British government it appeared as if the IRA’s guerilla campaign would continue indefinitely, with spiraling costs in British casualties and in money. More importantly, the British government was facing severe criticism at home and abroad for the actions of Crown Forces in Ireland. On the other side, IRA leaders and in particular Michael Collins, felt that the IRA, as it was then organized, could not continue indefinitely. It had been hard pressed by the deployment of more regular British soldiers into Ireland and by the lack of arms and ammunition.

          The initial breakthrough that led to the Truce was credited to three people: King George V, General Jan Smuts of South Africa and British Prime Minister David Lloyd Georg. The King, who had made his unhappiness at the behavior of the Black and Tans in Ireland well known to his government, was unhappy at the official speech prepared for him for the opening of the new Parliament of Northern Ireland created through the partition of Ireland. Smuts, a close friend of the King, suggested to him that the opportunity should be used to make an appeal for reconciliation in Ireland. The King asked him to draft his ideas on paper. Smuts prepared this draft and gave copies to the King and to Lloyd Georg. Lloyd George then invited Smuts to attend a British cabinet meeting convened to hold consultations on the interesting proposals Lloyd George had received, without either man informing the Cabinet that Smuts had been their author. Faced with the endorsement of them by Smuts, the King and the Prime Minister, ministers reluctantly agreed to the King’s planned ‘reconciliation in Ireland’ speech.

        The speech, when delivered, had a massive impact. Seizing the momentum Lloyd George then issued an appeal for talks to Eamon de Valera in July 1921, The Irish, (unaware of the extent to which the speech did not fully represent the views of all the British government, but was to a significant degree a ‘peace move’ engineered by the King, Smuts and Lloyd George and reluctantly consented to in cabinet), responded by agreeing to talks. De Valera and Lloyd George ultimately agreed to a truce that was intended to end the fighting and lay the ground for detailed negotiations. These were delayed for some months as the British government insisted that the IRA first decommission its weapons, but this demand was eventually dropped. It was agreed that British troops would remain confined to their barracks. Most IRA officers on the ground interpreted the Truce merely as a temporary respite and continued recruiting and training volunteers. The continuing militancy of many IRA leaders was one of the main factors in the outbreak of the Irish Civil War as they refused to accept the Anglo-Irish Treaty that Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith negotiated with the British.

The Treaty

          Ultimately, the peace talks led to the negotiation of the Anglo-Irish Treaty (1921), which was then triply ratified:-by Dail Eireann in December 1921 (so giving it legal legitimacy under the governmental system of the Irish Republic) by the House of Commons of Southern Ireland in January 1922, so giving it constitutional legitimacy according to British theory of who was the legal government in Ireland), and by both Houses of the British parliament.

          The Treaty allowed Northern Ireland, which had been created by the Government of Ireland Act, 1920, to opt out of the Free State if it wished; it duly did so under the procedures laid down. As agreed, an Irish Boundary Commission was than created to decide on the precise location of the border of the Free State and Northern Ireland. The Irish negotiators understood that the Commission would redraw the border according to local nationalist or unionist majorities. Since the 1920 local elections in Ireland had resulted in outright nationalist majorities in County Fermanagh, County Tyrone, the City of Derry and in many District Electoral Divisions of county Armagh and County Derry (all north and west of the interim border), this might well have left Northern Ireland unviable. However, the Commission chose to leave the border unchanged.

          A new system of government was created for the Irish Free Sate, though for the first year two governments co-existed: an Aireacht answerable to the Dail and headed by President Griffith, and a Provisional Government nominally answerable to the House of Commons of Southern Ireland and appointed by the Lord Lieutenant. (The complexity of this was even shown in the matter by which Lord FitzAlan ‘appointed’ Collins as head of the Provisional Government. In British theory, they met to allow Collins to ‘Kiss Hands’. In Irish theory they met to allow Collins take the surrender of Dublin Castle). Most of the Irish independence movement’s leaders were willing to accept this compromise, at least for the time being, though many militant Republicans were not. A minority of those involved in the War of Independence, led by resigned president Eamon de Valera, refused to accept the Treaty and started an insurrection against the new Free State government, which it accused of betraying the ideal of the Irish Republic.  


Here's to the grey goose
With the golden wing;
A free country
And a Fenian King


Frank Darcy

Monday, April 13, 2015

Celtic Corner - April 2015



March is always for St. Patrick. April is for the Rising. On Easter Sunday in Newark, a group of men & women commemorate the 1916 Easter Rebellion with a march from Military Park to St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  Frank & Kathie Darcy are honored to carry the banner in the march. A mass is celebrated in Irish Traditions and the Proclamation is read.

This year we celebrate 99 years. Next year we will have the 100 year celebration of a free 26 county Ireland. We know the heroes, we know the story. We would have no Ireland, let’s not forget that. Woodbridge Irish Remember.


1916- The rebel leader Patrick Pearse stands under the portico of Dublin’s General Post Office to announce the birth of the Irish Republic.

1916-Eamon deValera comes to prominence as one of the republican leaders in the Easter Rising.

1916-Patrick Pearse and his fellow Irish rebel James Connolly are executed by firing squad.

1919-The Sinn Fein members elected to Westminster establish their own parliament in Dublin, The Dail Eireann (Assembly of Ireland),soon declared illegal by Britain.

1919-The armed supporters of Sinn Fein become the IRA, or Irish Republican Army, in Ireland’s war of independence.

1919-Michael Collins springs deValera from Lincoln gaol, with the help of a duplicate key.

1920-The Government of Ireland Act provides for separate devolved parliaments in southern Ireland and the six counties of Ulster.

1920-The brutal behavior of the British police reinforcements, the Black and Tans, aggravates the violence in Ireland.

1920-The Ira and the British security forces clash during a violent ‘Bloody Sunday’ in Dublin.

1921-The republican party Sinn Fein is unopposed in southern Ireland’s first general election and so wins every available seat in the Dail.

1921-The Sinn Fein members of southern Ireland’s new parliament assemble on their own, under the name Dail Eireann(Assembly of Ireland).

1921-James Craig (later Lord Craigavon) begins a 19 year term as prime minister of the new province of Northern Ireland.

1921-Envoys sent to London by deValera agree independence for southern Ireland as the Irish Free State, with Dominion status.

1921-The Anglo-Irish Treaty, agreed in London, ends the war between the British army and the IRA.

1921-The British parliament ratifies the Anglo-Irish treaty, but deValera repudiates it and resigns as president of the Dail.

1922-In elections to the Dail the pro-treaty faction of Collins and Griffith defeats the opposition, led by deValera.

1922-Bitter war breaks out between faction of the IRA supporting and opposing the Anglo-Irish Treaty.

1922-The Irish Free State takes stringent measures against rebel terrorism, making possession even of a pistol a capital offense.

1922-With the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the 26 counties of southern Ireland formally become the Irish Free State.

1922-William Thomas Cosgrove becomes the first prime minister of the Irish Free State.

1923-De Valera and the IRA lay down their arms, bringing to an end the Irish Civil War.

1923-De Valera and his followers do well in elections to the Dail but decline to take their seats.

1926-Eamon De Valera’s faction, Fianna Fail (Warriors of Ireland), enters mainstream Irish life as a political party.

1927-De Valera and his party, the Fianna Fail, finally take their seats in the Dail.

1931-The Irish government classifies the Irish Republican Army as an illegal organization.

1932-Fianna Fail wins enough seats in the Irish Free State’s election for Eamon deValera to form a government.

1932-De Valera withholds farmers’ annuities from Britain, provoking British tariffs and a trade war.

1933-Fine Gael is the name given to a new political party in Ireland, formed by the merger of several smaller groups.

1937-De Valera introduces a new constitution, changing the name of the Irish Free State to Eire (Gaelic for Ireland).

1937-De Valera’s new constitution for Eire lays claim to the six counties of northern Ireland.

1940-Lord Craigavon (previously James Craig) dies in office after nineteen years as Northern Ireland’s prime minister.

1943-Basil Brooke begins an unbroken 20 year period in office as Unionist prime minister of Northern Ireland.

1949-Eire is renamed the republic of Ireland and withdraws from the Commonwealth, severing the last link with the British crown.

1949-The British government declares that Northern Ireland will remain British unless the parliament in Stormont decides otherwise.

1957-DeValera takes stringent measures against the IRA and Sinn Fein, detaining activists in an internment camp.

1959-On the retirement of deValera, Sean Lemass succeeds him as leader of Fianna Fail and prime minister of Ireland.

1963-Terence O’Neill succeeds Basil Brooke (Lord Brookeborough) as Northern Ireland’s prime minister.

1965-Terence O’Neil and Sean Lemass, prime ministers of Northern Ireland and Ireland, have two unprecedented meetings.

1968-The first civil rights march in Northern Ireland, in Derry, is halted by the police with batons and water cannon.

1969-The Provisional IRA reintroduces the fight for justice in Northern Ireland after Protestants attack a civil rights march.

1970-The Social Democratic and Labour Party(SDLP) is formed in northern Ireland as a coalition of Catholic nationalist and civil rights campaigners.

1971-Ian Paisley and others in Northern Ireland form the Democratic Unionist Party, as the intransigent wing of Ulster Unionism.

1971-Gerry Adams is imprisoned for suspected IRA links but is released for lack of evidence.

1972-British paratroops open fire on a civil rights march in Derry killing thirteen in what becomes known as Bloody Sunday.

1981-The first of 10 hunger strikers Bobby Sands dies.

1984-Republican activist Gerry Adams is elected president of Sinn Fein.

1990-Mary Robinson is elected president of the republic of Ireland, the first woman to hold the post.

1993-UK and Irish premiers John Major and Albert Reynolds sign the Downing Street Declaration, a strategy for peace in Northern Ireland.

1994-The IRA declares a cease fire in Northern Ireland, a gesture followed a month later by Protestant paramilitaries.

1998-A proposed referendum on Northern Irish issues is accepted by all the relevant political parties in what becomes known as the Good Friday Agreement.

1998-In the referendum to endorse the Good Friday Agreement, the terms are accepted by majorities in both the republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

1998-The Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble becomes First Minister of the newly convened Northern Ireland Assembly.

2003-Ian Paisley’s hard line Democratic Unionist Party wins in elections to the suspended Northern Ireland Assembly.

2005-The Provisional IRA announces a formal end to armed conflict and orders units to dump all their weapons.

2007-Elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly bring the same result as in 2003, with extremist rivals DUP and Sinn Fein the dominant parties.

2007-Long term enemies Ian Paisley (DUP) and Gerry Adams (Sinn Fein) agree to share power in reconvened Northern Ireland Assembly.

2007-Devolved government returns to Northern Ireland with Ian Paisley as first minister and Martin McGuinness as his deputy.

2008-Peter Robinson, elected unopposed as leader of the DUP succeeds Ian Paisley as First Minister of Northern Ireland.

2015-The British government would not allow the Irish to have a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Scotland.

          Sadly enough, there is still no justice, no freedom, just hatred, prejudice, false imprisonment and a lot of violence. Just imagine your Celtic language is not legal to speak, your Gaelic games are frowned upon, your religious freedom is always in question. Ireland without question is one country, no partition.

“Ireland unfree shall never be at peace”

Padric Pearse

Caisc shona duit

Happy Easter
Frank Darcy

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Celtic Corner - March 2015


Saint Patrick's Day Traditions

     The tradition of wearing Shamrock to celebrate Saint Patrick seems to date from the seventeenth or eighteenth century. This was a very turbulent time in Irish history. The suppression of the Gaelic way of life by the ruling British invaders resulted in many aspects of the Catholic religion in Ireland being forced underground. Strict laws were enforced which prevented the Catholic population from attending schools so 'hedge-schools' were operated in secret.
     These were schools run outdoors in secluded places (sometimes literally 'under a hedge!). The teaching of religion was also forbidden so it is only to be expected that teachers would use naturally available resources to inform their pupils. Thus the Shamrock plant was used to illustrate the message of the Christian Holy Trinity.
     Saint Patrick was credited with using the Shamrock in such a manner so the wearing of the Shamrock by the oppressed Catholic population became a means of demonstrating their defiance to the ruling British class. It also imbued a sense of kinship among
the native Gaelic people, differentiating them from their oppressors.
     Wearing a clump of Shamrock is now a firmly established tradition throughout the world to celebrate not just Saint Patrick but Ireland itself. The Shamrock symbol is widely used by businesses seeking to associate with Ireland and, along with the Harp, is perhaps the single most recognizable symbol of Ireland. It is a shame though that the Shamrock is not a blue plant as the color originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue!
     Saint Patrick's Day is unique in that it is celebrated worldwide. It is most unusual that a country has such an international celebration and is really evidence of the generational effects of emigration that has afflicted Ireland for centuries. After the 1845 to 1849 Irish Famine emigration soared with as many as a million native Irish leaving their homes in the decades after the famine to settle in places like Boston, New York, Newfoundland, Perth, Sydney and beyond. The US Census Bureau now reports that 34 Million US Citizens claim Irish descent. Most emigrants like to commemorate their heritage and thus the Saint Patrick's Day Parade came into being.
     The earliest record of a Saint Patrick's Day Parade was in the year 1762 when Irish soldiers serving in the British Army held a Parade in New York City. Earlier records suggest that the day was celebrated by the Irish in Ireland as early as the ninth and tenth centuries.
     Again, this was a very difficult time in Irish history with Viking raiders terrorizing the native Gaelic population. It is thus no surprise then that in times of strife the local population would turn to religion and to a commemoration of their own heritage and individuality - a practice that has been repeated by populations of troubled places since the dawn of time. The New York Parade is now the longest running civilian Parade in the world with as many as three Million spectators watching the Parade of over 150,000 participants.
     The first official Parade in Ireland was in 1931. The 1901 law that copper-fastened March 17th as an Irish national holiday was later amended to insist that public houses close down on the day. This restriction was later lifted in the 1970's. In the mid 1990's the Irish Government really started to promote the event when it changed from a single day's Parade into a 5-day festival attracting as many as a million visitors into the country. Parades are now held in just about every major city in the world with the biggest in several US cities reaching epic proportions.
     The use of the color green reached new heights (or plunged new depths!) when in 1962 the city of Chicago decided to dye part of the Chicago River green. Since then the campaign to have just about every possible landmark turned green for the day has taken off in earnest and in recent years has included the Irish Parliament building, the Sydney Opera House, the Empire State Building, Niagara Falls and even the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt!
     The Irish association with drinking is well known and not always positive. Fortunately there are plenty of examples of the appropriate use of alcohol and Saint Patrick's Day is one of them. It is a widely held tradition in Ireland that beer or whiskey can be taken on Saint Patrick's Day although native Irish pub-goers can only look on aghast as visitors top the heads of their creamy pint of Guinness with a green Shamrock. Sacrilege! It is estimated that as many as 13 Million pints of Guinness are consumed on Saint Patrick's Day, up from the usual 5.5 Million per day!
     The tradition of dressing up in Irish outfits is not just confined to participants in Parades. Jovial creatures of Irish origin the world over use the opportunity of Saint Patrick's Day to dress up as Leprechaun or even as Saint Patrick himself. Kids love to wear the big green, white and orange hats and receive sweets thrown to them by similarly clad operators of the various Parade floats.
     Corned beef and cabbage is as traditional an Irish meal as you will ever find and it is often hauled out for Saint Patrick's Day. Traditional Irish music in the background and a family gathering are other Irish Saint Patrick's Day traditions that have been going on for centuries.

May the Love and Protection
Saint Patrick can give
Be yours in abundance
As long as you live

Frank Darcy