Culture & Reference
Dermot, Strongbow and the Invasion of Ireland
The Titanic and Ireland
The Vikings in Ireland
The Ancient Ogham language
Charles Stewart Parnell
IN THIS ISSUE
This month we have an examination of the legacy of W.T. Cosgrave, one of the founders of the Irish State, a tale of an American's visit to his homeland and a report of severe 'justice' being meted out to some petty coin forgers.
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Until next time,
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INCREDIBLE HISTORICAL FINDS AT NEWGRANGE
The scorching weather during July was at least partly responsible for the discovery of major historical finds at the world famous Newgrange site in County Meath. Newgrange is well known for its passage tomb and is among the most visited tourist sites in the country. The recent scorching of the ground has revealed the outlines of an ancient lost treasure.
IRISH HEALTH CARE SYSTEM REMAINS IN TATTERS
Report after report. New initiative after new initiative. Billions upon billions spent.
The money-pit that poses as the Irish health care system was again in the news with the revelation that there were nearly 1 Million (997,258) patients appointments outstanding in the first half of 2018. The population of Ireland is 4.77 Million people which gives some sense of the enormous scale of the health care issues in Ireland. More than 148,000 patients had been waiting for over a year to see a Consultant. The latest Government plan to try to fix the never-ending problem is named 'Sláintecare' and unlike previous iterations is an all-Party plan scoped over 10 years and costed at 2.6 Billion Euro (with an initial extra spend of 3 Billion). The plan was published in May of 2017 and with its implementation schedule just recently announced.
Simon Harris is the current Minister for Health: 'We cannot have a situation where the Minister of Health of the day, whoever he or she is, is constantly just dealing with a daily crisis, we have to have a ten-year plan to reform the health service.'
The plan involves the delivery of 2,600 extra hospital beds, 1 Billion for electronic health records, 800 Million for diagnostic equipment in local health centres and clinics and 50 Million for the National Treatment Purchase Fund (used to buy services in private health facilities, often abroad).
Historically there have been huge sums invested in the Irish heath care system in times when the economy is good (growth of 5.7% in 2018 and 4.1% in 2019 is expected per the European Commission). The problem of course is that when the economy recedes then public services are often the first to fall victim to savage cuts. Many commentators note that the damage caused by the Draconian cuts made in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis has never been repaired.
AMAZING IRISH SPORTING PERFORMANCES
The Irish women's hockey team exceeded all expectations by reaching a major sporting world final. The Irish amateurs were beaten in the final by The Netherlands who are full-time professionals in a country where hockey is the national sport. The exploits of the Irish team were widely lauded and have provides a great boost for this very popular sport.
Sprinter Thomas Barr from Waterford became the first ever Irish sprinter to claim a medal at a major championships when he finished third in the 400 Metres Hurdle race in Berlin. Ciara Mageean took fourth place in the 1500 Metres final, while the 4x100 Metres relay team recorded their fastest ever time. The U20 relay team claimed silver at the World U20 Championships.
Boxer Katie Taylor continues in her attempt at world domination and is the current WBA and IBF lightweight world titles holder.
These are exciting times for Irish sport with women leading the way.
CORK IS AMONG WORLD'S FRIENDLIEST CITIES
The latest Condé Nast Traveler's ranking of the world's friendliest places to visit includes Cork in third place, Galway in fifth place and Dublin in eight place. San Miguel de Allende in Mexico and Santo Domingo in Dominican Republic topped the rankings.
Niall Gibbons is CEO of Tourism Ireland: 'Again and again, our research shows us that the friendliness of our people is one of our unique selling points. It is the warm welcome and the 'craic' here that resonates with our overseas visitors and makes our cities, and the island of Ireland, such a great choice for a short break or holiday.'
Recently the Sandymount Hotel in Dublin was been named 'Europe's Leading Green Hotel' at the World Travel Awards in Athens while the Jameson Distillery at Bow Street was been voted 'Europe's Leading Distillery Tour' for 2018. The Dublin Convention Centre on the banks of the River Liffey was voted 'Europe's Leading Meetings & Conference Centre'.
FIND YOUR NAME IN OUR
GALLERY OF IRISH COATS OF ARMS
by Michael Ryan
In 1995 my wife Kathleen and I, along with her Aunt Mary McNeal and Kathleen's cousin Denise McNeal visited my family in Tuam, Co. Galway.
While there we found out that my cousin (and head of the clan) John Joe Ryan passed. It was reported that 8 months after his wife, Bridie passed, he walked out to the fields and lay down and died. His son Gerald found him and brought him back to the farm house and the doctor responded and stated that it was not his heart since he had his tablets (nitro) in his pocket and the flap of the pocket was still on the outside, so he wasn't going for the tablets. He also said that there was no pain because there was no dirt under his fingernails from clutching at the earth if he were in pain and didn't there appear to be a slight smile on your man's face.
He missed his wife of so many years that he just went out to the fields he worked his entire life and lay down and went to his wife. So the doctor said that he died of a broken heart. He was laid out at the farm for the first 24 hours so that the neighboring farmers and family could pay their respects. Then he was moved to the funeral home in Tuam and was there for just 24 hours before being driven by the farm and then to the church where he laid in the center aisle overnight. Across from the church was the pub. So after praying and having benediction everyone walked across the street to the pub to celebrate the deceased life.
It was there that an elderly gentleman asked my name and I told him that it was Michael Ryan. He said no, what is ye name? I repeated Michael Ryan, a little slower and a little louder. The same elderly man again repeated his question and I again gave the same answer only again slower and louder. Then he said, I am Michael Patrick Ryan, this is Michael James Ryan, this is Michael Thomas Ryan. Now what is ye name? Then I said Michael Francis Ryan and that was the answer he was seeking. He asked if I was a Yank and I said yes. So, says the man, what is ye relationship to the deceased, May God Rest His Soul. I told him that the deceased father was a brother to my grandfather who left for America in 1908. He asked what his name was and I told him that his name was the same as the deceased, John Joseph Ryan and that the deceased was named after him. The elderly man turned to Michael James and asked, didn't they all have the nickname back then? Aye was the answer.
So to me again Michael Patrick asked, do ye happen to know your grandfather John Joe Ryan's nickname when he left for Amerikay? I told him that I had recently found that my grandfather was known as The Nailer. The elderly gentleman yelled out, dear God in Heaven give the Yank a pint in each hand. He is the blood of the Nailer! And almost immediately I had a pint of porter in each hand! It seems that my grandfather was known far and wide and that if anyone came into the county and started trouble they would send for my grandfather 'and you were nailed just one time and you would wake up in hospital or another county altogether!'
The Requiem Mass was the following morning and the body was interred in the family plot in Tuam. They still used shovels and rope to lower John Joe to his final resting spot. Then there was a celebration of his life at the hotel in Tuam. There were sandwiches and drinks for the family and friends in attendance. The travelers (I think that there was a standard of having traveled at least 200 miles) were then told to go to the upper room where an entire hot meal was laid out along with drinks. It was established that Kathleen, her Aunt, cousin and I were the ones who had traveled more miles than the rest and it appeared that title was a bit of honor.
We returned to the lower level and many drinks were consumed by all in attendance. Then after a while we returned to the farm with the immediate family of cousins and the wake continued for many more hours, involving singing and story telling of the many accomplishments of the deceased, John Joseph Ryan. My father, Michael F. Ryan, never told me about my Irish roots. I found out from my Aunt Rita, my Dad's sister, that their parents (my grandparents) did not talk of Ireland. They were American citizens and that was the important part of their new life.
All of the male children, my Dad and his male siblings, volunteered for military service during WWII. My Dad never went to Ireland, he never talked about it and I now feel so sorry for him to have missed that connection in his life. I had met John Joe for the first time in 1984 when we went to Ireland for our honeymoon. We visited again in 1986 and again in 1995 when he passed. But we had made a great connection and I met and visited with all my cousins (his children) every trip over.
We have been fortunate enough to make the trip several more times, the last being 2005; and my singing group, Amhrania Na Gaeilge, sang our way across Ireland in 2002. We are saving our pennies again to try to get over at least one more time while I am on the top of the grass. I have been so blessed with a wonderful, beautiful wife who understands the need to connect with our family in Ireland. And God has allowed us to meet these fantastic relatives and get to know them. So, I suggest that if you know that your family came from Ireland, do yourself a great favor and get over there and find them. You can do research before leaving and you can write or call in advance. But just do it !
You will never regret the fabulous time in Ireland.
Baltimore, Maryland, USA
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W. T. Cosgrave was born in Dublin 1880. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913, fought in Dublin in the 1916 Easter Rising, and was captured and condemned to death by the English.
His sentence was commuted to life in prison but he was released and promptly won a parliamentary seat in a 1917 by-election for Sinn Fein. He repeated this success in the 1918 General election.
January 21st 1919 is one of the most important dates in Irish history as it was on that day that Sinn Fein gathered in the Mansion House in Dublin city centre and formed an 'Assembly of Ireland, a parliament, which declared Ireland a republic and independent from English rule. Cosgrave was appointed by deValera as Minister for Local Government in the now hunted government with the job of organising non-cooperation with the British authorities and establishing an alternative system of government.
The ensuing war of Independence ended with the 1921 Treaty and the subsequent split within the nationalist movement. On one side were those who followed deValera who refused to recognise the partition of Ireland and the abandonment of Ulster to the northern loyalists. On the other side was those who supported Michael Collins who viewed the Treaty as a stepping stone to full independence. A bloody civil war ensued culminating in the death of Collins and the defeat of the deValera faction by the Free State army. Cosgrave sided with Collins in opposing deValera and assumed the leadership of the Free State upon Collins death. He was now formally the President of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State.
In 1923 he founded the pro-Treaty party Cumann na nGaedheal. He was regarded as being effective and efficient rather than flamboyant or charismatic. He oversaw the formal establishment of the structures of the state during this most turbulent and crucial time in Irish history. Many new European countries that formed in the aftermath of the first world war shifted into dictatorship or even fascism. Cosgrave was determined that Ireland should remain wholly democratic. Nevertheless he oversaw a government that ruthlessly executed without trial many of his political and military opponents.
His determination to maintain the Free State as a democratic institution is perhaps best demonstrated by his overseeing of the peaceful transition of power to deValera in 1932 after the new Fianna Fail party had won the general election of 1932. This was a pivotal moment in Irish history. The same soldiers and politicians who has created a Free State after winning the bitter Civil war only a few short years earlier now peacefully handed the reins of power over to the same people they had been fighting. It is to Cosgrave's credit that he did not entertain the rumblings of a military coup that circulated among the army at the time.
Cumann na nGaedheal was eventually transformed into Fine Gael in 1933 with Cosgrave assuming leadership of the party in 1935, remaining in that role until 1944 when he retired. He died in 1965 and was awarded the honour of a State funeral by his former nemesis Eamon deValera.
It can be argued that the Free State managed by Cosgrave was far more secular than the Catholic-church dominated republic led by deValera in later years. His establishment of the framework of nationhood during his tenure in charge was later acknowledged by deValera but is perhaps not as well regarded or acknowledged by recent generations.
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PENAL SERVITUDE FOR SEVEN FORGED COINS
The Irish Times, 8 March 1875
Clonmel, Saturday. James, Patrick, Michael, and Alice Ahearne were indicted for having in their custody counterfeit coin on the 20th October last, and with uttering a counterfeit shilling to a woman named Lonergan on the day in question.
They pleaded not guilty, and were defended by Messrs. Gibson and Lover, instructed by Mr. Sargint, Cahir.
Constable M'Conyne deposed that on the night of the 19th of October last he arrested James and Patrick on a charge of assault. He found on James the base shilling and the piece of metal (solder) produced. He also found on Pat two base shillings (These coins were also produced). Also found, in the dayroom in the barracks where Pat and James were searched, two other bad shillings. They reside in Killdonohoe. Went to their house on the 20th of October, and saw Michael and Alice Ahearne there. On instituting a search he found the two bars of metal produced in one of the crevices in the room. Constable Conroy got seven shillings which were bad. Prisoners till a portion of the mountain, and keep sheep and goats.
Constable Conroy deposed that he found in a crevice in the wall seven base shillings.
Constable Gallagher said that on the day in question he found the following articles at the prisoners' house:— A small bottle labelled 'nitrate of argent,' clippings of metal, a portion of plaster, apparently part of a mould, with the impression of a coin thereon, and outside, within a radius of fifteen yards from the house, other bits of plaster on which there was the impression of coin.
Catherine Lonergan, the wife of a publican residing at Lisheenmoore, swore that Patrick Lonergan went to her house a few days after the fair of Clonmel, and gave her a shilling, which she considered bad, for a few pintes of porter; she returned him the coin, and 'took his word' for the debt.
Sub-constable Little swore to having arrested Pat Ahearne on the 20th of October last - he took him before Mr. Taylor, Clogheen, who gave him the usual caution to say nothing that might criminate him; he then stated that he had been to the fair in Clonmel; that he sold a horse to an Englishman; that he went to change some of the notes in a shop in town, and that it was there he got the bad coin found on him.
The jury, after about an hour's absence from court, returned a verdict of guilty against James and Pat Ahearne on the first count, and a verdict of guilty against Pat on the secnd count. Alice and Michael they found to be not guilty.
The Judge said the verdict was a most proper and discriminating one. The sentence of the court was that Pat should undergo five, and James two years' penal servitude. The other prisoners might be discharged.
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