This Week in the History of the Irish: January 12 - January 18

Edmund Burke c. 1767/69, by Joshua Reynolds

DOMHNAIGH -- On January 12, 1729, Edmund Burke, one of the greatest political writers and orators in history, was born in Arran Quay, Dublin. Burke was the son of a mixed marriage -- his mother was Catholic and his father Protestant. Burke himself would later marry an Irish Catholic woman. Perhaps it was these two factors which led him to advocate a lenient policy toward Ireland for most of his life. Burke graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, in 1748 and studied law at Middle Temple in London; however, he failed to secure a call to the bar and instead began a literary career. He wrote several books and was editor of the Annual Register before entering politics. In 1765, Earl Verney brought him into the House of Commons as a member for Wendover and within a short time his great speaking ability had transformed him into one of Parliament's most influential members. Burke was one of the leading advocates of compromise with the American colonies. His advice was not followed then, but after the British defeat at the Battle of Yorktown, he was one of the members who helped convince George III to end the conflict. Burke's view of the revolution in France was a much different story. He published Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790, attacking the revolution's motives and principles. Many writers opposed his views, the most famous being Thomas Paine in his Rights of Man. Burke was a consistent advocate of Catholic emancipation, which politically damaged him, but he was never an advocate of self-rule for the Irish. Edmund Burke died in London on July 9, 1797. Many quotes from his writings and orations have come down through the years, perhaps one is most applicable to the situation in Ireland today: "All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter."

Thomas Arthur Comte de Lally, as depicted on a nineteenth-century promotional card by French chocolate manufacturer Chocolat Poulain.

CÉADAOIN -- On January 15, 1702 Thomas Arthur Lally, a renowned but tragic officer in the Irish Brigade in the service of France, was born in Romans, France. Lally was the son of Sir Gerard Lally of Tullynadala, Co. Galway, one of the original "Wild Geese" of 1691. Though King Louis XV offered to make Lally a colonel in the Irish Brigade at the age of 18, his father insisted he earn his advancement. Thomas pursued his studies and finally joined the Brigade as a captain in Dillon's regiment in 1732. He would prove to be an excellent soldier. His first campaign came in 1733, during the War of Polish Succession. At the end of that war he traveled secretly to England, Scotland and Ireland in the late 1730s to gauge the depth of Jacobite sympathies. Lally was then sent on another covert mission to Russia, in an unsuccessful attempt to change its alliance from Britain to France. He returned to the army and at Dettingen in 1743, during the War of Austrian Succession, he saved his father's life and helped conduct a retreat that saved the army. He was personally responsible for the placing of a battery of artillery at Fontenoy that was a key to that most famous triumph of the Irish Brigade. He assisted in the planning of "The '45" of Bonnie Prince Charlie, and remained loyal to the Prince after the failure of that enterprise. By now he held an esteemed place in the French military. In 1756 he was given command of an ill-fated French military expedition to India. He was initially successful against the British colonial forces there, but he received little support from the French government and was soon defeated. He was taken to England as a prisoner but then released and allowed to return to France to defend himself against charges of misconduct in India. Lally was found guilty and beheaded on May 9, 1766. His conviction would later be reversed by Louis XVI.

Currier & Ives
Thomas Francis Meagher, Terence B. MacManus and Patrick O'Donoghue standing in the dock at their trial in Clonmel, October 22, 1848.


CÉADAOIN-- On January 15, 1861, Young Irelander Terence Bellew MacManus died in San Francisco. MacManus was born in County Fermanagh in 1811. He later moved to Liverpool, England, where he began a successful shipping agency. In 1843 he returned to Ireland and joined the Repeal Association and the Young Ireland party. During the Young Irelanders' brief uprising in 1848, MacManus joined Smith O'Brien and John Blake Dillon at Ballingarry, County Tipperary, where the only substantial armed action occurred. After the rising's suppression, MacManus was captured by the British and put on trial. Like most of the other Young Ireland leaders, he was sentenced to death, which was then commuted to transportation for life to Van Dieman's Land (Tasmania). He arrived there in autumn 1849, but in 1852 he managed to escape to the United States along with Thomas Francis Meagher. While Meagher settled on the east coast, MacManus settled in San Francisco and decided to try his luck at his former business, working as a shipping agent. But MacManus' fell into poverty when his business failed, and his health rapidly failed as well. It was after his death, however, that he performed his most valuable service to the cause of Irish freedom. On learning of his death, American Fenian leaders decided to return his body to Ireland for burial. This would foreshadow the treatment given to Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa at his famous funeral in 1915 -- Irish Republicans rallying around the grave of a fallen comrade. Crowds of Irish gathered in New York as Archbishop John Hughes, like MacManus born in Ulster, blessed MacManus' body. Thousands greeted his body in Cork also, and crowds gathered at rail stations all the way to Dublin. But the church, in the person of Archbishop Cullen, refused permission for his body to lie-in-state at any church in Dublin. Thus, for a week MacManus' body lay in the Mechanics' Institute, while thousands passed by paying their respects. But Father Patrick Lavelle, a Fenian supporter, defied Cullen and performed the funeral ceremony on November 10, 1861. A crowd estimated at 50,000 followed the casket to Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery, and hundreds of thousands lined the streets. The MacManus funeral was a seminal moment for the Fenian movement -- it invigorated the nationalist movement in Ireland, just as Rossa's would 54 years later.

Dr. Douglas Hyde, savior of the Irish language and first president of Ireland.

AOINE -- On January 17, 1860, Dr. Douglas Hyde, Gaelic scholar and first President of Ireland, was born at Castlerea, Co. Roscommon. Hyde was the son of a Protestant minister and was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He had a great facility for languages, learning Latin, Greek, Hebrew, French and German, but his great passion in life would be the preservation of the Irish language. After spending a year teaching modern languages in Canada, he returned to Ireland. For much of the rest of his life he would write and collect hundreds of stories, poems, and folktales in Irish, and translate others. His work in Irish helped to inspire many other literary lights, such as W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. In 1892 he delivered a paper to the National Literary Society, which he and Yeats founded earlier that year, titled 'The Necessity for de-Anglicizing the Irish people.' In 1893, Hyde founded the Gaelic League along with Eoin MacNeill and Fr. Eugene O'Growney; Hyde was its first president, holding the post until 1915. Under Hyde the League flourished, spreading across the island and revived not only the language, which was perilously close to disappearing, but also encouraged a rebirth of Irish dance and other aspects of Irish culture. With this rebirth of Gaelic pride came a rebirth in Irish nationalism. Hyde was also professor of Modern Irish at the National University from 1908 to 1932 and was the driving force behind the regulation making Irish a compulsory subject. Hyde did not want the Gaelic League to be a political entity, so when the surge of Irish nationalism that the Gaelic League helped to foster began to take control of many in the League and politicize it, Hyde resigned as president. Hyde took no active part in the armed upheaval of the 1910s and 1920s, but did serve as a Free State senator in 1925-26. In 1938 he was unanimously elected to the newly created position of President of Ireland, a post he held until 1945. Hyde died in Dublin on July 12, 1949. A common language is perhaps the most important bond any culture can possess, and more than any other person, Dr. Douglas Hyde was responsible for saving the language of the Irish people. And for that, all lovers of Irish culture must say, 'Ar dheis De go raibh sé.' (May he be at the right hand of God.)

VOICES

'The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.'
         -- Edmund Burke

'I think it no exaggeration to say that the funeral seems to me to be something in its kind unparalleled, or, at least, only to be compared with the second burial of the great Napoleon. But, in the last named pageant the power and resources of a great nation were called into action, while the MacManus funeral was the unaided effort of a populace trampled on or expatriated.'
        -- Fenian Thomas Clarke Luby describing the funeral of Terence Bellow MacManus (right), on November 10, 1861

'My work for 22 years was to restore to Ireland her intellectual independence. I would have completed it if I had been let. These people 'queered the pitch' on me, mixed the physical and the intellectual together, interpreted my teaching into terms of bullets and swords - before the time, and have reduced me to impotence.'
        -- Dr. Douglas Hyde, writing to a friend after resigning the presidency of the Gaelic League. 1915.

January - Eanáir

BIRTHS

12, 1729 - Edmund Burke (Political writer and orator - Arran Quay, Dublin)
12, 1792 - Robert Patterson (Union General - Co. Tyrone)
12, 1885 - Thomas Ashe, (Revolutionary - Lispole, Co. Kerry.)
13, 1702 - Count Thomas Lally (Soldier in the Irish Brigade of France - Romans...
13, 1931 - Mary Clarke (Maryknoll nun, martyr, of Irish parents, New York City)
15, 1835 - Patrick Guiney (Soldier, politician – Parkstown, Co. Tipperary.)
16, 1822 - Thomas Clarke Luby (Irish revolutionary – Dublin.)
17, 1927 - Thomas Dooley (Doctor, author - St. Louis, MO.)
17, 1860 - Douglas Hyde (First President of Ireland - Castlerea, Co. Roscommon)
17, 1927 - Thomas Dooley (Doctor, author – St. Louis, MO.)

SIGNIFICANT EVENTS

13, 1800 - Daniel O'Connell makes his first public speech, opposing union with England.
15, 1861 - Young Irelander Terence MacManus dies in San Francisco, CA.
15, 1896 - Civil War photographer Mathew Brady dies in New York.
16-17, 1871 - La Compagnie Irlandaise of the French "Regiment Etranger" fights with the French army at the Battle of Belfort in the Franco-Prussian War.
16, 1913 - Home Rule bill passes in Commons, defeated in House of Lords (Jan. 30)
16, 1922 - Dublin Castle is surrendered to the Provisional Government.
16, 1939 - IRA bombing campaign begins in England.
17, 1815 - Marie-Louise O'Morphi, famous courtesan, dies in Paris.
17, 1861 - Lola Montez (Marie Gilbert), dancer and courtesan, dies in New York.

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Tags: Asia, Douglas Hyde, Edmund Burke, Europe, Irish Brigade, Irish Freedom Struggle, On This Day, Smith O'Brien, Terence Bellew MacManus, Thomas Arthur Lally, More…Thomas Francis Meagher


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Comment by Kelly O'Rourke on January 12, 2014 at 4:07pm

I found this fascinating...

Two contrasting assessments of Burke were offered long after his death by Karl Marx and Winston Churchill Marx wrote:

The sycophant—who in the pay of the English oligarchy played the romantic laudator temporis acti against the French Revolution just as, in the pay of the North American colonies at the beginning of the American troubles, he had played the liberal against the English oligarchy—was an out-and-out vulgar bourgeois. "The laws of commerce are the laws of Nature, and therefore the laws of God." (E. Burke, l.c., pp. 31, 32) No wonder that, true to the laws of God and Nature, he always sold himself in the best market.

Winston Churchill, in "Consistency in Politics", wrote:

On the one hand [Burke] is revealed as a foremost apostle of Liberty, on the other as the redoubtable champion of Authority. But a charge of political inconsistency applied to this life appears a mean and petty thing. History easily discerns the reasons and forces which actuated him, and the immense changes in the problems he was facing which evoked from the same profound mind and sincere spirit these entirely contrary manifestations. His soul revolted against tyranny, whether it appeared in the aspect of a domineering Monarch and a corrupt Court and Parliamentary system, or whether, mouthing the watch-words of a non-existent liberty, it towered up against him in the dictation of a brutal mob and wicked sect. No one can read the Burke of Liberty and the Burke of Authority without feeling that here was the same man pursuing the same ends, seeking the same ideals of society and Government, and defending them from assaults, now from one extreme, now from the other.

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