Henry Phelan

On October 28th in 1922, a shot rang out through the small village of Mullinahone, in County Tipperary. That shot, and the resulting death it caused, is widely considered to be the first assassination of Ireland’s bitter Civil War – but even now, very little is known about the killing, the victim, or the perpetrators.
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The Hunger

Last week I wrote a little about Brendan Hughes, and coincidentally, today is the commemoration of the start of his hunger strike. Their troscad – which is the Celtic name for a fast that was employed to draw attention to insult or to fight injustice – began 35 years ago today.

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It’s my birthday!

My blogs have had a birthday! I almost missed the notification – but I turn two today…or one of them does. It is hard to believe, considering I didn’t even know I had two years of material in me. This one isn’t quite two yet, but since it is more regular, I’m celebrating it anyway. Earlier this year,  I posted my ten favorite Irish posts from my first year of writing. Now I’m publishing a book, looking forward to spending a month in Ireland come March, and already forging ahead. I hope you’ll all join me on these adventures.

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The Dark One

On this day in 1948, Brendan “The Dark” Hughes was born. He came from a long line of Republican fighters, and as he grew up, he knew that his own entry into the IRA was inevitable. He was right and he was an effective soldier. Later in life he often talked about peace, reconciliation, tearing down the peace walls, and improving relations in the North of Ireland – but he knew he was being idealistic. That peaceful existence may have been what he ultimately wanted, but his life was filled with violence, prison, hunger, and retribution.

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Louise Gavan Duffy

Not too many women would have the nerve to wander through a war zone, and precious few have the nerve to join right in and  fight. Almost none would march right up to one of the leaders so she could tell him to his face that the whole thing was a bad idea. But Louise Gavan Duffy did exactly that on the day the Easter Rising began in Ireland, and she had no qualms about it.

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Gerry Adams

He’s been called a murderer, a terrorist, and an evil ringleader. He’s been banned from travel and speech, and he’s been flown around the world to give speeches. He’s been reviled and celebrated, and has been protected by many even as he is threatened by his own people, in addition to the threats from his enemies. He’s divisive and unifying, a liar and a speaker of truth, a politician and a probable paramilitary leader, although he denies that second part. He’s been labeled as Machiavellian and diabolical, or a man of peace and kindness, depending on who you ask. He’s been a prisoner and now rules as a politician – one who some have compared to Nelson Mandela. Many thought he should have shared the glory of Hume’s Nobel Peace Prize, even as others accuse him (then and now) of atrocities and war crimes. Gerry Adams has been many things to many people and it’s hard to know whose impressions are right, but one thing is apparent to everyone. He is not going away.

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Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

If ever there was a man who stuck to his principles from birth to death, no matter what the cost, it was Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. He was born and raised as a hard-line Republican and he died a hard-line Republican as well, a little over eighty years later.

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