On this day in 1928, a great Irish warrior passed away. John Devoy lived a long life that was devoted to Irish freedom. For him, despite the many years he was in exile, Ireland was always home and its freedom was the only cause worth fighting for.
Kathleen O’Brennan is one of three revolutionary sisters whose lives were totally changed by the Easter Rising of 1916. Her sister Lily was heavily involved in the Rising and the cause of Irish freedom and her other sister Aine, became an Easter Rising widow when her husband was executed for his role in the revolt. Kathleen wasn’t in Ireland at the time of the Rising – but this didn’t stop her. She fought for Ireland from the United States earning a difficult reputation and a spot in the history books of her own.
On this day in 1958, Ireland lost a powerful (albeit slanted) voice. Dorothy Macardle was best known for her book “The Irish Republic” which was commissioned by her idol and friend Eamon De Valera. Her blind faith in his political party and leadership is apparent throughout her history book but so are the echoes of a rebel suffragist and her whispers of dissatisfaction when it came to women’s rights. Dorothy Macardle may have been a vocal member of Dev’s faithful flock, but that’s not to say she was entirely happy with all of his policies.
Love him or hate him, Eamon De Valera was perhaps the most influential man in Irish History, despite the fact that he was born in the United States. He helped create the political machine of modern Ireland and his influence is still being felt (and untangled) today, forty-one years after his death.
On December 29, 1937, a new Ireland emerged, under a new Constitution. Eamon De Valera drafted a new Constitution that came into its own on this day seventy-eight years ago and the island was known thereafter as Eire or Ireland, as it remains to this day.
Sinéad Ní Fhlannagáin, also known as Jane or Jennie Flannigan, and finally as Sinéad De Valera, was born in Ballbriggan on this day in 1878…I think. There are some conflicting accounts of her actual birth date – but it’s absolutely safe to say that somewhere between June 1st and June 3rd, she was born. While she grew, she developed a keen love of the Irish language – so much so that as a young adult, she joined the Gaelic League and began to teach classes. She also joined Inghinidhe na hÉireann (Daughters of Ireland) but aside from membership in those organizations and a fondness for Irish, Sinéad was not overly political herself. This is probably a good thing in the long run, since she married one of the most politically charged men that Ireland has ever known just a few years later.
Thomas Ashe was a teacher, a piper, an Irish language enthusiast, a soldier, a devout man of faith and one of the pioneers of the modern Republican Hunger Strike. His life began on this day in 1885.
Few political and military leaders span the spectrum like Michael Collins did. He was a brilliant strategist, and went from an IRA guerrilla leader who could pretty much do anything to a reluctant politician and a commander in the National Army.
Mick was used as a pawn and a scapegoat by Eamon De Valera in the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations that resulted in the partition of Ireland in 1921. He wanted no part in the political process but was sent anyway despite his fervent objections. He knew this agreement would bring chaos and anger to the Isle and was personally against it. Still, his name was signed and when another signatory mentioned that by signing it, he may have ended his own political career, Collins replied with “I may have signed my actual death warrant.” He was right. Continue reading
Constance Markievicz may have wanted to die like her compatriots for her role in the Easter Rising but the English wouldn’t execute a woman. In the end, they may have wished they had, for the Countess had another 11 years to continue being a thorn in their side. She went straight into an even more political role, creating a world where women were more equal to the men, remaining staunchly Republican and inspiring thousands of people, including myself, throughout the years since. She is one of my favorite heroes.