Hales is born John Hales, eldest child of five sons and four daughters of Robert Hales, a farmer, and Margaret (née Fitzgerald) Hales. He is educated at Ballinadee national school and Warner’s Lane school, Bandon. After leaving school he goes to work on his father’s farm. He plays hurling with Valley Rovers GAA club and is the Munster champion in the 56-lb. weight-throwing competition. From an early age he follows in his father’s footsteps and becomes involved in the republican movement.
Hales joins the Irish Volunteers in 1915 and becomes captain of the Ballinadee company in 1916. Arrested under the Defence of the Realm Act after the 1916 Easter Rising, he is imprisoned in Frongoch internment camp in Wales. After his release, in April 1917 he becomes executive of the short-lived Liberty League promoted by Count George Plunkett. When the League merges with Sinn Féin, he helps reorganise the Volunteers. With his brothers, Tom, William, and Donal, he continues his father’s fight on behalf of evicted tenants and becomes involved with the anti-British Bandon People’s Food Committee and the anti-landlord Unpurchased Tenants’ Association. He helps in the Sinn Féin takeover of The Southern Star newspaper and is a member of the new board of directors. In 1919 he becomes battalion commander of the first (Bandon) battalion 3rd Cork Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, the name by which the Irish Volunteers increasingly became known. He leads the attack on TimoleagueRoyal Irish Constabulary (RIC) barracks in February 1920, and the ambush of an Essex Regiment patrol at Brinny in August 1920. The military patrol at Brinny manages to surprise the ambushers and Lieutenant Tim Fitzgerald of Bandon is the first Volunteer to be killed in action in west Cork. Hales then commands the assault on two truckloads of British troops at Newcestown Cross in which a British officer is killed and several soldiers are wounded.
Hales is appointed section commander of the west Cork flying column in 1920 and takes part in the major action at Crossbarry on March 19, 1921. In retaliation for the burning of the Hales home in March 1921, he leads a contingent of Volunteers and burns Castle Bernard, the residence of the Earl of Bandon. The occupant, Lord Bandon, is held hostage until General Strickland, the British OC in Cork, guarantees he will not execute Volunteers in Cork prison. The British authorities yield and there is an end to the policy of executing prisoners of war in the Cork area.
On December 7, 1922, Hales is killed by anti-Treaty IRA men as he leaves the Dáil. Another TD, Pádraic Ó Máille, is also shot and badly wounded in the incident. His killing is in reprisal for the Free State’s execution of anti-treaty prisoners. In revenge for Hales’ killing, four republican leaders, Joe McKelvey, Rory O’Connor, Liam Mellows and Richard Barrett, are executed the following day, December 8, 1922.
Hales is given a military funeral to the family burial place at St. Patrick’s cemetery, Bandon.
According to information passed on to playwrightUlick O’Connor, an anti-Treaty IRA volunteer named Owen Donnelly of Glasnevin is responsible for the killing of Hales. Seán Caffrey, an anti-treaty intelligence officer told O’Connor that Donnelly had not been ordered to kill Hales specifically but was following the general order issued by Liam Lynch to shoot all deputies and senators they could who had voted for the Public Safety Act (September 28, 1922) which established military courts with the power to impose the death penalty.
A commemorative statue of Hayes is unveiled at Bank Place in Bandon in 1930.
References to Stephens’s early life, according to one of his biographers, Desmond Ryan, are obscure and limited to Stephens’s own vague autobiographical recollections. He is born at Lilac Cottage, Blackmill Street, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, on January 26, 1825 and spends his childhood there. No birth records have ever been located, but a baptismal record from St. Mary’s Parish is dated July 29, 1825. There is reason to believe that he is born out of wedlock in late July 1825. However, according to Stephens, his exact date of birth is January 26. He is educated at St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny, for at least one quarter in 1838. He is later apprenticed to a civil engineer, and from 1844 onwards works for the Waterford–Limerick Railway Company.
When the Young Irelanders split from Daniel O’Connell‘s Repeal Association and found the Irish Confederation in January 1847, Stephens becomes involved in the activities of the Kilkenny Confederate clubs. After the government suspends habeas corpus and issues warrants of arrest against the Confederate leaders, William Smith O’Brien appears in Kilkenny on July 23, 1848, seeking support for a popular insurrection, and two days later Stephens joins him. For four days he follows O’Brien’s wanderings and takes part in all his encounters with government forces, including the affray at the home of Widow McCormack on July 29 when O’Brien’s followers besiege a party of policemen in a house near Ballingarry, County Tipperary. They are finally dispersed by gunfire and the arrival of reinforcements, thus ending O’Brien’s revolutionary efforts. Stephens reportedly receives two bullet wounds, but manages to hide and evade arrest.
Three days later, Stephens proceeds to Ballyneale, near Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, in search of John O’Mahony. He accompanies O’Mahony to meet Michael Doheny, and for six weeks Stephens and Doheny avoid arrest by roaming around the south of Ireland, an adventure that Doheny records in The Felon’s Track (1849). On September 12, Stephens is smuggled out of Ireland by the family of the Skibbereen attorney McCarthy Downing, and four days later manages to reach Paris. O’Mahony and Doheny join him shortly afterwards, although Doheny soon emigrates to the United States.
From their exile Stephens and O’Mahony watch the failure of the ’49 conspiracy of James Fintan Lalor and Philip Gray, and witness the barricades against Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état in 1851. Stephens later claims to have joined the French republican insurgents, but according to O’Mahony this is merely a frustrated intention. Equally without foundation is the rumour that Stephens and O’Mahony at this time join a republican secret society as a training ground for their future Irish enterprise.
Stephens remains in Paris from 1848 to 1855, supporting himself by teaching English. He attends Sorbonne University and has plans to obtain a professorship that never materialises. Towards the close of his exile, he is employed by the Le Moniteur Universel, for which he allegedly translates Charles Dickens‘s Martin Chuzzlewit. Late in 1855 he returns to Ireland and undertakes a series of tours throughout the island. He later magnifies the venture as “the 3,000 miles’ walk” and reformulates it as an attempt to measure the country’s nationalist temperature. However, his primary intention at the time is to collect information for a book he is planning to write. The following autumn he returns to Dublin, becomes tutor of French to the children of several well-to-do families including that of the Young Irelander John Blake Dillon, and joins the nationalist circle of Thomas Clarke Luby, Philip Gray, and other veterans of the ’49 conspiracy.
When Gray dies in January 1857, Stephens asks O’Mahony, then living in New York, to collect funds for a funeral monument. This evidence of nationalist activity, coupled with the prospect of “England’s difficulty” awakened by the recent Crimean War and the insurrection in India, give life to O’Mahony’s and Doheny’s Emmet Monument Association (EMA). That autumn the EMA sends an envoy to Ireland with a proposal for Stephens to prepare the country for the arrival of a military expedition. Stephens offers to organise 10,000 men in three months, provided he is given at least £80 a month and absolute authority over the enterprise. On March 17, 1858, Saint Patrick’s Day, he receives the first installment and his appointment as “chief executive” of the Irish movement. The same day he and his associates take an oath to make Ireland “an independent democratic republic.” The nameless secret society thereby inaugurated eventually becomes known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). It is organised in cells, each led by a “centre” with Stephens being known as the “head centre.”
The EMA’s failure to send a second installment prompts Stephens to travel to New York in October 1858. While in America he attempts, and fails, to engage the support of the Young Irelanders John Mitchel and Thomas Francis Meagher, but succeeds in establishing a solid partnership with Irish nationalists based in New York. Late in 1858 the surviving members of the EMA reorganise themselves into a modified replica of the IRB, and under John O’Mahony’s inspiration adopt the name of the Fenian Brotherhood (FB). Eventually the label “Fenian” comes to be applied to the members of both organisations. As part of the new arrangements, Stephens obtains a new appointment as head of the movement “at home and abroad.”
Despite Stephens’s success, his labours in America and the secrecy of his own activities in Ireland are almost spoiled in December by the arrest of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa and other members of the Phoenix National and Literary Society of Skibbereen, which had been incorporated into the IRB the previous May. On his return from America in March 1859 Stephens takes refuge in Paris and delegates management of the organisation to Luby. He only returns to Dublin in April 1861 when O’Mahony, then on a tour of inspection, suggests establishing an executive council to share Stephens’s power. Stephens succeeds in frustrating this plan, but from the time of O’Mahony’s visit the tension between the two leaders never subsides.
In the autumn of 1861 Stephens takes lodgings on Charlemont Street at the house of John and Rossanna Hopper, owners of a small tailoring establishment, and soon falls in love with their daughter Jane, almost twenty years his junior. The two are married on January 24, 1864, at the church of SS Michael and John, Exchange Street. The marriage produces no children.
The first success for Stephens’s IRB comes on November 10, 1861, when the IRB-dominated National Brotherhood of Saint Patrick stages the funeral for the Young Irelander Terence MacManus after an intense tug-of-war with both the Catholic church and constitutional nationalism. Stephens plays a central role in promoting IRB control of the funeral arrangements and although the event lacks the mythical nationalist significance claimed by Fenian apologists, it serves to boost Fenian self-assertion and hasten the divorce between middle-class nationalist elites and a new militant republican working class which has different interests at stake in an independent Ireland.
Despite the McManus funeral success, the IRB continues to endure financial difficulties throughout 1862. In 1863, Stephens resolves to address these difficulties and consolidate the movement’s position by founding a newspaper. The Irish People is first issued on November 28, 1863. He contributes leading articles to its first three numbers, but finally abandons his literary efforts in favour of Luby, John O’Leary, and Charles J. Kickham, thereafter the paper’s leading writers and guiding spirits.
In the meantime, the relationship between Stephens and O’Mahony continues to deteriorate. In November 1863 O’Mahony has turned the tables and persuaded the FB to acknowledge Stephens merely as “its representative in Europe.” In March 1864 Stephens again travels to the United States in order to stimulate the flow of funds towards the IRB and regain some hold on the FB. As part of his new policies he makes the sensational announcement that 1865, at latest, is to be the movement’s “year of action.” After the end of the American Civil War in April 1865, Fenian activity increases spectacularly, and demobilised soldiers travel to Ireland. However, on September 15, 1865, the government takes action, suppresses The Irish People, and arrests most of Stephens’s closest collaborators, including Luby, O’Leary and O’Donovan Rossa. Stephens himself is arrested on November 11 but, in a daring operation that proves a propaganda coup for the Fenians, is rescued from Richmond Bridewell penitentiary thirteen days later and eventually makes his way to America via Britain and France. By the time he arrives in the United States, the FB has split into two “wings,” the partisans of John O’Mahony and those of William R. Roberts, the president of the Fenian “senate,” who advocate shifting military efforts towards invading Canada. The split ends Stephens’s already slender chances of launching a successful rising before the end of December, and he calls a postponement.
On February 17, 1866, the government suspends habeas corpus in Ireland and arrests multiply. Stephens braves the members’ impatience, calls a new postponement, and in May travels to New York in order to try and solve the American crisis in the IRB’s favour. He accepts O’Mahony’s resignation, takes control of his wing, and starts an intensive campaign of propaganda and fund-raising. Again, he proclaims 1866 as the “year of action,” but by December the movement is weaker than ever, and he tries to call a new postponement. This time his lieutenants, led by Col. Thomas J. Kelly, lose patience, depose him from leadership and prepare to launch the insurrection themselves. The result is the ill-fated Fenian Rising of March 5-6, 1867.
After his deposition, Stephens spends most of his remaining years in France, in dire financial distress, but still hoping against hope to regain his position at the head of the movement. However, the IRB is now under the control of the anti-Stephens supreme council, and the FB is quickly losing its influence to the newly emerged Clan na Gael. His reputation, always tainted by his controversial personality and autocratic management, had been ruined forever by the 1866 events and his repeated failure to order the rising. With the exception of a small core of diehard partisans, the majority of his former associates and followers have grown resentful of his leadership and are vehemently opposed to his return.
Apart from occasional English tutoring and a ruinous venture as a wine merchant that takes him to the United States from 1871 to 1874, Stephens’s post-Fenian years are mainly spent in poverty while awaiting the next opportunity to resume leadership of the IRB. In 1880, after a last unsuccessful trip to the United States and a crushing defeat by John Devoy and Clan na Gael, he gives up hope, returns to Paris, and settles down to earn a living as an occasional newspaper contributor. In 1885 he is expelled from France under the unfounded suspicion of involvement in dynamiting activities with his cousins Joseph and Patrick Casey and the journalist Eugene Davis. He then takes up residence in Brussels but is able to return to Paris two years later. Finally, through Charles Stewart Parnell‘s intervention in 1891, he is allowed to return to Ireland. He moves into a cottage in Sutton, near Howth, and settles into retirement. After his wife’s death in 1895 he moves to the house of his in-laws in Blackrock, County Dublin, where he dies on March 29, 1901. Two days later he is given a solemn nationalist funeral and is interred in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Stephens’s controversial historical reputation never accords him a comfortable place in the post-independence nationalist pantheon. His egotism and defects as a leader overshadow the credit he is given as a founder and organiser. Yet his notorious personality is arguably the key to his success and ultimate historical significance. His obsessive self-confidence and single-mindedness turn the EMA’s half-matured proposal into a solid partnership that inaugurates an enduring pattern of American involvement in Irish nationalism. At the same time, by impressing the IRB with his own assertiveness he enables it to break the tacit monopoly of the middle classes on Irish political life. By the time of his downfall, Irish republicanism has acquired a definite shape and a marginal but stable position in the Irish political scene.
Stephens’s name has been incorporated into Kilkenny local heritage in institutions as diverse as a swimming pool, a military barracks, and a hurling team. In 1967 a plaque is unveiled at the site of his childhood home on Blackmill Street. The main collections of his documents are the James Stephens papers, MSS 10491–2, in the National Library of Ireland, and the Michael Davitt papers addenda, MS 9659d, in Trinity College Dublin.
(From: “Stephens, James” by Marta Ramón, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie, last revised March 2021)
John Arden, English playwright, dies on March 28, 2012, in Galway, County Galway. At the time of his death, he is lauded as “one of the most significant British playwrights of the late 1950s and early 60s.”
Arden’s 1978 radio play Pearl is considered in a Guardian survey to be one of the best plays in that medium. He also writes several novels, including Silence Among the Weapons, which is shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1982, and Books of Bale, about the Protestant apologist John Bale. He is a member of the Royal Society of Literature.
With his wife and co-writer Margaretta D’Arcy, Arden pickets the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) premiere of his Arthurian play The Island of the Mighty, because they believe the production to be pro-imperialist. They write several plays together which are highly critical of British presence in Ireland, where he and D’Arcy live from 1971 onward.
Alan Bell, policeman and resident magistrate, is tasked by British Intelligence to track down Michael Collins’s war chest. By March 26, 1920, he has successfully confiscated over £71,000 from Sinn Féin‘s headquarters and by investigating banks throughout the country and is set to seize much more. On that day he is pulled off a tram in South Dublin and shot three times in the head.
After almost twenty years’ police service, Bell becomes a resident magistrate on November 12, 1898, a civil service post under the Constabulary Act, 1836. His districts included Athenry, Claremorris, Armagh, Belfast, and Portadown. With many years’ experience in criminal intelligence, he is transferred to Dublin Castle early in the Irish War of Independence as a special investigator and intelligence gatherer. In December 1919 he questions suspects for the attempted Irish Republican Army (IRA) assassination of the viceroy, Lord French, and place suspect premises under surveillance. His vulnerability is made evident by the shooting in January 1920 of Dublin Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner William C. Redmond, one of his informants. He remains in Dublin to investigate the “republican loan” raised by Michael Collins and Sinn Féin, believed to be hidden in suspect bank accounts. Refusing protective accommodation in Dublin Castle where other officials have already retreated, he opts to live with his wife at a private suburban residence, 19 Belgrave Square, Monkstown, County Dublin. He summons bank managers to his office in early March 1920 and progresses sufficiently to force Collins into taking action.
Carrying a pocket revolver for protection, Bell travels to work daily by tram until the morning of March 26, 1920. At the busy junction of Simmonscourt Road, Sandymount Avenue, and Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, a group of men immobilise the crowded vehicle and surround their target, declaring, “Come on, Mr. Bell, your time has come.” Bundling him on to the street, they shoot him dead in public view and run from the scene. In spite of vivid eyewitness accounts in the press, no killer is identified. His death comes amid almost daily violence and barely a week after the shooting of the Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork, Tomás Mac Curtain, allegedly by police assassins. He acts fearlessly, perhaps expecting a violent death as the outcome of his mission.
Lynch’s father, who is a committed, non-violent Fenian, dies when she is young. Her mother, Anna Theresa Calderwood, is married twice. She grows up in a cultivated, literary, very female household with her mother and ten sisters and half-sisters. Her stepfather is James Cantwell, also a Fenian, who runs the Star and Garter Hotel. From her early childhood she is familiar with many leading political agitators and writers in Dublin. Having been educated at a convent school in France, she considers training as a doctor and later as a concert pianist. However, economic circumstances lead to her to work as a sub-editor for a provincial paper and as a governess in Europe.
A nationalist like her father and stepfather, Lynch is an executive member of the Ladies’ Land League and as a result closely associates with Fanny Parnell. She writes extensively, producing short stories and satirical sketches, as well as Land War fiction, travel writing, translations and literary criticism. Her satirical pieces include “A Dublin Literary Coterie Sketched by a Non-Pretentious Observer” (1888) and “My Friend Arcanieva” (1895). She publishes William O’Brien‘s paper United Ireland from France, after it is suppressed in Ireland. She disagrees with William Butler Yeats on the literary merit of Emily Lawless, calling her work “highly polished literary stories.”
Lynch also writes fiction on the subject of political and cultural affairs in Ireland, sometimes meeting controversy. Her first novel, Through Troubled Waters (1885), is a fictionalised version of a real-life incident in Galway in which the daughters of a prosperous landowning family are murdered to make way for the sons to inherit the land. The novel also depicts the rural clergy as complicit, by denouncing the victims from the pulpit. The newspaper United Ireland strongly criticises the novel, claiming it peddles in anti-Irish stereotypes for a British audience. She responds by stating that she had intended the book for an Irish publisher and audience, and that she should not be asked “to prove my patriotism at the expense of truth.”
Lynch publishes across Ireland, the United Kingdom and from Paris. Her political work eventually leads to a breakdown in her health, after which she spends a period recuperating on the Isle of Wight. By 1896, she has settled in Paris, having also lived in both Spain and Greece. She speaks Greek and French. She then returns to lecture in Ireland and is a part of the salons of Paris in the Belle Époque as well as the Irish Literary Revival in Dublin. She is friends with the historian, biographer and literary critic Arvède Barine (pseudonym of Louise-Cécile Vincens), the writers Mabel and Mary Robinson, and the medievalist Gaston Paris. Her work however does not bring significant income and she is forced to apply to the Royal Literary Fund for help on multiple occasions. Eventually it takes a toll on her health. She spends time in hospital in Margate in England in 1903.
Lynch dies at 60 Rue de Breteuil in Paris on January 9, 1904, where she spends much of her working life.
Stelfox attends Rosetta Primary school, then continues his education at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. In 1976 he begins to study architecture at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB). His first job is with the conservation architects, Consarc Design Group, which after a brief period of self-employment he rejoins in 1995. He becomes Chairman in 2002.
In 1993 Stelfox leads the Irish Everest expedition which contains climbers from both jurisdictions on the island and is supported by both Sports Council as well as private companies. When he reaches the peak of Everest via the North Ridge on May 27, 1993, he becomes the first person from Ireland to do so.
Stelfox is past Chair and current board member of Mountaineering Ireland. He also is the current Chair of Outdoor Recreation Northern Ireland, a Belfast not-for-profit organisation who make it easier for people to responsibly enjoy the outdoors.
Synge attends St. Andrew’s College, Dublin and in 1915 enters Trinity College Dublin (TCD). He is elected a Foundation Scholar his first year, which is unusual as it is normally won by more advanced students. While an undergraduate at TCD, he spots a non-trivial error in Analytical Dynamics of Particles and Rigid Bodies, a textbook by E. T. Whittaker, who had recently taught there, and notifies Whittaker of the error. In 1919 he is awarded a BA in Mathematics and Experimental Physics, and also a gold medal for outstanding merit. In 1922 he is awarded an MA, and in 1926 a Sc.D., the latter upon submission of his published papers up to then.
In 1918, Synge marries Elizabeth Eleanor Mabel Allen. She is also a student at TCD, first of mathematics, then of history, but family finances forced her to leave without graduating. Their daughters Margaret (Pegeen), Cathleen and Isabel are born in 1921, 1923 and 1930 respectively. The middle girl grows up to become the distinguished Canadian mathematician Cathleen Synge Morawetz.
Synge is appointed to the position of lecturer at Trinity College, and then accepts a position at the University of Toronto in 1920, where he is an assistant professor of mathematics until 1925. There he attends lectures by Ludwik Silberstein on the theory of relativity, stimulating him to contribute “A system of space-time co-ordinates,” a letter in Nature in 1921.
Synge is one of the first physicists to seriously study the interior of a black hole, and his early work is cited by both Martin David Kruskal and George Szekeres in their independent discoveries of the true structure of the Schwarzschild black hole. Synge’s later derivation of the Szekeres-Kruskal metric solution, which is motivated by a desire to avoid “using ‘bad’ coordinates to obtain ‘good’ coordinates,” has been generally under-appreciated in the literature, but is adopted by Chandrasekhar in his black hole monograph.
In pure mathematics, Synge is perhaps best known for Synge’s theorem, which concerns the topology of closed orientable Riemannian manifold of positive sectional curvature. When such a space is even-dimensional and orientable, the theorem says it must be simply connected. In odd dimensions, it instead says that such a space is necessarily orientable.
Synge also creates the game of Vish in which players compete to find circularity (vicious circles) in dictionary definitions.
Synge retires in 1972. He receives many honours for his works. He is elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1943. He is elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 1943 is the first recipient of the society’s Henry Marshall Tory Medal, as one of the first mathematicians working in Canada to be internationally recognised for his research in mathematics. In 1954 he is elected an honorary fellow of Trinity College Dublin. He is president of the Royal Irish Academy from 1961 until 1964. The Royal Society of Canada establishes the John L. Synge Award in his honour in 1986.
Synge dies on March 30, 1995, in Dublin, exactly one week after his ninety-eighth birthday.
Maud Gonne conceives a child, Georges, with her French Boulangist lover Lucien Millevoye. When the baby dies, possibly by meningitis, she is distraught, and buries him in a large memorial chapel built for him with money she had inherited. She separates from Millevoye after Georges’ death, but in late 1893, she arranges to meet him at the mausoleum in Samois-sur-Seine and, next to the coffin, they have sex. Her purpose is to conceive a baby with the same father, to whom the soul of Georges would transmigrate in metempsychosis. Iseult is born in France as a result on August 6, 1894. She is educated at a Carmelite convent in Laval, France. When she returns to Ireland she is referred to as Maud’s niece or cousin rather than her daughter.
In 1903, Maud Gonne marries John MacBride. Iseult’s half-brother Seán MacBride is born in 1904. The couple separates in 1905. With Gonne fearing that Seán’s father will seize him from her, her family mostly lives in France until John MacBride’s death in the 1916 Easter Rising. In a separation settlement, MacBride is granted a month’s summer custody, however, he returns to Ireland and never sees his child again. Iseult’s relationship with her stepfather is tainted by an allegation by William Butler Yeats, who writes to Lady Gregory in January 1905, the month MacBride and Maud separate, that he had been told MacBride had molested Iseult, who at that time was ten years old. However, many critics have suggested that Yeats may have fabricated the event due to his hatred of MacBride over Maud’s rejection of him in favour of MacBride. The divorce papers submitted by Gonne make no mention of any such incident – the only charge against MacBride that is substantiated in court is that he was drunk on one occasion during the marriage and Iseult’s own writings make no mention of the allegation.
In 1913, Iseult meets Rabindranath Tagore. Inspired by his poetry, she begins to learn Bengali in 1914, tutored by Devabrata Mukerjea. Together, in France, they translate some of Tagore’s The Gardener into French directly from the Bengali. Tagore leaves it to Yeats’ discretion to decide the merit of the work, but Yeats does not feel sufficiently fluent in French to judge them. The translations are never published. Iseult is widely considered a great beauty, and temperate, able to speak her mind. She attracts the admiration of literary figures including Ezra Pound, Lennox Robinson and Liam O’Flaherty. Her most infamous association is with Yeats, who had long been in love with her mother. In 1916, in his fifties, Yeats proposes to the 22-year-old Iseult who refuses his advances. He had known her since she was four and often referred to her as his darling child. Many Dubliners suspected that Yeats is her father.
In 1920, Iseult elopes to London with 17-year-old Irish Australian Francis Stuart, who becomes a writer, and the couple later marries. Their first child, Dolores, dies in 1921 of spinal meningitis at three months old. The couple has two other children, Ian and Catherine.
Maud Gonne dies on April 27, 1953, and does not acknowledge Iseult in her will, possibly due to pressure from Séan who does not want to reveal Maud’s relation to Millevoye. Iseult dies at the age of 59 from heart disease less than a year later, on March 22, 1954. She is buried in Glendalough, County Wicklow.
Ó Dálaigh, one of four children, is born on February 12, 1911, in Bray, County Wicklow. His father, Richard O’Daly, is a fishmonger with little interest in politics. His mother is Una Thornton. His birth name is registered in English as Carroll O’Daly, which he uses during his legal career, and which is recorded by some publications.
Ó Dálaigh is a committed Fianna Fáil supporter who serves on the party’s National Executive in the 1930s. He becomes Ireland’s youngest Attorney General in 1946, under TaoiseachÉamon de Valera, serving until 1948. Unsuccessful in Dáil and Seanad elections in 1948 and 1951, he is re-appointed as Attorney General of Ireland in 1951. In 1953, he is nominated as the youngest-ever member of the Supreme Court by his mentor, de Valera. Less than a decade later, he becomes Chief Justice of Ireland, on the nomination of Taoiseach Seán Lemass. He is a keen actor in his early years, and becomes a close friend of actor Cyril Cusack. It is commonly stated that Ó Dálaigh and Cusack picketed the Dublin launch of Disney‘s Darby O’Gill and the Little People in 1959, for what they felt was the film’s stereotyping of Irish people. However, there is no known contemporary reference to this having occurred.
In 1972, Taoiseach Jack Lynch suggests to the opposition parties that they agree to nominate Ó Dálaigh to become President of Ireland when President de Valera’s second term ends in June of the following year. Fine Gael, confident that its prospective candidate, Tom O’Higgins, will win the 1973 presidential election, having almost defeated de Valera in 1966, turn down the offer. Fianna Fáil’s Erskine H. Childers goes on to win the election that follows.
When Ireland joins the European Economic Community (EEC), Lynch appoints Ó Dálaigh as Ireland’s judge on the European Court of Justice. When President Childers dies suddenly in 1974, all parties agree to nominate Ó Dálaigh to replace him.
Ó Dálaigh’s decision in 1976 to exercise his power to refer a bill to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality brings him into conflict with the Fine Gael-Labour National Coalition. Following the assassination of the British Ambassador to Ireland, Christopher Ewart-Biggs, by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), on July 23, 1976, the government announces its intention to introduce legislation extending the maximum period of detention without charge from two to seven days.
Ó Dálaigh refers the resulting bill, the Emergency Powers Bill, to the Supreme Court. When the court rules that the bill is constitutional, he signs the bill into law on October 16, 1976. On the same day, an IRA bomb in Mountmellick, County Laois, kills Michael Clerkin, a member of the Garda Síochána, the country’s police force. Ó Dálaigh’s actions are seen by government ministers to have contributed to the killing of this Garda. On the following day, Minister for DefencePaddy Donegan, visiting a barracks in Mullingar, County Westmeath, to open a canteen, attacks the President for sending the bill to the Supreme Court, calling him a “thundering disgrace.”
Ó Dálaigh’s private papers show that he considered the relationship between the President (as Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces) and the Minister for Defence had been “irrevocably broken” by the comments of the Minister in front of the army Chief of Staff and other high-ranking officers. Donegan offers his resignation, but Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave refuses to accept it. This proves the last straw for Ó Dálaigh, who believes that Cosgrave had additionally failed to meet his constitutional obligation to regularly brief the President. He resigns from the presidency on October 22, 1976, “to protect the dignity and independence of the presidency as an institution.” He is succeeded as President of Ireland by Patrick Hillery.
Ó Dálaigh dies of a heart attack on March 21, 1978, less than two years after resigning the presidency. He is buried in Sneem, County Kerry.
Keeping command of a small band, Byrne seizes Goresbridge on June 23 but has to deplore the murder of several prisoners and other atrocities committed by his men in revenge for the torture and executions that had been visited upon the peasantry by the yeomanry and government militia. After further skirmishes he joins Joseph Holt and Michael Dwyer in taking to the Wicklow Mountains to continue a guerrilla resistance.
After Holt accepts transportation to Australia in November, Byrne, assisted by his sister, escapes to Dublin. He recalls of his sister, “If I had not remarked a long scar on her neck, she would not have mentioned anything herself. A yeoman … threatened to cut her throat with his sabre if she did not tell instantly the place in which I was hiding. The cowardly villain, no doubt, would have put his threat in execution had not some of his comrades interfered to prevent him.”
In the winter of 1802-03, Byrne enters into the plans of Robert Emmet and Anne Devlin for a renewed uprising. In his Memoirs he describes a meeting he arranged between Robert Emmet and the Wexford rebel leader Thomas Cloney at Harold’s Cross Green, Dublin, just prior to Emmet’s Rebellion, “I can never forget the impression this meeting made on me at the time – to see two heroic patriots, equally devoted to poor Ireland, discussing the best means of obtaining her freedom.”
In July 1803, the plans unravel when Anne Devlin’s cousin, Michael Dwyer, still holding out in Wicklow, recognises that there are neither the promised arms nor convincing proof of an intended French landing. In the north Thomas Russell and James Hope find no enthusiasm for a renewal of the struggle in what in 1798 are the strongest United Irish and Catholic Defender districts.
In Dublin, with their preparations revealed by an accidental explosion of a rebel arms depot, Emmet proceeds with a plan to seize the centres of government. The rising, for which for Byrne turns out with Emmet and Malachy Delaney in gold-trimmed green uniforms, is broken up after a brief confrontation in Thomas Street.
Two days after the fight in Thomas Street, Byrne meets with the fugitive Emmet and agrees to go to Paris to procure French assistance. But in Paris he finds Napoleon‘s attentions focused elsewhere. The First Consul uses a cessation of hostilities with Britain to pursue a very different venture, the re-enslavement of Haiti.
Byrne is commissioned as a captain in Napoleon’s Irish Legion. But at a time when he is convinced that “all Catholic Ireland” is “ready to rise the moment a rallying point was offered,” the Irish exiles cannot deflect the First Consul from other priorities. Rather than in Ireland, with his diminishing Irish contingent, he is to see action in the Low Countries, Germany and Spain.
In the 1840s, Byrne is Paris correspondent for The Nation in Dublin, the Young Irelander newspaper that does much to rehabilitate the memory of the United Irishmen.
In his last years Byrne writes his Memoirs, which are an account of his participation in the Irish Rebellion and his time in the Irish Legion of Napoleon. These are first published in three volumes in 1863, but there have been many subsequent reprints. Against the portrayal of 1798 as a series of disjointed, unconnected risings, his memoirs present the United Irishmen as a cohesive revolutionary organisation whose aim of a democratic, secular, republic had captured the allegiance of a great mass of the Irish people.
(Pictured: Miles Byrne (1780-1862), United Irishman. Photograph taken by an unknown photographer in Paris in February 1859. The photograph now resides in Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the President of Ireland, in Dublin.)