seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


Leave a comment

Birth of James Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont

james-caulfeildJames Caulfeild, 1st Earl of Charlemont, Irish statesman, soldier and nationalist, is born in Dublin on August 18, 1728.

Caulfeild, the son of the 3rd Viscount Charlemont, succeeds his father as 4th Viscount in 1734. The title of Charlemont descends from Sir Toby Caulfeild, 1st Baron Caulfeild (1565–1627) of Oxfordshire, England, who is given lands in Ireland, and creates Baron Charlemont (the name of a fort on the Blackwater), for his services to King James I in 1620. The 1st Viscount is the 5th Baron (d. 1671), who is advanced by Charles II.

Lord Charlemont is well known for his love of Classical art and culture and spends nine years on the Grand Tour in Italy, Greece, Turkey and Egypt. He returns to Dublin and employs the Scottish architect Sir William Chambers to remodel his main residence Marino House, to design his town house Charlemont House and the unique Neoclassical garden pavilion building, the Casino at Marino.

Lord Charlemont is historically interesting for his political connection with Henry Flood and Henry Grattan. He is a cultivated man with literary and artistic tastes, and both in Dublin and in London he has considerable social influence. He is the first President of the Royal Irish Academy and is a member of the Royal Dublin Society. He is appointed Custos Rotulorum of County Armagh for life in 1760. For various early services in Ireland he is made an earl in 1763, but he disregards court favours and cordially joins Grattan in 1780 in the assertion of Irish independence. In 1783 he is made a founding Knight of the Order of St. Patrick.

Lord Charlemont is president of the volunteer convention in Dublin in November 1783, having taken a leading part in the formation of the Irish Volunteers, and he is a strong opponent of the proposals for the Acts of Union 1800. His eldest son, who succeeds him, is subsequently created an English Baron in 1837.

Lord Charlemont dies on August 4, 1799.

(Pictured: Charlemont as painted by Pompeo Batoni, c. 1753-56)


Leave a comment

Birth of British General & Explorer Francis Rawdon Chesney

francis-rawdon-chesneyFrancis Rawdon Chesney, British general and explorer, is born in Annalong, County Down, on March 16, 1789.

Chesney is a son of Captain Alexander Chesney, an Irishman of Scottish descent who, having emigrated to South Carolina in 1772, serves under Lord Francis Rawdon-Hastings (afterwards Marquess of Hastings) in the American War of Independence, and subsequently receives an appointment as coast officer at Annalong, County Down, where Chesney is born.

Lord Rawdon gives Chesney a cadetship at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, and he is gazetted to the Royal Artillery in 1805. Although he rises to be lieutenant-general and colonel-commandant of the 14th brigade Royal Artillery (1864), and general in 1868, Chesney’s memory lives not for his military record, but for his connection with the Suez Canal, and with the exploration of the Euphrates valley, which starts with his being sent out to Constantinople in the course of his military duties in 1829, and his making a tour of inspection in Egypt and Syria. In 1830, after taking command of 7th Company, 4th Battalion Royal Artillery in Malta, he submits a report on the feasibility of making a Suez Canal. This is the original basis of Ferdinand de Lesseps’ great undertaking. In 1831 he introduces to the home government the idea of opening a new overland route to India, by a daring and adventurous journey along the Euphrates valley from Anah to the Persian Gulf. Returning home, Acting Lt. Colonel Chesney busies himself to get support for the latter project, to which the East India Company’s board is favourable. In 1835 he is sent out in command of a small expedition, on which he takes a number of soldiers from 7th Company RA and for which Parliament votes £20,000, in order to test the navigability of the Euphrates.

After encountering immense difficulties, from the opposition of the Egyptian pasha, and from the need of transporting two steamers, one of which is subsequently lost, in sections from the Mediterranean Sea over the hilly country to the river, they successfully arrive by water at Bushire in the summer of 1836, and prove Chesney’s view to be a practical one. In the middle of 1837, Chesney returns to England, and is given the Royal Geographical Society’s gold medal, having meanwhile been to India to consult the authorities there. The preparation of his two volumes on the expedition, published in 1850, is interrupted by his being ordered out in 1843 to command the artillery at Hong Kong.

In 1847, his period of service is completed, and he goes home to Ireland, to a life of retirement. However, in 1856 and again in 1862 he goes out to the East to take a part in further surveys and negotiations for the Euphrates valley railway scheme, which, however, the government does not take up, in spite of a favourable report from the House of Commons committee in 1871. In 1868 Chesney publishes a further volume of narrative on his Euphrates expedition.

In 1869, Lesseps greets him in Paris as the “father “ of the canal. Francis Rawdon Chesney dies at the age of 82 in Mourne, County Down, on January 30, 1872.


Leave a comment

Dáil Éireann Declares War with Great Britain

first-dailThe President of the Dáil Éireann, Éamon de Valera, secures on March 11th, 1921, the chamber’s support for a formal declaration of war with Great Britain.

In January 1921, at his first Dáil meeting after his return to a country gripped by the War of Independence, de Valera introduces a motion calling on the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to desist from ambushes and other tactics that are allowing the British to successfully portray it as a terrorist group, and to take on the British forces with conventional military methods. This they strongly oppose, and de Valera relents, issuing a statement expressing support for the IRA, and claims it is fully under the control of the Dáil. He then, along with Cathal Brugha and Austin Stack, bring pressure to bear on Michael Collins to undertake a journey to the United States himself, on the pretext that only he can take up where de Valera had left off. Collins successfully resists this move and stays in Ireland.

The British government’s proposal of a Truce and negotiations over Ireland’s future is a result of both domestic and international factors. The British have been unable to defeat the Irish struggle for independence and there is a danger that the longer it continues the more radicalised it is becoming. In March 1921 Southern Unionist leader Lord Midleton also points to the strengthening of the independence movement, telling David Lloyd George and Hamar Greenwood that the resistance is now three times stronger than in July 1920. The following month Greenwood himself is talking of pacification taking years rather than months. British government policy in Ireland is also creating problems for it both internationally (especially in the United States) and in Britain itself. At the same time Britain is facing growing independence struggles in Egypt and India. It also faces an increasingly difficult financial situation. British foreign trade suffers a substantial collapse in 1921 as its exports fall by 48 percent over a twelve month period, its imports drop by 44 percent, and unemployment rapidly increases. The Economist describes 1921 as one of the worst years of depression since the industrial revolution began.

There is a substantial debate in the British Cabinet about whether or not to proceed along these lines. An example of this is the May 12, 1921 Cabinet meeting. Greenwood appears to have revised his view about how long pacification will take. He is opposed to the Truce proposal at this stage, feeling that the republicans are being worn down. Health Minister Christopher Addison disagrees and favours a truce. Winston Churchill, who has been in favour of the substantial escalation of coercion, now supports a truce partly because things are getting “very unpleasant as regards the interests of this country all over the world; we are getting an odious reputation; poisoning our relations with the United States.” Herbert Fisher, who is a historian and head of the Board of Education as well as a politician, also worries, “the present situation is degrading to the moral life of the whole country; a truce would mean a clear moral and political gain” and that if the IRA accepts the truce it will be hard for them to start up again, it will also “create a big rift in Sinn Féin ranks, the moderate Sinn Féin would have to come out into the open.” This meeting rejects the idea of a truce. In June, however, a memorandum from Nevil Macready states that beating the republicans will require coercion being carried out to the maximum and if this is done the cabinet will have to stand by 100 executions a week. Such a policy is a political impossibility. In this situation, Lloyd George proposes an Anglo-Irish conference and negotiations.


Leave a comment

The Death of Bobby Clancy of The Clancy Brothers

bobby-clancyRobert Joseph “Bobby” Clancy, Jr., singer and musician best known as a member of The Clancy Brothers, one of the most successful and influential Irish folk groups, dies on September 6, 2002, in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. He plays the five-string banjo, guitar, bodhrán, and harmonica.

Bobby Clancy is born on May 11, 1927, in Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary. Clancy leaves home in the late 1940s to join the Royal Air Force (RAF) where he travels all over Europe, including Greece and Egypt where he learns many folk songs. He later joins his older brothers Paddy Clancy and Tom Clancy in New York City, where they work as actors. The trio sometimes sing, informally beginning the group later known as The Clancy Brothers.

In 1955, Bobby returns to Ireland to settle down and run his father’s insurance business. His youngest brother Liam Clancy takes his place in America and officially forms The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem with Paddy, Tom Clancy, and friend Tommy Makem. Bobby forges his own solo career, as well as performing the other half of two duos with sister Peg Clancy and an American folk singer named Sharon Collen. As a solo artist, Bobby brings his show to the small screen with his own TV series, When Bobby Clancy Sings, on Irish television.

When Tommy Makem leaves in 1969, Bobby takes his place and becomes a member of The Clancy Brothers. The four brothers, Paddy, Tom, Bobby, and Liam release three studio albums, Clancy Brothers Christmas, Flowers in the Valley, and Welcome to Our House.

Bobby’s initial tenure with The Clancy Brothers was short-lived. Bobby resumes his solo work, releasing a solo album Good Times When Bobby Clancy Sings and appearing live on a compilation album from a 1974 German Folk Festival, both in 1974.

In 1976, The Clancy Brothers disband for a few months. Liam Clancy and Louis Killen leave the group and remaining brothers Paddy and Tom decide to go on a hiatus. In 1977, plans are set into motion to regroup and Paddy and Tom ask Bobby to join. The three brothers recruit their nephew, singer-songwriter Robbie O’Connell.

The quartet tours part-time, performing three-month-long tours each year in March, August, and November only in the United States. They release two live albums, one in 1982 and the other in 1988. During the remaining part of the year, Bobby continues running the insurance business in Carrick-on-Suir and continues his solo career in Ireland.

Youngest brother Liam Clancy rejoins Bobby, Paddy, and Robbie in 1990 when brother Tom is diagnosed with stomach cancer and dies in November 1990. The Clancy Brothers now perform more frequently than they had in the 1970s and 1980s, appearing on numerous TV shows in America and Ireland. The quartet releases the group’s first studio album in over 20 years, Older But No Wiser, in late 1995, an title coined by Bobby’s wife Moira. Soon after the album’s release, Liam Clancy and Robbie O’Connell leave the group. Bobby and Paddy continue performing with Bobby’s son Finbarr Clancy and friend Eddie Dillon from Boston. This new line-up tours until November 1998 when Paddy dies from lung cancer. Now as a trio, the Clancys and Eddie Dillon record two live albums and Bobby Clancy releases an additional two solo albums.

In 1999 Bobby is diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis and by 2000 he is unable to perform on his feet and the trio performs while sitting down. By March 2002, Bobby is unable to perform and has to quit a scheduled tour. On September 6, 2002, Bobby Clancy dies at the age of 75. At the time of his death he is back home in Ireland, long since living at the home of his parents on William Street in Carrick-on-Suir, the home where he was born.