seamus dubhghaill

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


1 Comment

Birth of Patrick Ford, Irish American Journalist & Land Reformer

Patrick Ford, Irish American journalist, Georgist land reformer and fund-raiser for Irish causes, is born in Galway, County Galway, on April 12, 1837.

Ford is the son of Edward Ford (1805-1880) and Anne Ford (1815-1893). He emigrates with his parents to Boston, Massachusetts, in 1845, never returning to Ireland. Although he devotes his life to Irish causes, he writes in The Irish World in 1886 that “I might as well have been born in Boston. I know nothing of England. I brought nothing with me from Ireland—nothing tangible to make me what I am. I had consciously at least, only what I found and grew up with in here.”

Ford is educated in Boston’s public schools and the Latin school of the parish of St. Mary in the North End. He leaves school at the age of thirteen and two years later is working as a printer’s devil for William Lloyd Garrison‘s abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. He begins writing for Boston newspapers in 1855 and by 1861 is editor and publisher of the Boston Tribune, also known as the Boston Sunday Tribune or Boston Sunday Times. He is an abolitionist and pro-union.

During the American Civil War, Ford serves in the Union Army with his father and brother. He serves in the 9th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment and sees action in the Northern Virginia campaign, including the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862.

After the Civil War, Ford spends four years in Charleston, South Carolina, editing the South Carolina Leader which promotes the welfare of newly freed slaves. He later edits the Irish American Charleston Gazette. He settles in New York City in 1870 and founds the populist The Irish World, which promotes Irish and Catholic interests and becomes the principal newspaper of Irish America. It promises “more reading material than any other paper in America” and outsells John Boyle O’Reilly‘s Boston Pilot. In 1878, he re-titles his newspaper The Irish World and American Industrial Liberator. During the early 1880s, he promotes the writings of land reformer Henry George in his paper.

The American economic depression of 1873 convinces Ford that the Irish rural poor and the American urban poor share the same plight. He believes that the Homestead Act of 1862 is exploited by big business, especially the railroads, and by speculators who leave the poor without access to the western land meant for settlement. He calls for land reform with the belief that land monopoly is the cause of poverty and that a single tax based on land valuation is the solution. In the mid–1870s he leaves the Democratic Party. Critical of Tammany corruption and attracted to the fiscal policies of the Greenback Party, he is a member of the party’s New York State central committee as early as 1876, and backs the Greenback presidential candidates Peter Cooper and James B. Weaver in 1876 and 1880. Even the Greenbacks fail to offer the land reforms envisaged by Ford, so he forms the short-lived National Cooperative Democracy Party in 1879.

In 1880, Ford begins to solicit donations through The Irish World to support Land League activities in Ireland. Funds received are tabulated weekly under the heading “Land League Fund.” Between January and September 1881 alone, more than $100,000 is collected in donations. British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone later states that without the funds from The Irish World, “there would have been no agitation in Ireland.”

In the 1884 and 1888 elections, Ford turns to the Republican Party, encouraging Irish American voters to abandon their traditional loyalty to the Democrats for the Republican candidate James G. Blaine, whom he promotes in The Irish World as supportive of labour and of Ireland. The Republican patronage of the financially troubled The Irish World is a factor in the endorsement, but he believes Blaine’s promise to introduce high trade tariffs will protect American labour interests.

After the Irish Parliamentary Party split in 1891, Ford supports the Parnellite faction of John Redmond and endorses the terms of the Third Home Rule Bill of 1912.

Ford dies on September 23, 1913, at his home at 350 Clermont Street, Brooklyn. After an impressive funeral, he is buried in Brooklyn’s Holy Cross Cemetery.

In 1863, Ford marries Odele McDonald, who predeceases him. They have eleven children, three daughters and eight sons. At the time of his death, his son Patrick is managing editor of The Irish World and his brother Augustine is business manager and publisher. He appears to have destroyed his personal papers. The files of The Irish World are the best record of his life and work.


Leave a comment

The Assassination of Alan Bell

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.

Bell is born in Banagher, King’s County (now County Offaly), one of at least two sons of the Rev. James Adamson Bell, Church of Ireland clergyman. His mother’s name is unknown. Educated locally, he joins the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in September 1879 as a cadet, serving in the counties of Cavan, Galway, Roscommon, Westmeath, and Cork up to the rank of district inspector. During the Land War (1879–82) he investigates sources of Irish National Land League funds and in 1882 arrests the American land reformer and journalist Henry George in Athenry. He, along with District Inspector William Henry Joyce, compile evidence against the nationalist and agrarian agitation for the special commission of 1888–89 which investigates charges against the nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell and his associates. His actions make him popular with unionists but a marked man among nationalists.

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.

Bell is buried privately in Deans Grange Cemetery, Deansgrange, County Dublin. Some Irish republican prisoners at Gloucester during the influenza epidemic of 1918–19 may have been saved from infection by his brother, who as prison doctor there had advised that the jail be evacuated.

(From: “Alan Bell” by Patrick Long, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie, October 2009)


Leave a comment

Birth of John Russell Young, Journalist, Author & Diplomat

John Russell Young, Irish American journalist, author, diplomat, and the seventh Librarian of the United States Congress from 1897 to 1899, is born on November 20, 1840, in County Tyrone. He is invited by Ulysses S. Grant to accompany him on a world tour for purposes of recording the two-year journey, which he publishes in a two-volume work.

Young is born in County Tyrone but as a young child his family emigrates to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He enters the newspaper business as a proofreader at age fifteen. As a reporter for The Philadelphia Press, he distinguishes himself with his coverage of the First Battle of Bull Run. By 1862 he is managing editor of the Press and another newspaper.

In 1865 Young moves to New York City, where he becomes a close friend of Henry George and helps to distribute his book, Progress and Poverty. He begins writing for Horace Greeley‘s New York Tribune and becomes managing editor of that paper. He also begins working for the government, undertaking missions to Europe for the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In 1872, he joins the New York Herald and reports for them from Europe.

Young is invited to accompany President Ulysses S. Grant on Grant’s famous 1877-79 world tour, chronicled in Young’s book Around the World with General Grant. He impresses Grant, especially in China where he strikes up a friendship with Li Hongzhang. Grant persuades President Chester A. Arthur to appoint Young minister to China in 1882. In this position he distinguishes himself by mediating and settling disputes between the United States and China and France and China. Unlike many other diplomats, he opposes the policy of removing Korea from Chinese suzerainty.

In 1885 Young resumes working for the New York Herald in Europe. In 1890 he returns to Philadelphia. In 1897 President William McKinley appoints him Librarian of Congress, the first librarian confirmed by Congress. During his tenure, the library begins moving from its original home in the United States Capitol building to its own structure, an accomplishment largely the responsibility of his predecessor, Ainsworth Rand Spofford. Spofford serves as Chief Assistant Librarian under Young. Young holds the post of librarian until his death.

Young dies in Washington, D.C. on January 17, 1899, and is interred at Mount Moriah Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Young’s brother is Congressman James Rankin Young. His son is Brigadier General Gordon Russell Young, who is Engineer Commission of the District of Columbia from 1945-51 and a recipient of the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.


Leave a comment

Death of Michael Davitt, Founder of the Irish National Land League

Michael Davitt, Irish republican and agrarian agitator, dies in Elphis Hospital in Dublin from blood poisoning on May 30, 1906. He is the founder of the Irish National Land League, which organizes resistance to absentee landlordism and seeks to relieve the poverty of the tenant farmers by securing fixity of tenure, fair rent, and free sale of the tenant’s interest.

Davitt is born in Strade, County Mayo, on March 25, 1846, the son of an evicted tenant farmer. Following their eviction, the family emigrates to England. In 1856, at the age of 10, he starts work in a cotton mill, where he loses an arm in a machinery accident a year later. As is typical for the era, he does not receive any compensation.

In 1865, Davitt joins the revolutionary Fenian Brotherhood, an international secret society that seeks to secure political freedom for Ireland. He becomes secretary of its Irish analogue, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), in 1868. Arrested in Paddington Station in London for sending firearms to Ireland on May 14, 1870, he is sentenced to 15 years in Dartmoor Prison and there lays plans to link Charles Stewart Parnell’s constitutional reform with Fenian activism to achieve political-agrarian agitation.

Paroled from prison in 1877, Davitt rejoins the IRB and goes to the United States, where the Fenian movement originated. There he is deeply influenced by Henry George’s ideas about the relationship between land monopoly and poverty.

Back in Ireland, using funds raised by John Devoy and Clan na Gael in the United States, Davitt wins Parnell’s cooperation in organizing the Irish National Land League in 1879, which leads, however, to his expulsion from the supreme council of the IRB in 1880. He is also imprisoned for seditious speeches in 1881 and 1883. He is elected to Parliament representing North Meath in the 1892 United Kingdom general election, but his election is overturned on petition because he had been supported by the Roman Catholic hierarchy. He stands unopposed for North East Cork at a by-election in February 1893, making his maiden speech in favour of the Home Rule Bill in April, which passes the House of Commons but is defeated in the House of Lords in September.

Because of his public championing of Henry George’s theories of land reform, Parnell repudiates him. Davitt actively defends the Nationalists before the Parnell Commission, which meets between 1887 and 1889. When the Irish party splits in 1890 over Parnell’s involvement in Capt. William Henry O’Shea’s divorce case, Davitt is among the first to oppose Parnell’s continuance as leader. He is elected again, for South Mayo in 1895, but resigns in 1899 in protest against the Second Boer War.

Davitt dies in Elphis Hospital, Dublin on May 30, 1906, at the age of 60, from blood poisoning. The fact that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland attends his funeral is a public indication of the dramatic political journey this former Fenian prisoner has taken. There is no plan for public funeral, and hence Davitt’s body is brought quietly to the Carmelite Friary, Clarendon Street, Dublin. However, the next day over 20,000 people file past his coffin. His remains are taken by train to Foxford, County Mayo, and buried in the grounds of Strade Abbey at Strade, near his place of birth.

Davitt’s book, The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland (1904), is a valuable record of his time.


Leave a comment

Birth of Raymond Crotty, Economist, Writer, Academic & Farmer

Raymond Dominick Crotty, economist, writer, academic and farmer who is known for his opposition to Ireland’s membership of the European Union, is born in Kilkenny, County Kilkenny on January 22, 1925.

Crotty grows up in Kilkenny and, while a student at St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny, he begins breeding pigs in his spare time. Rather than move on to university, he pursues his interest in agriculture by going to work for a farmer relative in 1942. A year later he undertakes a 12-month course at the Albert Agricultural College in Glasnevin, Dublin. In 1945, he purchases a 204-acre farm in Dunbell, not far from Kilkenny, and spends the next two decades putting into practice his developing knowledge of agricultural production.

In 1956, while still a farmer, Crotty enrolls as a distance-learning student at the University of London, obtaining a BSc (Econ.) degree in 1959. He spends two further years studying for a MSc (Econ.) degree at the London School of Economics. In 1961, he obtains a post as lecturer in Agricultural Economics at University of Wales, Aberystwyth. During the 1960s, he sells his farm and becomes an economic adviser to various development agencies, including the World Bank. His work brings him to various parts of the developing world, including Latin America, India, and Africa. In 1976, he receives a fellowship at the University of Sussex. In 1982, he becomes a lecturer in statistics at Trinity College, Dublin.

Crotty’s knowledge and experience of agricultural economics shapes his attitude to Ireland’s participation in the European Economic Community. His years as a farmer teaches him that Irish agriculture is structured so as to discourage efficient use of the land.

Crotty grows to believe that agricultural efficiency can best be achieved by the imposition of an annual land tax. This would allow taxes on inputs and outputs to be removed or reduced and would encourage only those prepared to maximise the potential of their land to remain in farming. In putting forward this proposal, he is reflecting the influence of American economist Henry George, who held that land owned by private individuals should be subject to a tax on the land because of the advantage bestowed on the owner. He believes that Irish agriculture would be damaged if Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) as, instead of becoming more efficient, farmers would grow to depend on external subsidies under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).

Furthermore, Crotty maintains that Ireland’s status as an ex-colony makes it unsuited for membership of a bloc of nations that include former colonial powers. In 1962, in the early stages of the public debate on whether Ireland should join the EEC, he expresses his concerns about the possible loss of Ireland’s national identity within what he termed a “European super state.”

In 1972, Crotty joins Trinity College academic Anthony Coughlan in opposing Ireland’s accession to the EEC. Over the next twenty years he campaigns against further integration of Ireland into the EEC, most notably during the attempts to ratify the Single European Act in the mid-1980s. He stands for election in the 1989 European Parliament election as a candidate in the Dublin constituency. He receives 25,525 votes (5.69% of the valid votes cast), not enough to elect him. In 1992, he once again allies himself with Coughlan in urging Irish voters to reject the Maastricht Treaty in the referendum held on June 18.

Despite failing to win majority support for his views in elections and referendums, Crotty continues until the end of his life his campaign against Ireland’s membership of the European Union.

Crotty is a prolific writer, producing books, pamphlets, articles, and letters on subjects such as economics, history, and Ireland’s involvement with Europe. His final work, When Histories Collide: The Development and Impact of Individualistic Capitalism, is edited by his son Raymond and published posthumously in 2001. It is an economic history of mankind from the earliest stages of human development to the present day. Reviewing it on behalf of the American Sociological Association, Professor Michael Mann of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) describes it as “an extraordinary book by an extraordinary man” and “a must-read.”

Raymond Crotty dies at St. Vincent’s Hospital, Dublin, at the age of 68, on January 1, 1994 and is buried in Tulla Cemetery outside Kilkenny.


Leave a comment

Birth of Patrick Ford, Irish American Journalist

patrick-fordPatrick Ford, Irish American journalist, Georgist land reformer and fund-raiser for Irish causes, is born in Galway, County Galway on April 12, 1837.

Ford is born to Edward Ford (1805-1880) and Ann Ford (1815-1893), emigrating with his parents to Boston, Massachusetts in 1845, never returning to Ireland. He writes in the Irish World in 1886 that “I might as well have been born in Boston. I know nothing of England. I brought nothing with me from Ireland — nothing tangible to make me what I am. I had consciously at least, only what I found and grew up with in here.”

Ford leaves school at the age of thirteen and two years later is working as a printer’s devil for William Lloyd Garrison‘s The Liberator. He credits Garrison for his advocacy for social reform. He begins writing in 1855 and by 1861 is editor and publisher of the Boston Tribune, also known as the Boston Sunday Tribune or Boston Sunday Times. He is an abolitionist and pro-union.

During the American Civil War (1861–1865) Ford serves in the Union Army in the Ninth Massachusetts Regiment with his father and brother. He sees action in northern Virginia and fights in the Battle of Fredericksburg.

Ford spends four years after the war in Charleston, South Carolina, editing the Southern Carolina Leader, printed to support newly freed slaves. He settles in New York City in 1870 and founds the Irish World, which becomes the principal newspaper of Irish America. It promises “more reading material than any other paper in America” and outsells John Boyle O’Reilly‘s The Pilot.

In 1878, Ford re-titles his newspaper, the Irish World and American Industrial Liberator. During the early 1880s, he promotes the writings of land reformer, Henry George in his paper.

In 1880, Ford begins to solicit donations through the Irish World to support Irish National Land League activities in Ireland. Funds received are tabulated weekly under the heading “Land League Fund.” Between January and September 1881 alone, more than $100,000 is collected in donations. British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone later states that without the funds from the Irish World, there would have been no agitation in Ireland.”

Patrick Ford dies on September 23, 1913.


Leave a comment

Birth of Irish National Land League Founder Michael Davitt

michael-davitt

Michael Davitt, Irish republican and agrarian agitator, is born in Straide, County Mayo, on March 25, 1846. Davitt is the  founder of the Irish National Land League, which organizes resistance to absentee landlordism and seeks to relieve the poverty of the tenant farmers by securing fixity of tenure, fair rent, and free sale of the tenant’s interest.

Davitt is the son of an evicted tenant farmer. After their eviction, the family emigrates to England. In 1856, at the age of 10, he starts work in a cotton mill, where he loses an arm in a machinery accident a year later. In 1865, he joins the revolutionary Fenian Brotherhood, an international secret society that seeks to secure political freedom for Ireland. He becomes secretary of its Irish analogue, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), in 1868. Arrested  in Paddington Station in London for sending firearms to Ireland on May 14, 1870, he is sentenced to 15 years in Dartmoor Prison and there lays plans to link Charles Stewart Parnell’s constitutional reform with Fenian activism to achieve political-agrarian agitation.

Paroled from prison in 1877, Davitt rejoins the IRB and goes to the United States, where the Fenian movement originated. There he is deeply influenced by Henry George’s ideas about the relationship between land monopoly and poverty.

Back in Ireland, using funds raised by John Devoy and Clan na Gael in the United States, Davitt wins Parnell’s cooperation in organizing the Land League in 1879, which leads, however, to his expulsion from the supreme council of the IRB in 1880. He is elected member of Parliament for County Meath in 1882 but is disqualified as he is a convict. He is also imprisoned for seditious speeches in 1881 and 1883.

Because of his public championing of Henry George’s theories of land reform, Parnell repudiates him. Davitt actively defends the Nationalists before the Parnell Commission, which meets between 1887 and 1889. When the Irish party splits in 1890 over Parnell’s involvement in Capt. William Henry O’Shea’s divorce case, Davitt is among the first to oppose Parnell’s continuance as leader.

Davitt is elected to Parliament in 1892 and 1893 but is unseated in both cases. He is elected again, for South Mayo in 1895, but resigns in 1899 in protest against the Second Boer War.

Davitt dies in Elphis Hospital, Dublin on May 30, 1906, at the age of 60, from blood poisoning. The fact that the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland attends his funeral is a public indication of the dramatic political journey this former Fenian prisoner has taken. There is no plan for public funeral, and hence Davitt’s body is brought quietly to the Carmelite Friary, Clarendon Street, Dublin. However, the next day over 20,000 people file past his coffin. His remains are taken by train to Foxford, County Mayo, and buried in the grounds of Straide Abbey at Straide, near his place of birth.

Davitt’s book, The Fall of Feudalism in Ireland (1904), is a valuable record of his time.