seamus dubhghaill

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

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First Horse-Drawn Coach Service in Ireland

charles-bianconiCharles Bianconi, Italo-Irish entrepreneur, opens his first horse-drawn coach service, between Clonmel and Cahir, County Tipperary, a distance of 10 miles, on July 6, 1815.

Born Carlo Bianconi, in Tregolo, Costa Masnaga, Italy on September 24, 1786, he moves from an area poised to fall to Napoleon and travels to Ireland via England in 1802, just four years after the Irish Rebellion of 1798. At the time, British fear of continental invasion results in an acute sense of insecurity and additional restrictions on the admission of foreigners. He is christened Carlo but anglicises his name to Charles when he arrives in Ireland in 1802.

At the age of 16, Bianconi works as an engraver and printseller in Dublin, near Essex Street, under his sponsor, Andrea Faroni. In 1806 he sets up an engraving and print shop in Carrick-on-Suir, moving to Clonmel in 1815.

Bianconi eventually becomes famous for his innovations in transport and is twice elected mayor of Clonmel. He is the founder of public transportation in Ireland, at a time preceding railways. He establishes regular horse-drawn carriage services on various routes beginning in 1815. These are known as “Bianconi coaches” and the first service, Clonmel to Cahir, which takes five to eight hours by boat, takes only two hours by Bianconi’s carriage. Travel on a coach costs one penny farthing a mile.

Bianconi’s carriage services continue into the 1850s and later, by which time there are a number of railway services in the country. The Bianconi coaches continue to be well-patronised, by offering connections from various termini, one of the first and few examples of an integrated transport system in Ireland. By 1865 Bianconi’s annual income is about £35,000.

Bianconi also establishes a series of inns, the Bianconi Inns, some of which still exist; in Piltown, County Kilkenny and Killorglin, County Kerry.

In 1832 Bianconi marries Eliza Hayes, the daughter of a wealthy Dublin stockbroker. They have three children. Bianconi dies on September 22, 1875 at Longfield House, Boherlahan, County Tipperary.

Having donated land to the parish of Boherlahan for the construction of a parish church, Bianconi wishes to be buried on the Church grounds. He, and his family, are buried in a side chapel, separate from the parish church in Boherlahan, approximately 5 miles from Cashel, County Tipperary.


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John Joseph “Jack” Doyle Becomes First Major League Pinch Hitter

jack-doyleJohn Joseph “Jack” Doyle, Irish-American first baseman of the Cleveland Spiders in Major League Baseball, becomes the first to pinch hitter in a baseball game on June 7, 1892. He comes through with a game-winning single against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Doyle is born in Killorglin, County Kerry, on October 25, 1869, and emigrates with his family to the United States when he is a child, settling in Holyoke, Massachusetts. After attending Fordham University, Doyle embarks on a baseball career that lasts 70 years. He makes his first appearance at the major league level by signing and playing two years for the Columbus Solons of the American Association. Doyle plays for ten clubs between 1889 and 1905, batting .299 in 1,564 games with 516 stolen bases. He begins as a catcher–outfielder and becomes a first baseman in 1894. His best years are in 1894, when he bats .367 for the New York Giants, and in 1897, when he hits .354 with 62 stolen bases for the Baltimore Orioles.

Because of his aggressive playing style, Doyle is known as “Dirty Jack”, often feuding with umpires, fans, opposing players, and even at times, his own teammates. He carries on a lengthy feud with John McGraw that starts when they are teammates in Baltimore. McGraw, of course, has to have the last word. In 1902, McGraw is appointed manager of the Giants and his first act is to release Doyle, even though he is batting .301 and fielding .991 at the time. Even with these seemingly out-of-control traits, Doyle is deemed a natural leader and is selected as team captain in New York, Brooklyn and Chicago, and serves as an interim manager for the Giants in 1895 and Washington Senators in 1898.

In 1905, after playing one game with the New York Highlanders, Doyle becomes manager of Toledo of the Western Association. One year later, he is named the manager of the Des Moines Champions, so named because they won the league championship the previous year, and they win it again under Doyle’s helm. Following his championship season at Des Moines, he manages Milwaukee in 1907.

In 1908–1909, the only years of his adult life spent outside of baseball, Doyle serves as police commissioner of his hometown of Holyoke. He returns to baseball as an umpire and works in the National League for 42 games in 1911. He later joins the Chicago Cubs as a scout in 1920. He remains in that capacity until his death at age 89 on New Year’s Eve 1958. Doyle is buried at St. Jerome Cemetery in Holyoke.

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The SS Aud Begins Gun-Running Voyage to Ireland

the-ss-audThe German merchant steam ship SS Libau, also known as SS Castro and masquerading under the cover name of SS Aud, sets sail from the Baltic port of Lübeck on April 9, 1916, loaded with guns and ammunition for the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) as part of the preparation for the Easter Rising.

Masquerading as SS Aud, an existing Norwegian vessel of similar appearance, SS Libau sets sail from the port of Lübeck, under the command of Karl Spindler, bound for the southwest coast of Ireland. Under Spindler is a crew of 22 men, all of whom are volunteers. SS Libau, laden with an estimated twenty thousand rifles, one million rounds of ammunition, ten machine guns, and explosives under a camouflage of a timber cargo, evade patrols of both the British 10th Cruiser Squadron and local Auxiliary patrols.

After surviving violent storms off Rockall, SS Libau arrives in Tralee Bay on April 20. There they are due to meet Roger Casement and others, with Casement having been landed nearby by the German submarine U-19. The SS Libau has no communications equipment aboard, giving them no means of contacting the Irish while en route. As a result, they are unaware that the date for its arrival off Fenit has been altered from Thursday, April 20 to Sunday, April 23.

One of the two cars carrying Volunteers who are supposed to meet SS Libau crash into the River Laune, many miles away, at Ballykissane pier, Killorglin, resulting in the death of three of the four occupants of the car. This leads to no hope of an organised transfer of arms and the gun-running plan nears an end.

SS Libau, attempting to escape the area, is trapped by a blockade of British ships. Captain Spindler allows himself to be escorted towards Cork Harbour, in the company of the Acacia-class sloop HMS Bluebell. The German crew then scuttles the ship. Spindler and his crew are interned for the duration of the war. Roger Casement and his companions are captured in an old ringfort or rath between Ardfert and Tralee.

A number of rifles are recovered from SS Libau before the vessel is scuttled. Several examples exist in various museums in Britain and Ireland. Among these are the Cork Public Museum in Fitzgerald’s Park in Cork, a museum in Lurgan County Armagh, the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, and the Imperial War Museum in London.