America’s Birthday and the Irish

 

Thomas Jefferson once said, Rebellion is a medicine necessary for the sound health of government. The American revolution of 1775 to 1781 inspired rebellions from France in 1789 to Ireland in 1798 and again in 1803. While Irish support existed, in a major or minor role, in each of these actions, it was a significant factor in the American Revolution. The Irish, both Protestant and Catholic, were a major part of Washington’s army from foot soldiers to high-ranking officers and those unable to suffer the hardship of a colonial soldier, contributed in other ways. The military won the war, but it was the settlers, merchants, and community leaders who led the march toward the battlefield. They were the real shapers of our destiny, for they were the ones who dreamt the dream, organized its creation, and supported its success. In the late 1700s, when Crown exploitation drove the colonists to protest, among the loudest were the Irish who had no great love for the Crown to begin with. But how many Irish were there in the American colonies?

Well, they had been coming since the 1650s. The first noticeable influx into New England occurred in 1652 with the arrival of 400 Irish children sent by Cromwell to be sold as slaves. From that time, men, women and children were sent as slaves and indentured servants as common practice. Among the first to come of their own volition were those who fought the English theft of their lands and ended up hunted men. They were followed by those Catholics and Presbyterians who fled the Penal Laws and persecution by the Church of England. Some were businessmen who had to escape the economic oppression fostered on them by the Crown in order to benefit their British competitors. The destruction of the Irish wool trade is estimated to have ruined 40,000 families all over Ireland, while destruction of the Irish linen trade reduced the population of Ulster by half-a-million. And they came to America with their looms and spinning wheels bringing an industry that would be of great importance to the nation awaiting birth.

In the beginning, they came in such large numbers that one Massachusetts Court prohibited the Irish from its jurisdiction and fined anyone who bought an Irishman and brought him in, fearing the malignant spirit that has from time to time been manifest by the Irish against the English. But they came anyway. Some altered their names, most settled in outlying areas like the ancestor of John Hancock who came from Co Down, and like Capt. Daniel Patrick and Robert Feake – first white settlers in Greenwich, CT. They also settled in New Hampshire, where they founded the town of Concord; in Vermont, where their sons would lend strength to the Green Mountain Boys led by Irish-American John Stark and Limerick-born Matt Lyons; in New Hampshire where Capt. Maginnis commanded the militia; and other areas from Maine, home of the O’Briens who would capture the 1st British ship in the war yet to come, to Pennsylvania, founded by William Penn who had grown up in Co Cork. They came in considerable numbers. In 1728, for example, it was reported that most of the 4,500 who landed at New Castle, Delaware were Irish. Philadelphia likewise reported that 3,500 people from Ireland had arrived in the first two weeks of August, 1772. They had obviously been arriving for a while since the city had a Hibernian Club as early as 1729; it later became the Friendly Sons of St Patrick, whose first President was none other than Stephen Moylan of Co Cork – soon to be one of Washington’s top Generals. In 1772 and 73, more than 18,500 had arrived in the American colonies, and they were no friends of the British.

There was no shortage of leaders either and men like Matthew Lyons, Patrick Henry, and other Irish and Irish-American orators used their eloquence to urge separation from England. When confrontations became frequent, it seemed that the Irish were always in the middle of it. Among those killed in the Boston Massacre in 1770 was Irish-born Patrick Carr; Boston Tea Party participants met at an inn owned by man named Duggan; and the tea was dumped at Griffin’s Wharf by a group dressed as Indians, some of whom may have had a notably Irish accent. While young Irishmen rushed to arms in support of Washington, Irish civilians, businessmen, and merchants participated in the deliberations of Councils and in Congress, raised money to feed and clothe the army and advance the credit of the new government. Irish-born Oliver Pollack personally raised more than $300,000. which would be more than $8 million today.

On July 1, 1776 after a full year of hostilities, the leaders met to discuss their options. A resolution was presented which read, Be it resolved, that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.   After much heated debate, the vote was indecisive. They met again on July 2 to continue the debate and finally the ayes carried the question. However, approval of the final draft of the document was made on the 4th. The Philadelphia State House was packed despite the sweltering heat as Secretary Charles Thomson of Co. Derry read the formal document that Adams, Jefferson, Franklin, and Livingston had composed, and that he – Thomson – had drafted. It was a declaration explaining why their action was justified. After a full day of modifying copy, shouting matches and further amendments, Secretary Thomson recorded the changes and America’s Declaration of Independence was complete. Among the signers were 6 Irish-Americans and 3 native Irish including James Smith, Matthew Thornton and militia Colonel George Taylor. The formal copy would not be ready for signature until August, but many first heard that document read in an Irish accent, as Secretary Thomson read it to an anxiously awaiting public. Philadelphia printers like Charles Dunlap of Co Tyrone rolled out copies that were snatched up before the ink was dry. There would be many years of struggle and sacrifice before the last battle was fought on March 10, 1783, but America had made her stand. The last battle saw Irish-born Commodore John Barry defeat the British ship Sybil. He had been carrying a cargo of gold with which Congress would establish the new Bank of North America with the help of Irish-born Thomas Fitzsimmons.

In 1787, when Articles of Confederation to guide the new nation of 13 states were discussed, a convention met in Philadelphia to approve or amend them. A minority of 19 delegates, not satisfied with some of the amendments and knowing they couldn’t carry the vote, absented themselves preventing a quorum. Wexford’s John Barry formed a group called the ‘Compellers’ and forced the reluctant delegates back to the convention to form a quorum and a vote of 46 to 23 was passed and the Constitution of the United States of America resulted.

Yes, the Irish were there when America was born, and the fact that they made loyal Americans is evidenced in writing of Marquis de Chastellux who wrote after the revolution, An Irishman, the instant he sets foot on American soil, becomes an American. During the whole of the war, the English and Scots were treated with distrust even with the best of attachment for the cause, but the native of Ireland stood in need of no other certificate than his accent. While the Irish emigrant was fighting for America on land and sea, Irish merchants’ purses were always open and their persons devoted to the country’s cause, and on more than one imminent occasion Congress itself, and the very existence of America, owed its preservation to the fidelity and firmness of the Irish.

Even in Ireland, where funds were raised to support the American cause, the hopes of the Irish were with the American cause to such an extent that America’s success inspired a liberation movement in Ireland, and in 1798, the Irish attempted to duplicate the American example. Unfortunately it failed, and though young America was in no position to help, her hopes were with the Irish. Even President Washington wrote that the Irish need that critical moment to shake off the badges of slavery they have worn for so long.

It was perhaps best said by George Washington Parke Custis, grandson of the beloved first President and Martha Washington. At a St. Patrick’s Day dinner in 1828, he said, Ireland’s generous sons, alike in the day of our gloom, and of our glory, shared in our misfortunes and joined in our successes; With undaunted courage (they) breasted the storm which once threatened to overwhelm us; and with aspirations deep and fervent for our cause, whether in the shock of liberty’s battles, or in the feeble expiring accents of famine and misery, cried from their hearts ‘God Save America’. Then honored be the service of the sons of Erin in the war of Independence. Let the shamrock be entwined with the laurels of the Revolution, and truth and justice, guiding the pen of history, inscribe on the tablets of American remembrance ‘Eternal Gratitude to Irishmen.’ GWP Custis also asked the favor that when St Patrick’s Day is annually celebrated, that some generous Irishman would place a shamrock on his grave and say, God Bless Him. To this day, the Washington DC AOH present a Friends of Ireland Award in his name and place a sprig of shamrock on his grave in Arlington National Cemetery each year and say, in chorus, God Bless Him! Remember his words as you hang out the stars and stripes on our Fourth of July and remember the Irish who helped to create this nation that it represents.

A Disease That Haunted The Irish

Cholera is an infection of the human intestine and is recognized as one of the most efficient killers of all time; it works quickly to kill, often on the same day as infection. Cholera causes violent vomiting, cramps and diarrhea and is spread by contaminated excrement and handling clothing and bedding of infected people. In crowded cities, sewage-contaminated water supplies were a major source of its spread, but no one realized that until after 1854. Before that, it had arrived in America with Irish and German immigrants, crowded below decks on coffin ships with little or no fresh water or sanitary facilities for a rough six-to-eight-week passage across the Atlantic.

It decimated the polluted immigrant slums into which many immigrants were forced to live. In June 1832, an outbreak of cholera spread rapidly throughout the crowded, unsanitary dwellings of New York’s Five Points neighborhood before spreading to the rest of the city killing 3,500 in two months. Nativists blamed the disease on the life style of the poor – namely Catholicism, poverty and drink until the disease spread uptown, where well-to-do families kept the cause of death a secret. New York’s Croton reservoir was completed in late 1842 to bring clean water to the city for drinking and street cleaning, but the Croton Water Board objected to wasting that clean water in the Five Points. A second major outbreak occurred in 1849 killing 5,017. For the next 20 years, deaths in the Five Points area was triple that of the rest of the city.

In 1842, cholera also broke out in Saint Louis brought by German and Irish immigrants coming up the Mississippi from New Orleans where upon arrival; dehydrated from the voyage they drank great gulps of contaminated water. Like their countrymen in New York the Irish were forced into a filthy slum area called the Kerry Patch. As a result, the St. Louis death toll reached 4,500 in three months. The increase of immigrants in 1849 fleeing Ireland’s Great Hunger led to a second major outbreak that took more than 7,000 lives. In May 1849, the city took over Arsenal Island in the Mississippi and renamed it Quarantine Island. All ships were stopped there for inspection and those passengers who seemed ill remained in hastily built sheds until they either recovered or died, just like Grosse Isle in Quebec. Thousands were buried there before the island – cemetery and all – washed away in the spring floods of the 1860s after the city built dykes on the west side of the river and changed its flow.

However, the quarantining efforts failed to stop bacteria from infecting St. Louis’ water supply. With no other dumping site available, chamber pots were emptied into the streets and rain washed the excrement into the limestone caves beneath the city where raw sewage from the city was also dumped. It eventually overflowed into a low area near the Kerry Patch creating a putrid pool angrily called Kayser’s Lake. Henry Kayser was the city engineer who decided to divert the entire city’s waste water into the limestone caves beneath the city rather than build sewers to save money. In 1849, approximately one-tenth of the population of St. Louis died from disease.

Not knowing the true source of the disease, people blamed everything from sauerkraut to stench as thousands of new immigrants joined the prospectors who stopped at St Louis – the gateway to the west – to outfit for the journey to the recently discovered gold fields of California. Typically, cholera swept through the poorest areas first and was interpreted by the Nativist press as being due to the immigrants’ ignorance, laziness, and moral laxity. By the third week of June, cholera was killing roughly 100 people a day. Rev. John B. Druyts, Jesuit president of Saint Louis College, told the frightened students to place themselves under protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Those who survived were to chip in and buy a silver crown for her statue in the chapel. The effect of this holy resolution calmed the students. In what was called a miracle, there were no deaths within the school walls, although there were victims of the disease in almost every house around the College. In October 1849, a silver crown was reverently carried on a purple cushion to the statue.

On June 24, citizens crowded a public meeting and demanded that city officials do something or resign. The officials did what officials always do: they formed a committee. The committee not knowing the cause, immediately ordered coal, tar and sulfur pots to be burned in the streets. They banned fresh vegetables, especially cabbage believing the smell of sauerkraut was a contributing factor. They also kept public transportation out of the slums in case the disease might be airborne and ordered churches to stop all that infernal bell-ringing at funerals since it lowered the morale of the people. Then they spent $10,000 to buy slop carts and hired street cleaners, telling them to collect and dump liquid filth into the once lovely Chouteau’s Pond which had already become gray with industrial waste, creating another source of infection.

More practical prevention came in 1850, when the city drained both Kayser’s Lake and Chouteau’s Pond – not because it eliminated a cause of the disease, but because they finally installed a sewer system – and that, unintentionally, was what finally did the job. Cholera returned again before the end of the century, but it was never again as lethal.

Many are the stories of sorrow in the diaries of our immigrant ancestors who were forced to endure the squalor imposed upon them as a result of the bigotry that condemned them to substandard living conditions. There are also stories of resilience that allowed them to not only survive, but to climb out of the derelict districts and set a course for their sons and daughters that made them the major contributors that the Irish are today in every field of endeavor. But while we celebrate their accomplishments and contributions, we should never forget the hardships suffered by those who laid the groundwork.

WILLIAM PERCY FRENCH

It was on the first of May in 1854 that a boy was born at Cloonyquinn, Co Roscommon to Christopher French and his wife, the former Miss Percy. The second of two sons, he was named William Percy French and in his lifetime he became one of Ireland’s most beloved entertainers and gifted songwriters. His father, believing that Percy was mathematically inclined, sent him to Trinity College to study Civil engineering. Percy however, had different ideas.

Instead of devoting himself to his studies, he spent most of his time developing his remarkable talent for song writing, dramatics, playing banjo and painting. After much parental persuasion, he eventually passed the college examination and obtained an engineering post in Co Cavan on a government drainage scheme. His interest remained elsewhere however, and he spent most of his time painting. He was a prolific painter of landscape watercolors and he actually considered art to be his vocation. In fact, when he became well known later in his life, his early paintings became much sought after. One of his original watercolors, Where ever I go my heart turns back to Mayo, was sold by a Dublin-based auctioneer in 2005 for a record price of 44,000 Euro. When the Cavan appointment came to an end, so did his career as an engineer. He moved to Dublin where he worked as a journalist. His marvelous sense of humor led him to the editorship of a comic paper. Soon afterward, he wrote and acted in two comic operas, all the while studying art, and running a painting class.

During this time he also wrote and produced an intimate and topical show called Dublin Up To Date which consisted of quick sketches, caricatures, humorous cross talk, and songs. It was so well received that it formed the basis for his highly successful solo entertainment career in later years. The success of the show led to a tour of the country during which French’s absent-mindedness, unconventional manner and carelessness in money matters led to many amusing incidents.

In 1900, he moved to London and embarked on a successful career as a professional entertainer. In 1910, he toured Canada, the United States and the West Indies with Dr. Huston Collison, a brilliant musician who collaborated with French on the music to his operas and a number of his songs. That partnership was a very happy one and lasted the rest of their lives.

In 1920, during an engagement in Glasgow, Percy French was taken ill. He went to the home of a cousin in Lancashire and three days later, died of pneumonia at 66 years of age. By strange and tragic coincidence Dr. Collison died the following day conducting a requiem service to his very good friend.

Today Percy French is best known for his many songs which have remained popular down through the years and will, no doubt, be popular for many years to come. Songs like Slattery’s Mounted Fut, the Mountains of Mourne, Eileen Oge, Gortnamona, Whistlin’ Phil McHugh, Come Back Paddy Reilly to Ballyjamesduff, and many more including my personal favorite, The Darlin’ Girl from Clare. All are now a part of Ireland’s musical repertoire.

One of the many humorous stories told about this unconventional genius has to do with the time he penned a song called Are You Right There Michael, Are You Right. The song lampooned the West Clare Railroad which had a reputation for always breaking down or running behind schedule. Needless to say the owners of the railroad were furious with this satire and promptly brought a lawsuit against Percy French. The case was to be heard on a given day in the Court at Killaloe, Co. Clare. On that appointed day the railroad executives and their counsel arrived but there was no Percy French. Taking this as the height of arrogance, the lawyer for the railroad asked that the case be settled in their favor. The judge allowed that they would wait for Mr. French and hear the other cases on the docket. But when all were finished, the judge himself, weary of waiting, was just about to rule in favor of the railroad when the court room door swung open and in walked Percy French. The furious judge admonished the author for his tardiness and notified him that he was just about to find in favor of the plaintiff. He demanded to know what had delayed French from answering the summons of the court on time! Percy held up his half of his morning ticket on the West Clare Railroad. No more was said. The case was dismissed. And when Percy French left the courthouse, what song do you think he was singing?

 

Kattie

NYS History 04 - KattyShe was born in April and he called her Kattie. That was the name Thomas J. Clarke had for Kathleen Daly, niece of John Daly, a fellow prisoner with whom he had been incarcerated for Fenian activities. Her father Edward, who died young, had also served time for his role in the Fenian Rising of 1867 and her baby brother Ned would become one of the executed 1916 leaders. She later became Tom’s wife and the guardian of the dreams and plans of a whole generation of Irish patriots. Kattie Daly Clarke was the critical link between the Easter Rising and the ultimate establishment of the Republic of Ireland.

She was born in Limerick on April 11, 1878. After her uncle John’s release from British prison in 1895, 17-year old Kathleen knew the man she would marry, although they had never met. She knew and admired him through her uncle’s letters and stories praising the courage, determination, and tenacity of his fellow prisoner, Tom Clarke. When Clarke was released three years later, he came to the Daly home in Limerick to recuperate. Little did her uncle realize the awe in which young Kathleen held his old friend who was 20 years older than she, until they announced their engagement. Tom left for New York in 1900 to secure a job, and in 1901, Kathleen joined him there. They married, and settled in the Bronx. A year later, they moved to Brooklyn, and eventually bought a farm in Manorville, Long Island.

When war between England and Germany seemed inevitable, Tom and other high-ranking members of Clan na Gael felt that Ireland’s day of liberation was at hand. Tom decided to return to Ireland and reorganize the inactive Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), but Kattie objected. She remembered the frail and battered figure who had limped to her home in 1898, nearly dead from starvation and torture. She pleaded that he had done as much as any man could be expected to do for his country and reminded him that he was still a parolee, subject to arrest if the authorities even suspected what he was up to. Tom, reminded her of the premature death of her father, the torture endured by her uncle, and the grief imposed on her mother and grandmother by a cruel and reckless alien force in their homeland. In his own persuasive way, Tom had fanned the smoldering coals of Kathleen’s nationalist soul, and rekindled her passion for Ireland. Together, they sailed to Ireland, and into the pages of Irish history.

Kathleen’s strong nationalist sentiment made her invaluable to Tom’s re-organizing activities. As Tom re-organized the men of the IRB and formed the Irish Volunteers, Kattie joined Cumann na mBan – the ladies auxiliary to the Volunteers and organized the women. Together, they prepared an army of men and women to strike at Easter 1916 for Ireland’s freedom. Her patriotism, as well as that of her family, was well known to the IRB Supreme Council. As evidence of their confidence in her, Kathleen was chosen to safeguard the details of the entire Volunteer network with the names of all the leaders and subordinates throughout the country. She was also entrusted with the plans and assets of the organization with the instructions that if they were arrested after the rising, she was to pass them to an individual of her choosing who could organize a new generation of leaders and fulfill their dream of a free Ireland. Thus it was, that when the leaders were executed, their dream did not die with them. After the Rising, England rounded up and interned many of Ireland’s men of military age, whether they were members of the insurgents or not. On May first, Kattie was arrested. The next day, she was taken to Kilmainham Jail to see her husband. That was when she learned that he was sentenced to be shot the next day. Tom told her that Ned, the brother whom she had raised from birth, would die with him. Her grief was more than most people know in a lifetime, but she would not let it show lest it would make Tom’s end harder. She listened quietly as he assured her that freedom would come as a result of their sacrifice. Then, she left the man who had grown from her childhood hero, to her closest friend, to her husband, without ever telling him that she was pregnant – for she knew that too, would make his death harder.

With contacts and money entrusted to her by the IRB, she formed the Republican Prisoners Dependents Fund to look after the families of the imprisoned patriots. Still grieving over her husband and brother and trying to comfort her broken hearted mother, Kattie worked day and night traveling between Dublin and Limerick, despite her Doctor’s advice to slow down. A few weeks after the rising, she awoke in pain. The Doctor, who came to attend her, delivered what should have been the final blow; the baby she was carrying was dead! She wanted to die, herself, and later, the Doctor told her that for some minutes, she had! Her heart and vital signs had stopped and she must have come back because God wasn’t through with her yet. In truth, Ireland wasn’t through with her. Kattie remained frail, but continued building her nationwide organization to administer dependent’s relief across Ireland, staffing them primarily with women of Cumann na mBan. These offices cared for the families of the men interned until they were released in December 1917 and then helped to settle returning prisoners – many of whom had not been active rebels when incarcerated, but who certainly were upon release. She interviewed many of the returning men and decided on the new leader. It was a historic decision when she turned over the organization’s files and assets to Michael Collins. Collins converted her network of Prisoners Dependant Relief offices to IRA recruiting offices for a new national liberation force and began the War of Independence that fought England back to the Treaty table in 1921 and led to the Irish Free State and the ultimate creation of the Republic of Ireland.

Through the years leading to the creation of the Republic of Ireland, Mrs. Tom Clarke, as she preferred to be called, served her country as no other woman had. In addition to being a loyal wife and mother, she had been prisoner, Judge, Deputy Minister, Senator, and became the first woman Lord Mayor in Irish history as Lord Mayor of Dublin. After her death at 94 in 1972, she received the rare honor of a state funeral. Remembered for her many deeds, she is perhaps best remembered for her statement to Cumann na mBan after the execution of her husband Thomas J. Clarke. She said, Without the efforts of the women of Cumann na mBan, the Rising would have been for nothing. She told them, Our men are nearly all in prison, some are dead, and it is up to us to carry on their work . . . Let us show our enemy what Irish women can do!

In 1987, New York’s Suffolk County Board of the AOH erected a memorial to Tom and Kattie Clarke at their former homestead in Manorville, Long Island where a commemoration ceremony is held each year in memory of all those who fell for Irish freedom.

SPERANZA

Jane Frances Agnes Elgee was born in Dublin at about 1821 and grew up in a deeply conservative family. She was a gifted linguist and published several translations of French and German works which were reprinted in America. Her first volume of poetry also contained translations from several European languages. In 1845, impressed by the size of the funeral of Young Irelander, Thomas Davis, she began to read his poetry in The Nation, a radical nationalist newspaper published by Davis, Charles Gavan Duffy and John Blake Dillon, which awakened her to Irish nationalism. After Davis’s funeral, she began contributing poetry to The Nation under the pseudonym of Speranza (Italian for Hope) which published her poem The Stricken Land in 1847 at the height of the Great Hunger.

We are wretches, famished, scorned, human tools to build your pride,
But God will yet take vengeance for the souls for whom Christ died.
Now is your hour of pleasure – bask ye in the world’s caress;
But our whitening bones against ye will rise as witnesses,
From the cabins and the ditches, in their charred, uncoffin’d masses,
For the Angel of the Trumpet will know them as he passes.
A ghastly, spectral army, before the great God we’ll stand,
And arraign ye as our murderers, ye spoilers of our land

She later admitted, I was quite indifferent to the national movement, and if I thought about it at all, I probably had a very bad opinion of the leaders. For my family was Protestant and Conservative, and there was no social intercourse between them and the Catholics and Nationalists. But once I had caught the national spirit, the literature of Irish songs and sufferings had an enthralling interest for me. Then it was that I discovered that I could write poetry. In sending my verses to the editor of ‘The Nation’ I dared not have my name published, so I signed them ‘Speranza’. For some time the identity of Speranza was unknown to Gavan Duffy, the Editor, who judged from the fearless tone of the writings which aroused the enthusiasm of the Young Ireland leaders and their supporters throughout the country, that the writer was a man. He was surprised when he visited the home of his author and was confronted by a young lady whom he learned was his unknown correspondent.

She wrote pro-Irish and anti-British articles calling for armed rebellion in Ireland. After the failure of the Young Ireland rising in July of 1848, the British arrested Duffy, and the editorship was taken over by Speranza and Margaret Callan until the British closed the publication. On 21 February 1849, one of her articles was used as evidence in a trial against Duffy who refused to name the author of the offending piece. He was threatened with prison when Jane stood up in the gallery of the Courthouse and loudly declared, I am Speranza! No charges were brought against her and Duffy was freed on appeal. After 1848, she did not lose sympathy with the National Cause, but was indignant with the lack of support it received. She wrote for The Nation after Duffy revived it on 1 September, 1849, but she cast aside the old nom de plume.

In 1851, she married surgeon Sir William Wilde in 1851 and had three children, Isola, Willie and Oscar Wilde, but her daughter Isola died of fever at age ten. After her marriage, Lady Wilde became a leader of fashion in Dublin. For years, she attended Viceregal functions in Dublin Castle as the wife of Sir William Wilde (knighted 1864). She was always a popular figure in Dublin and as she drove through the streets she was cheered by large crowds who remembered her warm sympathy with the national movement when she was known as ‘Speranza’. Author Martin McDermott wrote, No voice that was raised in the cause of the poor and oppressed, none that denounced political wrong-doing in Ireland was more eagerly listened to than that of the graceful and accomplished woman known in literature, as ‘Speranza’ and in society as Lady Wilde. In a review of her poems in the Fenian Irish People on 25 February, 1835, it was stated: No Irish writer of our time, except, perhaps, Thomas Davis, has been praised so highly, nearly all the Young Ireland leaders offered incense at her shrine. (Michael) Doheny wrote an essay on her; (John) Mitchel quoted her poetry in his Last Conquest; (Thomas) Meagher quoted her in his speeches, and called his boat ‘Speranza.

 

After the death of Sir William Wilde in 1876, she was in reduced circumstances, and moved to London trying to find a better market for her literary talents. In 1888, she published Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland. She was supported in her later years by her son Willie and the gifts of admirers. When her son Oscar Wilde sued the Marquis of Queensbury for publicly calling him a homosexual, Lady Jane Wilde advised him to stay and fight, rather than fleeing the country, as others had advised. He took her advice and lost his case, suffering imprisonment as a consequence. Lady Wilde contracted bronchitis in January 1896 and while dying, asked for permission to see Oscar, who was still in prison. Her request was denied. Oscar later claimed that an apparition of his mother appeared in his cell as she died at her home in Chelsea on 3 February 1896. Willie Wilde, her older son, was penniless, so Oscar paid for her funeral, which was held on 5 February. A headstone proved too expensive and she was buried without one. However, a monument to her, in the form of a Celtic cross, was erected at Kensal Green Cemetery by the Oscar Wilde Society in 1999. She was a remarkable woman and her writings still inspire!

Thomas Clarke Luby

On January 16, 1822 an Irish revolutionary, author and journalist was born in Dublin, to a Church of Ireland clergyman and a Catholic mother. His uncle was a Professor of Greek and a Fellow and Dean of Trinity College Dublin who couldn’t understand his nephew’s nationalist tendencies. His nephew studied Law and even taught at the college for a time. He was to become one of Ireland’s greatest patriots although today, the name of Thomas Clarke Luby does not attract the admiration it deserves.

Luby supported Daniel O’Connell and his Repeal Association and contributed to The Nation – a nationalist newspaper. As O’Connell grew more conciliatory to the Crown, the paper grew more militaristic. In 1847 Luby and many others, including the editorial staff broke with O’Connell and joined the Young Irelanders in the Irish Confederation. Following a failed rising in 1848, Luby attempted to revive the fighting in 1849 with members of the short-lived secret Irish Democratic Association, but this too ended in failure

In 1851 Luby traveled to France to join the French Foreign Legion and learn infantry tactics but recruiting had been suspended. He went to Australia for a year and returned to Ireland where he edited the Tribune with the same spirit as he had on The Nation. During this time he remained in touch with the men of 1849, attempting to start a new revolutionary movement. He shared his views with James Stephens, another veteran of 1848 whom he met in 1856. The pair made several journeys through the country trying to keep the revolutionary spirit alive. In the autumn of 1857, a courier arrived with a message signed by four Irish exiles in the United States, two of whom were John O’Mahony and Michael Doheny. The message asked if Stephens would establish a force in Ireland to win national independence if support came from America. O’Mahony and Doheny were also two veterans of the 1848 rising after which O’Mahony had fled to France with Stephens before going to America leaving Stephens to return to Ireland. O’Mahony and Doheny had been organizing support in America among exiles of An Gorta Mor and were members of an AOH committee called the Emmet Monument Association. It would later break out as the Fenian Brotherhood.   In December Stephens replied that he would, but needed seed money to begin organizing.

On 17 March 1858, a courier arrived in Dublin with the acceptance of Stephens’s terms by the newly-formed Fenian Brotherhood and with the first of three monthly instalments of £80. That very evening the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) was established, in Peter Langan’s timber-yard in Lombard Street as Thomas Clarke Luby swore in James Stephens and Stephens, in turn, swore in Luby with an oath that Luby had composed. The oath ended with the words: that I will yield implicit obedience, in all things not contrary to the law of God to the commands of my superior officers; and that I shall preserve inviolable secrecy regarding all the transactions of this secret society that may be confided in me. So help me God! Sounds remarkably like the AOH oath ending, doesn’t it.

In mid-1863 the Luby started the Irish People newspaper with financial aid from American Fenians. The staff of the paper included such noted revolutionaries as Charles Kickham, John O’Leary, Denis Mulcahy, O’Donovan Rossa, James O’Connor and John Haltigan. In 1864, Stephens left on a tour of America and Luby was appointed to lead the IRB. On 15 July 1865 American plans for a rising in Ireland were discovered when the emissary lost them at Kingstown railway station. They found their way to Dublin Castle and the police raided the offices of the Irish People on 15 September, arresting Luby, O’Leary and O’Donovan Rossa. Kickham was caught a month later as was Stephens. Fenian prison warders, John J. Breslin and Dan Byrne aided Stephens in escaping to France while Luby was sentenced to 20 years.

After six years, Luby was pardoned in January 1871, but was banished from Ireland till the expiration of his 20-year sentence. After a brief spell in Europe he sailed to America and settled in New York. He lectured all over the country for years and wrote for a number of Irish newspapers on political topics, never surrendering his belief that his homeland deserved independence – even though he would never see her again! At the memorial meeting on the death of patriot John Mitchel, he was chosen to deliver the principal address in Madison Square Garden. On 29 November 1902, two months before his 80th birthday, Thomas Clarke Luby – dedicated Irish patriot – died in Jersey City, NJ after years of rallying Irishmen to support the cause of a free Ireland. He was buried in Bay View Cemetery in that city beside his wife – the daughter of John Frazer, who wrote poems for The Nation and the Irish Felon. His epitaph reads: Thomas Clarke Luby 1822 – 1901 He devoted his life to love of Ireland and quest of truth.

THEY SENSELESSLY DIED IN DECEMBER

Rory O’Connor was born in Dublin in 1883. He was educated at St. Mary’s College, Clongowes Wood College, and University College, Dublin. With his College of Science diploma, he emigrated to Canada in 1911 to work as a railway engineer. He became active in the Fenian Brotherhood and returned to Ireland in 1915 in answer to an IRB call. He joined the Ancient Order of Hibernians, fought in the 1916 Easter Rising and was interned after the surrender. After internment, he quit the IRB on the grounds that a secret movement could not gain popular support and threw his support to Sinn Fein. During the subsequent Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) he became Director of Engineering of the IRA and a close associate of Michael Collins.

O’Connor did not favor the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, which established an Irish Free State, because it abolished the Irish Republic declared in 1916, which he had sworn to uphold. On 26 March 1922, he and other anti-treaty officers of the IRA held a convention in Dublin, in which they rejected the Treaty and repudiated the authority of Dail Eireann – the new Irish Parliament. O’Connor became Chairman of the Military Council of the dissident IRA, known as the Irregulars.

On April 13, 1922, O’Connor, with 200 Irregulars under his command, took over the Four Courts building in Dublin in defiance of the new Irish government. They hoped to provoke the British troops, who were still in the country, into attacking them. They felt that this action would re-start the war with Britain and re-unite the IRA against their common enemy. Michael Collins tried desperately to persuade O’Connor and his men to leave the building but to no avail. The British told Collins to get them out or they would step in and remove them. Collins knew that surrendering military authority to the Crown would make a mockery of the treaty and destroy the new Irish Free State in its infancy. Rory O’Connor and his men remained in Four Courts under truce conditions with the Free State until members of the Four Courts garrison kidnapped JJ ‘Ginger’ O’Connell, a general in the Free State Army. The Brits moved artillery into place and told Collins to use it or they would. Collins had no choice but to shell the Four Courts with the borrowed British artillery. Rory O’Connor surrendered after two days of fighting, but not before the Irregulars torched the collected records of British occupation in Ireland. O’Connor was arrested and sent to Mountjoy Prison. This incident sparked the Irish Civil War as fighting broke out around the country between pro- and anti- treaty factions, dividing old friends and families alike.

One family divided was Sean Hales and his brother Tom. Both were members of the IRA during the War of Independence and both were against the treaty. Sean, however, was persuaded by Michael Collins to join the pro-Treaty side and he voted for the Treaty, while his brother voted against it. In June, 1922, Sean was elected to the new Dail as a pro-Treaty Sinn Féin candidate. Then, during the tragic Civil War, Michael Collins was killed in ambush on 22 August throwing both sides into a senseless frenzy of tit-for-tat revenge killings. After Collins’ death, the Free State government declared that the Irregular IRA was conducting an unlawful rebellion against the legitimate Irish government and that martial law was the only way to end the violence. On September 27, 1922, the Free State enacted legislation to set up military courts allowing for the execution of men captured bearing arms against the state.

On 17 November, five Irregulars who had been captured with arms in Co. Wicklow were shot by firing squad in Dublin. On November 19, three more Irregulars were executed. On 24 November, Robert Erskine Childers, acclaimed author and secretary to the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations that had created the Irish Free State, was executed. He had been captured on November 10 in possession of a pistol, which ironically had been given to him by Michael Collins before the split in the movement. To many, this at last demonstrated the senselessness of the hostilities In response to the executions, on November 30, Liam Lynch, Chief of Staff of the Irregular IRA, ordered that any member of the Dail who had voted for the “murder legislation” be shot on sight.

On 6 December 1922, Sean Hales was shot and killed by Irregulars as he left the Dáil and another TD (Teachta Dála – Assembly Delegate) Pádraic O’Máille was badly wounded. Hales’ killing was declared to be in reprisal for the Free State’s execution of anti-treaty prisoners. In revenge for Hales’ killing then, four republican leaders, whom the Free State held in custody, were selected to be executed. On December 8th, 1922, Rory O’Connor and three other republicans (Liam Mellows, Richard Barrett and Joe McKelvey) captured with the fall of the Four Courts, were executed by firing squad in reprisal for the killing of Free State TD Sean Hales. The execution order was given by Kevin O’Higgins, who less than a year earlier had Rory O’Connor in his wedding party. When O’Connor was to be searched upon his capture at the Four Courts, he hid a treasured souvenir which he later had sewn into the hem of his pants and which was eventually buried with him. It was the gold souvenir coin given to him by Kevin O’Higgins for being his Best Man! Such was the irony and the bitterness of the division that the Treaty caused. Brother Hibernian Rory O’Connor and the other executed republicans were subsequently seen as martyrs by the Republican Movement.

It took years for the rift to heal and today, from the distance of all the years in between, we can understand the differences held by the belligerents who walked their own roads toward the common goal of a free and united Ireland. And, in December, 1922, a number of Irish patriots – bitter rivals, though former comrades – met once more in Tir na n’Og.

THE MANCHESTER MARTYRS

The failure of the Fenian uprising in Ireland in 1867 should have dashed the hope of freeing Ireland by militant means, but two escaped Fenians, Thomas Kelly and Timothy Deasy, went to England to reorganize Fenians there. Both had been officers in America’s Civil War and had key roles in the Clan na Gael. Kelly had been declared Head of the Irish Republic and Deasy, a member of Lawrence, MA AOH Div. 8, had led a Fenian brigade. On 11 September 1867, they were arrested in London and on the 18th they were bound for Belle Vue Jail in a locked police van escorted by 12 mounted police. As the van passed under a railway arch, about 35 men leaped over a wall at the side of the road, surrounded the van and seized the horses. The unarmed police fled. The rescuers called on Sergeant Brett, inside the van, to open the locked door. Brett refused, so one of the rescuers placed his revolver at the keyhole of the van to blow the lock unaware that Brett just bent over to look through the keyhole to see what was happening outside. The bullet killed him instantly. The door was unlocked with keys taken from Sergeant Brett’s pocket by another prisoner in the van. The van was opened and Kelly and Deasy were free.

The rescue was the only bit of positive news that the Irish had after the failure of the rising. However, British police invaded Manchester’s Irish section and brought in dozens of suspects arbitrarily selected in raids that were described as a ‘reign of terror.’ Of those apprehended, 26 were sent for trial on 28 October for murder, felony, and misdemeanor. It was decided to charge five, selected at random, as the principal offenders – William Allen, Michael Larkin, Michael O’Brien, Edward Condon and Thomas Maguire – despite none of them having fired the fatal shot. The vengeful jury returned a verdict of guilty for each of the five. When asked if they had anything to say, Allen stated his innocence and Larkin said ‘I forgive all who have sworn my life away.’ O’Brien claimed that all the evidence given against him was false and that, as an American citizen, he ought not to be facing trial in a British court. He went on to condemn the British as tyrannical rulers of Ireland. Condon admitted to having organized the attack in his role as leader of the north-west section of the movement, but claimed that he ‘never threw a stone or fired a pistol; I was never at the place, it is all totally false.’ At the end of his testimony he shouted, ‘God save Ireland!’ The cry was taken up by his companions in the dock. Allen, Larkin, O’Brien, Maguire and Condon were all sentenced to death by hanging, once again crying ‘God save Ireland’ after each sentence was pronounced – a phrase that has been immortalized in song.

The trial took place in what was called a climate of anti-Irish hysteria by the weekly Reynold’s Newspaper, which described it as a ‘deep and everlasting disgrace to the English government, the product of an ignoble panic which seized the governing classes. A yell of vengeance had issued from every aristocratic organ, and that before any evidence had been obtained, the prisoners’ guilt was assumed and their executions had been demanded.’ In Maguire’s case the witnesses who testified that Maguire was in the forefront of the attack had their evidence disproved. An appeal resulted and Maguire was granted a pardon. Many believed that the others would also be saved since they had been convicted on evidence by the same witnesses who perjured themselves against Maguire. Condon was pardoned on the eve of his execution, but Allen, Larkin and O’Brien were not as fortunate.

Throughout Manchester, silent congregations with tear-stained faces attended an early Mass for the souls the three innocent Irishmen doomed to die the morning of 23 November outside the New Bailey prison. To make matters worse, the executioner was incompetent and mis-calculated the correct length of rope required to break the neck of each victim. When the trap floor was released, Allen died almost instantly from a broken neck, but Larkin and O’Brien did not. A local priest in attendance, Father Gadd, reported that the other two ropes, were stretched taut and tense by their still breathing, twisting burdens. The hangman had bungled the job! He then descended below the scaffold and there finished what he could not accomplish from above; he pulled on his victim’s legs to hasten death and in that manner he killed Larkin. Father Gadd refused to allow the hangman to dispatch O’Brien the same way, and for three-quarters of an hour the priest knelt, holding the dying man’s hands within his own, reciting the prayers for the dying. Then the long drawn out agony finally ended. He did O’Brien no favor!

The Daily Telegraph, like most of its contemporaries, described Sergeant Brett’s death as ‘a dastardly murder’, nevertheless they found enough ink to support reform in Ireland; ‘we may hang convicted Fenians with good conscience,’ they wrote, ‘but we should also thoroughly redress those evils distinctly due to English policy still supported by English power’. Despite the government’s ban on demonstrations for the Manchester Martyrs, as they were now called, funeral processions were held throughout Ireland, America and England during the weeks following the executions, attracting crowds of thousands. The demonstrations gave rise to an intense groundswell of anti-British sentiment among Irish communities around the world. The militant approach to achieving Irish independence was beginning to find new converts.

MARY ALDEN OSGOOD’s 1914 ADVENTURE

Throughout time, individuals have left their names on the pages of history. On occasion, that family name appears again, on a later page – generations apart – of that same or related history. For example, Archbishop Oliver Plunkett opposed English treachery against the Church in Ireland, and was hanged, drawn, and quartered for his stand on July 1, 1681. Generations later, in 1916, Joseph Mary Plunkett, a part of that same family opposed that same government in arms in the Easter Rising. Another family, who gave two prominent members to history, was the Stewarts. Charles Stewart was the commander of the U.S.S. Constitution, better known as Old Ironsides, and his place in American History is insured by the heroism he displayed defending his nation’s rights. Two generations later, his grandson, became a leading player in Irish history as he stood for his nation’s rights. Named for his maternal grandfather, he was Charles Stewart Parnell.

There is yet another name that is less known but no less deserving of inclusion in this discussion, and that is the name of Osgood. It is a name of one of the families that left England in the face of persecution and sailed to America at a time when such travel took a great deal of courage. They came on the Mayflower, and settled at Plymouth Rock. These Osgoods were part of the Puritan band celebrated in American history for many events from the first Thanksgiving to the Salem Witch Trials. Yet generations later, a daughter of that family would appear on history’s stage again. Her name was Mary Alden Osgood. A direct descendant of Americas earliest family, Mary had fractured both hips as a child, and spent 12 years on her back. She never fully recovered, and even simple efforts like walking remained an uncomfortable exercise for the rest of her life.   At a party in her home town of Boston, Mary met an Irish gentleman who had been a former clerk of the House of Commons in London. He had made a name for himself in 1903 with brilliant sea-novel “The Riddle of the Sands.” She fell in love with the young Irishman at first sight, and they were soon married. Her family presented them with a gift of a 28-ton, 49-foot yacht. It was a smart white ketch with white sails, and the young couple returned to Ireland with their new treasure.

In Ireland one hundred years ago (1914), thoughts of Home Rule were on everyone’s mind. It was an idea hatched by Isaac Butt and endorsed by Parnell, as a Parliamentary method of acquiring self-government for Ireland. Yet there was a loyalist element in the north of Ireland who were violently opposed to Home Rule. They claimed loyalty to the Crown, but in reality they preferred the status quo because it gave them undisputed dominance over the native Irish. As talks of Home Rule progressed, the northern dissidents formed a group called the Ulster Volunteers. They smuggled thousands of guns into Larne, and boldly announced that they were prepared to fight the very Crown to which they professed loyalty, if Home Rule were imposed. In the south, the Irish Volunteers were formed to counteract the Ulster Volunteers, but they were harmless because they were unarmed. Then secret contacts were made with pre-war Germany and a courageous 44-year-old former clerk of the House of Commons volunteered to smuggle arms into the Irish Volunteers on the yacht that he and his wife had received from her family as a wedding gift. Thus did Erskine Childers, and his wife Mary Alden Osgood Childers, whom he preferred to call Molly, become part of Irish history. They met the German Tug, Gladiator, on the high seas at 5:00 P.M. on the evening of July 12, 1914. A hot and sultry night, the sweat poured from them as they loaded 900 rifles and 29,000 rounds of ammunition onto their yacht ASGARD, with the help of Gordon Shephard, two Donegal fishermen, and Mary Spring Rice – cousin of the British Ambassador in Washington. For hours they struggled on decks that pitched and rolled in the choppy sea, with only the flame from the boat’s running lights to guide them. A near disaster occurred when one of the Gladiators lights came loose and dropped through the Asgard’s hatch. It bounced off Molly’s shoulder, covering her with paraffin before landing upside down in a heap of straw. The straw flared up in an instant. Molly snatched it away from the ammunition with her bare hands and stamped out the fire to everyone’s relief.

By two in the morning the cargo was loaded, and the weary Erskine Childers turned the Asgard toward Howth harbor after 14 days in the worst coastal storm in 32 years. They managed to make it to Howth by July 26. On the pier head stood Bulmer Hobson and The O’Rahilly (another principle of the Easter Rising who had married an American wife. She was Nancie Browne of Brownes Mills, New Jersey, but that’s another story). Forty Irish Volunteers helped unload the Asgard, after which The O’Rahilly gallantly leaned over and kissed Molly’s hand, saying in his thick Kerry accent, “You’re the greatest soldier here, Ma’am, indeed ye are.” Then to Molly’s American ears came what she later said sounded like “Tremenjus,” as The O’Rahilly turned to the assembled crowd and said “These ladies are after doing something tremenjus for oireland.” With the cargo unloaded, Erskine and Mary Osgood Childers sailed for England – a country which Mary’s ancestors had escaped centuries before and which she had just paid back for the rejection.

A footnote to the story is that in March of 1985, ASGARD sailed again. Not the yacht which brought the arms used in the Easter Rising — that splendid vessel is on permanent display in a place of honor in the Kilmainham Jail Museum in Dublin. This was ASGARD II — a 3-masted tall ship that served as the flagship of the Irish Navy. On that memorable day when the tall ships came to America from around the world, Ireland sent ASGARD II to represent her people. Few who saw her majestically sail by, knew that she had been named in honor of a wedding present from one of America’s first families. Her appearance among the tall ships paying tribute to America, was also a fitting tribute to a courageous American lady, who had a remarkable adventure in 1914!

SAD SEPTEMBER AND A SONG

One of Ireland’s most enduring songs was first published in 1843 in the Young Irelander newspaper, The Nation, under the title Clan Connaill War Song. Its words tell of a prolonged struggle which started in 1594, and is recognized today as the last stand that Ireland made as a nation under her own laws. Led by Red Hugh O’Donnell, in alliance with the great Ulster Chieftains Hugh O’Neill, and Hugh Maguire, the struggle became the Nine Years War, and their opponent was none other that Queen Elizabeth I.

The O’Donnells were clan chieftains of Tyr Connaill – the area known today as Donegal. Red Hugh, heir to the Chieftainship was captured by the British when just a boy of 16, and held in Dublin Castle as a hostage to insure Clan Connaill’s obedience. After 4-1/2 years in captivity, he dramatically escaped on Christmas Eve in 1591, and scrambled into the snow-covered Wicklow mountains, where the great Leinster chieftain Fiach McHugh O’Byrne found him near frozen to death. O’Byrne nursed the young prince back to health and sent him home. Red Hugh’s escape sent a thrill through all of Ireland, as messenger rode north, south, east, and west with the news that the heir of Tyr Connaill was safe.

Once back in Donegal, Red Hugh accepted the hereditary title of The O’Donnell and made an alliance with the two other great northern Chieftains, Hugh Maguire and Hugh O’Neill. For the next nine years, the three Hughs of Ulster decimated the queen’s army in Ireland. They were a national force of 1,000 horse-soldiers and 7,000 foot-soldiers at a time when the entire English force in Ireland was less than 2,000. In 1596, O’Neill swept through the north and each blow was echoed by O’Donnell and Maguire in the west.

In 1598, a reinforced English army of 4000 foot and 300 horse arrived to capture The Maguire’s fort at Enniskillen. The Irish met them on the Callan River at the Yellow Ford, and what happened next had never happened before in Ireland. On August 14, the English were outmaneuvered, outgunned and outfought. It was not the former un-disciplined martial style of traditional Irish foes and the recognition of Irish supremacy caused panic among the English troops. The Battle of Yellow Ford resulted in 3,000 English casualties and the loss of all arms and supplies. More than a victory, it was a national triumph. The Queen’s army had been destroyed; she was not on the brink of losing Ireland after Yellow Ford; she’d lost it and would spend a fortune to regain it.

In 1599, she sent Lord Essex with 16,000 troops. He foolishly lost much of his force chasing Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne into the Wicklow Mountains. After a comfortable summer in Dublin, Essex moved north in September, where he granted the Irish a truce and returned to Dublin. Elizabeth accused him of cowardice and Essex secretly returned to England to lead a rebellion against her. He ended up in the Tower, as Elizabeth poured men and money into the small remaining force she had in Ireland. Finally, she found the leader she’d been seeking. He was Lord Mountjoy, an efficient field commander whose campaign has never been forgotten: all things Irish – crops, homes, and cattle – were wantonly destroyed.

In September 1601, long-awaited Spanish aid arrived at Kinsale to help the Irish, but Mountjoy surrounded them. The Spanish Commander unwisely attacked, drawing the Irish into the battle prematurely to save him. The Irish force was outnumbered, and their substantial losses included Hugh Maguire. It was the most decisive battle in Irish history; the new Irish nation was dealt a mortal blow in its infancy. The Irish retreated to Ulster as O’Donnell went to Spain to negotiate more aid. Mountjoy dispatched an agent to Spain who poisoned the 28-year old Red Hugh O’Donnell on September 10, 1602.

Mountjoy continued his `scorched earth’ policy, which tore at O’Neill since his countrymen were paying the price for his rebellion. When he heard of Red Hugh’s death, he knew that all was lost. To end the nightmare, O’Neill surrendered. The old Gaelic system of law and government was broken. Then in 1607, London summoned O’Neill and O’Donnell’s successor to answer charges of planning another rebellion. Knowing that English planters were ready to seize their lands, O’Neill and O’Donnell knew their destruction was at hand. Their only course was escape.

The hearts of the Irish were broken as the noblest princes of Erin – Ruari O’Donnell and his brothers; Conor Maguire, brother of the slain Hugh; and Hugh O’Neill and his three sons – sailed from Lough Swilly in French ships on September 14, 1607. They were followed by almost 100 other Chieftains in what became known as The Flight of the Earls. The last Irish defense against English tyranny went with them.

Three of Ireland’s great tragedies: the Spanish landing in 1601 which precipitated the battle of Kinsale, the poisoning of Red Hugh O’Donnell in 1602, and the Flight of the Earls in 1607, all took place during the sadness of September. But the memory of Red Hugh, and what might have been, lived on. In fact, his memory remained so cherished by his countrymen that over 200 years later, when the Clan Connaill War Song was first published, it immediately became one of Ireland’s most popular songs. It remained a favorite through the years, and when the new Irish government was selecting a national anthem, it came a close second to the Soldiers Song. That it still holds a place in the hearts of the Irish around the world, is evidenced by the fact that it was adopted by America’s largest Irish organization, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, as their official song, and so it remains today under its more popular title of O’Donnell Abu.