Tag Archives: County Kerry

Irishmen registered for U.S. draft 100 years ago

One hundred years ago, on 5 June 1917, the United States conducted its first military draft to support the war in Europe it entered two months earlier. Many Irish-born or Irish-American men lined up to sign up, including my grandfather, Willie Diggin, and his future brother-in-law, John Ware, both emigrants of Kerry. Below is an edited chapter of my book, “His Last Trip: An Irish-American Story,” about draft day in Pittsburgh. MH

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The United States tried to isolate itself from the war that erupted in August 1914, but American industry was closely tied to events in Europe. Pittsburgh steel mills operated around the clock to meet the demands of the unprecedented military buildup on the continent. Carnegie Steel alone hired 8,000 additional workers in 1915 as Willie began his career as a streetcar motorman, two years after his arrival from Ireland.

When America finally entered the war in April 1917, Congress quickly authorized a draft to build the military. The first round of registration set for June 5 required men ages 21 to 31 to sign up, including non-citizens. This presented a conflict for Irish immigrants with strong nationalist views who had openly supported Germany against England, Ireland’s historical oppressor. Such a position now became treasonous.

Only a few people openly opposed the war in Pittsburgh. In the final days before the draft four men ages 19 to 21 were arrested and charged with treason for distributing fliers opposing the conscription. Churches asked the mayor to close bars so that “young men under the exhilaration or depression of the day may have removed from them the temptation of drink.” The president of the liquor retailers association promised his members would voluntarily go dry for the day because “it was the least we could do and patriotism demanded it from us.”

Willie Diggin, undated.

Willie registered at the Hazelwood Police and Patrol Station at the corner of Hazelwood Avenue and Lytle Street. The two-story brick building was located a half mile west of the streetcar car barn where he worked. Uniformed police officers bustled about the station, enhancing the military atmosphere. American flags snapped in the breeze as showers and thunderstorms raked across the city. News accounts reported that most registration lines were “orderly and cheerful.”

Nearly 3,200 men registered in Hazelwood between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m., a pace of 228 per hour. Many of the men were workers from the nearby B & O Railroad switch yards and J&L steel mill. They shuffled through the lines with smudged faces, dirty hands and soiled clothing. Willie was joined in the line by other streetcar men in their Pittsburgh Railways uniforms.

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“Coolatully,” a play about rural Ireland, makes U.S. debut

“Coolatully,” a fictional village in rural Ireland and the title of a 2014 one-act play by Fiona Doyle, is making its U.S. debut in Washington, D.C. Solas Nua (new light), a contemporary Irish arts organization, is presenting the play at Mead Theatre Lab at Flashpoint through 26 March.

The play is set in post-Celtic Tiger rural Ireland, where jobs are tough to find and the fictional town can no longer field a hurling team because too many players have left for Canada, New Zealand and Australia. (If there’s any mention of America, I missed it, reminding U.S. audiences that we aren’t the only option for emigrants.) Kilian, the hero of a long-past teen league championship match, is torn between staying or leaving.

More in this short Solas Nua video featuring members of the D.C. cast:

In a review of an earlier London production, The Guardian said the play “paints a plausible picture of the modern Celtic twilight … [and] tells us, very touchingly, what it is like to be young in rural Ireland today and pins down vividly the tendency to romanticize the past and future to make up for the disquieting present.”

Doyle has written nearly a dozen plays, according to her literary agency bio. She studied in Berlin and London, and lives in County Kerry.

 

 

Obama will return to Ireland in ‘coming year or so’

Outgoing President Barack Obama will return to the Republic of Ireland “in the coming year or so,” according to U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O’Malley. “The last sentence the president said to me … [4 January] when we were saying goodbye, was ‘please tell them I’m coming’,” O’Malley told RTÉ host Marian Finucane.

While the location or context of his return is less clear than the timing, Obama is generally popular in Ireland. His May 2011 visit included a stop in Moneygall, County Offaly, the ancestral home of his great-great-great grandfather.

Since then, a service plaza was erected in Obama’s honor on the M7 motorway just outside the village. In addition to petrol and fast food, the place is packed with Obama souvenirs, plus memorabilia of popular presidents Bill Clinton and John F. Kennedy. In a contemporary sense, it might be the most Irish-American spot in all of Ireland, through certainly not the most scenic or historic.

Barack Obama in Moneygall in 2011.

Obama, who also visited Northern Ireland in June 2013 for a G8 summit, leaves office 20 January, the inaugural of President-elect Donald Trump, who owns a golf resort in Doonbeg, County Clare. O’Malley will leave his Dublin post a few days earlier due to a demanded from the incoming administration that all non-career ambassadors depart immediately.

IrishCentral, citing a tweet from New York Times writer Maggie Haberman, reports the next U.S. Ambassador to Ireland will be philanthropist and businessman Brian Burns, the grandson of an emigrant from Sneem, County Kerry.  Burns, 80, and his wife, Eileen, have been close friends of Trump through the Palm Beach and Mar-A-Lago connection.

O’Malley, a St. Louis trial lawyer whose grandparents emigrated from County Mayo in the early 20th century, was appointed by Obama in June 2014 after a record-setting 18-month gap following the departure former ambassador and Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney.

Casement execution anniversary ends 1916 centennial

Roger Casement, a Dublin-born British diplomat turned Irish republican rebel, was executed 100 years ago. He was hanged as a traitor on 3 August 1916 at Pentonville Prison in London, the last of 16 government executions related to the Easter Rising of four months earlier.

This anniversary ends the official 1916 centennial commemoration.

Casement was part of a failed effort to land arms from Germany for the Rising at the Kerry coast, where he was captured by the British. During my recent visit to Ireland, I viewed the excellent “Casement in Kerry, a revolutionary journey” exhibit at the County Kerry Museum. Additional stories about Casement can be found in An Phoblacht, the Irish republican party Sinn Féin newspaper, and The Irish Times.

In 1965, Casement’s remains were exhumed from the English prison yard and returned to Dublin for a state funeral. He was buried along with other Irish heroes at Glasnevin Cemetery.

Casement's grave at Glasnevin.

Casement’s grave at Glasnevin.

 

County Kerry Museum exhibit.

County Kerry Museum exhibit.

Going to Ireland? Some tips and links

I just returned from two wonderful weeks in Ireland and Northern Ireland. Several family members, friends and other social media contacts have expressed an interest in traveling there, or already have plans to visit. I know that not everyone shares my interest in Irish history, but here are some notes and links from my trip to incorporate into your own itinerary, as you see fit. Enjoy!

DUBLIN

  • The National Archives of Ireland and National Library of Ireland have excellent resources, online and onsite. You’ll have to get an easy-to-obtain readers ticket in each place to view material in person. You’ll want to visit the library’s impressive main reading room, whether you are doing research or not.
  • This year is the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. The effort to break from Britain failed at the time, but inspired the successful war of independence (which also created partition) a few years later. No visit to Dublin is complete without stopping at the General Post Office, or GPO, the epicenter of the 1916 revolt. The 1818 building, where you still buy stamps and conduct other business, now also offers an “immersive exhibition and visitor attraction.”
  • Some of the most important people in Irish history are buried at Glasnevin Cemetery, which offers walking tours and also has a fine permanent exhibit. Highly recommended. Photos from my earlier post.
  • EPIC Ireland, which opened in May, bills itself as “Dublin’s dramatic new interactive visitor experience that showcases the unique global journey of the Irish people.” It’s located in old shipping storehouses next to the River Liffey. A modern mall filled with restaurants and shops shares space in the chq Building.
  • See the famous Book of Kells and tour Trinity College Dublin.
  • Ireland has a strong theater tradition. I saw “The Wake” at the Abbey Theatre. IrishTheatre.ie lists venues and shows on both sides of the border.
The GPO in Dublin.

The GPO in Dublin.

BELFAST

  • Titanic Belfast. Would you visit Washington without going to the Smithsonian? Paris without a stop at the Louvre? Titanic Belfast is a modern museum experience (it inspired EPIC Ireland) about the ill-fated liner and the city that built it in the early 20th century.
  • Several companies offer “black taxi tours” of West Belfast, a once dangerous “no go” zone during the worst violence of the Troubles. The area remains divided into Catholic and Protestant neighborhoods, but is safe for these daytime guided tours, which help the local economy. Just don’t shout “God Bless the Pope” in the loyalist Shankill Road, or “God Bless King Billy” in the nationalist Falls Road. Photos from my earlier post.
  • Take a free tour of the stunning Belfast City Hall, at the city center.
  • Visit the campus of Queens University and enjoy shops and restaurants of the surrounding neighborhood.
View of the former Harland & Wolff dry docks where the "Titanic' was built and launched in 1912 from inside the Titanic Belfast museum.

View of the former Harland & Wolff dry docks where the “Titanic’ was built and launched in 1912 from inside the Titanic Belfast museum.

THE “KINGDOM OF KERRY” & WEST OF IRELAND

  • There are many things to see and do on the rugged west side of the island, “the back of beyond.” Consider driving some (or all) of the Wild Atlantic Way, a 1,600-mile coastal route stretching between Cork in the south and Derry in Northern Ireland.
  • Shameless promotion here for County Kerry, home of my maternal grandmother and grandfather.
View of the coast at County Kerry from along the "Wild Atlantic Way."

View of the coast at County Kerry from along the “Wild Atlantic Way.”

Here are a few other tips and suggestions:

  • Major U.S. voice and data providers offer service for the island of Ireland. My iPhone switched to an Irish carrier before I reached my baggage at the Dublin airport; clicked to a U.K. telecom while on the train to Belfast; then back to the Republic provider on my return to the 26 counties.
  • Data service in the West of Ireland is spotty, so be prepared to use a paper map and ask for directions rather then relying on Google Maps. Besides, you’re in Ireland! Do you really want to be looking at your screen all the time?
  • That said, don’t forget to bring a power adapter/converter to recharge your phone and other electronics. Outlets are different than in the U.S.
  • Be prepared to drive from the right side of the vehicle on the left side of the road. Just remember that as the driver you should be toward the center of the road, passenger on the outside, same as in the U.S. You will pay a premium to drive a car rented in the Republic in Northern Ireland.
  • Transit and taxi service is excellent in Dublin and Belfast. You don’t need a car in either city. You will if you want to explore the rest of the country.
  • Let your bank and credit card company know that you’re traveling overseas. Grab hard currency from an ATM as needed. Easy!

UPDATES: ‘Blood,’ ‘Snow’ and the Irish Proclamation

I want to update three blogs from earlier this year. Links are provided to the original post. It’s also a good time for me to say, “Thanks for reading!”

Thanks for repairing ‘Deed of Blood’

In May, I wrote about finding the missing passages of a 19th century political pamphlet, “A Deed of Blood,” which had been cut from the text of a copy I borrowed from the University of Notre Dame. I received a nice note from Therese C. Bauters, supervisor of Interlibrary Lending Services, at ND’s Hesburgh Library:

I received your return of “Deed of Blood” and thank you for your good will in sending us the missing pages (cut out).  Why anyone would ruin material is always beyond my understanding. The Notre Dame Libraries appreciate your thoughtfulness in sending the information to complete this title.  We will have it prepared and bound together.

Cover of the 1888 pamphlet.

Cover of the 1888 pamphlet.

More on ‘Alfred D. Snow’ crew list

In March, I wrote about the wreck of the ship “Alfred D. Snow” near the Wexford coast in 1888, based on my review of U.S. consulate in Ireland records at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. The Cork consulate’s documentation included a list of the 28 missing crew. Later reporting contains several discrepancies in the men’s names, including the lone Irishman aboard the ill-fated ship. I reached out to John Power, author of “A Maritime History of County Wexford.”

“The receiver of wrecks in Wexford at the time was William Coghlan and the Lloyds agent was Jasper Welsh. The two were very intelligent in collecting information because they visited every shipwreck around the Wexford coast [in those] days. They would have supplied the report to the local People newspaper.

Power sent me a clipping from the newspaper, published three weeks after the tragedy, with “the correct list of the crew,” including “Michl. O’Sullivan, a native of Ireland, aged 38.” The crew list in the consulate’s records, which is undated, shows the Irishman as “Thos Lloyd” (or Floyd) of “Ireland England.”

Crew1

Crew list from 'Alfred D. Snow' at U.S. consulate office in Cork, 1888.

Crew list from ‘Alfred D. Snow’ at U.S. consulate office in Cork, 1888. The Irishman is the last name on the bottom image.

 

 

 

 

 

Irish American Partnership and ‘Proclamation Day’

In January, I heard former Irish President Mary Robinson speak at the fourth annual Nollaig na mBan breakfast in Washington, D.C.  The event is sponsored by The Irish American Partnership, which distributed copies of the 1916 Irish Proclamation to the guests. As part of the nation’s centennial commemoration, the Irish government and national school system encouraged students to “write a proclamation for a new generation.”

In its “1916 Commemoration Report,” released in April, the Partnership reports that $12,000 was raised at the breakfast for Ireland’s first presidential library, appropriately honoring the Republic’s first woman president–Robinson. It also reproduces two of the student proclamations, one from the Tarbert National School in North Kerry. This  is six miles from where my maternal grandmother lived until her emigration four years before the Easter Rising. The Tarbert students wrote, in part:

…we shall undertake the responsibility to keep our rivers, lakes and coastline unpolluted. … We wish to promote and preserve the Irish language throughout all the counties of Ireland. We treasure our history and culture, our myths and legends, our poets and musicians, our Irish dancing and Gaelic games.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson gave the keynote speech at the fourth annual Nollaig na mBan hosted by the Irish American Partnership. The event celebrates Irish and Irish-American female leaders and the positive impact they have worldwide.

Former Irish President Mary Robinson gave the keynote speech at the fourth annual Nollaig na mBan hosted by the Irish American Partnership. The event raised $12,000 for her presidential library.

 

 

JFK’s birth cenntennial: Between Duganstown and Dallas

Daniel Donoghue and Father William O’Keeffe witnessed the triumph of Duganstown; but they each died before the tragedy of Dallas.

The 99th anniversary of the birth of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (29 May 2016) begins a countdown to next year’s centennial celebration. Fishamble, an Irish theater company, recently debuted six “tiny plays” inspired by Kennedy’s life at the Washington, D.C. performing arts center named in his honor, part of a year-long series of tributes. More remembrances will surely be scheduled in other places, including Boston and in Ireland.

Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, the 35th president of the United States was the youngest man (43) and first Irish Catholic elected to the nation’s highest office. There are many aspects of Kennedy’s life worth exploring, but I’ve become interested in his last five months, the period from his triumphant “homecoming” to Ireland, 26-29 June 1963, the first visit by a U.S. president while in office, to his assassination in Dallas on 22 November 1963.

President John F. Kennedy, left, speaks at welcoming ceremony in Duganstown, New Ross, Ireland. Image from JFK Presidential Library & Museum.

Kennedy described the 1963 visit as “the best four days of my life.” It wasn’t his first trip to Ireland, but it was the most historic and symbolic, including his address to the Dail, and return to his ancestral homestead at Dunganstown, New Ross, County Wexford. Four months later, 15 October 1963, Kennedy welcomed Irish Taoiseach Sean Lemass to the White House. The host told his guest that in several days of traveling in America he would see “more Irish men and Irish woman who were either born in Ireland or bear Irish blood than you would see in several years in Ireland.”

I was intrigued by the interval between Kennedy’s visit and his death, so I went looking for Irish and Irish Americans who died between 30 June 1963 (after his trip) and 21 November 1963 (before his assassination.) It is a somewhat arbitrary way of selecting a cohort. Yet the magnitude of the two events, I believe, makes for interesting parameters to explore Kennedy, the Irish and Irish America. They are not “Kennedy’s Children,” but rather his big brothers and sisters, his cousins and colleagues. The first two people I found were Daniel Donoghue and Fr. William O’Keeffe.

Donoghue, a retired Metropolitan (Washington) Police lieutenant, was typical of the people Kennedy was referring to in his greeting to Lemass, though he had recently departed from their ranks, dead of a heart attack at 65 on 18 September 1963. The County Kerry native immigrated to America in 1915, when he was 17, according to an obituary in The Washington Post. He served on the police force until 1953, then moved to the Maryland suburbs, where he remained active in the Retired Metropolitan Police Association. In the 1920s, Donoghue was a charter member of St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in D.C.’s Petworth neighborhood. He belonged to the Holy Name Society.

Donoghue was a likely Kennedy voter in 1960 and certainly had paid close attention to the president’s visit to Ireland. It is unclear whether the former cop ever got himself back to Ireland. He left a year before the Rising, but was old enough to have followed Ireland’s struggle for independence, bloody civil war and partition as he established his life in America. He also would have lived through the humiliating defeat of Al Smith, the first Irish-Catholic presidential candidate, in 1928. 

To me, Donoghue is part of a “greatest generation” of Irish and Irish Americans who lived through the country’s revolutionary period and transformation from Irish Free State to Republic of Ireland. In America, their adult lives spanned from Smith’s defeat to Kennedy’s election and trip to Ireland. They died before the tragedy in Dallas and outbreak of The Troubles.

As Irish Catholics, this generation witnessed the peak ascendance of their church and its schools, hospitals and other institutions in America and their own acceptance as adherents of the faith by nearly all aspects of U.S. society. They died before the changes of Vatican II, the decline of European ethnic-religious identity and the revelations of church scandals on both sides of the Atlantic.

Father O’Keeffe was another member of this cohort. Spiritual director at Clonliffe College in Dublin, he died 27 August 1963, at age 56, during an extended visit to America.

He was born in 1907 at Kanturk, County Cork, and ordained in 1932 from Maynooth College, a member of the Vincentian Fathers. He was a language expert who taught in Belgium and Italy, as well as in Ireland. His skills brought the attention of the British Government during World War II, according to his obituary in the Post.

“Working under complete secrecy, he spent the war years broadcasting coded messages to the anti-Nazi underground in occupied France, Denmark and the Low Countries,” the Post said. “It was reported that he had been in occupied Europe on missions with the various undergrounds.”

Fr. O’Keeffe “was visiting childhood friends” in Glen Cove, New York, on Long Island, when he was struck down by a cerebral hemorrhage, the obit said. Surely they had talked about Kennedy’s visit to Ireland earlier that summer, and may have heard about plans for Lemass’ trip to America.

I intend to pursue more such stories over the coming year and would welcome the input of my readers. The lives of people with direct connections to JFK would make for even better stories, but that’s not a requirement. Let me hear from you.

Finding the missing passages of ‘A Deed of Blood’

Land-related violence in late 19th century Ireland was euphemistically known as “agrarian outrage.” Mutilating a rare political pamphlet about those crimes might be called librarian outrage.

For several years now I’ve been exploring Ireland’s Land War period, 1879-1889. In particular, I’ve focused on the 1888 murders of farmers James Fitzmaurice and John Foran, which occurred within six months and just a few miles of each other in the northern section of County Kerry. Both men were condemned as “landgrabbers” for leasing property after other farmers were evicted. In the case of Fitzmaurice, the previous tenant was his brother.

Cover of the 1888 pamphlet.

Cover of the 1888 pamphlet.

In the 1880s, the Irish National League (or Land League) was waging a campaign to break the grip of absentee landlords, who controlled hundreds of thousands of acres. Farmers were told to refuse paying their rents until the League negotiated lower rates and other rights. When landlords evicted tenants for these or other reasons, the League provided financial assistance and housing. It also declared that the acreage should not be leased by other locals and remain fallow.

Because Fitzmaurice and Foran did not abide these strategies, they were condemned by League officials and subjected to social and economic ostracism, or boycotting. Notices of their offenses were posted near the leased property and at local market places. Each man received limited police protection, but both fatally waved off the security. (Read my piece on the Foran murder for The Irish Story.)

The 68-year-old Fitzmaurice was shot point blank by two assailants near Lixnaw, Kerry, on 31 January 1888. His daughter Nora, about 20, witnessed the murder in the “cold grey dawn of morning,” according to a 16-page political pamphlet, “A Deed of Blood,” published a few weeks after the crime.

“A Deed of Blood” was produced by the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union, an alliance of Irish businessmen, landowners and academics who sought to preserve the existing political ties with Great Britain. The group was formed in 1885 to oppose efforts by Charles Stuart Parnell and the Irish Parliamentary Party to win land reform and limited domestic autonomy, called home rule.

The pamphlet featured original reporting and quoted from newspaper coverage of the Fitzmaurice murder. It appeared in mid February 1888, shortly after two men were charged with the murder, but before their trial, conviction and execution by hanging at the end of April. For the ILPU, the crime was “yet another link … added to the strong chain of evidence connecting the National League with the latest murder in Kerry.”

Probably only a few hundred copies of “A Deed of Blood” were ever printed and distributed, most likely in London and Dublin. Two copies of the pamphlet are listed on WorldCat, the online global library catalog: one at the Hesburgh Library at the University of Notre Dame, the other at the University of Manchester Library in the U.K.

I obtained Notre Dame’s copy of the pamphlet through an interlibrary loan and was disappointed to learn that “some pages [are] cut,” according to the library’s notes. A total of three paragraphs are clipped from two pages, creating a gap-tooth effect that also disrupts the narrative flow on the opposite pages.

So I reached out to the University of Manchester to obtain intact copies of the four mutilated pages. Here are the missing passages:

  • Cut from the bottom of page 10 is a reference to the 12 June 1887 resolution against Fitzmaurice by the Lixnaw branch of the National League, which was “unanimously adopted.” The missing section at the bottom of page 9 describes “threatening notices” against Fitzmaurice posted near the disputed property on 6 April 1887.
  • The cut section at the top of page 11 continues the resolution against Fitzmaurice from the bottom of page 10. It is attributed to the 18 June 1887 issue of the Kerry Weekly Reporter. Missing from the top of page 12 is the headline ‘The Landlord’s Story,’ which quotes from a letter by Mr. S. M. Hussey.
  • Cut from the middle of page 11 is the text of an October 1887 resolution against the future victim, which calls on the public to show their “disapprobation of the conduct of James Fitzmaurice, who has been so base and inhuman as to grab his brother’s land.” From the middle of page 12 is part of Hussey’s letter that Edmond Fitzmaurice’s farm “seemed hopeless” because “he either could not or would not pay his rent.”

The ILPU later republished the pamphlet in a collection of its works from 1888, but without small details such as the drawing shown below. This version is available online through the Hathi Trust Digital Library.

I’ve sent copies of the four intact pages of the University of Manchester pamphlet to the University of Notre Dame with my interlibrary return. I know this isn’t the type of text many readers or researchers seek on a regular basis. When they do, however, they should get the full story of “A Deed of Blood.”

Page detail from 'A Deed of Blood.'

Page detail from ‘A Deed of Blood.’

Letters to Ireland: Republic plans to modernize postal service

Every year I mail a Christmas card to a relation in Ireland who lives in the rural house where my grandfather was born in 1894. All that’s required for the address is the surname, the townland name, Lahardane, and County Kerry. No street name or number are required, because none exist.

That’s about to change.

The Republic is preparing to introduce postal codes in spring 2015. Each of the country’s more than 2.1 million residential and business addresses will be assigned a seven-digit mix of numbers and letter.

Some people worry the upgrade will erase a wee bit of Ireland’s small country charms. Others are happy to see the modernization. The Wall Street Journal reports:

Ireland has tried, and failed, to deliver a postal-code system before. But costs—and, until recently, resistance by postal workers—have stymied efforts. The current system comes with a price tag of $32 million and, this time, the stamp of approval of the country’s postal service. …

An Post, Ireland’s postal service, argued for years that postal codes were too expensive and complicated. There were also fears that postal codes would make it easier for private courier services to swoop in, triggering layoffs of postal workers. Supporters quietly argued that codes actually might boost post-office traffic by making it easier to send junk mail.

There are other concerns, as The Irish Times reports:

Critics say the opportunity has been missed to use Ireland’s clean-slate status to produce a technologically innovative postcode system that would be at the cutting edge globally; similar to the competitive leap that was provided when the State switched to a digital phone network in the 1980s, well ahead of most of the world. …

Because each postcode will reveal the exact address of a home or business, privacy advocates are concerned that online use of postcodes could link many types of internet activity, including potentially sensitive online searches, to a specific household or business.

Irish postal workers model new uniforms in front of the GPO in 2011.

Irish postal workers model new uniforms in front of the GPO in 2011.

The headquarters of Ireland’s mail service, the General Post Office in Dublin, was at the center of the 1916 Rising. It will be the focus of attention through April 2016 as the nation prepares to celebrate the centennial of the event. A museum on the site details “the little known story of the staff who were actually in the GPO on Easter Monday.”

I’ll look forward to sending a last Christmas card to Lahardane that doesn’t require a postal code. I know it will arrive safely.

New book explores Kerry’s GAA history, 1884-1934

A new book about the first 50 years of Gaelic Athletic Association activity in County Kerry has come to my attention thanks to a review on the History Ireland website. “Forging a Kingdom: The GAA in Kerry 1884-1934” by Richard McElligott was published last fall by The Collins Press.

The book does a fine job of blending political, social and sporting events in Kerry in the context of the GAA’s role in the broader history of Ireland, according to the reviewer:

“No stone is left unturned in tracing the contours of this development, through the ups and downs of the Irish National League, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, agricultural productivity and the rural economy of Kerry, emigration, other sports, the Gaelic League, rail transport, the Irish Volunteers and the IRA, the wars of 1919–23, the internal structures of the GAA in the county and key administrative figures, as well as the role of Kerrymen in America and the evolution of the games themselves. Throughout the book, McElligott demonstrates clearly how interwoven was (and is) the GAA into the fabric of society. For this reason, “Forging the Kingdom” constitutes an invaluable text on the history of a county and the dynamics of rural nationalist Ireland, let alone on the sporting aspect.”

Forging_A_Kingdom

I don’t yet have my copy of the book. I used Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature to peek at some of what McElligott (@RichardMcELL) has written about my own area of interest, the Land War period of the late 19th century. He writes:

“By the mid-1880s, the press described the county as ‘the most criminally disturbed, the most evicted, the most rack-rent county in all of Ireland.’ Land agitation had gripped the county with such force that for most of the decade, Kerry was at the forefront of agrarian disturbance and subsequent government coercion to eliminate it.”

Here’s a NewsTalk podcast with McElligott.

The GAA (@officialgaa) has a history section on its official website. This link is to the Kerry GAA site, which also can be followed on Twitter @Kerry_Official.