Tag Archives: Daniel O’Connell

A ‘quiet day’ in Ireland’s civil war, 1923

Irish Free State representatives and anti-Free State republicans early in January 1923 confronted each other over control of $2.5 million of bond funds raised in the United States. As the showdown unfolded at the the Irish consulate in New York City, some U.S. newspapers suggested the Irish civil war had to come to America. The “Battle of Nassau Street”[1]”Irish Picketing Hylan, Riot Call  From Consulate”, Daily News (New York City), Jan. 3, 1923. ended without violence after three days, but wrangling over the bonds continued until the 1930s.

In Ireland, the real civil war raged into its seventh month. U.S. papers detailed political efforts to resolve the internecine conflict and brief stories about episodes of violence. Denis O’Connell, an Irish-born correspondent for the Heart-owned Universal Service news wire, filed a Jan. 27, 1923, dispatch that attempted to give American readers a more comprehensive view of the suffering in Ireland, even on “quiet” days when there wasn’t “big news.” He described the shooting deaths and injuries to dozens of people, plus bombings, postal holdups, and railroad vandalism, with just a sentence or two devoted to each episode. O’Connell gave particular attention to the women “irregulars” fighting against the Free State government:

The soldiers do not search women in Dublin. Women frequently have thrown bombs in Dublin and used revolvers with deadly effect. Women have been caught in the mountains and wayside dugouts, shouldering rifles and sharing with the men all the hardships and exposure.

Partial clipping from the Jan. 28, 1923, issue of the Buffalo (N.Y.) Courier shows the top portion of the story’s two columns. This is not the full story.

O’Connell, a native of Cork city, was educated at the local Christian Brothers schools and began his career at the Cork Free Press. His coverage of the 1913 Dublin lockout caught the attention of the Heart-owned International News Service, which hired him as a London-based correspondent.[2]”Mr. Denis O’Connell” obituary, The Irish Press, May 18, 1949. The forename of his byline frequently appeared as “Daniel,” the same as Ireland’s 19th century “Liberator.” It’s unclear whether this was a pseudonym or garbled in the cable transmission. The byline appears both ways in multiple U.S. papers throughout the Irish revolutionary period.

O’Connell interviewed Éamon de Valera at his home in Dublin shortly after the Jan. 7, 1922, Anglo-Irish Treaty vote: ” ‘I am giving you the first authorized statement I have given to any press man since the beginning of the negotiations,’ said the Sinn Fein chieftain as he paced the floor. De Valera spoke carefully, slowly weighing every word before he uttered it.”[3]”New Regime Begins Rule For Ireland”, Oakland Tribune, Jan. 16, 1922; and “Mr. De Valera Interviewed”, Irish Examiner, Jan. 17, 1922.

Universal Service, which belonged to the Hearst empire in 1923, merged with International News in 1937. Other Irish and English journalists, based in Ireland and in England, worked for U.S. newspapers and wire services during the revolutionary period. O’Connell later became a correspondent for the Daily Express in Cork. He died in London in 1949.


1 ”Irish Picketing Hylan, Riot Call  From Consulate”, Daily News (New York City), Jan. 3, 1923.
2 ”Mr. Denis O’Connell” obituary, The Irish Press, May 18, 1949.
3 ”New Regime Begins Rule For Ireland”, Oakland Tribune, Jan. 16, 1922; and “Mr. De Valera Interviewed”, Irish Examiner, Jan. 17, 1922.

Charles Stewart Parnell returns to Parliament … sort of


Historians Conor Mulvagh and Diarmaid Ferriter discuss Parnell, plus a report on the opening of  the Charles Stewart Parnell museum at Avondale House in 1986, all from RTÉ Radio.


Long-dead Irish Parliamentary Party leader Charles Stewart Parnell, MP from 1871 to 1891, this week haunted the Brexit debate in the House of Commons.

Charles Stewart Parnell

Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Tory leader who supports the split from Europe, said the successful cross-party efforts to block a no-deal Brexit were “the most unconstitutional use of this House since the days of Charles Stewart Parnell, when he tried to bung up Parliament.”

As The Irish Times explained, Parnell disrupted the chamber’s sedate procedures in pursuit of Irish Home Rule more than 130 years ago.

Under Parnell’s leadership, the Irish Party adopted obstructionist tactics that brought the work of the Commons to a standstill for days on end. The most famous filibuster lasted for 41 hours in 1881 but the Irish MPs made a nuisance of themselves day in and day out in pursuit of their political goal.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, a Member of the European Parliament he wants to divorce, also revealed that he has “long been a great admirer” of Parnell. In fact, he keeps a picture of the 19th century constitutional nationalist in his Brussels office.

Parnell was “the Great Disruptor of the U.K. parliament” Farage said, according to several media reports. “I have tried, in the same way, to cause some disruption in the European Parliament … If you believe in the cause of national freedom and self-determination, you cannot consent to Brussels rule or being a member of the European Union.”

Many Irish seemed displeased about Parnell being exhumed by the Brexiteers.

“It is a compliment to Parnell – back-handed or otherwise – to suggest that his impact continues to resonate today. But beyond that, the politics espoused by Rees-Mogg and Farage shows no sympathy with Ireland,” the Times editorialized.

“No doubt [Rees-Mogg] was trying to imply that the Irish are always troublesome and that insistence on the backstop is in a tradition of Irish obstruction of British politics,” historian Felix Larkin wrote in a letter to The Guardian. “But he should remember that if it were not for Daniel O’Connell he would be ineligible to take his seat in the House of Commons by virtue of his [Catholic] religion.”

Parnell was even trending on Twitter. Some select posts:

  • Nice to see Parnell causing a bit of bother in the House of Commons again.
  • [Rees-Mogg] doesn’t deserve to even mention [Parnell’s] name.
  • Fairly certain that Parnell would have kicked the shit out of Rees-Mogg.

Rest in Peace: Parnell’s grave at Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, July 2016.