Tag Archives: Derry

Best of the Blog, 2019

Welcome to my seventh annual Best of the Blog–BOB. As always, I want to thank regular readers and new visitors for their support, including social media shares. Special thanks to my wife, Angie Drobnic Holan: editor, webmaster … my dear companion.

Back to Ireland …  

Inisheer, August 2019.

This year I made my ninth and tenth trips to the island of Ireland, traveling both times to the Republic and Northern Ireland. I’m starting this year’s BOB with a sampling of highlights from these 10 trips in just under 20 years:

May 2000: Pilgrimage to the Lahardane (Ballybunion) and Killelton (Ballylongford) townlands, North Kerry, birthplaces of my maternal grandfather and grandmother, respectively; and walked the Cobh waterfront where they emigrated in the early 20th century.

September/October 2001: Climbed Croagh Patrick … Interviewed surviving family at the Bloody Sunday Trust/Museum and watched testimony in the Bloody Sunday Inquiry at the Guild Hall, Derry. (Journalism fellowship from the German Marshall Fund.)

August 2007: (With Angie) Enchanted by the monastic ruins of Clonmacnoise (Offaly) and Glendalough (Wicklow). … Attended first play at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin: The Big House, by Lennox Robinson.

February 2009: Researched historic newspapers and census records at the National Library of Ireland and The National Archives of Ireland, Dublin, before they were digitized and made available online.

May/June 2012: (With Angie) Attended the Listowel Writers’ Week and heard Paul Durcan recite his poem “On the First Day of June” … on June 1, 2012 … at the Listowel Arms Hotel, the River Feale framed by the window at his back. … Strolled the Kinsale to Charles Fort (Cork) coastal walk, stopping for a lovely outdoor lunch.

July 2016: Toured the Falls/Shankill neighborhoods of Belfast by Black Taxi … Visited Titanic Belfast EPIC: The Irish Emigration Museum … and Glasnevin Cemetary (Part 1Part 2), the last two in Dublin.

February 2018: Researched at the Michael Davitt Museum and grave (Straide, County Mayo); and read Davitt’s papers at Trinity College Dublin. (Part 1 & Part 2).

November 2018: Walked a muddy, cow-crowded road to reach Killone Abbey (Clare), following the footsteps of American journalist William Henry Hurlbert, who wrote of visiting the site in 1888.

July/August 2019: (With Angie) Cycled the Great Western Greenway from Achill Island to Westport (Mayo). … Hiked the circumference of Inisheer (Aran Islands, Galway) on my 60th birthday, and viewed the Cliff of Moher, which I had visited on my 2000 trip, from the sea.

November 2019: Presented my research about American journalist Ruth Russell’s 1919 travels to Ireland at the Institute of Irish Studies, Queens University Belfast for the Newspaper and Periodical History Forum of Ireland annual conference.

Here are 2019 photo essays from both sides of the border:

From an evening walk on Inisheer, August 2019.

A few more photo essays from Irish America:

Before morning Mass at Old St. Patrick’s Church, Chicago, March 2019.

1919, Revisited … 

This year I enjoyed exploring U.S. mainstream and Irish-American newspaper coverage of 1919 events in Irish history. Find all 32 stand-alone posts, plus the five-part monograph, Ruth Russell in Revolutionary Ireland, at my American Reporting of Irish Independence series.

Other history highlights … 

… and guest posts

I am always grateful to the contributions of guest bloggers. This year:

The Antrim coast, July 2019.

Other news of note:

RIP Lyra McKee, journalist killed in Derry on April 19. She was 29, the same age as Ruth Russell when the American reporter arrived in Ireland in 1919. … U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, and U.S. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi–first, second, and third in succession of power in the American government–each visited Ireland in 2019. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. … Republic of Ireland golfer Shane Lowry won the British Open at Royal Portrush Golf Club in Northern Ireland, the first time since 1951 the Open has been held on the island of Ireland. … American businessman Edward F. Crawford became the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland. …Abortion and same-sex marriage were decriminalized in Northern Ireland, in part due to the dormant Northern Ireland Assembly. … See more at my monthly roundups from 2019 and previous years of Best of the Blog.

Libraries and Archives

Special thanks for the in-person help I received at these institutions in 2019:

  • Catholic University of America, American Catholic History Research Center and University Archives, and Mullen Library, Washington, D.C.
  • Georgetown University, Lauinger Library, Washington, D.C.
  • Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
  • Arlington Public Library, Central Library, Arlington, Va., and the numerous libraries that made books available through the Interlibrary Loan program.
  • University of Pittsburgh Archives Service Center, Pittsburgh
  • Heinz History Center, Detre Library & Archives, Pittsburgh
  • The Archives of the Sister of Charity of Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pa.
  • The Newberry, Chicago
  • Chicago Public Library, Herald Washington Library Center, Chicago
  • Queens University Belfast, McClay Library Special Collections, Belfast

And digital assistance from these institutions:

  • University College Dublin, Papers of Éamon de Valera (1882–1975), (Thanks again John Dorney of The Irish Story.)
  • National Library of Ireland, Patrick McCartan Papers (1912-1938)
  • University of Chicago Library, Special Collections Research Center
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, (Newspaper Collection), Springfield, Ill.
  • Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main, Pennsylvania Dept. Collections
  • Villanova University, Falvey Memorial Library, Joseph McGarrity Collection, Philadelphia
  • University of Kentucky, Margaret King Library, Louisville
  • University of Louisville, Ekstrom Library
  • Louisville Free Public Library
  • The Filson Historical Society, Louisville
  • Library of Congress, Chronicling America
  • Newspapers.com
  • Irish Newspaper Archives

Thanks again to all the librarians, archivists, and readers. Keep visiting this “journalist’s blog dedicated to Irish and Irish-American history and contemporary issues.”

Remembering Bloody Sunday’s uneaten Mars bar

First, the numbers: 45 years after 13 Catholic civil rights marchers were shot dead on Bloody Sunday, 18 members of the British Parachute Regiment that opened fire on them that day in Derry may soon face charges, John Kelly, brother of one of the victims, told The Irish Times.

Kelly also repeated the story he told me in 2001, when we met at the Bloody Sunday Trust, a museum, human rights advocacy and conflict resolution center. His brother Michael, 17, was carrying a Mars candy bar in his pocket at the time he was shot.

The sweet became part of the evidence in several tribunals that explored the events of Bloody Sunday. A 2010 report determined the victims (a 14th person died later) were innocent. British PM David Cameron apologized for the 1972 military action to the surviving families and the community. As yet, however, none of the soldiers has faced charges for the deaths.

More on the background and latest developments in this BBC story.

“We will be here as long as we need to be,” Kelly told me in 2001. “What’s a couple more years, since we have waited nearly 30 [now 45] to hopefully get truth and justice?”

The 1972 civil rights march in Derry, Northern Ireland, that became Bloody Sunday.

Guest post: questions about Brexit’s impact on Ireland

Less than two months ago, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent. Northern Ireland voters wanted to “Remain” in the EU by 56 percent to 44 percent. So far, most questions about the impact of the UK’s decision on the island of Ireland are unanswered.

A Question Lingers on the Irish Border: What’s Next?,” The New York Times reported 6 August:

Four decades of European integration have helped Ireland not only escape the shadow of Britain, but also improve relations with London and work with the British for peace in Northern Ireland. Now the question is whether Britain’s departure from the bloc will drive a wedge between them.

The Washington Post headline two days later: “The Brexit Wildcard? Ireland.

What will happen to the Irish isle, north and south, is one of the biggest wild cards of the Brexit vote. … What will happen to trade and travel is unknown — and there are even bigger questions being asked about unification of the island.

The Irish Times is devoting a special section to its ongoing Brexit coverage.

Timothy Plum has been traveling to both sides of the Irish border for more than 20 years on business, academic and personal reasons. Listen to him talk about “Conflict identity and school achievement in secondary education in Northern Ireland” in this 6 June podcast with Drive 105 radio host Eileen Walsh in Derry. Tim just returned to Washington, D.C. after spending a month in Belfast. He filed the guest post below the map. MH

northern_ireland_map.jpg (1200×961)

By TIM PLUM

Britain’s decision to leave the European Union was announced in the airplane cabin as my wife and I landed in Dublin in June. I was beginning a month of graduate work at Queens University, Belfast.

My first thought: How can this happen? My next thought: We’re on the ground in Ireland at a very historic moment for the island.

Reactions to the referendum ranged from outrage and quiet reservation to acceptance and joy. Perhaps nothing should surprise us in a year that has seen Donald Trump win the U.S. Republican Party nomination.

But the people we met were genuinely stunned by the Brexit vote. They soon grew more bewildered as PM David Cameron resigned and left the mess for someone else to clean up.

The outrage was most pronounced among the students, professors and staff at QUB. They could not believe the “stupidity” (their word, not mine) of the conservatives in London who managed to scare people into voting “Leave,” then quickly exited the political stage themselves. Boris Johnson and Neil Farage were among those who abandoned the ship when the country needed their help.

We also heard quiet reservation from wait staff, hotel workers and bar patrons. Some of the later group insisted to my wife that Brexit might work, and that we should support Trump.

I personally know two people in Derry who voted “Leave” and supported the outcome. Their reasoning was simple: economics in the EU are a mess and perhaps standing alone will bring more prosperity.

I raised the possibility of renewed border controls and stiff tariffs that EU nations promise to put on UK goods. But I could not persuade them to change their views, even as Theresa May became PM and appointed Johnson as Foreign Secretary.

So I guess we will have to see what happens once May files the Article 50 to begin the process of untangling the relationship between the UK and the EU.

As they wait for those details to emerge, Queens students are worried about scholarship funding, and people all over Northern Ireland are concerned about the end of EU support that has helped the peace process.

It seems most people on the island, especially in the Republic, do not want Brexit to result in a united Ireland, even as many people in the north begin filing for Irish passports.

Derry’s ‘Bloody Sunday’ Bishop Dies at 82

Former Bishop of Derry Dr. Edward Daly, photographed in January 1972 waving a blood-stained handkerchief as he tied to help injured civil rights protesters pass through British troops, died 8 August 2016. He was 82.

The Irish Times called the Bloody Sunday photo “one of the defining images of the conflict in the North.” Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin said his brother priest “literally spent himself in the service of others.”

Here’s the IT’s full news obit, and U.S. coverage from The New York Times. Also, my 2001 report from Derry about the conflict.

Dr. Edward Daly at Bloody Sunday in January 1972.

Dr. Edward Daly at Bloody Sunday in January 1972.

 

Too much hate and killing in the past, and the present

Which quote about Margaret Thatcher is from the Irish republican, which from the Ulster loyalist?

“Oh God, in wrath take vengeance upon this wicked, treacherous, lying woman.”

OR

“It’s a pity we didn’t kill her 30-plus years ago.”

The first quote is from Ian Paisley Sr., or Lord Bannside as he’s known in his dotage. He said it 25 years ago, days after Thatcher signed the Anglo-Irish Agreement, Norman Hamill writes in the Derry Journal.

The second quote is from Willie Gallagher, an Irish National Liberation Army prisoner during the Troubles. He said it this week during an unseemly Thatcher funeral “celebration“ in Derry’s Bogside.

The Irish Examiner linked events of the past to what happened this week in London, Derry and Boston:

Margaret Thatcher has not been fondly remembered in this country. She was a very British politician who essentially did not like the Irish, and if we are fair, it is hard to blame her.

Irish people killed her advisor, Airey Neave, with a car bomb within the precincts of the British parliament in 1979. He was a British war hero, as was Louis Mountbatten, who was murdered the same year while boating in Sligo with his grandchildren. That was as savage an affront to humanity as the outrage in Boston.

So enough killing for this week. God knows there was too much in the past. And let the dead, no matter who they are, rest in peace.