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100 years ago in Ireland .

We at All Ireland Chauffeur Tours remember January 100 years ago, look proudly on as our president Michael D Higgins gave a speech to mark the occasion and look back at the history behind how this momentous occasion came to be.

 

POLITICIANS gathered in Dublin’s Mansion House to mark 100 years of the first Dáil, which sat for the first time on January 21st in 1919.

The event was held to “celebrate 100 years of unbroken democracy” and President Michael D Higgins gave a speech to mark the occasion.

The meeting of the First Dáil was a bold exercise in democracy, an assertion that the struggle for Irish independence had the support of the Irish people, and derived its legitimacy from them. By honoring the First Dáil we reaffirm our belief in its democratic integrity, concourse with the world, and rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of its values and aspirations.”                  Source : Irish Independent newspaper.

The execution of Irish medical student Kevin Barry propelled Ireland down its road to independence. On the anniversary of his birthday, Jan 20, 1902, we remember his story. 

On November 1, 1920, 18-year-old medical student Kevin Barry was hanged in Mountjoy Prison. He had been apprehended during an IRA raid gone wrong in North King Street in Dublin several weeks before. Barry was sentenced to death because a young British soldier was killed in the ambush. Michael Collins tried to break him out of Mountjoy Prison but was unsuccessful.

 

Since September 1919 when Collins had assembled his infamous assassination Squad—AKA, “The Twelve Apostles”—Collins and his intelligence network had been inching towards a full-blown confrontation with the British Secret Service. The pressure on Collins had been mounting for several weeks before Barry’s death.

On October 14, the British Secret Service had found the desperately wanted Tipperary rebel Seán Treacy at the Republican Outfitters shop at 94 Talbot Street (the building is still there, marked by a plaque). As Treacy came out a gunfight ensued—caught by a passing photographer—and Treacy was shot and killed.

 

On October 25, Terence MacSwiney, the Republican Lord Mayor of Cork City, starved himself to death at Brixton Prison in England. His body was returned to Cork on Halloween, the day before Kevin Barry’s hanging. The British came out in force—DMP, RIC, MI-5—looking for Michael Collins because they knew Collins frequently attended funerals despite the danger of being recognized. But Collins was not there; he was in Dublin, plotting.

As the rope tightened around Collins and his intelligence Squad, Collins—with supreme patience—waited. Collins was, like many great men and women, likely bi-polar. His depression over the loss of his friends quickly turned to mania and the Squad went to work.

Three weeks after the death of Kevin Barry, on Sunday, November 21—now known as “Bloody Sunday” in the annals of Irish history—Collins sent out his Squad resulting in the deaths of 14 agents of the British Secret Service. For the first time in Irish history, the Irish had actually terrorised the British. It has been recorded that the lines of terrified British agents and their relatives clogged up the gateways trying to get into Dublin Castle. For all real purposes, the war was over. It would take the British eight more months to figure out how to free themselves from their Irish quagmire, but by July 1921 a truce was called. By the autumn the negotiations had begun—again with Michael Collins as the lead player—and the rest is history.

Source : Irish Central.

 

There is one interesting footnote to this story. Barry was buried in the yard at Mountjoy Prison like a common criminal. After Bloody Sunday, nine other young rebels were also hanged and buried next to Barry in the yard at Mountjoy. Today, they are known as “The Forgotten Ten”:

 

Barry, plus Thomas Whelan, Patrick Moran, Patrick Doyle, Bernard Ryan, Thomas Bryan, Frank Flood, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Maher, and Edmund Foley. [For more information on this mostly forgotten period of Irish history from early in 1921, see Tim Carey’s “Hanged for Ireland: A Documentary History”. Blackwater Press, 2001.]

Finally, on October 14, 2001—nearly 81 years after his heroic death for his country—Barry’s remains and those of the other young rebels [except for Patrick Maher who was buried in Ballylanders, County Limerick at his family’s request] were reinterred at Glasnevin Cemetery next to the remains of Roger Casement and in front of the appropriately named Republican Plot where many famous Irish revolutionaries are planted.

Source: Irish Central newspaper

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