Derrycunnihy Cascade

via Escape to Derrycunnihy Cascade – Killarney National Park

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Biddy Early: Witch or Wise Woman

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Legend would have it that Biddy was an entity worth fearing. She had four husbands and outlived them all. She had a magic glass bottle that she used to foretell deaths and disasters. Her fury could freeze a horse in its tracks; in a good mood she could save you or your prized livestock from death’s door.

Most notoriously of all, to her fellow county folk anyway, she allegedly put a curse on the Clare hurling team that stopped them winning the All-Ireland for more than 80 years.

Biddy Early was born in Faha, near Feakle in east Clare, in 1798, the year when British Crown forces violently quashed a rebellion of the United Irishmen, killing up to 30,000 Irish people, to poor smallholders Tom and Ellen Connors. Ellen’s maiden name was Early, which Biddy apparently inherited, along with her mother’s talent for concocting herbal remedies for common ailments.

Folklorists…

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#OTD in 1982 – How the IRA beat the FBI with the CIA: Five men charged with conspiring to export arms to the IRA were acquitted in Federal Court in Brooklyn, NY.

Five men charged with conspiring to export arms to the Irish Republican Army were acquitted in Federal Court in Brooklyn, NY, apparently because a jury believed defence contentions that the Central Intelligence Agency had sanctioned their gun-running operation.

No evidence directly linking the CIA to the operation was offered at the seven-week trial, and denials of involvement by the agency were entered repeatedly by the prosecutor and in direct testimony by a CIA lawyer.

However, two jurors later said they had been convinced that the CIA had been involved. They said that the jury, which deliberated for two and a half days, had leaned toward acquittal from the start. Prosecutors declined to comment on the verdict, but one said he feared it might lend legitimacy to a frivolous defence.

Pandemonium erupted among 100 supporters of the defendants when the verdict was read. The supporters, many of whom had been at the trial daily, cheered, clapped, waved flags and chanted slogans in a demonstration that spilled from the sixth-floor courtroom into the corridors of the United States Courthouse on Cadman Plaza East. ‘Up the Provos!’

“Up the Provos,” shouted George Harrison, a 67-year-old retired armoured-car guard, who, with the other defendants, had been charged with plotting from December 1980 to June 1981 to ship to the IRA’s militant Provisional wing a cache of weapons including a 20-millimeter cannon, a flame thrower, 47 machine guns and 11 automatic rifles.

Besides Mr. Harrison, the defendants, all residents of the New York area, were Michael Flannery, 80, a director of the Irish Northern Aid Committee; Thomas Falvey, 64, a construction worker; Patrick Mullin, 45, a telephone company employee, and Daniel Gormley, 33, a stationary engineer. All American citizens, though several were born in Ireland.

From the start of the trial, the defendants had conceded that they had bought arms from a convicted arms smuggler working as an undercover agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Citing patriotic motives, they also acknowledged they had intended to send the arms to the IRA. Mr. Harrison said he had been sending arms to the IRA for 20 years.

The Irish Northern Aid Committee, in a statement afterward, called the verdict “a grave embarrassment to the British,” whose “pressure initiated this trial.” Noraid, as the committee is called, has been accused by the Justice Department of being an important source of money and guns for the IRA, but the group contends its fund-raising efforts in the United States are strictly for charitable purposes.

Born in 1902 in Co Tipperary into a staunchly Republican family with a long history of opposition to the British occupation of Ireland, Mike Flannery, was forced to flee his home at the age of 14, to avoid being arrested by the RIC who had begun a campaign of incarcerating family members of Republican activists at the behest of the British. After evading capture, Mike joined the North Tipperary Brigade of the IRA. Before his 15th birthday he took an oath of allegiance to the Irish Republic and fought in the Irish War of Independence.

Mike immigrated to America in 1927. During his early years in America he met and married his wife Margaret “Pearl” Eagan who was also involved in the fight for Irish freedom. Throughout the decades, Mike assisted Republican activists who sought refuge in America, including, Ernie O’Malley in the late 20s, Andy Cooney in the early 50s and others in the 70s and 80s.

Throughout his life, Mike sent aid and encouragement to those refusing to accept the British occupation of Ireland or acknowledge the legitimacy of two sectarian states, the products of partition. Not only did Mike rebuff those who abandoned Republican principles in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 60s; he, together with George Harrison, characterised the ‘Provos’ abandonment of Republican principles in 1986 as the “same old departure”. After returning from a visit to Ireland in 1987, Mike along with George Harrison and Joe Stynes founded Cumann na Saoirse Naisiunta – The National Irish Freedom Committee to carry the torch of Irish Republicanism in America.

Mike passed away on 29 September 1994. He was a true son of Ireland and a worthy citizen of his adopted country, the United States of America. Mike’s legacy lives on and the torch of Irish Freedom that he carried throughout his entire life continues to burn brightly.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Five men charged with conspiring to export arms to the Irish Republican Army were acquitted in Federal Court in Brooklyn, NY, apparently because a jury believed defence contentions that the Central Intelligence Agency had sanctioned their gun-running operation.

No evidence directly linking the CIA to the operation was offered at the seven-week trial, and denials of involvement by the agency were entered repeatedly by the prosecutor and in direct testimony by a CIA lawyer.

However, two jurors later said they had been convinced that the CIA had been involved. They said that the jury, which deliberated for two and a half days, had leaned toward acquittal from the start. Prosecutors declined to comment on the verdict, but one said he feared it might lend legitimacy to a frivolous defence.

Pandemonium erupted among 100 supporters of the defendants when the verdict was read. The supporters, many of whom had been at…

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Journey into Purgatory

Roaringwater Journal

I was excited to be travelling to one of Ireland’s oldest – and most important – pilgrimage sites. Finola studies stained glass windows and their artists, and she knew that some particularly impressive Harry Clarke windows can be seen in the Basilica on Station Island, Lough Derg, in County Donegal. The roof of the Basilica, completed in 1931, towers over the island in the picture above, taken from the quay at Ballymacavany. Finola obtained special permission for us to visit the island to view and photograph the windows, after the main pilgrimage season was over: her account of them will appear in Roaringwater Journal in the near future.

It’s salutary to learn how many people and families we know have taken part in the pilgrimage at Station Island. It’s a particularly austere experience, involving a three day cycle of prayer and liturgies, bare-footed and with very little food or…

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Beyond the Mizen: Top 14 West Cork Pics of 2015

Roaringwater Journal

We were heading home from Hare Island after a Fit Up Theatre Performance, when this happenedWe were heading home from Hare Island after a Fit Up Theatre Performance, when this happened

Many of our top Facebook photographs this year were from the Mizen, but not all. You also liked and shared photographs that captured the essence of other parts of West Cork.

Baltimore Bay and Ringarogy IslandBaltimore Bay and Ringarogy Island

I think the Baltimore Bay one was so popular because the colours are SO west Cork. When you get blue sky and clouds, the sea turns this amazing Caribbean blue and the contrast with the green fields and wilder high ground is gorgeous.

Lighthouse Loop, Sheep's HeadLighthouse Loop, Sheep’s Head

This photograph of our friend Susan Byron of Ireland’s Hidden Gems is one of my favourites this year because of the impression it creates of sheer wildness.

Occasionally we get lucky with the local wildlife. Ferdia, the fox, used to be a regular around our place but has forsaken us recently…

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Packed House Again at Second Public Lecture

Killaloe-Ballina

It was a wonderful evening last night at Sandra Lefroy’s lecture on her historic family vessel, ‘The Phoenix’. 145 years old and still going strong, The Phoenix has called Killaloe home for more than a century. It was a really amazing lecture! Sandra took us through the incredible Lefroy family story in Killaloe and Ballina, which touched on the historic houses of Ferns Hollow and Cambrai, the old flour mill, the canal, and even a love affair with Jane Austen! She also went through all the skilled craftsmanship involved in maintaining a boat of this vintage, and some hilarious personal stories of what it was like to live on board with dogs, children, almost a horse, and certainly a ghost!

Thanks so much to all who attended, and we hope you enjoyed it. Scroll on down for news of the next lecture! A big thank you to Sandra for donating…

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#OTD in 1943 – Query raised in Dáil Éireann by Oliver Flanagan about participation in a ‘foreign army.’

Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

Mr. Flanagan: asked the Minister for Defence if he is aware that it is alleged that certain high officers in the Army have recruited for a foreign army or have sons serving in such army and if he will make a statement in the matter.

Minister for Defence (Mr. Traynor): I am not aware that it is alleged that certain high officers in the Army have recruited for a foreign army but, if such an allegation has been made, I am satisfied that it is entirely without foundation. I am informed that two sons of Army officers are serving in a foreign army but, as the Deputy is aware, I have no more jurisdiction over Army officers as parents than I have over any other citizen of the State.

Mr. Flanagan: I could furnish the Minister with the names of certain high officers in the Army who have made representations…

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