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Anglo-Irish Truce

posted May 30, 2021, 6:38 AM by Bernard O'Hara

July11, 2021, is the centenary of the Anglo-Irish Truce and the end of the Irish ‘War of Independence’.  During the following months, negotiations led to the controversial Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 6, 1921, which provided for an Irish Free State in southern Ireland as a self-governing dominion within the British Commonwealth, with the monarch as Head of State, and members of parliament obliged to take an oath of allegiance to the Crown. Some believe that it established the partition of the country,  but that had already happened in May 1921.
After Britain crushed the Easter 1916 Rising, they decided to punish those involved. A total of 3,430 men and 79 women were arrested, including almost 2,000 who were not involved. Some of those arrested were released after questioning; others were tried by court martial and 90 sentenced to death, with the remainder interned. Fifteen insurgents, including the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, were executed from May 3 to 12.  On May 12, the British Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, arrived in Ireland and stopped the executions. He had become alarmed by the public reaction, especially in the United States, where support for the Great War was essential for Britain. The initial reaction to the Rising in Ireland was widespread hostility, with public opinion strongly against the rebels, but that changed quickly following the executions. Political opinion in nationalist Ireland started to change from a desire for Home Rule to complete separation from Britain. This sentiment came to be expressed in support for Sinn Féin (We, Ourselves), a nationalist political party founded in 1905 to promote self-reliance.  The party won a series of by-elections.   Following heavy losses in the First World War during the Spring Offensive of 1918, an act was passed making provision to impose conscription in Ireland, but that was opposed by all shades of Irish nationalism.  Compulsory conscription for Ireland was abandoned in favour of a recruitment campaign.  Sinn Féin earned wide support for its trenchant opposition to conscription. 
Following the end of the war, a general election in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was called for December 14, 1918, using the first past the post system. It was an election for the soul of nationalist Ireland, between Sinn Féin on a separatist mission and the Irish Parliamentary Party supporting Home Rule within the union (the latter had won 80 of the 105 Irish seats at Westminster at the 1910 general election. The election result was a landslide victory for Sinn Féin around the country, the party winning 46.9 per cent of the vote and seventy-three seats out of one hundred and five, with the Irish Parliamentary Party reduced to six seats; the Unionists won 22 seats with 25 per cent of the vote.  The election was a big endorsement for Sinn Féin, which they hailed as a mandate for separation.
The newly elected Sinn Féin members of parliament, following their pledges of abstention, refused to take their seats in Westminster.  Instead, they arranged to have invitations sent to members elected for all constituencies to attend “the first session of the assembly of Ireland” in the Mansion House in Dublin on January 21, 1919. Twenty-seven, all from Sinn Féin, attended and established the first Dáil Éireann (Parliament of Ireland) as it was called (thirty-four others were still in prison and a further eight were unable to attend). The new assembly was not recognised by Britain, or the elected Unionists, or by the survivors of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The Dáil became a self-declared national parliament, with a government starting a new alternative administration while seeking legitimacy. A number of meetings of the First Dáil took place before it was suppressed by the British Government in September 1919, despite it been elected by the people, and after this it tried to operate underground.  
After two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) were shot dead  in County Tipperary on January 21, 1919, a bitter Anglo-Irish war commenced, known in Irish history as ‘the War of Independence 1919-1921’. There were numerous small scale incidents in 1919 and during the early part of 1920, chiefly arms seizures and attacks on members of the RIC. The Volunteers had approximately 15,000 members, but active membership was about 5,000; they became the Irish Republican Army (IRA) after taking an oath of allegiance to Dáil Éireann on August 20, 1919. Many women undertook a variety of supportive roles with great courage and, in many cases, at big personal sacrifices. In local elections on January 15, 1920, Sinn Féin won control of 28 of the 33 county councils and of 72 corporations and town councils. The Sinn Féin controlled councils became affiliated to the Dáil.
Clashes between the IRA and Crown forces were sporadic at the start, but they developed into a bitter guerrilla war during 1920, especially towards the end of the year.  The RIC become very demoralised and weakened following the resignation of many members arising from fear of attack. They  were augmented from March 25 by about 10,000 police and ex-soldiers from the First World War known as ‘Black and Tans’, and later by  about 2,000 Auxiliaries, mostly ex-officers. Both forces earned a terrible reputation for brutality. The IRA were organised into flying columns, groups of armed volunteers for specific assignments against the Crown forces.  Terrible deeds were committed on both sides, with attacks, reprisals, beatings, and burning property, which terrified ordinary people.
By 1920, there was no way that the aspirations of nationalists and unionists could be reconciled in a united self-governing country.  The unionists had refused from 1886 to accept a Dublin Home Rule Parliament, and secret discussions started to take place in 1914 to exclude a portion of Ulster as a temporary measure. After trying to get agreement, the British passed the Government of Ireland Act of December 1920, providing for the creation of two Home Rule parliaments, one for six counties of Northern Ireland and the other for the remaining twenty-six counties.  The act came into effect on May 3, 1921, and resulted in the partition of Ireland.  An election was held for the Northern Ireland parliament on May 24, 1921, and Unionists won 40 of the 52 seats. King George V opened the Northern Ireland parliament on June 22, 1921. The act was rejected in the south, where the guerrilla war was underway. Many believed that partition was only a temporary expedient, but that was not to be.
An unsuccessful attempt was undertaken in December 1920 to end hostilities, but the war intensified during the first six months of 1921. In opening the Northern Ireland parliament, King George V appealed for forbearance and conciliation in Southern Ireland.  The war in Ireland was generating terrible opprobrium in Britain and the USA. Public opinion in southern Ireland was also growing tired of the continuing violence.  After two and a half years of bitter fighting, secret negotiations took place, which led to a Truce agreement on July 9, 1921, which came into effect on July 11. During this war, it is estimated that over 2,000 were killed, including about 750 civilians.  Over 4,000 had been detained without trial, and these were released after the Truce to great rejoicing.  Today, these events are remembered in a respectful non-partisan manner to promote peace and reconciliation on the island of Ireland, and between Britain and Ireland in a spirit of friendship and inclusivity.


Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Castles in County Mayo

posted May 2, 2021, 6:55 AM by Bernard O'Hara


Ashford Catle
Castles are big attractions on the Irish landscape. They owe their origin to the Anglo-Norman colonisation of Ireland which began in 1169 and changed the course of its history. Anglo-Normans settled initially in the provinces of Leinster and Munster, but Connacht held out for some time. The Norman conquest of Connacht began in earnest in 1235, and the province was quickly carved up between some barons. The Anglo-Norman conquest led to a change in the fortunes of many Gaelic lords and chieftains. Gradually, the new Anglo-Norman settlers assimilated, beginning to adopt Gaelic customs and to marry into the native Irish ruling families, thus becoming as the phrase has it ‘more Irish than the Irish themselves’.
At first, the settlers erected wooden towers on artificial mounds or mottes, with enclosures known as baileys. These were followed by the erection of substantial stone castles, fortified residences built in strategic locations to secure newly acquired territories from attack by the native Irish. They were also status symbols for local lords whose prestige depended on their wealth, as reflected in the size of their estates and the number of staff employed. In County Mayo, Ballylahan Castle close to the river Moy near Foxford, built by Jordan d’Exeter in the middle of the thirteenth century, is a fine example of an early Anglo-Norman structure. The best-known castle in the county is Ashford Castle in Cong, now a five-star hotel, situated on a beautiful demesne of 141 hectares at the north-east corner of Lough Corrib. Ashford Castle was originally built in the thirteenth-century by the Anglo-Norman de Burgo family. The place stayed in the hands of the de Burgos (or Burkes, as they became known) for three and a half centuries until, following their overthrow in 1589, the building came into the possession of Sir Richard Bingham, President of Connacht. In the 1670s it passed into the hands of the Browne family, who erected the splendid French-style chateau; their coat of arms and a double-headed eagle are on the roof. Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness (of the Dublin brewing family) purchased Ashford Castle in 1852. It was then restored and expanded by architect Joseph Franklin Fuller, with two large Victorian-style extensions, including the castellated towers.
A smaller type of castle, known as the hall-house, was erected from the early Norman times. These are two-storey, rectangular-shaped buildings, with a first floor entrance. Examples in County Mayo are located at Shrule, Ballisnahyny, Kinlough, Ballycurrin in South Mayo near the Galway border, Ballykine, near Cong, Castlecarra beside Lough Carra and Castleconor beside the river Moy near Ballina.
From about 1450 to 1620, new castle structures, known as tower houses, were erected to serve both as protective buildings and comfortable dwellings. Some of the native Irish emulated the Anglo-Normans/ English, and built their own tower houses. They are the most numerous type of castle in Ireland, with almost 1,200 decorating the landscape, chiefly south of a line from Galway to Louth, with many fine examples in Munster and County Kilkenny. These are large square or rectangular stone towers, generally three or more storeys in height, with stone vaults over the ground floor and pitched slate (or thatched initially) roofs.  The roofs are protected by battlements over the entrances so that objects could be dropped on any intruders.  Projecting angle-towers are used for stairs and garderobes (latrines). Immediately over the vaulted ground floor there is a hall and in the upper storeys the private rooms of the owner. They were originally surrounded by high stone walls, often with towers at the corners. The best-known examples of tower houses in Mayo are associated with the maritime lordship of Grace O’Malley, the legendary seafaring warrior along the west coast of Connacht during the second half of the sixteenth-century: on Clare Island, Kildavnet on Achill Island, Rockfleet, near Newport, and Doona, near Ballycroy. Other examples in County Mayo include Deel and Rappa Castles in north Mayo, Robeen Castle, as well as Moyne Castle beside the Black River at the Galway border. As their owners slipped down the social ladder, many tower houses in the county went into shared ownership in an effort to preserve them. However, most surviving tower houses in the county are now in a poor state of preservation.


Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Reverend Professor Enda McDonagh: A Tribute

posted Apr 1, 2021, 6:55 AM by Bernard O'Hara   [ updated Apr 1, 2021, 6:57 AM ]

Reverend Professor Enda McDonagh, who died on February 24, 2021, at the age of 90, was a big supporter of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council and one of Ireland’s leading theologians. He always had a special interest in people at the margins. His theology was influenced by human experience world-wide, compassion, a sense of social justice, and, above all, modelled on the life of Jesus as recorded in the New Testament. A radical thinker and prolific writer, his concerns embraced all human activity, including church-state relations, the horror of war, ethics, controversial issues like the church’s stand on contraception in its 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, gay rights, AIDS , as well as ecumenical dialogue, climate change, and his big interest in the arts.
Enda McDonagh was born in Bekan, County Mayo, in 1930 and attended the local National School (where his father and mother were teachers), 1935-43. After St Jarlath’s College, Tuam, 1943-8, and St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, he was ordained for the archdiocese of Tuam in 1955. Following ordination, he continued his studies at Maynooth, receiving a Doctorate in Divinity in 1957, and then studied in Rome, where he received a Licence in Philosophy in 1958. He later went to Munich, where he was awarded a Doctorate in Canon Law in 1960. Dr McDonagh was appointed Professor of Moral Theology in the Pontifical University Maynooth in 1958 at the age of 28, a post he held until 1995. After that, he served as Director of Postgraduate Studies, as well as lecturing at various universities in the United States, Britain and Europe. In 1978, he was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge, England, and from 1979 to 1981 as Huisking Professor of Theology at Notre Dame University in the United States, where he was offered a full-time post but decided instead to return to Ireland. A member of the Senate of the National University of Ireland from 1972 to 1995 and of the Higher Education Authority from 1986 to 1990, he also served as chairman of the Governing Body of University, Cork, from 1997 to 2007.
Professor McDonagh achieved international standing as a moral theologian and contributed to a wide range of theological journals at home and abroad. Among his books, which have been highly acclaimed, are: Roman Catholics and Unity (1962), The Meaning of Christian Marriage (1963), Moral Theology Renewed(1965), Invitation and Response (1972), Gift and Call (1975), Doing the Truth (1977), Social Ethics and the Christian (1979), The Demands of Simple Justice(1980), Church and Politics: From Theology to a Case History of Zimbabwe (1981), The Making of Disciples, Between Chaos and New Creation (1986), The Gracing of Society (1989), The Small Hours of Unbelief (1989), Faith and the Hungry Grass: A Mayo Book of Theology (ed.,1990), Salvation or Survival ?: A Second Book of Mayo Theology (ed., 1994), Vulnerable to the Holy: In Faith, Morality and Art (2005), Immersed in Mystery: En Route to Theology (2007), and Theology in Winter Light (2010). St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, and the Mayo Campus of Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology in collaboration with the then Western Theological Institute organised two national conferences in his honour in 2007, with the proceedings published in Beauty, Truth and Love (ed., Eugene Duffy and Patrick Hannon, 2009). He donated a collection from his personal library to the Mayo Campus of Galway-Mayo Institute of Theology.


Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Delia Murphy: the Ballad Queen of Ireland

posted Feb 27, 2021, 8:06 AM by Bernard O'Hara   [ updated Feb 27, 2021, 8:10 AM ]


Delia Murphy in the 1930s
(The Capuchin Annual, 1941)
Delia Murphy (1902-71), who passed away fifty years ago on February 11, 1971, was the ‘ballad queen of Ireland’ for most of her life. During her career she collected and recorded nearly four hundred folk songs, the best-known of which were: If I were a Blackbird, Dan O'Hara, The Moonshiner, The Spinning Wheel, Three Lovely Lassies from Bannion, Boston Burglar and The Connemara Cradle Song. Delia was largely responsible for the revival and popularisation of Irish folk songs, encapsulating in her songs the values of her childhood. She sang about ordinary people, their problems, pleasures and values, with love, affection and sincerity. On the stage, especially, she had a riveting presence and had an inborn ability to convey her feelings.
Delia Murphy was born in Ardroe, near Claremorris, in County Mayo, Ireland, on February 16, 1902, after her parents had returned there in 1901 from America. Her father, John, a native of the local Hollymount area, had worked in the Klondike goldmines in Colorado, USA, where he met her mother, Anna Fanning from Roscrea, County Tipperary. They were married in Denver, Colorado. Within two years of returning to Mayo, they purchased Mount Jennings House and estate, the local Big House in the parish of Roundford. Delia was the second eldest of their eight children, seven daughters and one boy. At an early age, she came to know and love the folk culture of her locality, especially local lore and ballads. She was educated at two local primary schools (changing school because of her interest in music), in the Presentation Convent, Tuam, the Dominican Convent, Eccles Street, Dublin, and graduated from University College, Galway, with a degree in commerce. There she met Dublin-born Thomas J Kiernan (1897-1967), whom she married in 1924. He left his employment as an inspector of taxes to become a distinguished Irish diplomat. While serving as First Secretary of the Irish High Commission in London from 1924 to 1935, their four children were born there. The family moved back to Dublin when Thomas was appointed director of broadcasting in Radio Éireann. During this time, Delia sang regularly on Irish radio and at concerts around the country. In 1941, Thomas was appointed Minister to the Vatican, and in 1946 he opened Ireland’s first mission to Australia, serving as ambassador from 1950. Later, he was appointed ambassador to West Germany 1955, Canada in 1957, and the USA in 1961-1964, where he was involved in preparations for President Kennedy’s historic visit to Ireland in June 1963. These moves shaped Delia’s life and career opportunities as she became the diplomat’s wife, accompanying her husband on his missions, but she sang at concerts, functions, and on radio in each country. Regardless of the occasion, Delia always performed at her best and each audience was special for her. She was an extrovert, who loved people everywhere, and took great delight in seeing people enjoy her songs. In Rome, she showed great courage and love for all human beings when she assisted an Irish priest, Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty (1898-1963), an official in the Roman Curia, in hiding Jews and Allied soldiers in the Nazi-occupied city during the Second World War. Working together, they facilitated the escape of over 6,000 and deserve to be remembered as the Irish Schindlers.
After her husband’s death in 1967, Delia remained in Canada for a further two years before returning to Ireland. Delia Murphy died suddenly at her home at Chapelizod, Dublin, in February 1971, and was buried in Deansgrange cemetery. A memorial in her honour near her Mayo home, Mount Jennings House, was unveiled on April 25, 1982, by RTÉ presenter Donncha Ó Dúlaing. Aiden O’Hara published her biography in 1997: I’ll live till I die: the Story of Delia Murphy.


Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Ladies’ Land League

posted Feb 3, 2021, 6:54 AM by Bernard O'Hara


The niche of the founder’s tomb in
Straide Friary to remember Anne Deane.
January 31, 2021 was the 140th anniversary of the establishment of the Irish Ladies’ Land League. It was revolutionary at the time, the first political association led by Irish women. During 1880, it had became obvious that the arrest of the Land League leaders was only a matter of time, and Michael Davitt (1846-1906), its founder, was determined that their work should be continued in their absence. He asked the Land League executive to authorise the formation of a provisional committee of ladies to carry on the work. The proposal was opposed by the executive, but Davitt persevered and secured a passive assent. Prior to that, numerous women were involved with the Land League, but not in a leadership role. On 31 January 1881, Anna Parnell (1852-1911, a sister of the Land League president, Charles Stewart) presided at a meeting in 39 Upper Sackville Street, Dublin, at which the Ladies’ Land League was formally established. Thus, Michael Davitt became the first Irish leader to encourage Irish women to participate and take leadership roles in political affairs.
Anne Deane, (1830-1905) from Ballaghaderreen , County Roscommon, was elected president of the Ladies’ Land League, with Anna Parnell, its leader-in-chief, as general secretary. Anna Parnell (1852-1911) spoke at the first public meeting of the Ladies’ Land League which was held in Claremorris, County Mayo, on February 13, 1881. Anna Parnell was reported in the Connaught Telegraph of February 17, 1881, as stating that the Ladies’ Land League was not going to be a charitable organisation but a ‘relief movement.’ The Ladies’ Land League was provided with an office in the same building as the Land League. From its inception, it had a difficult relationship with the Land League, most of whose members had strong views on the role of women in society at that time and deemed political activity by them as inappropriate, views strongly reinforced by Charles Stewart Parnell, who never supported the Ladies’ Land League. As a result, the role of the Ladies’ Land League was never clearly defined, and its champion, Michael Davitt, was imprisoned only three days after its inauguration. The Ladies’ Land League, however, established branches around the country and raised money to support families of those evicted or imprisoned. It became very active following the suppression of the Land League in October 1881, taking over the League’s functions and extending its relief activities, including the provision of pre-fabricated huts for evicted families and paying court expenses for tenants fighting against notices of ejectment.
The Ladies’ Land League built up a very efficient organisation within a few months and became quite radical in its approach. This was illustrated early in 1882 when the imprisoned Land League leaders ordered the ladies to call off the ‘no rent campaign’ and they refused, as well as taking a more aggressive stand at evictions. The Ladies’ Land League was suppressed on December 16, 1881, and some members were imprisoned for their activities.
Anne Deane (1834-1905) was unable to undertake a big role because of her business commitments. She was a great friend of Michael Davitt, who attended her funeral in Strade Friary, County Mayo, in July 1905, his last visit to his native parish. John Dillon, her cousin and MP for Mayo from 1885 until 1918, erected a monument in the niche of the founder’s tomb in Straide Friary on the north side of the chancel in her memory. (The inscription is now badly faded.) After living as a virtual recluse for the rest of her life in Cornwall, England, Anna Parnell died in a drowning accident at Ilfracombe in Devon on September 20, 1911.


Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

New Year Challenges

posted Jan 7, 2021, 11:24 AM by Bernard O'Hara

In Ireland the two big issues that made the headlines in 2020 were Covid-19 and Brexit. The dawn of New Year offered some hope for both.
By the start of 2021, world-wide there were 84.7 million cases and 1.84 million deaths recorded for Covid-19, with 20.5 million cases and over 350,000 deaths in the USA alone. On December 31, 2019, China reported a number of cases of pneumonia in Wuhan, which the World Health Organisation declared an international public health concern by the end of January 2020. The first case was recorded in Ireland on February 29, 2020, and by mid March the country was under its first lockdown, leading to various restrictions and further lockdowns for the rest of the year. By January 2, 2021, the number of cases recorded in Ireland was 96,926 and 2,252 deaths, with over 90% of deaths taking people over 65 or in care homes. The figures for the same date in Northern Ireland were 76,410 cases and 1,348 deaths. By the start of 2021, the pandemic was rampant not alone in Ireland, north and south, but across Europe, the USA and almost all the globe. It has affected almost every economy in the world, with big unemployment, high borrowings, and increased inequality in society. Some sectors have been devastated, hospitality, travel, tourism, and the arts. However, by then, thanks to the collective research of scientists, there were various vaccines been approved for use. These have generated hope that humankind can overcome this dreadful disease, but it will take time for supplies to become available in sufficient quantities for mass inoculation across the globe.
Following the departure of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020, the post-Brexit transition ended at 11pm on New Year’s Eve that year, when the chimes of Big Ben rang out to deserted streets in London because of Covid-19. There were no celebrations, but great relief all round. Four–and-a half years after the narrow 51.9 % majority in favour of leave result in the “ in-out” referendum, it was perhaps a fitting end. The Brexiteers claim that they achieved their goal of sovereignty, leaving the EU, the single market, the customs union, and the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. The UK-EU Trade and Co-operation Agreement provides tariff –free and quota-free access to each other’s markets for goods. There is great relief to have ‘a frictionless border’ along the 500km boundary between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. However, it is not all plain sailing. The agreement contains the seeds of future friction and disputes, especially, if fair competition is not maintained, the treat to impose retaliatory sanctions. The agreement does not cover services, which is a huge part of the British economy. The deal will generate new documentation, checks, controls and border queues. These additional costs will erode margins and lead to increased prices. Politically this victory for English nationalism is going to increase the demand for a new referendum in Scotland for independence, and consideration of the future of Northern Ireland. However, despite ‘getting Brexit done’ it appears that issues and recriminations about the June 26, 2016, referendum result will continue for years.
Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.


The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Mary McAleese’s Memoir

posted Dec 2, 2020, 7:01 AM by Bernard O'Hara

One of the many interesting Irish books published during 2020 is Here’s, the Story: A Memoir by Mary McAleese, the former Irish President (Penguin/Sandycove). Her journey in life was full of challenges, ambitious goals, and many achievements. Born n Belfast in 1951, she graduated in law from Queen’s University, and in 1974 became one of the first three women called to the Northern Ireland Bar, before her appointment in 1975 as Reid Professor of Law at Trinity College, Dublin, and later a broadcaster with RTÉ. She was appointed Director of the Institute of Professional Legal Studies at Queen’s University, Belfast, and the first female pro vice-chancellor of the university from 1994, before her election as President of Ireland in 1997 and serving two-seven year terms to 2011. Of the many issues explored in the book, three are very interesting, with numerous new insights: how she and her family survived through the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the work she did as President to build bridges between the two communities there as part of the peace process, and her big role in the historic visit of Queen Elizabeth to the Irish Republic in May 2011.
Mary was the eldest of nine children, five boys and four girls, born to Patrick Leneghan, a native of north Roscommon who moved to Belfast in search of work, and his wife, Claire, née McManus, a native Maghera in County Derry. The family settled in Ardoyne in north Belfast, with frequent moves there as their family increased. Her strong faith sustained her and she had a very close association with the Holy Cross Church and Monastery in Ardoyne. She had a happy childhood until her native area became a flashpoint for the sectarian Troubles which erupted there in 1969. In her memoir, Mary describes how she, her family, and friends survived during those horrific years, when they saw many friends killed or injured in organised attacks and the ethnic cleansing of streets. They lost their home in the Troubles, and her father’s pub was bombed in October 1972. The family eventually moved to Rostrevor, County Down. In March 1976, Mary Leneghan married Martin McAleese, a Catholic from east Belfast, an accountant (and later a dentist) and a former Antrim minor footballer.
Mary McAleese made ‘bridge-building’, the theme of her presidency. She had been involved in the peace process and described herself as ‘a constitutional nationalist’, with great admiration for John Hume who sought to promote conciliation between the two communities in Northern Ireland, between north and south, and between Ireland and Great Britain. Martin McAleese had a huge role in the bridge-building and worked tirelessly on a “full-time and pro-bono basis” to bring loyalist paramilitaries into the peace process. Mary visited both communities in Northern Ireland and entertained their representatives at Áras an Uachárain. Most readers of the memoir will be surprised at the extent of this work.
As President, Mary McAleese had a big role in the invitation and arrangements for the visit of Queen Elizabeth visit the Irish Republic. The visit, the first by a British monarch since Irish independence, exceeded all expectations in a spirit of reconciliation. In her address at a state reception in Dublin Castle, Queen Elizabeth referred to the pain of the past and said: “We can all see things we wish we had done differently or not at all”. Mary McAleese, in her reply stated: “This visit is a culmination of the peace process. It is an acknowledgement that while we cannot change the past, we have chosen to change the future."
After leaving the presidency, Mary McAleese went to Rome and completed a doctorate in canon law, which is well captured in the book as well as her frank views on what she calls the ‘misogyny of the Catholic Church’ and on various clerics. Overall, this is a candid and fascinating memoir by an Irish public figure, who has made a big contribution to her country.


Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Michael Davitt’s Death and Burial

posted Oct 29, 2020, 5:50 AM by Bernard O'Hara


Michael Davitt’s grave in Straide, County Mayo.
Towards the end of March 1906, the great Irish patriot, ‘Father of the Land League’, and social reformer, Michael Davitt, heard about a ‘painless dentist’ in Dublin and had a tooth extracted.  Pleased with the experience, he returned a few days later and had more teeth removed, including the root of one which had been broken during his first imprisonment and had caused him some trouble.  He later developed influenza and septic inflammation of his lower jaw, resulting in a big abscess, with an operation in his home to have it removed. After a month, a second operation became necessary, and he was removed to the Elpis Nursing Home, Lower Mount Street, Dublin, where an affected portion of his jaw-bone was removed on 15 May.  Subsequently, Michael’s condition varied considerably, with regular bulletins  on his condition issued by the hospital.  On 28 May, a terse bulletin from the hospital stated, ‘Mr. Davitt has lost ground during the day and is in a most critical condition.’   On Tuesday 29 May, a hospital bulletin stated: ‘Mr. Davitt has been losing ground, but is free from pain, and is resting quietly.’  The following day’s bulletin was very ominous:  ‘Mr. Davitt has lost ground since yesterday and continues in a most critical condition.’  Michael Davitt became unconscious and died early on Wednesday 30 May 1906, with his eldest son, Michael, and a few other friends at his bedside.  His wife, who was suffering a miscarriage was a patient in an upper room of the same hospital, was unable to be present.  The cause of death was septicaemia.  His death came as a huge shock to his wife, family, friends and indeed everyone who knew or heard of him.
After his death, there was a great desire among Irish nationalists for a public funeral, but his will contained a request for a very simple ceremony, with specific instructions as to where he was to be buried.  It stated:
" Should I die in Ireland, I would like to be buried at Straide, Co. Mayo, without any funeral demonstration.  If I die in America, I must be buried in my mother’s grave at Manayunk, near Philadelphia, and on no account be brought back to Ireland; if in any other country (outside of Great Britain), to be buried in the nearest cemetery to where I may die, with the simplest possible ceremony.  Should I die in Great Britain, I must be buried at Straide, Co. Mayo."
His remains were moved to the Church of the Carmelite Fathers, St. Teresa’s, Clarendon Street, Dublin, on the evening of 31 May without any public notice.  In January 1878, it had been the only Catholic Church in Dublin which did not refuse to accept the remains of his Fenian friend, Charles H. McCarthy, who died suddenly following his release from prison. As Michael Davitt was involved in the funeral arrangements, he never forgot the kindness and help he received from the Carmelite Fathers and could pay them no greater tribute than to request that his own body be brought there. Despite his own request for a private funeral, thousands filed past Davitt’s coffin in Clarendon Street church on the evening of his removal, the following day and on Saturday morning, 2 June.   After Mass, his remains were removed from St. Teresa’s Church to Broadstone station on Saturday morning, 2 June 1906, for a train journey to his native county. People gathered all along the route to pay their own silent tributes as the train passed by.  There was a big crowd awaiting the arrival of the train in Foxford, County Mayo, where a group of local farmers formed a guard of honour around the hearse as it started off for Straide, a short journey from there.  Every horse-and-trap for miles around Foxford was there to carry those who came to pay their respects.  There was a large crowd, including numerous clergy and public representatives, in the cemetery adjoining Straide Friary, where Michael Davitt was laid to rest within a half kilometre of the place where he was born just over sixty years before (his family home was knocked with a battering ram when they were evicted in October 1850. Michael was then four and half years old).  A Celtic Cross was later erected over Michael Davitt’s grave in Straide, with an inscription to his memory in both English and Irish. The nearby Michael Davitt Museum, in the restored church where he was baptised in 1846, was opened in 2000.


An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Michael Davitt’s Wife

posted Sep 30, 2020, 3:10 PM by Bernard O'Hara   [ updated Sep 30, 2020, 3:13 PM ]


Mary Yore, 1861- 1934, wife of Michael Davitt
(Davitt Museum, Strade, County Mayo)
The great Irish patriot Michael Davitt (1846-1906) married an Irish-American, Mary Jane Yore,  in Oakland, California, on  December 30, 1886. In 1880, while on a lecture tour in the United States, Michael Davitt reached Oakland, where he was lavishly entertained at the home of a wealthy Irish-American, Mary Canning.  Mary’s sister, Ellen, had married a man from County Meath, John Yore, before they both emigrated to the United States and settled at St. Joseph, Michigan.  In 1867, Ellen was tragically killed in a accident, when the horse-drawn vehicle in which she was travelling left the road after the horse took fright.  After John Yore married again in 1874, his young daughter, Mary, went to Oakland, where she was reared by her aunt, Mary Canning, in effect as an adopted daughter.  Mary Yore and Michael Davitt first met during his earlier visit in September 1880 and they became great friends.  On the day of his marriage, Michael was then forty years of age and Mary  twenty-six.
After their honeymoon in the United States, Michael and Mary returned to Ireland in February 1887 and were warmly welcomed every place they went. A few friends, chief among them James Rourke, a great friend Michael, presented Mary with a pretty residence at Ballybrack, Dalkey, Co. Dublin, which was called the ‘Land League Cottage’. It was the only public award Michael Davitt ever accepted, but only because James Rourke insisted that it was given to his wife.  The marriage was a very happy one,  and Michael had a place he could call “home”.  Mary and Michael had five children: Kathleen (1888-’95), who died after a short illness, Michael, Eileen, Cahir and Robert. The happiest days of Michael’s life were those spent in Ballybrack with his wife and children.  When Michael died on May 30, 1906, from septicaemia following a dental operation in the Elpis Nursing Home, Lower Mount Street in Dublin, Mary was a patient in the same hospital after suffering a miscarriage.
When Michael Davitt died, he left four young children, aged sixteen, fourteen, twelve and seven that year.  Rearing and educating a young family on her own became a big responsibility for his widow, Mary, but she rose to the challenge: all four were later to distinguish themselves in their chosen careers.  Michael Martin (1890–1928) and Robert (1899–1981) became doctors, Eileen (1892–1974) a teacher, and Cahir (1894–1986) a lawyer and judge, serving as President of the Irish High Court from 1951 to 1966.  When Mary died on November2, 1934, she was buried in South Prospect Cemetery, Glasnevin, Dublin, with two members of her family who had predeceased her, Kathleen and Michael.
Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

Michael Davitt’s Mother

posted Sep 2, 2020, 3:56 PM by Bernard O'Hara


Catherine Davitt, nee Kielty, Michael Davitt’s mother (c1820-1880)
This year (2020) is believed to be the bicentenary of the birth Catherine Kielty, who became the mother of the great Irish patriot and founder of the Land League, Michael Davitt, 1846-1906. While the exact date of her birth has not been established, she is said to have been born in or around 1820 beside the round tower in the parish of Turlough in County Mayo. Around 1840, Catherine married Martin Davitt, a tenant farmer from Straide in County Mayo. Catherine could neither read nor write, which was very common at that time, but she was the dominant partner in the marriage. A fluent Irish speaker, she had a great pride in the language as almost all families in County Mayo were then Irish speaking. Catherine, passionate, proud, and possessed of a great natural intelligence, was a good Christian, with a rich imagination, strong nationalistic views and a good memory, especially of the suffering and poverty she and her family endured. Her stories of these times were very influential on Michael.
Four children were born to Catherine and Martin Davitt in Straide: Mary (1841), Michael (1846), Anne (1848) and Sabina (1850). (A fifth child, a boy, was later born in England but did not survive.) They were christened in the nearby seventeenth-century church in Straide (which was refurbished and opened in 2000 to house the impressive Michael Davitt Museum). The 1840s in Ireland was a difficult period in which to rear a young family. With the frugal subsistence of most families deteriorating each year, it was a major struggle to survive. Despite securing work on a local relief scheme and going to England as a seasonal migratory labourer for the summer of 1849, Martin Davitt was unable to pay off the arrears of rent which had accumulated during the Great Famine, 1845-50. After being served with an ejectment notice in 1849, the Davitt family were evicted, probably in October 1850, as part of the ‘great clearances.’ This involved the landlord’s agents forcing in the door of their home with a battering-ram, putting the family out on the road, and knocking the house, an unforgettable experience for any family. Michael never forgot that scene.
The family went to the local workhouse in Swinford, but when Catherine was told that children over three years of age had to be separated from their mothers, she promptly took her family away after one hour. Sharing the fate of many thousands of Irish dispossessed by the famine, the Davitt family emigrated to Haslingden, a small textile town in Lancashire in England about twenty-seven kilometres north of Manchester. Catherine and Martin reared their family there in difficult circumstances until 1870, when they emigrated with their three daughters to Scranton in Pennsylvania, USA. Life continued to be difficult for them there and after Martin’s death in December 1871 at the age of fifty-seven, Catherine and two of her daughters moved to Manayunk, a suburb of Philadelphia, in search of better opportunities.
Michael Davitt was fortunate to be in the United States, on one of his many visits there, when his mother died at Manayunk on July 18, 1880. Her death caused him great remorse and he reflected on how little he had been able to do for her and all the worry his life had caused her. It was her wish to be buried in Turlough, County Mayo, but Michael and his sisters could not afford the expense involved and, to his grief, she was buried in the grounds of the Church of Saint John the Baptist, 146 Rector Street, Manayunk. A harp and a bunch of shamrock decorate her gravestone to recall her Irish background.

Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting www.mayobooks.ie.
www.mayobooks.ie also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at amazon.com, amazon.co.uk or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press (www.tudorgatepress.com) and is available from amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from Barnesandnoble.com (Nook tablet and eReader).

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