The shamrock refers to the young sprigs of clover or trefoil. It is known as a symbol of Ireland, with St. Patrick having used it as a metaphor for the Christian Trinity, according to legend. The name shamrock is derived from Irish seamróg, which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover (seamair) meaning simply “little clover” or “young clover”.
Shamrock is usually considered to refer to either the species Trifolium dubium (lesser clover, Irish: seamair bhuí)  or Trifolium repens (white clover, Irish: seamair bhán). However, other three-leaved plants—such as Medicago lupulina, Trifolium pratense, and Oxalis acetosella—are sometimes called shamrocks or clovers. The shamrock was traditionally used for its medicinal properties and was a popular motif in Victorian times.
Edmund Burke, was born in Dublin, January 12, educated at a Quaker boarding school and at Trinity College, Dublin. In 1750 he entered the Middle Temple, London, but soon abandoned law for literary work. His Vindication of Natural Society, was published in 1756, as was also his Philosophical Inquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. From 1761 to 1783 he was back in Dublin as private secretary to the Marquis of Rockingham, at that time premier, and entered Parliament for the pocket borough of Wendover. His eloquence once gained him a high position in the Whig party. Rockingham’s administration lasted only one year. Although Burke held no public office until the downfall of the North ministry in 1782, Burke’s public activity never ceased. Lord North’s long administration (1770-1782) was marked by the unsuccessful coercion of the American colonies, by corruption, extravagance, and reaction. Against this policy Burke and his Whig friends could only raise a strong protest.
The best of Burke’s writings and speeches belong to this period, and may be described as a defense of sound constitutional statesmanship against prevailing abuse and misgovernment. Observations on the Present State of the Nation (1769) was a reply to George Grenville; On the Causes of the Present Discontents (1770) treats the Wilkes controversy. Perhaps the finest of his many efforts are the speech on American Taxation (1774), the speech on Conciliation with America (1775), and the Letter to the Sheriffs of Bristol (1777). These speeches advocated wise and liberal measures which Burke believed would have averted the troubles which ensued.
Burke never systematized his political philosophy. It emerges out of the aforementioned writings and speeches. Opposes to the doctrine of natural rights, yet he takes over the concept of the social contract and attaches to it divine sanction. But his support of the proposals for relaxing the restrictions on the trade of Ireland with Great Britain, and for alleviating the laws against Catholics, cost him the seat at Bristol (1780), and from that time until 1794 he represented Malton. When the disasters of the American War brought Lord North’s government to a close, Burke was paymaster of the forces under Rockingham (1782) and also under Portland (1783), After the fall of the Whig ministry in1783, Burke was never again in office. In 1788 he opened the trial of Warren Hastings by the speech which will always rank among the masterpieces of English eloquence.
Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790) was read all over Europe and encouraged its rulers to resist, but his opposition to it cost him the support of his fellow Whigs, notably that of Fox. In his Appeal from the New to the Old Whigs, Thoughts on French Affairs, and Letters on a Regicide Peace, he goes further, urging the government to suppress free opinions at home.
Burke had vast knowledge of political affairs, a glowing imagination, passionate sympathies, and an inexhaustible wealth of powerful and cultured expression. However, his delivery was awkward and speeches which today captivate the reader only served to empty the benches of the House of Commons (some speeches were in excess of eight hours).
One of the foremost political thinkers of 18th century England, Burke died July 9, 1797, and was buried in a little church at Beaconsfield.
10. The Banshee
The Banshee was a woman who carried with her an omen of death. Sometimes you saw the Banshee as an old woman dressed in rags, sometimes you saw her as a young and beautiful girl and sometimes you saw her as a wash woman, ringing out bloody clothing. Whenever she was seen, she let out a horrible cry and legend has it this cry brought death to any family that heard it. King James I of Scotland thought he was approached by a Banshee. Shortly after, he died at the Earl of Atholl.
The Pookas are a certain type of fairy- one bent on creating havoc in the mortal world. The Pooka appeared at night across rural Ireland and the seaboard. On a good day, the Pooka would cause destruction on a farm- tearing down fences and disrupting the animals. On a bad day, the Pooka would stand outside the farmhouse and call the people outside by name. If anyone came out, the Pooka would carry them away. The Pookas also loved to mess with the ships pulling away from Ireland, and were blamed for many shipwrecks along the rocky coast.
As legend has it, female fairies often give birth to deformed children. Since the fairies prefer visually pleasing babies, they would go into the mortal world and swap with a healthy human baby, leaving behind a changeling. While the changeling looked like a human baby, it carried none of the same emotional characteristics. The changeling was only happy when misfortune or grief happened in the house. The changeling legend has lasted for centuries. William Shakespeare talks of a changeling in his play, “A Midsummer’s Night Dream.” Three hundred years later, Scarlett O’Hara believed Rhett Butler’s illegitimate child was a changeling in “Gone with the Wind.”
7. Dagda’s Harp
In Irish mythology, the Dagda was a high priest who had a large and beautiful harp. During a war, a rival tribe stole Dagda’s harp and took it to an abandoned castle. Dagda followed the tribe and called to the harp. The harp came to Dagda and he struck the chords. The harp let out the Music of Tears and everyone in the castle began to cry. Dagda struck the chords again and the harp played the Music of Mirth and all the warriors began to laugh. Then, Dagda struck the chords a final time and the harp let out the Music of Sleep. Everyone but Dagda fell into a deep sleep, allowing him to escape with his magical harp unharmed.
6. The Children of Lir
The story of the Children of Lir comes from the Irish Mythological Cycle. Lir was the lord of the sea. He had a wife and four children. When Lir’s wife died, he married his wife’s sister, Aoife. Aoife was jealous of Lir’s children and wanted to be rid of them. One day Aoife took the children to a lake. While they were swimming she performed a spell on them and turned them into swans. Under the spell the children were to remain swans until they heard the sound of a Christian bell. The swans swam from lake, to river to stream for years waiting for the sound of that bell, but it wasn’t until St. Patrick came to Ireland that the children could be free of the curse- 900 years later.
5. St. Patrick
To most people, St. Patrick is the man who brought a day of good times and green beer to pubs across the world. In reality, St. Patrick wasn’t made a saint until centuries after his death and he wasn’t even Irish. St. Patrick was born in Britain to a wealthy family. During his childhood, he was kidnapped and sold into slavery in Ireland. During his years in slavery he converted to Christianity and once freed he did spend the rest of his life teaching the Irish about the Christian religion, but he was soon forgotten after his death. It wasn’t until many years later that monks began telling the tale of St. Patrick forcing all the snakes out of Ireland. Something he never could have done as there never were any snakes in Ireland.
4. The Shamrock
The three green leaves of the Shamrock is more than the unofficial symbol of Ireland and one of the marshmallows in Lucky Charms. The Shamrock has held meaning to most of Ireland’s historic cultures. The Druids believed the Shamrock was a sacred plant that could ward off evil. The Celtics believed the Shamrock had mystical properties due to the plant’s three heart-shaped leaves. The Celtics believed three was a sacred number. Some Christians also believed the Shamrock had special meaning- the three leaves representing the Holy Trinity.
3. Finn MacCool
Finn MacCool is a mythological warrior that appears in several Irish legends. One popular story tells of a salmon that knew all of the world’s knowledge. Finn decided to eat the Salmon to gain the knowledge. As he was cooking the fish, juice squirted out and burned Finn’s thumb. Finn stuck his thumb in his mouth to stop the pain and instantly learned the knowledge the salmon carried. From then on, anytime Finn sucked his thumb he gained whatever knowledge he was seeking.
Faeries exist in some form in mythology all over the world but hold a special importance to the Irish. The fairy society in Ireland is thought to be very much alive, and far from Peter Pan’s Tinker Bell. An Irish fairy can take any form she wishes, but will usually choose a human form. They are said to be beautiful, powerful and hard to resist, which is unfortunate because most fairies in Ireland love to bring misfortune and bad luck to the mortals who come near them.
The leprechaun is likely the most widely known type of fairy living in Ireland. Leprechauns have been in existence in Irish legend since the medieval times. Traditionally, leprechauns are tall fairies and often appear to humans as an old man – much different from the modern view of a small, childlike fairy in a green suit. As legend holds, Leprechauns love to collect gold, which they store in a pot and hide at the end of a rainbow. If a human catches a leprechaun, the fairy must grant the human three-wishes before he can be released.
Ireland is too great to be unconnected with us, and too near us to be dependant on a foreign state, and too little to be independent.” C.T. Grenville to the Duke of Rutland, December 3, 1784 (H.M.C. 14 report app. 1, p. 155) This statement sums up the attitude of Great Britain toward Ireland from the twelfth century to the twentieth.
The passage of the National Service Act in January 1916 which threatened conscription in Ireland was one of the causes of the Easter Rising. The 1916 Rising represented the first major demonstration of force since the United Irishmen Rising of 1798. The insurrections of 1803, 1848 and 1867 had been small in comparison. (E. A. Benian. The Cambridge History of the British Empire. London, 1959. p.663)
Professor MacNeill, the nominal leader of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, had arranged for a parade to be held on Easter Sunday. He later found out the parade was to be the base of the rising and cancelled the event.
The Easter Rising planned by the Irish Republican Brotherhood was virtually confined to Dublin. This was the opening act of the Irish War for Independence. Moreover, confusion was caused by a rash of conflicting orders sent out to the Irish Volunteers – the main strike force – from their headquarters and the decision taken by the rebel leaders to postpone their action arranged for Easter Sunday 23rd April, until the next day.
At about 11.00 am on Easter Monday, Patrick Pearse and the Volunteers, along with James Connolly and the Irish Citizen Army, assembled at various prearranged meeting points in Dublin, and before noon set out to occupy a number of imposing buildings in the inner city area. These had been selected to command the main routes into the capital, and also because of their strategic position in relation to the major military barracks. They included the General Post Office, the Four Courts, Jacob’s Factory, Boland’s Bakery, the South Dublin Union, St. Stephen’s Green and later the College of Surgeons. Photos There was little fighting on the first day since British intelligence had failed hopelessly, the properties targeted were taken virtually without resistance and immediately the rebels set about making them defensible. The GPO was the nerve center of the rebellion. It served as the rebels’ headquarters and the seat of the provisional government which they declared. Five of its members served there – Pearse, Clarke, Connolly, MacDermott and Plunkett.
The British military onslaught, which the rebels had anticipated, did not at first materialize. When the Rising began the authorities had just 400 troops to confront roughly 1,000 insurgents. Their immediate priorities were therefore to amass reinforcements, gather information on volunteer strength and locations and protect strategic positions, including the seat of government, Dublin Castle, which had initially been virtually undefended. On Tuesday, a British force of 4,500 men with artillery attacked and secured the Castle. Photos
“As the week progressed, the fighting in some areas did become intense, characterized by prolonged, fiercely contested hand to hand street battles. Military casualties were highest at Mount Street Bridge. There, newly arrived troops made successive, tactically inept, frontal attacks on determined and disciplined volunteers occupying several strongly fortified outposts. They lost 234 men, dead or wounded while just 5 rebels died. In some instances, lapses in military discipline occurred. Soldiers were alleged to have killed 15 unarmed men in North King Street near the Four Courts during intense gun battles there on 28th and 29th April. The pacifist Francis Sheehy-Skeffington was the best- known civilian victim of the insurrection. He was arrested in Dublin on 25th April, taken to Portobello Barracks and shot by firing squad next morning without trial.
Overall the British authorities responded competently to the Rising. Reinforcements were speedily drafted into the capital and by Friday 28th April, the 1,600 rebels (more had joined during the week) were facing 18-20,000 soldiers. From Thursday the GPO was entirely cut off from other rebel garrisons. Next day it came under a ferocious artillery attack which also devastated much of central Dublin. Having learnt the lessons of Mount Street Bridge, the troops did not attempt a mass infantry attack. Their strategy was effective. It compelled the insurgent leaders, based at the Post Office, first to evacuate the building and later to accept the only terms on offer – unconditional surrender. Their decision was then made known to and accepted sometimes reluctantly, by all the rebel garrisons still fighting both in the capital and in the provinces.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/
In total, the Rising cost 450 persons killed, 2,614 injured, and 9 missing, almost all in Dublin. The only significant action elsewhere was at Ashbourne, 10 miles north of Dublin. Military casualties were 116 dead, 368 wounded and 9 missing, and the Irish and Dublin police forces had 16 killed and 29 wounded. A total of 254 civilians died; the high figures were largely because much of the fighting had occurred in or near densely populated areas. It is widely accepted that 64 rebels lost their lives. Their casualties were low because in the capital they were the defending force. Moreover, they fought with discipline and skill until, acting under instruction from their leaders, they surrendered their strongholds rather than fight to the last volunteer. The few other insurgents in Co. Meath, Galway and Wexford joined in the surrender.
Sir John Maxwell, the British Commander-in-Chief caused sixteen of the Irish to be court-martialed and shot. The execution of these men was an attempt to murder of the Provisional Government of Ireland. Patrick Pearse was the first to be singled out for execution, he was not allowed to see his mother or brother before he was executed on May 3, 1916. One of Pearse’s most famous speeches was his eulogy at the funeral of O’Donnovan Rossa who died in 1915.
The National Volunteers, The Citizens’ Army, The Hibernian Rifles, Fianna Éireann, Cumann na mBan and The Foresters
Following the formation of the Provisional Government, as outlined in the Proclamation, these organizations formally became known as Óglaigh na Éireann, otherwise known as the Irish Republican Army, under the command of James Connolly.
The second republican to join the H-Block hunger-strike for political status – a fortnight after Bobby Sands – was twenty-five-year-old Francis Hughes, from Bellaghy in South Derry: a determined, committed and totally fearless IRA Volunteer who organised a spectacularly successful series of military operations before his capture, and was once described by the RUC as their ‘most wanted man’ in the North.
Eluding for several years the relentless efforts of the British army, UDR and RUC to track him down, Francis operated boldly throughout parts of Tyrone and north and south Antrim, but particularly in his native South Derry, with a combination of brilliant organisation and extreme daring – until his capture after a shoot-out with the SAS – which earned him widespread popular renown, and won general support for the republican cause, as well as giving him an undisputed reputation as a natural-born soldier and leader.
Francis Hughes was born on February 28th, 1956, the youngest son amongst ten children, into a staunchly republican family which has been solidly rooted, for most of this century, in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, or Scribe Road, as it is otherwise called.
His parents who married in 1939, are Patrick Joseph Hughes, aged 72, a retired small cattle farmer born in the neighbouring town land of Ballymacpeake, and Margaret, aged 68, whose maiden name is McElwee, and who was born in Tamlaghtduff.
A quarter-of-a-mile away from the Hughes’ bungalow, on the other side of the Scribe Road is the home of Thomas and Benedict McElwee – first cousins of Francis. Benedict is currently serving a sentence in the H-Blocks. Thomas – the eldest – embarked on hunger strike on June 8th, and died sixty-two days later on August 8th.
In Tamlaghtduff, as throughout the rest of Bellaghy, sympathy as well as active support for the republican cause runs at a very high level, a fact testified to by the approximately twenty prisoners-of-war from around Bellaghy alone.
Francis was an extremely popular person, both to his family and to his republican colleagues and supporters.
His father recalls that as a boy he was always whistling, joking and singing: a trait which he carried over into his arduous and perilous days as a republican, when he was able to transmit his enthusiasm and optimism both to Volunteers under his command and to Sympathisers who offered them – at great personal risk, food and shelter
It was qualities like these, of uncomplaining tirelessness, of consideration for the morale of those around him, and his ruling wish to lead by example, that have made Francis Hughes one of the most outstanding Irish revolutionary soldiers this war has produced and a man who was enormously respected in his native countryside.
As a boy, Francis went first to St. Mary’s primary school in Bellaghy, and from there to Clady intermediate school three miles away.
He enjoyed school and was a fairly good student whose favourite subjects were history and woodwork. He was not particularly interested in sport, but was very much a lively, outdoor person, who enjoyed messing around on bikes, and later on, in cars.
He enjoyed dancing and regularly went to ceilidh as a young man, even while ‘on the run’, although after ‘wanted’ posters of him appeared his opportunities became less frequent.
His parents recall that Francis was always extremely helpful around the house, and that he was a “good tractor man”.
Leaving school at sixteen, Francis got a job with his sister Vera’s husband, as an apprentice painter and decorator, completing his apprenticeship shortly before ‘going on the run’.
In later days, Francis would often do a spot of decorating for the people whose house he was staying in
On one occasion, shortly after the ‘wanted’ posters of him had been posted up all over South Derry, Francis was painting window frames at the front of the house he was staying in when two jeep-loads of British soldiers drove past. While the other occupants of the house froze in apprehension, Francis waved and smiled at the curious Brits as they passed by, and continued painting.
It was such utter fearlessness, and the ability to brazen his way through that saved him time and time again during his relatively long career as an active service Volunteer.
On one such occasion, when stopped along with two other Volunteers as they crossed a field, Francis told a Brit patrol that they didn’t feel safe walking the roads, as the IRA were so active in the area. The Brits allowed the trio to walk on, but after a few yards Francis ran back to the enemy patrol to scrounge a cigarette and a match from one of the British soldiers.
A turning point for Francis, in terms of his personal involvement in the struggle, occurred at the age of seventeen, when he and a friend were stopped by British soldiers at Ardboe, in County Tyrone, as they returned from a dance one night.
The pair were taken out of their car and so badly kicked that Francis was bed-ridden for several days. Rejecting advice to make a complaint to the RUC, Francis said it would be a waste of time, but pledged instead to get even with those who had done it, “or with their friends.”
Chun gach mo chomhghleacaithe Gaeilge Meiriceánaigh, Lá Fhéile Pádraig Sona. Inniu an lá mór a bheith bródúil as ár n-oidhreacht mór. Daoine as gach cultúr ar domhan sa lá atá inniu ceiliúradh a dhéanamh ar ár lá speisialta. Inniu, tá gach duine ar bheagán Gaeilge, nó mar sin deir siad. Tonn Let s na bratacha na hÉireann, deoch go pionta agus scéal ard nó dhó a insint.
Níl níos mó ná ól inniu. Sa lá atá inniu faoi cairdeas. Roinnt scéal le daoine eile. Ag insint scéalta grinn agus cúpla a fheiceáil aoibh gháire ar an duine ar aghaidh. Agus ar ndóigh, tá cúpla pionta beorach na hÉireann. Nó a lámhaigh nó dhá cheann de roinnt uisce beatha Gaeilge mhaith. Just a cuimhnigh, cairdeas maith is tábhachtaí.
Bíodh spraoi agus a lán deoch. Bí sábháilte agus tuiscint coiteann a úsáid lá atá inniu ann. Ná deoch agus tiomáint. Ná lig chairde tiomáint atá ar meisce. Sa lá atá inniu tá thart ar spraoi. Ní Spraoi chiallaíonn go bhfuil easpa de chiall is coitianta. Ní lá atá inniu ann fiú a chailliúint do cheadúnas, a bheith gafa nó marú duine éigin nó tú féin. Ní lá atá inniu faoi ar féidir leo a ól an chuid is mó, blacking amach nó DUI ar. Sa lá atá inniu mar gheall ar an Harp, Shamrock agus Glas, Bán agus Óir.