A Student of History

November 8, 2007

Irish role in slavery is marked

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 9:59 am

From the BBC:

In Belfast’s Linenhall Library rare documents and artefacts have gone on display as part of the Hidden Connections exhibition marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the African slave trade.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness opened the display on Tuesday, describing the trade as a “manifestation of racism and greed”.

November 6, 2007

Easter Rising 1916

Filed under: Ireland,New books — John Maass @ 9:33 am

H-War has just published a book review I wrote on Charles Townsend’s Easter 1916: The Irish Rebellion (2006). 

This can be viewed at http://www.h-net.org/~war/.

October 24, 2007

A proposal to remove Turoe Stone

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Ireland — John Maass @ 9:13 am

From Galway Independent (on-line):

A proposal to remove the landmark Turoe Stone from its location near Loughrea is meeting fierce opposition in the local area.

The stone is one of the finest examples of La Tène art in Europe and predates Christ. However, due to concerns that the stone is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the elements, a meeting has taken place between officials from the National Museum (to which the stone officially belongs), the Office of Public Works and the Galway City Museum.

According to Breandán O’hEaghra of the Galway City Museum, the stone is an artefact of “enormous significance”. It has been located in Turoe for over 150 years and before that at its original location at the Rath of Feerwore, an Iron Age ring-fort structure, at nearby Kiltullagh.


October 16, 2007

Was Thomas Burke a Catholic?

Filed under: Early America,Ireland,NC History — John Maass @ 5:53 am


During my dissertation research, I became very well acquainted with North Carolina Governor Thomas Burke, a fascinating man who tied all too early in his life, at the end of the Revolution (1783).  Given my connections with Ireland, I was particularly interested in Burke, as he was born in Co. Galway.  As I began to get deeper into the sources, I started to come across some stray references to Burke as a Catholic.  That is very striking, in that during the colonial and revolutionary period, Catholics were barred from high office (among other disabilities.)  How could Burke be a Congressman and a governor if he had been a practicing Catholic?  Where would he have worshipped in NC, given the paucity of parishes or priests there at the time? 

After 3 years and more of research into NC during this period, I came across no primary source references to Burke being a Catholic at all.  Not a single one!  Just because one comes from Galway, does not mean one is a Roman Catholic, but for some reason, writers and a few historians have stated in print that Burke was a Catholic.  The on-line Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry for North Carolina states: “Though there are few Catholics in the state, an unusual proportion have [sic] occupied prominent official positions. Thomas Burke was governor.”

 Wikipedia, not a reliable source, states that “Burke was unusual for being a practicing Roman Catholic who succeeded politically in an era when Catholics held little political power and were often discriminated against.”  The source? The on-line Catholic Encyclopedia, which gives no specific citation, and Stephen Beauregard Weeks’ Church and State in North Carolina (1893), which doesn’t name Burke at all. 

There are plenty of 19th century and early 20th century histories of North Carolina, all of which tend to be loosely cited, to say the least.  One of the most prominent is Samuel A. Ashe’s Biographical History of North Carolina from Colonial Times to the Present (1905). This book notes Burke’s Irish roots, stating as well that Burke “was Roman Catholic in religion,” but frustratingly does not give a source for it. 

 Interestingly, there’s a Thomas Burke chapter of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in Raleigh.  This is a VERY Catholic organization, so they must be convinced that Burke was Catholic himself.  Can you imagine the furor if they found out he was a Orange!!  I could find nothing on their website regarding foundation for Burke’s alleged Catholic faith. 

If anyone can provide some hard proof of the link between Burke and Catholicism, I would love to have it.  Perhaps if I am in Galway again, I can look for some baptismal records……..

October 12, 2007

Ancient Irish Chronicle now on Display

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 6:29 am

A hugely influential chronicle of Irish history has gone on display in its full form in Dublin – for the first time in nearly 400 years.  The Annals of the Four Masters manuscripts, charting Irish history from ancient times to the 17th Century, are on show at Trinity College.

More here from the BBC.

Part of the Annals of the Four Masters

October 1, 2007

An Irish “Braveheart?”

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 12:49 pm


A new historically based movie (and we’ll see what that means when it is released) is in the planning stages right now, to be a film on ancient Irish king Brian Boru and his battle against Viking invaders.  As this BBC piece states, kinda like an Irish “Braveheart.”  Braveheart, by the way, was filmed in Ireland but that is beside the point.  There are plans to shoot this film on location in Ireland in early 2008. 

So who will play Boru?  Click here  and here to find out.

September 18, 2007

Ireland must guard against a loss of faith

Filed under: Ireland,The world today — John Maass @ 6:48 am

From Catholic World News:  Ireland must guard against a loss of faith and the encroachment of secular ideology, Pope Benedict XVI, warned a new ambassador from that country to the Holy See.As he accepted the diplomatic credentials of the new envoy, Noel Fahey, the Holy Father remarked that “for over 1600 years, Christianity has shaped the cultural, moral and spiritual identity of the Irish people.” That faith remains the key to the nation’s character, he said.

The Pope said that the recent economic boom in Ireland has been a blessing blessing, since “prosperity has undoubtedly brought material comfort to many, but in its wake secularism has also begun to encroach and leave its mark.”

That’s the way it is everywhere………

June 30, 2007

Hail to the Chief

Filed under: Ireland,The world today — John Maass @ 10:59 pm

BBC report:

A Nigerian man who arrived in Ireland as an asylum seeker seven years ago has become the country’s first black mayor. Rotimi Adebari has been elected as first citizen of Portlaoise in County Laois.

The 43-year-old fled from Nigeria in 2000 because of religious persecution. After a few weeks, he and his family settled in the County Laois town.

Rotimi Adebari

June 24, 2007

Stout news

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 10:18 pm


 For two and half centuries it has been one of the most famous features of the Irish capital. But now, the Dublin headquarters and spiritual home of Guinness, one of the world’s best-known brands, may be sold to property developers.

For 250 years the site, at St James’s Gate on the quays of the river Liffey has been a hugely important part of Dublin life, producing millions of pints of what is known as the “black stuff”.

Arthur Guinness.JPG

More here.

June 23, 2007

Hill of Tara Update

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Ireland — John Maass @ 2:40 pm

As I noted recently, there’s still a fight going on over the major roadworks near the Hill of Tara in Ireland between preservationists and those who want a bigger and “better” road in that section of the country in order to ease traffic problems.

In a very brief update, it appears that the NRA (National Roads Admin.) disputes the fact that anything new has been found at the site, which accordingly has held up construction.  They also have a statement from May posted here, which disputes the archaeology work done near the site.

June 20, 2007

Still a long way to go….

Filed under: Ireland — John Maass @ 7:15 pm

From the Irish Examiner:

Protestant and Catholic children in the North are living parallel and separate lives divided along sectarian lines 10 years on from the second IRA ceasefire, a survey confirmed today.

A poll of 667 children chosen randomly from 35 schools across the North showed Protestants were more likely to define themselves as British and Catholics more likely to see themselves as Irish.

Encouragingly however, around half of Catholic children and around half of Protestants were happy to be labelled as “Northern Irish”.

June 17, 2007

Is it a castle or is it not?

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Ireland — John Maass @ 9:48 am

There is a very interesting story in The Telegraph about an effort to get restoration money for a castle in the Newry (Co. Down) area, in order to promote tourism.

One problem-the castle may never have existed!

When a well-known rogue asked Elizabeth I for money to build a castle in Ireland, she turned him down flat, suspecting he would pocket the cash for himself. Now, 450 years later, it appears that the Heritage Lottery Fund has not been so astute. The fund granted £1.5 million to “restore” the castle, which historians are claiming never existed.

Another site associated with the castle restoration gives their version of the “history” of the castle:

Rediscovered in 1996, Bagenal’s Castle survived enveloped in the premises of the former McCann’s Bakery on Abbey Way. The rediscovery is an exciting opportunity for Newry and Mourne to preserve and restore one of the most important aspects of local heritage and the building is of intense historical interest not least because it is the only known surviving castle in Ireland for which the original plans and elevations survive in the Public Records Office in London.

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