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people in irish History

Queen Elizabeth.jpg

On the death of Queen Elizabeth the Second the Irish Republic polled thousands of people on this question:

Submitted by Tom O'Reilly

“Should the Republic fly the flag at half Mast?” 68 percent responded yes.

Though, the English Monarch is an Imperialistic Constitutional Monarchy, Queen Elizabeth has made important contributions to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. For example, a couple of years prior to the 1998 agreement a secret meeting took place in Buckingham Palace between a former IRA Commander, Martin McGuiness and the Queen. I can now report on the substance of the meeting. Mr. McGuiness entered  a drawing room and was asked to sit on one of three  empty chairs. Shortly the Queen entered and spoke with McGuiness for a few minutes. Then a page entered the room and announced to the Queen that he is here your majesty. The Queen said” show him in” Enter Prime Minister Tony Blair. He sat on the third chair and waited for the Queen to speak.

And she said “ I have asked you here because I am asking both of you to work together to resolve the issues in Northern Ireland as soon as possible” Both men were stunned.

Shortly after, calls were received from President Clinton and a few other world leaders and before long George Mitchell brought the concerned parties in Northern Ireland together, including representatives from the Irish Republic and a couple of years later the people of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic overwhelmingly approved the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

James Connolly,

“We will not blame him (King George V) (Elizabeth TOR)

 for the crimes of his ancestors if he relinquishes the royal rights of his ancestors; but as long as he claims their rights, by virtue of descent, then, by virtue of descent, he must shoulder the responsibility for their crimes.”

Connelly understood what it was like for our people to live in a subjugated Imperialistic Monarchy for centuries. (Cromwell, The Famine, 1916 Rising executions et al )

Here is a very small sample of the largesse associated with the Monarchy

Duchy of Cornwall founded in 1337, to support the eldest son of the English Monarch. Funding to support the Monarch are raised from rents received from tenant farmers on the 140,000 acre estate. The Monarch does not pay taxes on monies received.

Duchy of Lancaster founded in 1351, to provide revenue for the Duke of Lancaster. Funding to support the Monarch are raised from rents received from tenant farmers on the 45,000 acre estate. The Monarch does not pay taxes on  monies received.


Countess Constance Markievicz.jpg

Countess Constance Markievicz, an Irish Republican leader, makes a farewell address in Boston before returning to Ireland, 1922. In December 1918, in the first election in the United Kingdom in which women were allowed to vote, Markievicz was the first woman elected to the British parliament. She, however, with the other Irish nationalists of the Sinn Fein (We Ourselves—the Irish Republican party dedicated to the independence of all of Ireland), refused to take her seat at Westminster. She joined the Dail, the Irish parliament in Dublin, as the first labor minister of the new Irish government. She opposed the treaty with England agreed to by Michael Collins and opposed the Irish Free State government in the Irish Civil War. She edited a republican newspaper and traveled to America to gain support for the antitreaty Republicans. She was arrested by the Irish Free State in 1923.

With the end of the civil war, Markievicz was elected to the Dail, but refused to take her seat because of her unwillingness to take an oath of loyalty to the British king. She joined Eamon de Valera’s party, Fianna Fail (Warriors of Destiny), when it was organized in 1926. In 1927 she was elected as a Fianna Fail candidate to the Dail but died on July 15 before taking her seat. Some critics regarded her as superficial and self-absorbed, but the common people of Ireland did not share this negative assessment. Three hundred thousand lined the streets for her funeral procession and de Valera delivered the eulogy at her grave.

Story submitted by Tom O'Reilly

A Jewish Irishman and Revolutionary Politician

Story submitted by Tom O'Reilly


…Robert Briscoe, Lord Mayor of Dublin was active in the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Sinn Féin during the Irish War of Independence and accompanied Éamon de Valera to America. He spoke for the Sinn Féin cause at public meetings there and was adamant that being a "Hebrew" did not lessen his Irishness. Briscoe was sent by Michael Collins to Germany in 1919 to be the chief agent for procuring arms for the IRA. Eamon Martin, former Chief of Staff of Fianna Éireann, was best man at Briscoe's wedding. They had been close friends during the Irish War of Independence…

They were the power brokers during the 1998 Good Friday Agreement talks - leaders who could make or break the future of Northern Ireland. Where are they now? BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport reports.

Story submitted by Tom O'Reilly


The talk’s chairman, Senator George Mitchell, told journalists who gathered outside Castle Buildings that he hated to leave us, but had to go. After sealing the deal, Senator Mitchell and the then secretary of state, Mo Mowlam, posed with the press for a group photograph.

Since 1998, the senator joined the Disney Corporation and carried out an investigation into the use of steroid drugs in US baseball. Through his US-Ireland Alliance he is playing a leading role in organizing the events commemorating the Agreement's tenth anniversary, including a conference in April due to be attended by Bill Clinton.


Many felt Mo Mowlam was relegated to the sidelines when Tony Blair took the leading role as the British negotiator inside Castle Buildings. But the straight talking minister struck a chord with the public who were impressed both by her political ability and her personal battle against cancer. She won a standing ovation at the Labour Party conference in 1998. However, this was the high point of her career. The year after the Agreement she moved to the Cabinet Office, a job she never found as fulfilling as Northern Ireland. She stepped down as an MP in 2001and died following a resurgence of her illness three years ago.



Mo Mowlam's boss Tony Blair continued to be the key figure when devolution faltered. He once expressed the opinion that a deal involving Ian Paisley was "pie in the sky". But it was precisely that deal which he succeeded in negotiating at St Andrew's in Scotland in 2006. The courtship of Ian Paisley proved Tony Blair's diplomatic skills and enabled him to time his departure from Downing Street to follow a victory lap at Stormont last May. Whilst Mr. Blair's reputation took a pounding over the Iraq war, his success in Northern Ireland contributed to his CV for his current role as a Middle East envoy.


Like Mr. Blair, Bertie Ahern remained in office to oversee the Agreement's ups and downs. Ten years ago the thought that the taoiseach would be welcomed to Ballymena by the DUP leader, Ian Paisley, seemed inconceivable. But the two men now appear to enjoy a personal rapport. For Mr. Ahern, the achievements of Castle Buildings are a far more welcome topic of conversation than his personal battles with the Dublin Mahon tribunal, examining alleged corruption in public life.


In those days before Sinn Fein and DUP dominance, John Hume and David Trimble held the cards within nationalism and unionism. Mr. Hume had worked for years to nurture the process that led to the Agreement, but without the skeptical Mr. Trimble there could be no deal to sign. The two went on to share the Nobel Peace Prize, but Mr. Hume left it to his deputy, Seamus Mallon, to share an uncomfortable period in office with David Trimble. John Hume passed the SDLP torch on to his long term assistant Mark Durkan. He occasionally goes public - as in one recent statement defending Hillary Clinton's contribution to building peace in Ireland - but is generally retired from politics. David Trimble fought on against the doubters within his own party before being overcome by the surging tide of DUP support. Since leaving office, he has joined the Conservatives and likes to speak in the Lords on a variety of national and international issues. He is skeptical about the notion that the Northern Ireland peace process can be some kind of blueprint for conflict resolution elsewhere in the world.


Gerry Adams remains the president of Sinn Fein. He was a pivotal figure in the talks which led to the restoration of devolution, the IRA disarming and Sinn Fein accepting the police. He chose not to take ministerial office at Stormont, leaving it to his chief negotiator Martin McGuinness to become first education minister, then deputy first minister. Many commentators believed Gerry Adams intended to concentrate on the expansion of his party south of the Irish border, perhaps with half an eye on the Irish presidency. But a poor election showing for Sinn Fein last year constituted a set-back for that project, and Mr. Adams has denied any presidential ambitions. Now he is involved in negotiations on topics like devolving justice and shows a strong interest in issues such as the Irish language and efforts to reverse the high rate of teenage suicides.



The two "fringe" loyalist parties, the Progressive Unionists and the Ulster Democrats, helped deliver the paramilitaries' acquiescence. Gary McMichael of the UDP failed to get elected to the assembly, then his party was disowned by its paramilitary sponsor, the UDA. David Ervine's PUP secured two seats in the assembly. Mr. Ervine came under pressure over the failure of the UVF to follow the IRA's example on disarmament. But the powerful orator continued to be an influential voice locally and internationally until his sudden death after suffering a heart attack in January 2007. Mr. Ervine's colleague Billy Hutchinson was one of a number of Northern Ireland politicians who talked to their Iraqi counterparts about making peace at a conference in Finland last year.



John Alderdice was Alliance leader at the time of the 1998 talks. He went on to become the first speaker presiding over the on-again off-again Stormont Assembly. Now his title is Lord Alderdice and he frequently travels abroad talking about the lessons of the peace talks.



Monica McWilliams of the Women's Coalition represented her party as an MLA, then later took on a job as Northern Ireland's Human Rights Commissioner.


Little was heard politically from the Labour party negotiators present at the talks. However, when one of their two delegates dozed off during a meeting of the short-lived Northern Ireland Forum, the DUP's Ian Paisley Junior shouted out that "half of the Labour party is asleep". Their leader, Malachi Curran, is now a publican in County Down.


Meanwhile, the man who stayed outside Castle Buildings, Ian Paisley Senior, could be said, a decade on, to have inherited the crown as Stormont's First Minister. That was until this month when the DUP's "Big Man" confirmed that he too is moving on.


What about the Irish Americans?

Irish Spies in the Nationalist Campaigns

Article and photo supplied by Tom O’Reilly


Rosena Brown, Róisín De Brún; born 1945) is an Irish actress of television, cinema, and stage from Belfast, Northern Ireland who also served as an intelligence officer for the Provisional IRA. Dubbed the "IRA Mata Hari", she was named in the murder trial of prison officer John Hanna, who was charged and convicted of helping the IRA kill colleague Brian Armour. She allegedly persuaded Hanna into providing information on Armour which she then passed on to the IRA; however, she was not charged with complicity in Armour's murder. In 1992, she and two men were arrested when a booby-trap bomb was found in their car. In 1993, she was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, but was released in December 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

A grandmother of nine, Brown continued to work in local community theatre following her release. She was portrayed by actress Rose McGowan in the 2008 crime thriller film, Fifty Dead Men Walking. Other movies: Hush-a-Bye Baby, Reefer and the Model.

Sir Roger David Casement

Article Supplied by Tom O'Reilly

Sir Roger David Casement, an Irish-born diplomat who in 1911 was knighted by King George V, is executed for his role in Ireland’s Easter Rising.

Casement was an Irish Protestant who served as a British diplomat during the early part of the 20th century. He won international acclaim after exposing the illegal practice of slavery in the Congo and parts of South America. Despite his Ulster Protestant roots, he became an ardent supporter of the Irish independence movement and after the outbreak of World War I traveled to the United States and then to Germany to secure aid for an Irish uprising against the British.

Germany, which was at war with Great Britain, promised limited aid, and Casement was transported back to Ireland in a German submarine. On April 21, 1916, just a few days before the outbreak of the Easter Rising in Dublin, he landed in Kerry and was picked up by British authorities almost immediately. By the end of the month, the Easter Rising had been suppressed and a majority of its leaders executed. Casement was tried separately because of his illustrious past but nevertheless was found guilty of treason on June 29. On August 3, he was hung in London.

Charles Stewart Parnell

Article Supplied by Tom O'Reilly

Charles Stewart Parnell, (born June 27, 1846, Avondale, County Wicklow, Ire.—died Oct. 6, 1891, Brighton, Sussex, Eng.) Irish Nationalist, member of the British Parliament (1875–91), and the leader of the struggle for Irish Home Rule in the late 19th century. In 1889–90 he was ruined by proof of his adultery with Katherine O’Shea, whom he subsequently married.


In 1880, Charles Stuart Parnell publicly stated his belief:


“When a man takes a farm from which another has been evicted you must shun him on the roadside when you meet him, you must shun him in the streets of the town, you must shun him in the shop, you must shun him in the fairgreen and in the marketplace, and even in the place of worship, by leaving him alone, by putting him in a moral Coventry, by isolating him from the rest of his country as if he were the leper of old, you must show your detestation of the crime he has committed.”

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