Little Bits of History

June 20

Posted in History by patriciahysell on June 20, 2017

1631: The Sack of Baltimore is carried out. Baltimore lies in County Cork in Ireland and is the southernmost parish in the country. The English were in control of Ireland at the time and Sir Thomas Crooke, 1st Baronet was given permission from King James I to establish a center there in 1605. The lands were leased from Sir Fineen O’Driscoll, head of the O’Driscoll clan. Baltimre had an established, lucrative sardine fishery and was a pirate base. It was said all the women of Baltimore were either the wives or mistresses of pirates and when the English took over, not much changed.

A raid was spearheaded by the Dutch captain, Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, also called Murad Reis the Younger. He was joined by other Dutchmen, Moroccans, Algerians, and Ottoman Turks working the slave trade. The attack on this day remains the largest by Barbary pirates in either Ireland or Great Britain. Murad’s crew captured a fishing boat and coerced Hackett, the fisherman, to lead them stealthily into the village upon which time he would be granted his freedom. Hackett led the armed pirates in and they then captured most of the villagers. There were at least 108 English settlers taken with 237 given from another source. Most of the local people were taken away as well. The captured people were taken away to be sold into slavery in North Africa.

There are some theories about the day’s event. It has been suggested that Sir Walter Coppinger, a Catholic lawyer and member of a leading Cork family was vying for control of the lucrative assets of the village. Coppinger had become the dominant British power in the region after the death of Cooke. However, the O’Driscoll family was still in nominal control of the money being paid for the use of their fisheries. Coppinger wished to gain complete control of the village, the fishery, and the farming done by English settlers. Another possible reason for the attack was the exiling of the O’Driscoll family with many of them having gone to Spain after the Battle of Kinsale (1601-1602). With little hope of legally retaining their control over Baltimore from abroad, they may have orchestrated the raid to thwart Coppinger. Or perhaps, Murad thought it up all by himself.

It should be noted that there were rumors of a Barbary pirate attack on the Cork coast but it was thought Kinsale was a more likely target than Baltimore. In the wake of the attack, Hackett was seized by the remaining villagers who hung him. They then scattered and Baltimore was deserted for generations. Most of the captured were relegated to becoming galley slaves and rowed pirate ships for others until they died. More were placed as domestic slaves or laborers. Three of the captured were returned to Ireland via ransoms paid; one almost at once and two more were ransomed in 1646.

Life’s pretty good, and why wouldn’t it be? I’m a pirate, after all. – Johnny Depp

I don’t really know much about pirates, or pirate culture. I’d be a contrarian pirate. – Todd Barry

If ye can’t trust a pirate, ye damn well can’t trust a merchant either! – unknown

Even pirates, before they attack another ship, hoist a black flag. – Bela Kiraly

The Earls Leave

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 14, 2013
Flight of the Earls

Flight of the Earls

September 14, 1607: As the ship pulls away from Lough Swilly, Donegal, Ireland, the region is left Earl-less. There was a longstanding tussle over who would rule Ireland. Battles and wars were waged with Irish losses forcing Hugh O’Neill, 2nd Earl of Tyrone and the Prince of Tyrconnell into exile. The English victories under Lord Mountjoy left the region barren and war induced famine ravaged the lands. O’Neill surrendered under favorable conditions just as Queen Elizabeth was dying. He swore allegiance to the crown in 1603.

King James VI of Scotland became King James I of England. He was sympathetic towards the conquered Celts. He granted pardons to the Irish lords. O’Neill’s pardon came with the price of diminished territory with his cousins being granted possession of some of his holdings. The Prince of Tyrconnell died (possibly assassinated) while in Spain. His brother, Rory O’Donnell became the 25th Chieftain of the clan. On September 4, 1603 King James declared Rory as the Earl of Tyrconnell – but again with diminished holdings. The two Earls were back ruling in Ireland by 1604.

In 1605 a new Lord Deputy of Ireland was installed. Sir Arthur Chichester began chipping away at the power base of the two Irish Earls. All this was played out against the background of the Gunpowder Plot (a failed assassination attempt perpetrated by Catholics against King James). The Irish Catholics were now considered to be less loyal to the crown just by virtue of their religion. The O Catháin had once been subservient to Catholic Earl O’Neill but Chichester changed the status quo. O’Neill was invited to plead his case to the King and Privy Council.

The Earls were being impoverished by the new regime. Their lands and power were falling into the hands of the British. They feared arrest and so fled to the Continent in order to get military backing from Spain. As the Earls and several influential noblemen of Ulster boarded the French ship, the Old Gaelic Order ended. The ninety followers who left with the Earls represented the centuries-old rule of the clans. Many left their wives behind with the hope of reuniting later. Instead, the Gaelic aristocracy went into permanent exile. They either left as a result of the Tudor re-conquest of Ireland or their leaving paved the way for the Plantation of Ulster, depending on your outlook. The Flight of the Earls proved a pivotal point in Irish history.

“Making peace, I have found, is much harder than making war.” – Gerry Adams

“Every action of our lives touches on some chord that will vibrate in eternity.” – Sean O’Casey

“We have always found the Irish a bit odd. They refuse to be English.” – Winston Churchill

“Ireland, sir, for good or evil, is like no other place under heaven, and no man can touch its sod or breathe its air without becoming better or worse.” – George Bernard Shaw

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Ireland is an island to the east of Great Britain and is the 3rd largest island in Europe (Great Britain is the largest and Iceland is second). Most of the island was covered in ice until the end of the last ice age about 9000 years ago. At that time, sea levels were lower and both England and Ireland were part of continental Europe. While the land bridge remained intact, Mesolithic stone age people migrated to Ireland. By the Neolithic Age (3000 BC) agriculture was flourishing on the island. There is a temperate climate due to the influence of the ocean currents. A preserved area beneath the peat field in County Mayo is the (arguably) oldest field system in the world. Old fields that had contained wheat and barley are preserved, separated by low stone walls. This area is called Céide Fields which were discovered in the 1930s.

Also on this day: Fort McHenry – In 1814, a poem written by a young lawyer is published.
Luna 2 – In 1959, the USSR sent the first man-made object to the moon.
Alleluia – In 1741, Handel completed the oratorio for Messiah.

Irish Unrest

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 29, 2013
The Rising of 1848 in Tipparary, Ireland

The Rising of 1848 in Tipperary, Ireland

July 29, 1848: The police quash a revolt in Tipperary, Ireland. Ireland is an island immediately to the west of England first settled ≈ 8000 BC. The Normans invaded both islands, beginning with England in 1066. By 1536 Henry VIII decided to bring the Emerald Isle under British control. The British crown sponsored colonization and the establishment of Plantations. Religious persecution followed with Anglicans the favored religion. Catholics were the major victims of the newly established Penal Laws.

There were rebellions led by Irish Patriots hoping to return to home rule and religious freedom. The success or failure of the revolts were tied to the poor Catholic farmers. The “Great Famine” between 1845-1849 was caused by a potato blight. A water mold called phytophthora infestans spread throughout Ireland destroying the potato crop. The population of the island was decimated. About 1,000,000 died of starvation and another 1,000,000 emigrated. Potato crops failed across Europe but in Ireland, nearly one-third of the population depended entirely on the crop for their sustenance.

The Young Ireland political movement began influencing all aspects of Irish society in the late 1830s. The leading men of the Irish home rule contingency formed a group to unify their cause. They solidified their goals and objectives and began to publish The Nation, a newspaper advocating for a free Ireland. The paper lasted six months before government suppression closed the venture in 1843.

As Ireland continued to suffer devastation from the potato blight, and the government did nothing to alleviate the suffering, a group of patriot/rebels led by William Smith O’Brien began to agitate for physical action. The men led a revolt across several counties. In Tipperary, they erected a barricade to prevent the arrest of O’Brien and other leaders. The police were ensconced inside Mrs. McCormack’s house with her children held as hostage. O’Brien came to a window to negotiate with police. A gunfight broke out with several men killed. In the aftermath it became clear the British were sending in reinforcements. The rebel-patriots dispersed and faded away, ending the Rebellion. For a time.

“Irishness is not primarily a question of birth or blood or language; it is the condition of being involved in the Irish situation, and usually of being mauled by it.” – Conor Cruise O’Brien

“I showed my appreciation of my native land in the usual Irish way by getting out of it as soon as I possibly could.” – George Bernard Shaw

“The Irish do not want anyone to wish them well; they want everyone to wish their enemies ill.” – Harold Nicolson

“The problem with Ireland is that it’s a country full of genius, but with absolutely no talent.” – Hugh Leonard

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update: Ireland is the third largest island in Europe and twentieth in size throughout the world. The island is divided with the Republic of Ireland, about 5/6 of the land mass, a sovereign state in Europe. The capital is Dublin. The other 1/6 of the island located in the northeast corner is Northern Ireland, which remains a part of Great Britain. There are about 6.4 million people living on the island with about 4.6 million of them in the Republic of Ireland and the other 1.8 million living in Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland declared independence from Great Britain on April 24, 1916 and it was ratified on January 21, 1919. She was recognized on December 6, 1922 and left the Commonwealth on April 18, 1949. There was unrest in Northern Ireland which escalated from the 1960s to the 1990s. Since an agreement signed in 1998, this unrest has substantially subsided.

Also on this day: Arc de Triomphe – In 1836, the Arc de Triomphe is inaugurated.
I Spy – In 1864, Isabella Boyd was captured.
USS Forrestal – In 1967, a fire broke out on the aircraft carrier.

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