From The Archives

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“If war was once a chivalrous duel, it is now a dastardly slaughter.”
Artur von Bolfras, Colonel-General, Austrian Army

One hundred years ago in November 1918, the war which many believed would end all wars came to its conclusion and the clouds of doom which had enveloped Europe for so long were lifted, writes Eamonn Duggan.

The slaughter of the previous four years and four months was responsible for 41 million casualties including some 18 million deaths of which 10 million were on the battlefield. Hardly a family across Europe escaped the dreaded telegram informing them of the death of a loved one.

The trenches which now hauntingly symbolise the horrors of the war took husbands, brothers and boyfriends leaving many communities bereft of their male component and the cause of many social problems in the years following the conflict.

Though Ireland was spared the horrific spectacle of battlefields, the country was no less impacted as approximately 205,000 of her men fought for king and country, democracy and the preservation of small nations.

So, when the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month arrived in 1918, the world – and Europe in particular – rejoiced and gave thanks but the sadness and grief which had been endured since 1914 was set to remain for many years to come. One hundred years after the end of the “Great War”, the world is set to remember all of those who lost their lives and Ireland, like every other country impacted by the conflict, will play her part in making sure that they will never be forgotten.

Indications that the war was coming to an end began to surface in October 1918 when the final Allied push towards the German border began on the 17th of the month. It was clear that the Central Powers alliance was collapsing as Turkey signed an armistice at the end of the month followed by Austria-Hungary signing on 3 November.

A mutiny of German sailors took place in Kiel on 29 October and within a couple of days they had taken complete control of the city and the revolution began to spread across the country.

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John Henry Foley was probably the most influential sculptor in Irish history. His best-known Irish works include the Daniel O’Connell monument on O’Connell Street and the troika of Grattan, Goldsmith and Burke outside Trinity College. Queen Victoria personally requested Foley create the statue of her beloved Prince Albert for the Albert Memorial in London. When Foley died, she decreed that he be buried in Westminster Abbey, an extraordinary honour for a man born into relative poverty in Dublin’s northside, writes RAY CLEERE

Best known for his heroic and monumental statues, including that of Daniel O’Connell (‘The Liberator’) on O’Connell, in Dublin, Oliver Goldsmith and Edmund Burke on the grounds of Trinity College, Dublin, and Henry Gratton on College Green, Dublin, John Henry Foley was the first major figure in Irish sculpture.

Foley was born at number 6 Montgomery Street, in Dublin, 200 years ago, on May 24th, 1818, and was baptised on the following June 8th in St. Thomas’s Church. His father, Jesse Foley, who was a native of Winchester, had settled early in life in Dublin where he was employed in a glass manufactory, and later owned a grocer’s shop in Mecklenbury Street.

On February 28th, 1812, Jesse Foley married Elizabeth Byrne. Their second son, John Henry Foley, received but a slender education, and such as he afterwards acquired was through his own industry and love of reading.

Influenced by the example of his older brother, Edward, who had adopted sculpture as a profession, Foley showed great talent at an early age and, aged 13, in 1831, he began to study modelling, architectural drawing, studies of the human form and ornamental design at the Royal Dublin Society, where he won several prizes, including the principal medal in 1833.

In March 1834, and then aged 17, he left Dublin and joined his brother Edward in London. In the following year, 1835, he became a student of the Royal Academy where he devoted himself entirely to sculpture. He won the large silver medal and in 1839, he exhibited in the Royal Academy his ‘Death of Abel’ and ‘Innocence’, both of which attracted attention.

His group of ‘Ino and Bacchus’, exhibited in 1840, added to his growing reputation and was commissioned by Lord Ellesmere to be executed in marble for his collection at Bridgewater House.
That success was quickly followed by other exhibits including ‘Lear and Cordelia’ and ‘Death and Lear’ (both 1841); ‘Venus Rescuing Aeneas’ and ‘The Houseless Wanderer’ (both 1842) and ‘Prospero and Miranda’ (1843).

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After many years in Dublin, one of Ireland’s best-known and best-loved poets, Brendan Kennelly, is back living near the small north Kerry village of Ballylongford in which he grew up. Now in his early eighties, Kennelly has had a remarkably prolific career as the writer of over fifty books and as a long-time Professor of English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin, writes Anne Keeling.


Brendan has departed the bustling capital city he loved and resides just outside Listowel, home of Writers’ Week – the annual literary and arts festival Kennelly co-founded. He is close to his family, particularly his sister Nancy McAuliffe, whom I had the pleasure of meeting.

Brendan Kennelly is one of Kerry’s great men of letters, along with John B. Keane and Bryan McMahon. I spent some enjoyable hours in his company, hearing about his love of Dublin and the Dubs, his love of talking, politicians and their wiles, the characters he knew, and a chance meeting that changed his life.

His first taste of Trinity College, when he was awarded the Sizarship (a scholarship associated with the Sandes family still available to students from Co Kerry), was as a lone young country boy in a rarefied environment.

“I was at Trinity at the time when it was a mortal sin for a Catholic to go,” he says good-humouredly, “you know, the Dubs used be outside in the street – (sings) ‘In Trinity College they have no knowledge, they go to school to play the fool, and that’s flipping Trinity College.’ Who was the Archbishop of Dublin … John Charles McQuaid? He couldn’t stand the place! Ah, I think it was those times when being in one sort of religious situation gave you the sense that you were superior somehow or other. Sure that’s still there in people. Like Cork and Kerry.”

Perhaps feeling alienated in what was a Protestant enclave at the time, Brendan left Trinity in order to broaden his horizons and travel a little. He spent time in England and France but it was his destiny to return before too long to the university he’d left and he went on to achieve his PhD there in 1966, writing his thesis on Modern Irish Poets and the Irish Epic, and, soon after, he commenced his lecturing career in the Department of English.

He embraced his adopted city with great enthusiasm.

“I loved being in Dublin. I was there for over forty years. And I love the Dubs.”

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By Noel Coogan

Dublin are in joint fifth place on the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship roll of honour with six title triumphs but the last of them dates back 80 years, with first-time finalists Waterford narrowly defeated on September 4th, 1938.

Before that, Dublin were crowned champions five times between 1889 and 1927 but they owed much for the successes to players from other counties working in the capital city. Remarkably, for the 1938 victory, the team included only one Dublin-native player.

Thirteen teams, including defending champions Tipperary, took part in that year’s MacCarthy Cup competition with seven of them chasing Leinster honours. Four of Dublin’s five outings were in their own provincial championship.

Dublin began their championship campaign with a 7-1 to 3-7 win over Wexford in Aughrim before outscoring Westmeath by 3-6 to 3-1 in a provincial semi-final clash at Tullamore.

Then it took two hours of hurling against Kilkenny before Dublin were crowned Leinster champions for the 17th time. Some of the titles were easily gained in the early years of the GAA.

In 1892, Dublin was the only team to enter the Leinster SHC; two years later they received a final walk-over from Kilkenny and in the 1908 competition Kilkenny refused to field in the decider fixed for Jones’s Road in March of the following year.

There was a bizarre conclusion to the 1929 Leinster SHC. After Kilkenny defeated Dublin by 3-5 to 2-6 in the final at New Ross both teams were disqualified for being late on the field. Although no title was awarded, Kilkenny went on to play in the All-Ireland semi-final which they lost to Galway.

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Famed in song and story, Paula Redmond recounts the tragic end
to the inspirational 1798 leader

The lyrics of the folk song ‘Kelly, the Boy From Killanne’, were written in 1911 by P. J. McCall. The story told in the song is based on a real person and events that happened in Co. Wexford during the 1798 Rebellion.

John Kelly was born in the small rural village of Killanne, Co. Wexford, in 1776. His father, also John, was a shopkeeper and farmer and his mother’s name was Mary Redmond. The family lived in the property which later formed part of Rackard’s public house in Killanne. It was bought in the early twentieth century by the famous hurling family. Kelly and his fellow United Irishmen used the loft here as a meeting place.

The lyrics of the song state that John’s height was seven feet “with some inches to spare” and this was in fact an accurate description. He was of fair complexion, with long golden curly locks, again referred to in the song “Tell me who is the giant with the gold curling hair?”.

When the insurgency of 1798 broke out, John quickly assembled able-bodied men in his district, irrespective of their religion, to fight against British forces. He started training the volunteers and sourced pikes for them.

He obtained these arms from the nearby village of Rathduff from a forge owned by a man named Johnson. When he had trained and armed his troop of men they set out for Enniscorthy – with more men joining them along the way.

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PAULINE MURPHY looks back at a time when James Joyce clashed with his Irish language teacher Padraig Pearse!


Bloomsday, which is observed annually on June 16th, celebrates all things James Joyce, most notably his novel Ulysses which is set on that date in 1904. The day is named after Leopold Bloom, the main character in the book who spends the day strolling around the capital city.

The true meaning behind the date June 16th lays within Joyce’s relationship with Nora Barnacle – the pair first walked out together on June 16th.

Barnacle was a west of Ireland girl with a basic education and mild manners; she was the opposite to the brash know-it-all Dubliner and, unlike Joyce, Nora had a better grasp of her native tongue than he did.

Just a few years previously Joyce tried – and failed – to learn the Irish language, a failure he put down to his teacher.

Before he became the revolutionary martyr of the 1916 Easter Rising, Padraig Pearse tried to teach James Joyce Irish. Pearse taught weekly Irish language classes through the University College, Dublin, at Newman House on St. Stephen’s Green.

It was at this Jesuit college that the young Joyce befriended Limerick-born George Clancy who, later in life, would become Sinn Féin mayor of Limerick and die at the hands of the British auxiliaries in 1921.

Clancy was an avid cultural nationalist and was one of the founders of the UCD branch of the Gaelic League. The affable Clancy encouraged Joyce to join and take some lessons under the tutorship of an up-and-coming star on the nationalist scene by the name of P. H. Pearse.

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By David Flynn

An imaginative tv series of separate stories about the unusual started on US tv in 1959, and whenever its title is uttered, it conjures up memories of the strange and extraordinary.

The Twilight Zone had an unforgettable theme tune that opens the black and white introduction of the programme into a space scene. A door appears in space followed by a window which breaks, followed by other objects such as an eye and a clock.

The creator and narrator of the series, Rod Serling, did a voiceover at the introduction when the door appeared onscreen. It went like this: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination, beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind, you are moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas, you’ve just crossed over, into the Twilight Zone,” said Serling at the introduction.

There were other such introductions by Serling as the series progressed.

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Jimmy Duffy recalls one of Donegal’s darkest days when a drifting war mine exploded on the Ballymanus coast

Living in west Donegal where very little trees grow owing to blowing sand and salt from the wild Atlantic Ocean, anything yielded by the sea was highly sought after.

Over the years many prizes were yielded from the incoming tide; mostly coming from shipwrecks or having been washed overboard on ocean-going ships that plied their trade along a transatlantic shipping lane close to Donegal’s northwest coast.

All sorts of treasured flotsam was washed ashore ranging from candle wax, pitch resin to prime timber; material essential to the coastal communities. The biggest “prize” of all came in 1856 when the sailing barque Salaia ran aground in Keadue Bar carrying enough timber to reroof the parish church of Lower Templecrone at Kincasslagh.
In 1940, two young men were washed off the rocks at Carrickfinn while trying to retrieve incoming timber log.

Nineteen-year-old Charlie Patterson was drowned while somewhat miraculously his fourteen-year-old friend, Hughie Duffy, was washed back ashore. Hughie later perished along with eighteen of his neighbours and friends when a floating wartime sea-mine exploded at nearby Ballymanus, on the 10th of May, 1943.

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By Colm Power

George Formby, O.B.E., who was born in Wigan, Lancashire, on 26th May, 1904, was an actor, singer, songwriter and comedian. He was adored by millions of fans through his films of the 1930s and 1940s and he became the highest-paid entertainer in the United Kingdom. He is best remembered for the comic songs he sang on stage, on screen and on records to his own accompaniment on the ukulele.

He wasn’t an odds-on favourite to succeed. He was born blind because of an obstructive caul on his eyes, but his sight was restored when he was still a baby. His formal education was brief and unremarkable. He couldn’t read or write, and he was removed from school at the age of seven and sent to become a stable boy, first in Wiltshire and then in Middleham, Yorkshire.

After working for a year in Middleham, young George was apprenticed to Thomas Scourfield at Epsom, and he rode his first professional race at the age of ten. In 1915, when he was aged eleven, he actually appeared in a film entitled ‘By the Shortest of Heads’, in which he played the part of a stable boy who outwits the bad guys when he comes first in a horse race. Later, in 1915, when the English racing closed because of the First World War, George moved to Ireland where he continued as a jockey until November, 1918. He then returned to England and raced for Lord Derby at his Newmarket stables.

He continued as a jockey until 1921. Unfortunately, he never won a race.

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Actor, musician and writer Patrick Bergin shares highlights of his Hollywood career and tells Kay Doyle about his newly released song The Tipperary Waltz in which he pays homage to his great-uncle who fought in WWI.

From his unforgettable portrayal of a terrifying and abusive husband in one of Hollywood’s most memorable thrillers, to lighting up the small screen on the BBC’s popular soap opera Eastenders, Patrick Bergin has enjoyed an acting career that spans over thirty years, and the cameras are still rolling.

Born in Dublin’s Holles Street in 1951, and raised in Carlow town, he was the son of hard-working and aspirational parents. Drawn to Carlow as his grandfather was a stationmaster in the town, his mother ran a café there called The Sugarbowl; indeed ‘sugar’ would go on to have a prominent place in his family’s history.

His father, also Patrick, was the national campaign organiser for the Labour Party, eventually becoming a senator from 1954 to 1957. Patrick Senior led the famous sugar strike in Carlow, despite being threatened with twenty years in jail, and which ultimately led to the closure of the sugar factory.

After the conclusion of World War II, sugar was hot property in Ireland. Experts from Czechoslovakia were brought over to show the Irish labourers how to cook the sugar, which was a finely skilled process. Patrick Snr had cut a deal with Major General Costello that once the Irish workers were trained up to the same level as the Czech workers, they would be paid similar wages. When they reneged on this deal, he led them to strike.

“One day, when my father went to Leinster House to present a case for the sugar workers on equal pay to the Minister, he was sitting in the tea room waiting to be called when the tea lady brought him and his colleagues a cup of tea,” recalls Patrick Junior. “She apologised that she only had saccharine, and no sugar.

“’That’s because of those bowsies down in Carlow,’ my father said, testing her for a reaction. She snapped back, ‘Don’t you run down those fine men and what they are trying to do!’ It was his way of gauging the opinion of the general public, and it was a boost for their cause.”

In his spare time, away from politics, Patrick’s father founded a Little Theatre in Carlow town, the goal being to teach the workers to walk and talk more proudly. After the bitter strike, they moved to a place called Jerusalem in Co. Kildare, situated between Carlow and Athy, and then to Dublin. The Bergins lived for years above the Labour Party offices on Earlsfort Terrace, before moving to Drimnagh where they would eventually settle.

“I had three brothers and one sister,” says Patrick. “When I was four years old I turned to my mother and said, ‘Ma, I want to go to school.’ I had a good teacher called Mr. Muldoon in Our Lady of Good Counsel on Mourne Road, who encouraged us to put on plays and musicals which we acted out in the Bosco Club.

“My mother worked in the Gaiety Theatre and the first production I became involved was Brian Friel’s Philadelphia Here I Come. Literature ran through the household, and we were always encouraged to read the classics. My older brother, Emmet, also went into acting, many people would know him for his role as the scheming Dick Moran in Glenroe.”

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