Interview with Ciarán Cuffe-Member of European Parliament

Ciaran was first elected to Dublin City Council in 1991. Back then he campaigned for a light rail system for Dublin, and for greater protection of Dublin’s heritage. Since then, He has served as a TD (Irish MP) for Dún Laoghaire, a Minister of State with responsibility for Climate Action, and a councillor for Dublin’s North Inner City. He sits on the European Parliament’s TRAN (Transport and Tourism) and ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy) committees, and is president of EUFORES (European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources). He trained as an architect and urban planner at UCD and the LSE, and he set up an MSc Programme in Urban Regeneration and Development at the Technical University of Dublin (TU Dublin).

He grew up in Shankill and now lives in Stoneybatter with his family. He is proud to serve as Dublin’s Green MEP (Member of the European Parliament) for the term 2019-2024.



Saint Patrick

Saint Patrick’s Day, a public holiday in Ireland, Montserrat and the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, widely celebrated in the English-speaking world and to a lesser degree in other parts of the world.

But who exactly was he?

Early in the 5th century, an Irish ship beat against the waves along the western coast of Great Britain. On the far edge of the crumbling Roman Empire, a band of Irish marauders crept into a secluded cove and raided the village of Bannavem Taburniae.

Among the plunder captured by the band of warriors dispatched by Ireland’s King Niall of the Nine Hostages was a 16-year-old boy named Maewyn Succat. Who would later become known as St Patrick.

Saint Patrick’s real name was probably Maewyn Succat. His father, Calpornius, was a Roman-British army officer and a deacon. Despite his father’s involvement in the church, Maewyn Succat did not, at first, follow suit. He was not a believer. In fact, until the age of 16, his life was unexceptional.

According to his autobiography Confessio, for the next six years, he was kept in prison in the north of the island of Ireland. Here he worked as a herdsman tending to sheep and pigs, on Mount Slemish, in County Antrim.

It was during this time that Maewyn Succat found religion. He believed that his kidnapping and enslavement were punishment for his lack of belief.

He spent a great deal of time in prayer. Eventually, he had a vision that saw him as a stowaway on a boat back to Britain. He soon escaped and was reunited with his family.
Back in Britain and safe from his captors, Maewyn Succat had a vision that the people of Ireland were calling him back to minister to them about God. However, he did not feel prepared.

He traveled to France where he trained in a monastery, possibly under Saint Germain, the Bishop of Auxerre. He dedicated his life to learning.Twelve years later, he returned to Irish shores as a Bishop, sent with the Pope’s blessing.

In his autobiography, The Confessio, he tells of a dream, after his return to Britain, in which one Victoricus delivered him a letter headed, “The Voice of the Irish.” As he read it, he seemed to hear a certain company of Irish beseeching him to walk once more among them. “Deeply moved,” he says, “I could read no more.” Nevertheless, because of the shortcomings of his education, he was reluctant for a long time to respond to the call. Even on the eve of re-embarkation for Ireland he was beset by doubts of his fitness for the task. Once in the field, however, his hesitations vanished. Utterly confident in the Lord, he journeyed far and wide, baptizing and confirming with untiring zeal. In diplomatic fashion he brought gifts to a kinglet here and a lawgiver there but accepted none from any. On at least one occasion, he was cast into chains. On another, he addressed with lyrical pathos a last farewell to his converts who had been slain or kidnapped by the soldiers of Coroticus.

Careful to deal fairly with the non-Christian Irish, he nevertheless lived in constant danger of martyrdom. The evocation of such incidents of what he called his “laborious episcopate” was his reply to a charge, to his great grief endorsed by his ecclesiastical superiors in Britain, that he had originally sought office for the sake of office. In point of fact, he was a most humble-minded man, pouring forth a continuous paean of thanks to his Maker for having chosen him as the instrument whereby multitudes who had worshipped “idols and unclean things” had become “the people of God.”

Before the end of the 7th century, St. Patrick had become a legendary figure, and the legends have continued to grow. One of these would have it that he drove the snakes of Ireland into the sea to their destruction. Patrick himself wrote that he raised people from the dead, and a 12th-century hagiography places this number at 33 men, some of whom are said to have been deceased for many years. He also reportedly prayed for the provision of food for hungry sailors traveling by land through a desolate area, and a herd of swine miraculously appeared.

Another legend, probably the most popular, is that of the shamrock, which has him explain the concept of the Holy Trinity, three persons in one God, to an unbeliever by showing him the three-leaved plant with one stalk. Traditionally, Irishmen have worn shamrocks, the national flower of Ireland, in their lapels on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17.

Happy St Patrick’s Day


The Murder of Bridget Cleary

The Dutch word for superstition is bijgeloof and in a literal sense translates into side belief or side religion. This sort of religion was the cause of the murder of Bridget Cleary on 15 March 1895.

Bridget Cleary was an Irish woman who was murdered by her husband. She was either burned alive or immediately after her death. The husband’s stated motive was his belief that she had been abducted by fairies and replaced with a changeling, which he then killed. The gruesome nature of the case prompted extensive press coverage, and the trial was closely followed by newspapers across Ireland.

When Johanna Burke visited her cousin, Bridget, she found the 26-year-old being held down and force-fed a concoction of herbs and milk. The men restraining her were three of Johanna’s brothers, an elderly neighbour named John Dunne and Bridget’s husband, Michael.

The Clearys were not quite like their neighbours. They were childless and, although Bridget was a local girl, they had lived in far larger towns than the nearby villages of Drangan and Cloneen. They may also have been richer than their neighbours. Coopers were well-paid craftsmen, and Bridget brought in extra money as a seamstress, she even owned a Singer sewing machine.

Bridget had become ill with a cold in the prior days to her death. She had been delivering eggs in Kylenagranagh, the site of a fairy ring, according to local folklore. Over the coming days, her house would be occupied by several relatives and neighbours amid a growing concern that there was a supernatural element to her illness. Trial records were later to suggest that this idea may have been put forward by John Dunne, a neighbour who was known to be more aligned with old faery traditions that were dying out in Ireland.

Relatives of Bridget were convinced as the days passed that there was a faery changeling in the house. In superstitious folklore, it was believed a faery changeling was a duplicate put in the place of a real person, often a woman or child, after they had been abducted by faeries.

There were several attempts to have the doctor and the priest visit the house, as well as an herbal doctor. As the days passed Bridget’s fever did not improve. By Friday 15th March 1895 tensions were running high in the small cottage with Michael repeatedly asking his wife who she was. She angered him by asserting that his mother had gone off with the faeries. She also stated that she could see the police at the window in an effort wanting to be left alone.

According to a court report in The Irish Times on 27 March of that year, Johanna said the men forced Bridget to take the herbs, and Cleary asked her, “Are you Bridget Boland, the wife of Michael Cleary, in the name of God?”

She answered twice, but when she refused to answer a third time, she was hauled up and held in a sitting position over the slow-burning embers of the kitchen fire. Bridget “seemed to be wild and deranged, especially while they were so treating her,” according to the report. She eventually responded: “I am Bridget Boland, daughter of Pat Boland in the name of God,” referring to her maiden name.

Michael repeatedly attempted to get her to say her name while getting her to eat three slices of bread. When she did not reply to the third time of questioning, he stripped her, doused her in oil and set her alight. He shouted that it was not his wife but a witch he was burning.

By 16 March, rumours were beginning to circulate that Bridget was missing, and local police began searching for her. Michael was quoted as claiming that his wife had been taken by fairies, and he appeared to be holding a vigil. Witness statements were gathered over the ensuing week, and by the time Bridget’s burnt corpse was found in a shallow grave on 22 March, nine people had been charged in her disappearance, including her husband. A coroner’s inquest the next day returned a verdict of death by burning.

Legal hearings ran from 1 to 6 April 1895. A tenth person had been charged, and one of the original nine was discharged at this stage, leaving nine defendants bound over for trial. The court session began on 3 July, and the grand jury indicted five of the defendants for murder: Michael Cleary, Patrick Boland, Mary Kennedy, James Kennedy, and Patrick Kennedy. All nine were indicted on charges of “wounding”. The case proceeded on to trial.

The evidence showed that on 15 March, Michael summoned Father Ryan back to the Cleary household. Ryan found Bridget alive but agitated. Michael told the priest that he had not been giving his wife the medicine prescribed by the doctor because he had no faith in it. According to Ryan, “Cleary then said, ‘People may have some remedy of their own that might do more good than doctor’s medicine,’ or something to that effect.” Bridget was given communion, and Ryan departed. Later that night, neighbours and relatives returned to the Cleary house. An argument ensued, again tinged with fairy mythology.

All ten people who had been in the house in the days surrounding the murder were arrested but only the men involved were given sentences ranging from six months to twenty years.

Charges against one co-defendant, William Ahearn, were dropped. Three others – John Dunne, Michael Kennedy, and William Kennedy – were convicted of “wounding”. Patrick Kennedy was sentenced to five years of penal servitude, Michael Kennedy was sentenced to six months of hard labour, James Kennedy was sentenced to eighteen months of hard labour, William Kennedy was sentenced to eighteen months of hard labour, Mary Kennedy was released owing to her age and frailty, Patrick Boland was sentenced to six months of hard labour, and John Dunne was sentenced to three years of penal servitude.

Michael Cleary was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to twenty years of penal servitude; he spent fifteen years in prison. He was released from Maryborough (now Portlaoise) prison on 28 April 1910 and moved to the English city of Liverpool, from which he emigrated to Canada in July of the same year.[4] On 14 October 1910, a black-bordered letter was sent from the office of the Secretary of State, Home Department, London, to the undersecretary, Dublin Castle, stating that Michael had emigrated to Montreal on 30 June.

Bridget Cleary’s death has remained famous in popular culture. An Irish nursery rhyme reads
Are you a witch or
Are you a fairy?
Or are you the wife
of Michael Cleary?


1 in 3

The one thing I always fear when I do these blogs about World War II, and the Holocaust is what I will find out about my family. Thus far, there is no indication that any of them collaborated with the Nazis, but I have a big family, and even now, in 2023, there is still new information surfacing from World War II.

The most extensive and yet, at the same time, most kept hidden archive of the Netherlands is the Central Archive for Special Judicial Safety (CABR).

The most extensive and yet at the same time, the most kept hidden archive of the Netherlands is the Central Archive for Special Judicial Safety (CABR).

This archive covers four linear kilometres and holds 540,000+ files from Dutch people who were wrong during the Second World War. The estimate is that one in three Dutch citizens had a family member who worked for or collaborated with the Nazis.

The perpetrators usually kept silent after the war against their children about what they – exactly – had done. The children and grandchildren often only heard from other sources that their parents or grandparents had collaborated with the Nazis during the occupation. Today, we can shatter ignorance, because we can now consult the National Archive. There are four kilometres of archive material about the many thousands arrested after the war because of their questionable role in the war.

I want to focus on one of the half a million wrong Dutch citizens, mainly because there is a link with Ireland, where I now live.

Pieter Menten
Born in 1899, Pieter Menten was a wealthy Dutch businessman and prominent art collector who bought the secluded Comeragh House in Waterford in 1964.

He was well known among the local community, but he held a secret.

Menten built up much of his business empire trading between his native Netherlands and Poland, he was a significant importer of lumber for example. He lived in Eastern Poland from 1923 until 1939 when the Soviet Union invaded.

Two years later, he returned to Poland after the Nazi counter-occupation, this time as a member of the SS.

Menten was involved in the massacre of Polish professors in Lviv and the robbery of their property. According to witnesses, he helped shoot as many members of the offending family in Galicia as he could find, then turned on other Jews in the area. It is believed Menten personally oversaw the execution of as many as 200 Jews.

While travelling on his personal train with his prized art collection, Menten was recognized by Dutch Resistance fighters and arrested. They brought him to trial. His chief defence lawyer was Rad Kortenhorst, President of the Dutch House of Representatives. The controversial trial concluded in 1949, with the prosecution unable to prove most allegations and sentenced to an eight-month term for having worked in uniform as a Nazi interpreter. In 1951, the Dutch government refused a Polish request for his extradition.

Menten would go on to become a successful art collector and businessman. His 20-room mansion contained valuable artwork (Nicolaes Maes, Francisco Goya, Jan Sluyters, etc.), and he held vast areas of real estate.

Menten’s background was kept hidden while he lived much of his time in Ireland. It all became public in 1976 when they arrested him for his crimes in Holland. He claimed a case of mistaken identity but was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail.

A 2011 article about the Comeragh House property in the Irish Times claims that the estate was damaged by arson attacks during his imprisonment, which some believe were orchestrated by Mossad, the Israeli security service. The property was known to have been raided by hopeful art thieves. They had gambled on the truth to the rumours that the art collection was still somewhere in the house.

In 1976, they reopened the Menten case. During the trial, his mansion was set ablaze after a survivor of Dachau Concentration Camp threw a petrol bomb onto its thatched roof. The building suffered extensive damage, including part of the art collection.[3] In 1980 Menten was sentenced to 10 years in prison and was fined 100,000 guilders for war crimes, including being an accessory to the murder of 20 Jewish villagers in 1941 Poland.

Upon his release in 1985, he believed he would settle in his County Waterford mansion in Ireland, only to find out Garret FitzGerald, Taoiseach (prime minister) at the time, had barred him from the country. The exclusion order was later signed by Justice Minister Michael Noonan, from Limerick. Menten died at a seniors‘ home in Loosdrecht, Netherlands. He was 88 years old.

Finding Comeragh House isn’t easy. The house, as claimed, is indeed “hidden from all eyes and cannot be seen from any of the surrounding roads.” The approach is along a private 1km-long tarmac drive flanked by mature rhododendrons and laurels, which passes a lake with an island. It continues via a tree-lined avenue facing sloping parkland with cedars, oak and horse chestnut trees before reaching the gravelled front entrance to the main house. This secluded location presumably appealed to the previous owner, Pieter Menten, who bought the estate in 1964.



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A Poem for Vicky

They tried to silence you, they failed
They put obstacles in your way, they didn’t stop you.
You knew your strength, they didn’t .

There is no stronger force than that of a mother ensuring her children’s future.They failed to understand that.
They failed to tell you that you were sick, but you found out.

Rather than helping you they tried to make your life difficult, A life that you didn’t really have.
With anger did I watch them denying you your right to dignity. But that didn’t stop you.
Hero is a word often used, over used even, It is not a word that applies to you, because you are so much more than that, an appropriate word has not been created yet.

Throughout the pain you smiled.
Throughout the illness you kept hope.
You were not just a woman, you were the manifestation of all those women who were misdiagnosed.
Your death was inevitable, yet it was a shock.

Your body will now slowly decay and become dust but your spirit remains alive.
Rest in Peace Vicky Phelan

The Most Disturbing Speech in Irish Politics

I moved to Ireland in 1997 and have not regretted it one day. I love the place and the people. Does that mean it is a perfect place? Of course not. I would be lying if I said there is no antisemitism in Ireland, because there is. But compared to most other European countries, it is not worse, in fact, it is probably less here in Ireland then elsewhere in Europe.

However, there have been politicians, and there are still a few, who were blatantly antisemitic. None worse though than Oliver J Flanagan.

In May 1943, as war raged across Europe and Nazi atrocities were coming to public attention, he stood as a candidate in Laois-Offaly, promising to rid Ireland of the Jewish stranglehold. This is a part of his maiden speech in the Dail (the Irish Parliament).

“I should like to co-operate with the Government or with any Party that I believed was going to introduce legislation in the best interests of the Irish nation. I should like very much to be in a position to support any measure brought forward in this House with that object, but I am very sorry that I cannot associate myself with this Bill or with anything relating to the public safety measures introduced by the Cumann na nGaedheal government or by the present Fianna Fáil government because I have seen that most of these Emergency Acts were always directed against Republicanism. How is it that we do not see any of these acts directed against the Jews, who crucified Our Saviour nineteen-hundred years ago and who crucifying us every day in the week? How is it that we do not see them directed against the Masonic Order? How is it that the I.R.A. is considered an illegal organisation while the Masonic Order is not considered an illegal organisation? You do not hear one word in these acts against the banks who are robbing the people, right, left and centre. I told the electors in Leix-Offaly that the banks were robbers. The police were listening to me. Does the Minister for Justice think that, if the banks were not robbers, the police would have allowed me to make that statement in public without attempting to make me prove it? This government is introducing an Emergency Powers Bill now to prevent the suffering masses of the Irish people from ridding themselves or the poverty, emigration, debt, seizures and a thousand and one other national ills which I could continue to enumerate in this House until this day—week, but I do not propose to waste your precious time doing so.

All that I have to say is that my heart goes out to the men who are on hunger strike today. I made a request to the Minister the other night to release these prisoners. I am sorry I made such a request. I had a right to demand it on behalf of the people who sent me here as a republican. I am demanding it now. Seán Mac Cumhaill sent me a telegram last night asking me to deny a certain statement made by the Minister. Perhaps you, Sir, would tell me if it would be in order to read this telegram to the Minister since he did not think it worthwhile.

I want to ask that the Emergency Powers Order, which prevents the division of land from taking place, be immediately lifted. The Minister for Lands wrote me some time ago to say that there was not sufficient staff in the Land Commission to deal with the division of land. How is it that there are thousands of well-educated young men being forced to take the emigrant ship, not from Galway Bay or Cobh this time to take them to the greater Ireland beyond the Atlantic, but to take them from Dun Laoghaire and Rosslare to the land beyond the Irish Sea, the land of our traditional enemy, to help England in her war effort against Germany? There is one thing that Germany did, and that was to route the Jews out of their country. Until we route the Jews out of this country it does not matter a hair’s breadth what orders you make. Where the bees are, there is the honey, and where the Jews are, there is the money. I do not propose to detain the House further. I propose to vote against such Orders and actions, and I am doing so on Christian principles. The Minister for Justice could not give me a straight answer a few moments ago. I am sorry that I interrupted him in the heat of the discussion. Of course, one needs great patience to listen to what is going on. I know very well that even the clergy in the Minister’s constituency are up against him.

Father Keane, the parish priest of Athleague, is up against him, and when the clergy are up against him. surely it will be hard for any of us to support him. I thank the Chair for allowing me to make my statement.”


Perfect 10

The perfect 10 who broke the hearts of millions.

10 usually indicates the perfect number. People often say 10 out of 10 meaning you have given it a 100%

Friday October 7,2022 will be a date forever edged in Ireland’s history. 10 people were out minding their own business at a shop and a petrol station. A 5 year old girl buying a birthday cake for her mother, with her dad.

A mother and her 13 year old son just picking up a few groceries. A 14 year old girl, a fellow student from the same school.

A fashion student , a few other people, the oldest was only 59.

10 people, an accident, one explosion, many more lives affected, But those people will forever be the Perfect 10. All we can do is pray.

Victims of the Creeslough explosion, (top row) Catherine O’Donnell, (39) and her son James Monaghan (13), Martin McGill (49) and Jessica Gallagher (24), (middle row) James O’Flaherty (48), Martina Martin (49) and Hugh Kelly (59) and (bottom row) Robert Garwe (50), Shauna Flanagan Garwe (5) and Leona Harper (14).

Just a moment a time which became a ripple in eternity.


Was the Sinking of the SS Athenia the First Nazi Atrocity in World War II?

World War II officially started on 3 September 1939. The Nazis wasted very little time in committing their first mass murder during the war. It was only hours after the war was declared.

The S.S. Athenia was commanded by Captain James Cook. He left Glasgow for Montreal via Liverpool and Belfast. She carried 1,103 passengers, including about 500 European Jewish refugees, 469 Canadians, 311 US citizens and 72 UK subjects, and 315 crew. Despite clear indications that war would break out any day, she departed Liverpool at 13:00 hrs on 2 September without recall, and on the evening of the 3rd was 60 nautical miles (110 km) south of Rockall and 200 nautical miles (370 km) northwest of Inishtrahull, Ireland, when she was sighted by the German submarine U-30 commanded by Oberleutnant Fritz-Julius Lemp around 16:30.

U-30 tracked the Athenia for three hours and eventually, at 19:40, when both vessels were between Rockall and Tory Island, Lemp ordered two torpedoes to be fired. One exploded on Athenia‘s port side in her engine room, and she began to settle by the stern.

Chamberlain’s famous “this country is at war with Germany” broadcast was delivered shortly after, at 11 in the morning. The torpedo from U-30 struck the Athenia at 7:38 that evening. She was slow to go down, disappearing beneath the waves, stern first at 11 a.m., the next morning.

At 7:38 p.m., just as the evening meal was being served, a violent explosion destroyed the engine room, plunging the dining room into darkness, sending tables and chairs skidding across the deck, and causing the ship to list to port and begin settling by the stern. The German submarine U-30 had attacked Athenia. The sinking of the S.S. Athenia was in violation of the Hague conventions. Germany’s responsibility for the sinking was suppressed by Admiral Karl Dönitz and the Nazi propaganda machine.

While waiting to go to dinner, young Donald Wilcox of Dartmouth, N.S., had made his way to the very peak of the ship’s bow and was watching the waves curl away from the prow when the ship rose up several feet and then fell back down sharply. “I was almost thrown off my feet,” he remembered years later.

All the lights went out and the ship stopped dead in the water and began settling by the stern. The engine room, the galley, parts of the dining rooms and many staterooms flooded. People were separated and groped in the dark to find their way to the open decks before emergency lights came on. Crew members guided people with matches and flashlights, while James A. Goodson, 18, of Toronto, whose holiday in Europe had been cut short, swam through a flooded section of the ship to rescue struggling passengers, guiding them to what remained of the stairs.

All 26 lifeboats were launched, although there were difficulties in getting many of the women and children into them. Fortunately, distress signals were received by ships reasonably close by. Shortly after midnight, Norwegian freighter MS Knute Nelson arrived on the scene, followed by Swedish steam yacht Southern Cross, owned by the Electrolux millionaire Axel Wenner-Gren. They began taking on survivors from the lifeboats, looking after the injured and offering food and hot drinks.

As the night wore on, three Royal Navy destroyers reached the scene, HMS Electra, HMS Escort and HMS Fame. They also picked up survivors and provided food and dry clothing. In the morning, the American freighter SS City of Flint arrived and took people from Southern Cross and the destroyers before heading back across the Atlantic bound for Halifax. the navy destroyers sailed back to Scotland, sending their passengers to Glasgow. At about 11 a.m. on Monday, Athenia heeled over and sank stern first. Knute Nelson took survivors to the Irish port of Galway.

A survivor’s picture of rescued officers of the Äthenia”watching her last plunge from the Norwegian ship “Knute Nelson”

The Knute Nelson radioed to the harbour master, Captain T. Tierney, that they were making for Galway with hundreds of refugees. Captain Tierney quickly informed all the local authorities to be prepared to deal with disaster relief. A committee was formed on Monday evening, including Galway mayor Joseph F. Costello and the Catholic bishop of Galway Dr Michael Browne. The committee alerted Galway County Council, the Board of Health, the Central Hospital, local hotels and the local bus company. The mayoress, Mrs Costello, also organised a committee of 38 local women to lead the volunteers, including the Girl Guides, who would be essential in looking after the specific needs of the refugees. The Irish cabinet met in Dublin late on Monday and made £500 available to the mayor to provide food, clothing and medical care to the survivors.

Survivors, including a baby from the Athenia, are helped to safety by a soldier.

Instructions were also sent to units of the Irish Army and An Garda Síochána(Police) to cooperate with local authorities in providing care and facilities, and the local schools were to be made available to house people. Seán T. O’Kelly, acting as the minister for education, made available the Preparatory College at Taylor’s Hill, Coláiste Éinde, to be used for refugees, as well as Galway Grammar School. The Irish Red Cross also started a subscription to raise money to assist the relief effort.

Shortly before midnight on Monday a pilot boat went out to Black Head to meet the Knute Nelson and steer the ship into Galway roads to anchor. Sometime in the middle of the night a tender from Galway, Cathair Na Gaillimhe, under Captain William Goggin, anchored in the roadstead to wait for the freighter. The tender carried a local priest, Fr Conway, Dr S. Ó Beirne and Dr R. Sandys, and below decks were a number of nurses. Units of the 1st Infantry (Irish-Speaking) Battalion were on board to carry the stretcher cases off the ship, and members of An Garda Síochána were standing by. While it was still dark, a launch took out to the tender several more doctors.

Of the 1,418 aboard, 98 passengers and 19 crew members were killed. Many died in the engine room and aft stairwell, where the torpedo hit. The British crews were said to be famous for putting the passengers’ lives before their own, and were expertly trained to handle such “events”; nonetheless, about 50 people died when one of the lifeboats was crushed in the propeller of Knute Nelson. No. 5A lifeboat came alongside the empty tanker and tied up, against advice, astern of the No. 12 lifeboat. Only 15 feet (5 m) separated the lifeboat from the tanker’s exposed propeller. Once the No. 12 lifeboat was emptied it was cast adrift and began to sink. This fact was reported to the bridge of Knute Nelson. For some reason, the ship’s engine order telegraph was then set to full ahead. 5A lifeboat’s mooring line or “warp” parted under the stress, causing the lifeboat to be pulled back into the revolving propeller.

There was a second accident at about 05:00 hrs when the No. 8 lifeboat capsized in a heavy sea below the stern of the yacht Southern Cross, killing ten people. Three passengers were crushed to death while trying to transfer from lifeboats to the Royal Navy destroyers. Other deaths were due to falling overboard from Athenia and her lifeboats, or to injuries and exposure. 54 dead were Canadian and 28 were US citizens, which led to German fears that the incident would bring the US into the war. Besides the 28 US citizens who were killed, there was also a great number injured. Like
Mrs W.B. Sage, of Salt Lake City, Utah, shown here as she was carried from the S.S. Orizaba, which docked at New York, on 27 September with 150 American survivors of the Athenia disaster, many of whom, like Mrs Sage, were injured.

The fact that the first US casualties of war were those 28 civilians, only a few hours after the start of the war, makes me wonder why the Roosevelt Administration did not declare war on Nazi Germany.

A Canadian girl, 10-year-old Margaret Hayworth, was among the casualties and was one of the first Canadians to be killed by enemy action. Newspapers widely publicised the story, proclaiming “Ten-Year-Old Victim of Torpedo” as “Canadians Rallying Point”, and set the tone for their coverage of the rest of the war. One thousand people met the train that brought her body back to Hamilton, Ontario, and there was a public funeral attended by the mayor of Hamilton, the city council, the Lieutenant-Governor, Albert Edward Matthews, Premier Mitchell Hepburn, and the entire Ontario cabinet.

Margaret Hayworth (left)and her sister

Lemp later claimed that the fact the S.S Athenia was steering a zigzag course which seemed to be well off the normal shipping routes made him believe she was either a troopship or an armed merchant cruiser; when he realized his error he took the first steps to conceal the facts by omitting to make an entry in the submarine’s log,and swearing his crew to secrecy. Adolf Hitler decided the incident should be kept secret for political reasons, and the German newspaper Völkischer Beobachter published an article which blamed the loss of the Athenia on the British, accusing Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, of sinking the ship to turn neutral opinion against Nazi Germany. No one in Britain believed the explanation given by Nazi Germany.

As for my question in the title of the blog “Was the Sinking of the SS Athenia the First Nazi Atrocity in World War II?” I believe it was because they attacked and murdered innocent men, women and children. Some of them had tried to escape the Nazi tyranny.


Epic Rock Ballads-Episode 3: The Sun goes Down by Thin Lizzy.

Thin Lizzy was one of Ireland’s finest band. Before U2 there was Thin Lizzy. In fact in 1976 when U2 formed, Thin Lizzy had a number one hit on Top of The Pops in the UK, with “the Boys are back in Town”

However this blog is not about that song, but about my favourite Lizzy song “The Sun Goes Down”

Co-written with new boy Darren Wharton, this would be the band’s last ever single, and is one of Lynott’s finest compositions. Released on the Vertigo label August 6, 1983 in both 7 inch and 12 inch formats, it was backed by “Baby Please Don’t Go”. Running to a full 6 minutes 19 seconds – surprisingly long for a single – it was produced by the band and Chris Tsangarides. In keeping with the spirit of the track, it features some fine, subdued guitar rather than the customary twin lead manic soloing. The single reached only 52 in the UK charts.


There is a demon among us whose soul belongs in hell
Sent here to redeem us, she knows it all to well
He comes and goes, he comes and goes
she knows it all too well
But when all is said and done
The sun goes down

She tries her best to leave him, but she is still captured by his spell
She knows now she must deceive him, he knows it all to well
She comes and goes, she comes and goes, he knows it all too well
But when all is said and done
The sun goes down

She comes and goes, she comes and goes
he knows it all too well
But when all is said and done
The sun goes down

There is a demon within us
The sun goes down
She tries her best to deceive him
The sun goes down


The 12th of July- Orangemen’s Day

The 12th of July is the day when a whole bunch of protestants in Northern Ireland go Dutch. It is an event that truly intrigues me, because it basically goes against everything the Dutch stand for.

So what is it all about?

On the 12th of July every year. The day commemorates Protestant king William of Orange’s victory over Catholic king James II at the Battle of the Boyne: a pivotal moment for the Protestant cause. In Ulster, split 50/50 between Catholics and Protestants, the day has historically seen outbursts of sectarian violence. But today its reputation has improved, with most recent marches celebrated peacefully.

William III also widely known as William of Orange, was the sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder(Stewart) of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Gelderland, and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s, and King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II.He is sometimes informally known as “King Billy” in Ireland and Scotland. His victory at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 is commemorated by Unionists, who display orange colours in his honour. He ruled Britain alongside his wife and cousin Queen Mary II, and popular histories usually refer to their reign as that of “William and Mary”.

William was the only child of William II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal, the daughter of Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His father died a week before his birth, making William III the Prince of Orange from birth. In 1677, he married Mary, the eldest daughter of his maternal uncle James, Duke of York, the younger brother of Charles II of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

The Twelfth itself originated as a celebration of the Battle of Aughrim, which took place on 12 July 1691 in the ‘Old Style’ (O.S.) Julian calendar then in use. Aughrim was the decisive battle of the Williamite war, in which the predominantly Irish Catholic Jacobite army was destroyed and the remainder capitulated at Limerick, whereas the Boyne was less decisive. The Twelfth in the early 18th century was a popular commemoration of Aughrim, featuring bonfires and parades. The Battle of the Boyne (fought on 1 July 1690) was commemorated with smaller parades on 1 July. However, the two events were combined in the late 18th century. The first reason for this was the British switch to the Gregorian calendar in 1752, which repositioned the nominal date of the Battle of the Boyne to 11 July New Style (N.S.) (with the Battle of Aughrim nominally repositioned to 23 July.

The event is organized by the Orange Order of Ulster.

So how much do we know about the Orange Order?

Here are some facts you might not have known before

1 The Order was founded in 1795 by Daniel Winter, James Sloan and James Wilson after a stand-off in Co Armagh between Protestant Peep o’ Day Boys and Catholic Defenders ended with the Battle of the Diamond and the deaths of 30 Catholics. Dan Winter’s House near Loughgall, where the meeting to form the Orange Order was held after the battle as Protestants sought to protect their properties, has been restored and can be visited.

2 The order’s name comes from Protestant King William of Orange who defeated Catholic King James at the Battle of the Boyne in July 1690. Orange refers to the region of Southeast France that was among William’s family holdings.

3 The Orange Order’s first marches took place on 12 July 1796 at Gosford, outside Markethill, Co Armagh.

4 William of Orange was asthmatic and though not a hunchback, walked with the appearance of one.

5 On February 20, 1702 William was riding Sorrel, a new horse, in the park of Hampton Court. As the horse began to gallop it stumbled on a molehill and fell, throwing William who broke his collarbone, with ultimately fatal consequences. A jolt while in a carriage a few days later caused the bone to break again. Fever set in and he died on March 8.

6 King Billy’s horse at the Battle of the Boyne wasn’t white as famously portrayed, it was brown. A white horse would have made him an easy target.

7 William was one of the first to utilise mass media. He arrived in England in 1688, at the invitation of British politicians seeking to rid the nation of Catholic King James II, armed with a printing press, producing 60,000 copies of his declaration which criticised the king and tried to convince the English he was a friend rather than an invader.

8 The name Lambeg Drum literally means ‘Little Church Drum’, quite inappropriate for one of the largest and loudest instruments in the world.

9 William’s father (William II, Prince of Orange) died two weeks before he was born and his mother (Mary, eldest daughter of King Charles I of England) when he was 10 years old.

10 Malahide Castle, near Dublin, is the ancestral home of the Talbot family. You can still visit the Great Hall where 14 members of the Talbot family sat down to breakfast on the morning of July 12, 1690. All were dead by that evening.

11 An estimated 50,000 took part in the Battle of the Boyne, Surprisingly, most survived, the casualty list estimated at around 2,000 killed. The fighting lasted about four hours.

12 William of Orange was both the son-in-law and nephew of King James II who he defeated at the battle of the Boyne.{Willie Nelson’s song “I’m my own grandpa” comes to mind) The battle was to prevent James handing over power in Ireland to Catholics. Most of William’s army were militia of Dutch and Danish nationality, and they had landed at Carrickfergus before moving south. Aligned to France, James II was warned by King Louis XIV not to face William’s army and instead burn Dublin and retreat west of the River Shannon and hold his ground there to regroup. He refused. He lost.

13 William of Orange had a narrow escape at the Boyne. He was almost killed when struck by a ricocheted piece of cannon fire on the foot and shoulder as he (according to legend) enjoyed a picnic and was surveying the battle field on July 11. He was also almost struck by musket fire during the battle by one of his own soldiers during the confusion of battle.

14 While the Battle of the Boyne was won by William of Orange, it didn’t win the war. That only came to a decisive conclusion exactly one year later at Aughrim on 12 July 1691.

15 The original Twelfth of July commemorations were to honour the Battle of Aughrim, not the Battle of the Boyne.

16 The Battle of the Boyne, going by the old Julian calendar which was used in Ireland at the time, actually took place on July 1. It wasn’t until 1752 that the Gregorian calendar was adopted in Ireland when the July 12 date became relevant. However, even after this date “The Twelfth” continued to be commemorated at Aughrim. In fact, 1690 and the Boyne only became significant in the late 18th century when the two battles were combined in a single commemoration.

17 In the 1960s the Orange Order boasted almost 100,000 members. There are less than 30,000 today.

18 The first Grand Lodge of Ireland meeting was held in Dublin. Dublin, as the administrative capital of the Island, was the natural headquarters for the Orange Institution and remained such until the Headquarters Buildings, the Fowler Memorial Hall in Rutland Square, was severely damaged in the Irish Civil War.

19 William’s wife Queen Mary had been devoted to him, and he to her. After the shock of her unexpected death in 1694, William became very withdrawn. Following her death he always carried with him a gold ring and a lock of Mary’s hair. William was buried in Westminster Abbey beside Mary on Sunday, April 12.

20 New Zealand’s first Orange lodge was founded in Auckland in 1842, only two years after the country became part of the British Empire, by James Carlton Hill of Co Wicklow.

21 Ghana, Nigeria and Togo are among the African countries to have embraced Orangeism. All have their own Orange lodges.

22 Stall in the ‘field’ sell all sorts of usual merchandise like Toy drums, CDs of band music, mugs and printed t-shirts. Only more recently have some entrepreneurs been more inventive. These days you can course Lego Orangemen and Terry’s Chocolate Orangemen.

23 The Orange Order’s headquarters in Northern Ireland are based in Schomberg House – taking its name from Frederick Schomberg (originally Friedrich Hermann von Schönberg) appointed William of Orange’s commander-in-chief in Ireland in 1689, now Duke of Schomberg, he was appointed commander-in-chief in Ireland. Hit by musket fire, he died in the Battle of the Boyne and is buried in St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

24 The River Boyne only just scrapes into the top ten of the longest rivers in Ireland. It is tenth on the list at 112km. Longest is the Shannon (360km). The Foyle, the Bann and the Erne are all longer.

25 Famous Orangemen have included Dr Thomas Barnardo, who joined the Order in Dublin, William Massey, who was Prime Minister of New Zealand and Earl Alexander, the Second World War general.

During the Troubles (late 1960s to late 1990s), the Twelfth was often accompanied by riots and paramilitary violence.[citation needed] In 1972, three people were shot dead on the Twelfth in Portadown and two people were killed in Belfast. Of the five in total, two were killed by Republican groups and three were killed by Loyalist groups.[36] On the Twelfth in 1998, during the Drumcree conflict, three young boys were killed when loyalists firebombed their house in Ballymoney. The boys’ mother was a Catholic, and their home was in a mainly Protestant housing estate. The killings provoked widespread anger from both Catholics and Protestants.

Since the Troubles began, some bands hired to appear at Twelfth marches have openly shown support for loyalist paramilitary groups, either by carrying paramilitary flags and banners or sporting paramilitary names and emblem A number of prominent loyalist militants were Orangemen and took part in their marches. In February 1992, the loyalist UDA shot dead five Catholic civilians in a betting shop in Belfast. When Orangemen marched past the shop that 12 July, some marchers held up five fingers in mockery of the five dead. The Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew, said that they “would have disgraced a tribe of cannibals”.

Every Twelfth between 1970 and 2005, British Army soldiers were deployed in Belfast to help police the parades. Due to improved policing, dialogue between marchers and residents, and the Northern Ireland peace process, parades have been generally more peaceful since the 2000s. The Parades Commission was set up in 1998 to deal with contentious parades.

The parades are mostly a display of bigotry and intolerance though. The opposite of what the colour Orange symbolises in the Dutch context.



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