Michael Keogh-The man who saved Hitler.

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There is a saying ” Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”

But what if in saving one life you inadvertently plunged the world into the most catastrophic horror of all time? What if you saved the life of Adolf Hitler just as he was taking his first baby steps to becoming the most evil monster in history?

Portrait of Corporal Adolf Hitler during his stay in a military hospital, 1918

Michael Keogh was an Irish soldier who served on both sides of World War I, and has become known as “the man who saved Hitler.

Michael Patrick Keogh was born in 1891, the son of a local Royal Irish Constabulary policeman Laurence Keogh, in Tullow, County Carlow. Some of Keogh’s ancestors had been involved in the 1798 Rebellion in County Wexford, and his grandfather Mathew Keogh was the leader of the 1887 resistance against the Coolgreany Evictions also in County Wexford. His great uncle was Myles Keogh, the second in command to Colonel Custer, and who died at the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

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Keogh lived in Tullow as a child and at age 14 won a County Council scholarship to attend the seminary school, St Patrick’s Monastery, Mountrath, County Laois. He was a member of the O’Growney Branch of the Gaelic League in Tullow from 1903 to 1906, and entered singing and dancing competitions.

Keogh emigrated to New York City in 1907 to live with his aunt Mary Keogh, and once there he joined the National Guard. He became a member of Clan na Gael in New York, through which he developed a friendship with Roger Casement.

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In 1909 Keogh claims to have obtained an engineering degree from Columbia University, though this remains unsubstantiated. Keogh spent 10 months fighting against Mexican guerrillas on the Texan frontier in 1910, but was forced to retire from the army due to an abdominal gunshot wound. He worked on the Panama Canal, possibly as an engineer, until 1913 when he returned to Ireland. Once there, he joined the Royal Irish Regiment, although he later claimed to have done this to enlist fellow Irish soldiers to the Republican Army. Private Keogh was convicted of sedition in 1914, following an incident at the Curragh Camp involving British officers refusing to fight against Ulster Unionists, and served 28 days in the cells.

In 1913 he joined the Royal Irish Regiment of the British Army.

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A lowly private, he lectured his officers and spent a month behind bars after a court martial for voicing his strong republican views.

Despite these views, a fight was a fight, so he fought in the trenches until he landed in a German POW camp. Keogh had befriended Roger Casement in the US years earlier, and Casement now sought him out to head an Irish Brigade of prisoners willing to switch sides.

Privately the Germans treated Casement’s Brigade as an Irish joke, but they were happy to play him along for the nuisance value he could deliver back in Ireland.

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But Casement’s career as a gun runner was short-lived and after his execution in 1916 the Irish Brigade was effectively shelved by the Germans.

Keogh joined the German Army proper, where he rose to the rank of Field Lieutenant. In his regiment he met a fiery Lance Corporal called Adolf Hitler.

After the war, Germany descended into chaos as rival factions vied to fill the void left by the collapse of the old order. Keogh joined the proto-fascist Freikorps, who were sworn to smash Communism.

When Marxists attempted to set up a Bavarian Soviet Republic in Munich, the Friekorps wiped them out with shocking brutality. Peace had no sooner been restored than it was shattered by the noisiest man in Germany.

Keogh was duty officer at a Munich barracks when he was called to quell a riot that had erupted in a gym. What he saw was not exactly a fair fight.

A crowd of some 200 soldiers was kicking the living daylights out of just two. Some of the attackers were brandishing bayonets. The two victims were about to die.

Keogh ordered his men to fire a salvo over the heads of the mob. It did the trick. He dragged the two victims out of the gym “cut, bleeding and in need of the doctor”.

It was a measure of Hitler’s madness that he had entered the hall to provoke a reaction from 200 troops, by hectoring them with views that were already openly hateful.

As Keogh dragged him off to the guardroom for his own safety, the future fuhrer continued to spew angry comments.

Once there, Keogh recalled: “The fellow with the moustache gave his name as Adolf Hitler. It was the Lance Corporal of Ligny. I would not have recognised him. He was thin and emaciated from his wounds.”

Keogh arrived back in Ireland in late 1919 as the War of Independence was coming to a boil. He linked with Michael Collins, trafficking guns from Germany.

After a decade here he moved back to Germany to work as an engineer. He attended one of the infamous Nuremberg Rallies, but after The Night Of The Long Knives in 1934 where Hitler killed former allies, Keogh began to fear for the safety of his German wife and children.

He moved back to Ireland on foot of a letter from De Valera promising him a job, but the promise went unkept.

Upon his return to Ireland, Keogh was employed at the Poolbeg Generating Station in Dublin and the sugar-beet factory in Carlow. Keogh died in Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown in September 1964, survived by his wife.

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Dr Aidan McCarthy-Rescued from Dunkirk -Survived the Nagasaki bomb.

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“Aidan MacCarthy was one of a handful of people who survived the two events that mark the beginning and end of the Second World War,” said Jackson, a lecturer in creative media at the Institute of Technology, Tralee.

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Air Commodore Joseph Aidan MacCarthy OBE, GM (1914–1995) was an Irish doctor of the Royal Air Force who showed great courage, resourcefulness and humanity during his capture by the Japanese during the Second World War.

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MacCarthy was born in 1914 in the town of Castletownbere, Beara Peninsula County Cork, Ireland. His parents owned land and businesses in the area.

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He attended Clongowes Wood School and University College Cork. He graduated with a medical degree in 1938. Lacking family connections, he was unable to obtain employment as a doctor in Ireland so he moved to the United Kingdom, working first in Wales, then in London. There, he met two former classmates from his medical school and, after a night of drinking with them, decided to join the British armed forces as a medical officer. Which service (the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force) was decided for him by a coin toss made by a nightclub hostess in the early hours of the morning.

In 1940 he was posted to France and was evacuated from Dunkirk where he attended wounded Allied soldiers while under fire from German aircraft.

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In September 1940, he was promoted to Flight Lieutenant.

The following year he was awarded the George Medal for his part in the rescue of the crew of a crashed and burning Wellington bomber at RAF Honington.The aircraft had crash landed after its undercarriage had failed to lower and it came to rest on the airfields bomb dump, where it caught fire. Together with Group Captain (later, Air-Vice Marshal) John Astley Gray, MacCarthy entered the burning wreck and rescued two crewmen, but were unable to save the pilot.Gray was badly burned during the rescue; MacCarthy was also burned, but less seriously.

Posted to the Far East in 1941, MacCarthy was captured by the Japanese in Sumatra. The prison ship transporting Allied prisoners to Japan was sunk by US bombers. MacCarthy had to do the best he could for his patients whilst splashing around in the South China Sea. A Japanese fishing boat pulled him out of the ocean and transported him to Japan. There, he cared for Allied prisoners of war who were forced to work in horrific conditions. To the Japanese ear ‘MacCarthy’ and ‘MacArthur’ were indistinguishable. The Japanese assumed that MacCarthy must be a close blood relative of the American commander. Therefore, whenever MacCarthy answered his name, he was struck on the forehead. This may have contributed to his developing a brain clot in later life.

He spent the final year of the Second World War working as a slave for the Mitsubishi Corporation. After the war, he was never bitter towards the Japanese but refused to allow a Mitsubishi car in his driveway.

(A photo of the POW officers at Keisen, August 1945, with Aidan MacCarthy seated, second from right, )

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The Mitsubishi Steel & Arms Works, the Nagasaki factory, where he was imprisoned and where he sought refuge from the atomic bomb, was in fact the target of the bomb on August 9, 1945.

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He put his medical training to good use in the camp while treating his fellow prisoners, including making a protein-rich maggot soup for those who were ill, smuggling yeast in balls of rice to other camps, and treating eye infections with shaving cream.

Dr MacCarthy was the first non-Japanese doctor to assist civilians in the aftermath of the atomic bomb attack on Nagasaki.

On August 15, 1945, the day the Japanese surrendered, he was gifted an ancestral Japanese sword by his camp commandant, whose life he saved from POWs intent on revenge.

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He was one of the few people who survived the two events which bookend the Second World War — Dunkirk and Nagasaki.

The Japanese ship on which he was being transported to Nagasaki was sunk by an American submarine. Out of the 1,000 POWs on the ship, just 35 survived.

Before the war, he had weighed 14 stone. When he returned home at the end of the war, following years of starvation and malnutrition, his body weight had halved to just seven stone.

On Thursday 20th July 2017 Prince Harry will name the medical facility in RAF Honington after this Irish WWII hero Dr Aidan MacCarthy.

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Jane Austen & Limerick,Ireland.

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I never got the whole Jane Austen hype. I find her stories boring and there is nothing I can identify with.

However the fact that there is a Limerick connection to her I do find intriguing. And I believe if she had lived in Limerick her stories may have been a lot more exiting, but that is my personal opinion.

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When she was a young girl, her father, rector of Steventon in Hampshire, let her scribble in the parish register the names of imaginary husbands. But Jane never married.

However, in 1795 her life might have turned out differently. Thomas Langlois Lefroy of Limerick had recently graduated with distinction and four gold medals in oratory from Trinity College, Dublin.

He was born at 108 George’s Street (O’Connell Street) in the heart of the newly developed Newtownpery in Limerick city.(now the address of the AIB Bank)

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Suffering from overwork, he was spending Christmas with his uncle and aunt at Ashe near Steventon. Jane Austen, with her bright hazel eyes and rosy complexion, was a great favourite of his aunt who introduced her to Tom at a local ball.

His fair hair and deep blue eyes enchanted Jane; he was “a very gentlemanlike, good-looking, pleasant young man”.

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Writing to her older sister Cassandra, she said they behaved in a most “profligate” and “shocking” manner by dancing several times together without changing partners and breaking more rules by sitting down, joking, and discussing books. All very scandalous.

They were dance partners at three more balls, and appeared so close that a family friend presented Austen with a portrait of Lefroy.

At 20, Jane had reached the age when Cassandra had become engaged. She joked that if Lefroy proposed marriage she would only accept if he got rid of his white morning coat.

But four weeks after they met, Austen and her ‘Irish friend’ were forced to part: he had to travel to London to study at the Bar. Jane wrote: “At length the day is come on which I am to flirt my last with Tom Lefroy … My tears flow as I write at the melancholy idea.’

But theirs was more than a whirlwind romance. In August 1796, on her way to Kent, Jane and two of her brothers stayed with Lefroy and his great-uncle Benjamin in London. A rich bachelor, he had seen Tom through college, and was about to finance his law studies. He wanted him to marry a girl with money and family influence.

Jane’s father was heavily in debt, had to sell the family carriage, and resort to taking pupils into the rectory. Lefroy needed someone who would bring a large dowry, and could not risk entangling himself with a girl who depended on her parents’ small allowance.

Jane waited for Tom but he did not come. When he visited Hampshire in autumn 1798, his aunt sent him packing to London, so as not to give Jane false hopes. The next time she saw his aunt, Jane did not dare ask about Tom and never mentions him again in her letters.

Austen had been spared living in an unknown country, with no money of her own, ground down by a life of almost continuous pregnancy. Instead she had time to write three novels before she was 24. Lefroy found a more ‘eligible’ match in Mary Paul from Wexford, sister of a college friend. They were married in Wales where many Wexford families had taken refuge during the 1798 Rebellion, and went to live in Dublin where Tom practised at the Bar.

When her brother suddenly died a year later, Mary became heiress to the Paul estates. Lefroy had indeed made a fortunate match. As the eldest son, his family depended on him “to rise into distinction”: he did not let them down. Daniel O’Connell claimed Lefroy, a Protestant, was promoted above more worthy Catholics.

Lefroy always carried a Bible, and argued that only a proper system of education could improve the morals of the lower classes. He opposed Catholic emancipation, and founded a society to send Protestant missionaries into Catholic areas. Elected Tory MP for Dublin University in 1830, he was against extending the vote to the middle classes.

While his wife and children settled into a Gothic mansion at Carriglas, Co Longford, Lefroy stayed in Dublin, within easy reach of his work as a judge.

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Many of his decisions were harsh: during the Famine he transported leaders of the Young Ireland movement for encouraging tenants not to pay rent.

Lefroy’s hand in the oppression of Catholics, when his Huguenot ancestors had fled oppression in France, is an irony Jane Austen would not have missed.

Lefroy’s ruthless efficiency in dealing with political cases was recognised in 1852 by the Tory government that promoted him to Lord Chief Justice of Ireland, the most senior judge in the Court of Queen’s Bench.

He held the position until he was 90 when, by one account, he was still reading his newspaper without spectacles.

Shortly before he died, aged 93, Lefroy confessed to a nephew that he had once loved Jane Austen; quickly adding that it was only “a boyish kind of love”.

One of Tom’s daughters was called Jane Christmas.Is it a coincidence that he named his daughter after his lover and after the period that had been together? I don’t think so.

The Bombing of Broadgate, 1939- The IRA S-plan

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In the wider perception of European history, the late 1930s is remembered as the time when Nazi Germany began to cast its shadow over Europe leading ultimately to the most destructive conflict in history – World War II. At the same time however, old grievances were bubbling to the surface once more in Ireland and the Irish Republican Army (IRA) were about to resume their campaign to unify Ireland and expel what they saw as a British military occupation of Northern Ireland.

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ON AUGUST 25, 1939, an IRA bomb killed five innocent people and wounded more than 60 others in Coventry. The dead included a 15-year-old boy and an 82- year-old man. Little over a week later, the bombing was overshadowed by the outbreak of the Second World War.

The first direct talks between the IRA and the Nazis began in 1937, when Tom Barry, the then chief-of-staff, travelled to Germany.

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The legendary leader of the Cork flying columns was accompanied on his travels by a German agent, Jupp Hoven. While posing as a TCD student, Hoven undertook spying work in Belfast, Dublin and Cork. He was a close friend of Helmut Clissmann, who ran the German academic exchange service in Dublin. Both men were from Aachen and had nurtured links with the IRA in the 1930s.
Barry’s 1937 trip to the Continent was aimed at seeking German support for IRA attacks on British military installations in Northern Ireland. But at an IRA convention in April 1938, Barry’s plan was rejected in favour of more grandiose pro-German plans conceived by the new chief-of-staff, Seán Russell. The 1916 veteran had long cherished a Casement-style alliance with Germany.

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In August 1938, Russell called on an old IRA comrade, James(Saemus) O’Donovan, who, since 1930, had been working as a manager at ESB headquarters in Dublin.

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The IRA leader’s visit was to enlist his friend’s help in designing a bombing campaign on English soil, to be launched the following year. Russell and O’Donovan were the only two surviving members of the IRA general headquarters staff who had opposed the Anglo-Irish treaty in January 1922. Despite being on the state payroll and having a young family, O’Donovan did not hesitate to accept Russell’s call to arms. I

O’Donovan’s elder son, Donal, had misgivings about his father’s decision to re-enlist with the IRA in 1938, at the age of 41. But James O’Donovan himself never expressed any regrets about his role in the English bombing campaign, which resulted in the deaths of seven members of the public, scores of serious injuries, and the execution of two IRA volunteers in February 1940.

The S-plan kicked off with polite formality, as might be expected from an ex-pupil of the Jesuits (O’Donovan was born in Roscommon in 1896 and educated at Glasgow’s prestigious St Aloysius College). In mid-January 1939, the British foreign secretary, Lord Halifax, received an IRA letter declaring war, which began ‘Your Excellency . . .’. It was typical of O’Donovan to issue a deadly threat cloaked in formal terms.
The ultimatum gave the British government four days to withdraw troops from Northern Ireland—an impossible deadline to meet. In fact, however, the S-plan had nothing to do with forcing a British withdrawal from the North, and everything to do with attracting the attention of the Germans. Russell saw Hitler as the only European leader capable of destroying Britain. His logic was that with England on her knees, nothing could prevent a German-backed reunification of Ireland.

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The British government refused to adhere to the demand and thus the IRA declared war on the United Kingdom on Sunday 15th January 1939. The next day, five bombs were detonated in London, Warwickshire and Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. The targets were electricity pylons and power sub-stations in an attempt to specifically harm industrial outputs in those areas. This set the tone for much of the IRA’s campaign and over the following week a significant number of targets were hit but with almost no fatalities since they were aimed at infrastructure, power and gas supplies. This was a key factor in supporting the propaganda war since large numbers of deaths might turn the all-important American support against them.

As a wave of IRA bombs exploded across English cities in  January 1939, it didn’t take the Abwehr long to act. In early February it dispatched one of its agents, Oscar Pfaus, to Dublin to meet the IRA leadership. O’Donovan recalled that on 3 February the German agent ‘met Seán Russell and myself in Pete’s [Kearney] house in Clontarf. He explained that his principals would be glad to meet a representative from us and discuss the possibility of assistance . . .’.
This was an offer the IRA leaders could not refuse.

Throughout 1939 the IRA carried out repeated attacks aimed at further undermining the British industrial complex and the British people’s confidence in their government to protect them. In July 1939, attacks were made on cinemas in London and Birmingham using tear gas bombs which although didn’t kill anyone struck fear in to the wider public that their enemy was on their own streets and walking among them. At the same time, perhaps frustrated by the lack of results thus far, the British government revealed that it had been informed that the attacks on the UK would intensify in the coming months. Not long after this, bombs were detonated at banks across London killing one person while a second was killed in a blast at King’s Cross train station a month later. The British responded with emergency powers that saw large numbers of the Irish community in Britain get deported to Southern Ireland who were themselves introducing legislation to combat the IRA. The British were also increasingly concerned about reported support for the IRA’s campaign coming from Berlin.

Then on August 25th 1939, less than a week before Hitler’s forces crossed in to Poland, a rather inconspicuous-looking bike was placed up against a wall in Broadgate, part of Coventry’s busy city centre.

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The bike had a basket on the front, common for the time, with a bundle inside it. A rather frustrated man had left it there and walked away having found it difficult to take the bike across the tramlines in the area. His name was Joby O’Sullivan who came from Cork and he was the only one who knew that the bundle in the basket was in fact a bomb. He would later state that he intended to take the already armed bomb to a nearby police station but the tramlines had slowed his progress down meaning the bomb was due to detonate soon and not wanting to be a martyr he left it where it was.

At two minutes after half past two on a busy Friday afternoon, the 5lbs of explosive was detonated by an alarm clock timer. The blast shattered glass which shot out like bullets that cut down people walking by at the time.

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A young shop assistant, 21-year old Elsie Answell, was killed instantly having been standing by a window near where the bomb detonated. She was due to be married in early September but ended up getting buried in the same church her service was to take place.She was only identifiable by her engagement ring.[2

In the W.H. Smiths store, 30-year old Rex Gentle who came to Coventry from North Wales for holiday work and 15-year old local boy John Arnott were also killed in the initial blast. 50-year old Gwilym Rowlands was killed while sweeping the roads for the council while the oldest victim, 82-year old James Clay, was struck down as he walked home from his regular café which he had left earlier than usual because he was feeling unwell. Another 70 people were injured many of them with severe lacerations caused by the flying glass.

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The British public were outraged and the attack served to further diminish confidence in British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his government who seemed impotent to stop both the IRA at home and Hitler in Eastern Europe.

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Roger Casement-Irish Hero and the Congo

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Roger Casement was born in Sandycove, County Dublin in September 1864 and raised in Ballycastle County Antrim following the death of his parents..

between 1911 and shortly before his execution for treason, when he was stripped of his knighthood and other honours, was an Irish-born civil servant who worked for the British Foreign Office as a diplomat, and later became a humanitarian activist, Irish nationalist, and poet. Described as the “father of twentieth-century human rights investigations”, he was honoured in 1905 for the Casement Report on the Congo and knighted in 1911 for his important investigations of human rights abuses in Peru. He then made efforts during World War I to gain German military aid for the 1916 Easter Rising that sought to gain Irish independence.

On this day in 1916 he was sentenced to death for his part in the Easter Rising.

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However I will not go in to his involvement in the Easter Rising in this blog, my focus will be on his Congo report known as the Casement report.

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The Casement Report was a 1904 document written  detailing abuses in the Congo Free State

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which was under the private ownership of King Leopold II of Belgium.

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This report was instrumental in Leopold finally relinquishing his private holdings in Africa. Leopold had had ownership of the Congolese state since 1885, granted to him by the Berlin Conference, in which he exploited its natural resources (mostly rubber) for his own private wealth.

For many years prior to the Casement Report there were reports from the Congo alleging widespread abuses and exploitation of the native population. In 1895, the situation was reported to Dr Henry Grattan Guinness (1861–1915), a missionary doctor. He had established the Congo-Balolo Mission in 1889, and was promised action by King Leopold later in 1895, but nothing changed. H. R. Fox-Bourne of the Aborigines’ Protection Society had published Civilisation in Congoland in 1903, and the journalist E. D. Morel also wrote several articles about the Leopoldian government’s behaviour in the Congo Free State.

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On 20 May 1903 a motion by the Liberal Herbert Samuel was debated in the British House of Commons, resulting in this resolution: “.. That the Government of the Congo Free State having, at its inception, guaranteed to the Powers that its Native subjects should be governed with humanity, and that no trading monopoly or privilege should be permitted within its dominions, this House requests His Majesty’s Government to confer with the other Powers, signatories of the Berlin General Act by virtue of which the Congo Free State exists, in order that measures may be adopted to abate the evils prevalent in that State.

Subsequently, the British consul at Boma in the Congo, the Irishman Roger Casement was instructed by Balfour’s government to investigate. His report was published in 1904, confirmed Morel’s accusations, and had a considerable impact on public opinion.

Casement met and became friends with Morel just before the publication of his report in 1904 and realized that he had found the ally he had sought. Casement convinced Morel to establish an organization for dealing specifically with the Congo question. With Casement’s and Dr. Guinness’s assistance, he set up and ran the Congo Reform Association, which worked to end Leopold’s control of the Congo Free State. Branches of the association were established as far away as the United States.

The Casement Report comprises forty pages of the Parliamentary Papers, to which is appended another twenty pages of individual statements gathered by Casement as Consul, including several detailing grim tales of killings, mutilations, kidnappings and cruel beatings of the native population by soldiers of the Congo Administration of King Leopold. Copies of the Report were sent by the British government to the Belgian government as well as to nations who were signatories to the Berlin Agreement in 1885, under which much of Africa had been partitioned. The British Parliament demanded a meeting of the fourteen signatory powers to review the 1885 Berlin Agreement. The Belgian Parliament, pushed by socialist leader Emile Vandervelde 

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and other critics of the King’s Congolese policy, forced a reluctant Leopold to set up an independent commission of enquiry.

 

Its findings confirmed Casement’s report in every detail. This led to the arrest and punishment of officials who had been responsible for murders during a rubber-collection expedition in 1903 (including one Belgian national who was given a five-year sentence for causing the shooting of at least 122 Congolese natives).

The Battle of Ballynahinch

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The Battle of Ballynahinch was fought outside Ballynahinch, County Down, on 12 June, during the Irish rebellion of 1798 between British forces led by Major-General George Nugent and the local United Irishmen led by Henry Munro.

Munro was a Lisburn linen merchant and Presbyterian United Irishman who had no military experience but had taken over command of the Down organisation following the arrest of the designated leader, Rev. William Steel Dickson on 5 June.

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Upon hearing of the victory at Saintfield on 9 June, Munro joined the rebel camp there and then moved to Ednavady Hill, Ballynahinch to join the thousands who had gathered in support of the rebellion. The response of the British garrisons was to converge on Ballynahinch from Belfast and Downpatrick in two columns accompanied by several pieces of cannon.

The battle began on the night of 12 June when two hills to the left and right of Ballynahinch were occupied by the British who pounded the town with their cannon. During a pause when night fell, some rebel officers were said to have pressed Munro for a night attack but he refused on the grounds that it was unchivalrous. As a consequence many disillusioned rebels slipped away during the night.

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As dawn broke the battle recommenced with the rebels attacked from two sides and although achieving some initial success, confusion in the rebel army saw the United Irishmen retreat in chaos, pursued by regrouping British forces who quickly took advantage by turning retreat into massacre. Initial reports claimed four hundred rebels were killed, while British losses were around forty.James Thomson (mathematician), the father of the famous scientist William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin was at the battle and published an eyewitness account.

Munro escaped the field of battle but was betrayed by a farmer who he had paid to conceal him and was hanged in front of his own house in Lisburn on 16 June. Ballynahinch was sacked by the victorious military after the battle with sixty-three houses being burned down. Cavalry scoured the surrounding countryside for rebels, raiding homes and killing indiscriminately, the 22nd Dragoons being guilty of some of the worst atrocities.The most famous victim was Betsy Gray,

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a young female rebel who, with her two brothers, was slaughtered in the post-battle massacre, ensuring her place in legend to this day.

Because of his family’s involvement in this event, Robert Stewart, the future Lord Castlereagh, was made chief secretary of Ireland.

Blaming Irish Peasants for the Great Famine.

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The above image is from the 10 October 1846 issue of the Pictorial Times. It has the title  “Cahirciveen, the retreat of the Liberator.”  It accompanies an article discussing the plight of the Irish people who are suffering from hunger after the failure of their potato crops.

Words of the time—written by a British, not an Irish author—help us to understand what the Irish people were enduring when they needed help the most. Keep in mind that it was only the potato crop which had failed (not all other crops).

Since only the potato crop had failed, how was it that people were starving, leading to food riots? Was there no other food in Ireland? If not, why not?

If there was other food available, to feed the starving Irish people, why does this author seem to blame the Irish peasants for their desperate condition? If the potato crop failed because of a blight, not caused by the potato growers, why does this author blame the potato growers for the failed crops.

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FOOD RIOTS IN IRELAND.

CONDUCT OF THE LIBERATOR

We hold it to be a moral axiom, that the misfortunes of a nation, as of individuals, may be traced to a retributive justice, worked out through its own crimes or follies. It is idle to look beyond ourselves for the source of whatever mischief of misery befall us; and if our aim is to regain happiness, we shall be very wide of the mark if we think to do so by attempting to correct others, under the flattering but false impression, that it is not us but our neighbours who have been in fault.

Ireland should reflect upon this. Her grievance-mongers have now for more than a quarter of a century been agitating upon the pretended injustice of England towards her weaker sister, but without the least benefit, as we can perceive, accruing to the Irish people therefrom. They are still what they ever were, a discontented and starving people. And should they get their last demand, even Repeal, would they be better off? Not one bit. We are sure it could not be the case, whilst they persist in proclaiming themselves to be the finest peasantry in the world, and their island

The first flower of the ocean,
first gem of the sea.

But indeed, at the present moment, it is ungenerous to upbraid; Ireland needs something more than advice. Famine, the most pinching, has added its horrors to the misery previously unbearable.

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Fathers see those they love slowly expiring for the want of bread. Men, sensitive and proud, are upbraided by their women for seeing them starve without a struggle for their rescue. Around them is plenty; rickyards, in full contempt, stand under their snug thatch, calculating the chances of advancing prices; or, the thrashed grain safely stored awaits only the opportunity of conveyance to be taken far away to feed strangers.

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Do the children of the soil hesitate to see the avarice of man, thus speculating on the visitations of Heaven and do they not resent the inhumanity as treason to our common nature? But a strong arm interposes to hold the maddened infuriates away.

Property laws supersede those of Nature. Grain is of more value than blood. And if they attempt to take of the fatness of the land that belongs to their lords, death by musketry, is a cheap government measure to provide for the wants of a starving and incensed people.

Irish-famine

This must not be.

To prove the charge of injustice, oppression only is required. But England indignantly denies all that Irish agitators have alleged, and to prove the sincerity of her sympathy she must now advance unhesitatingly that relief which can alone save the Irish people. And she will do. England will give with an open hand. Will Ireland, like a sturdy vagrant, continue to curse a generosity that fails to satisfy inordinate, unreasonable demands?

We shall not stay to calculate how much it may be abused; what considerable portion of the relief forwarded may go to swell the exactions of greedy, needy demagogues, whose stock in trade is their country’s misfortunes, and who, vampire like, suck the life-blood of their infatuated followers, fanning their victims with the idle wind of winged words to lull suspicion and secure repose.

These are, indeed, the curse of that unhappy land. Cruel, unnatural leaders, who cannot meet each other without mutual smiling at the unsuspecting gullibility upon which they prey. With these however, in the present crisis, we have nothing too. Feed the distressed first, and perhaps they will listen afterwards to our exhortations and advice. In the meantime we must assist in the good work of forwarding the measures of relief, that benevolent individuals throughout the kingdom are carrying out.

Opportunity to help themselves, the late ministry, by the Labour Rate Act, have placed in the hands of the Irish gentlemen themselves. Able-bodied men at all events will get employment and wages. But this will not be sufficient; the aged and infirm, the women and children, have also to be provided for. Subscription lists should be opened in every town. A testimonial to Heaven for the mercy vouchsafed to ourselves could not have a more opportune moment to command contributions.

Is gratitude alone due to man for the relief from corn taxation we have obtained this very year? Had it been otherwise, with the serious failure of our potato crop, what would now have been the price of bread? Give of the surplus gained but a trifling portion, and an ample fund will be provided for our Irish brethren.

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But the crisis that is at hand, awful as it is, may, by a wise government, be made productive of permanent good to the empire, that will more than compensate the temporary misery it occasions; for a liberal measure of relief, with full stores of cheap grain to distribute at low prices, would contrast beneficially for the English character, with the rapacity evinced by the Irish agitators.

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Ettie and Leon Steinberg-Irish citizens killed in Auschwitz

 July 22nd, 1937, was Esther Steinberg’s big day. Her wedding to Vogtseck Gluck, a goldsmith from Antwerp, was a smart affair at the Greenville Synagogue just a short walk from her home on the South Circular Road in Dublin.
The men, pillars of Dublin’s Jewish community, wore top hats, while the ladies were decked in their finery.
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Ettie, as she was known, was just 22, a good-looking girl about to embark on the excitement and happiness of a new life. After the celebrations ended she set out for Belgium on a journey that was to make her part of the most horrific event the world had known. A little over five years later she, her husband and their three-year-old son, Leon, were murdered in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.

Ettie Steinberg, a young Jewish woman who grew up in Dublin, is the only known Irish citizen (along with her infant son Leon) to have died during the Holocaust. Her legacy is a tragic one, a microcosm of the suffering of Jewish people throughout this turbulent period in history.

She was born Esther Steinberg to Czechoslovakian parents, Aaron Hirsch Steinberg and Bertha Roth, on 11 January 1914. She was certainly an Irish citizen, but whether she was born in Ireland or not is unclear. Some texts (for example Rivlin) indicate that she was born here, while others suggest that she originated from the town of Veretsky in Czechoslovakia and moved to Ireland from London in 1926. Her family lived in 28 Raymond Terrace, off the South Circular Road, with the children attending St. Catherine’s School in Donore.

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Although little is known about her life before marriage, it is believed that she worked as a seamstress. On a July day in 1937, Ettie married a Belgian man named Vogtjeck Gluck in Greenville Hall Synagogue off the South Circular Road. He came from a Belgian family of goldsmiths and the couple moved to Antwerp shortly after the wedding. Within a few years, the Low Countries were under threat from the Nazi advance and the couple fled to France, believing they would find safety and security. They travelled around but settled in Paris, where their son Leon was born on the 28 March 1939. Unfortunately, the threat of violence spread throughout France in 1940 and this put them in danger. From 1940 to 1942 the small family was in hiding, moving from place to place, rarely staying still for more than two nights at a time.

Back in Dublin, the Steinbergs worked desperately to save their daughter Ettie by getting her and her family back to Ireland. Pleas were sent to the Vatican and the Red Cross for information, but to no avail. They eventually managed to secure three visas from the British Home Office in Belfast and sent them to Toulouse, where the family was in hiding. However, they arrived one day too late for Ettie, Vogtjeck and little Leon. The Glucks had been caught in a round-up of Jews on the 2 September 1942 and were put on a train to Auschwitz.

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On this last journey Ettie through a postcard from the moving train, which was picked up by chance and posted to Ireland, cleverly coded by her to avoid destruction. It is a poignant piece of evidence that reads: “Uncle Lechem, we did not find, but we found Uncle Tisha B’av”.  Ettie’s family understood her tragic message very well:‘Lechem’ is the Hebrew word for bread and ‘Tisha B’Av’ is a Jewish fast day commemorating the destruction of the temple This means: we did not find plenty, but we found destruction, and demonstrates Ettie’s understanding of what awaited her at Auschwitz. Ettie, her husband and her young son arrived by train on 4 September and were exterminated immediately alongside a thousand other Jews. Ettie tried bravely to protect her family and the story is a testament to the human instinct for survival.

In contrast to Jewish response to the Famine in Ireland, Irish response to the Holocaust has been less than honourable. An Irish Famine Loan of £8 million was negotiated in London by Baron Lionel de Rothschild, who waived all commission

On October 9th, 1938, the former Chief Rabbi of Ireland, Isaac Herzog, wrote to the Taoiseach, Mr Eamon de Valera, requesting the admission of six or seven Jewish refugee doctors and dentists.

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The request was refused.

Oliver J. Flanagan (22 May 1920 – 26 April 1987) was an Irish Independentand  Fine Gael  politician, used his maiden speech in the Dáil (Irish Parliament) to urge the government to “rout the Jews out of this country”

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“How is it that we do not see any of these [Emergency Powers] Acts directed against the Jews, who crucified Our Saviour nineteen hundred years ago, and who are 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? […] There is one thing that Germany did, and that was to rout the Jews out of their country. Until we rout 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.”

Oliver Flanagan, Dáil Éireann, 9 July 1943.

 

On the 25th of March 2014 a  Memorial to Ireland’s only Holocaust victim unveiled by Tomi Reichentahl, a Holocaust survivor who currently lives in Ireland.

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The sinking of HMS Mashona

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HMS Mashona was a Tribal-class destroyer of the Royal Navy that saw service in the Second World War.

She was built by Vickers Armstrong, with her machinery supplied by Parsons. She was authorised in the program year 1936. Mashona was laid down on 5 August 1936, launched on 3 September 1937 and completed by 30 March 1939.

Mashona HMS, under command of Cdr. Selby, was one of those taking part in the pursuit of the German battleship Bismarck.

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On May 28th, 1941, the day following the Bismarck´s destruction, the British forces were heavily bombed by German aircraft and HMS Mashona was hit and sunk  off the coast of Galway with the loss of 48 men.

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The destroyer Tartar took the survivors to Greenock.

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Happy 120th Birthday,Count Dracula.

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When I was a young boy, Count Dracula scared the crap out of me.Having an older brother pretending the Count didn’t help either. The fear was so real that to this day I still have a phobia for Bats.

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Little did I know then I would end up living in the country where the legend of Dracula was created, Ireland.

Born in Dublin, Ireland, on November 8, 1847, Bram Stoker published his first literary work, The Duties of Clerks of Petty Sessions in Ireland, a handbook in legal administration, in 1879. Turning to fiction later in life, Stoker published his masterpiece Dracula, in 1897.

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On 26 May 1897,Stoker published his masterpiece, Dracula. While the book garnered success after its release, its popularity has continued to grow for more than a century. Deemed a classic horror novel today, Dracula has inspired the creation of numerous theatrical, literary and film adaptations. Among them are the 1931 film Dracula, starring actor Bela Lugosi, and F.W. Murnau’s 1922 film Nosferatu, starring Max Schreck.

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Dracula is literally translated in Gaelic as Drac Ullah (or Droch fola) meaning bad blood.

Count Dracula, a fictional character in the Dracula novel, was inspired by one of the best-known figures of Romanian history, Vlad Dracula, nicknamed Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), who was the ruler of Walachia at various times from 1456-1462. Born in 1431 in Sighisoara, he resided all his adult life in Walachia, except for periods of imprisonment at Pest and Visegrad (in Hungary)

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Although he never traveled to Romania, Stoker crammed his book with descriptions of many real locations that can still be visited in present-day Romania. They include the most important historical places associated with Vlad Tepes, such as the 14th century town of Sighisoara where you can visit the house in which Vlad was born (now hosting a restaurant and a small museum of medieval weapons).

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Other Dracula sites include: the Old Princely Court (Palatul Curtea Veche) in Bucharest, Snagov Monastery, where, according to legend, Vlad’s remains were buried; the ruins of the Poenari Fortress (considered to be the authentic Dracula’s Castle); the village of Arefu where Dracula legends are still told, the city of Brasov where Vlad led raids against the Saxons merchants, and, of course, Bran Castle.

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“Vlad the Impaler” is said to have killed from 40,000 to 100,000 European civilians (political rivals, criminals, and anyone that he considered “useless to humanity”), mainly by impaling. The sources depicting these events are records by Saxon settlers in neighbouring Transylvania who had frequent clashes with Vlad III. Vlad III is revered as a folk hero by Romanians for driving off the invading Ottoman Turks, of whom his impaled victims are said to have included as many as 100,000.

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The story of Dracula has been the basis for numerous films and plays. Stoker himself wrote the first theatrical adaptation, which was presented at the Lyceum Theatre on 18 May 1897 under the title Dracula, or The Undead shortly before the novel’s publication and performed only once, in order to establish his own copyright for such adaptations. This adaption was first published only a century later in Oct 1997.[49] The first motion picture to feature Dracula was Dracula’s Death, produced in Hungary in 1921.

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F. W. Murnau’s unauthorised film adaptation Nosferatu was released in 1922, and the popularity of the novel increased considerably, owing to an attempt by Stoker’s widow tried to have the film removed from public circulation.

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In 1958, British film company Hammer Film Productions followed the success of its The Curse of Frankenstein from the previous year with Dracula, released in the US as The Horror of Dracula, directed by Terence Fisher. Fisher’s production featured Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as Van Helsing, but it diverged considerably from the original novel.

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It was an international hit for Hammer Film, however, and both Lee and Cushing reprised their roles multiple times over the next decade and a half,

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concluding with The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (with Cushing but not Lee) in 1974. Christopher Lee also took on the role of Dracula in Count Dracula, a 1970 Spanish-Italian-German co-production notable for its adherence to the plot of the original novel.

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Many adaptions have been made over the years, The one truest to the novel is probably the 1992 adaption directed by Francis Ford Coppola,Bram Stoker’s Dracula, with Gary Oldman in the role as Dracula.

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Nearly as popular as the main character is  the main protagonist,Professor Abraham Van Helsing.He is an aged Dutch doctor with a wide range of interests and accomplishments, partly attested by the string of letters that follows his name: “MD, D.Ph., D.Litt., etc, etc,”[4] indicating a wealth of experience, education and expertise. The character is best known throughout his many adaptations as a vampire hunter and the archenemy of Count Dracula. The character is been portrayed in most of the Dracula movies but also in other fictional Gothic  stories. In 2004 he was the main character in the movie “Van Hesling” played by Hugh Jackman.

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After 120 years the story of Dracula still captures the imagination of many and  is as popular as ever(if not more) it really has stood the test of time. Happy Birthday Count Dracula.

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