#OTD in 1861 – The American Civil War began; 150,000 Irishmen would serve with the Union forces, and 40,000 with the Confederacy.

The American Civil War began, a war that would not only pit American against American but also Irish against Irish. An estimated 150,000 Irish fought on the Union side while about 40,000 fought for the confederacy. While the majority fought with the Union, many Irish had a strong antipathy to a northern culture which they […]

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#OTD in 1875 – John Mitchell returns from America one day after being elected MP for Tipperary.

Mitchel’s election was deemed invalid as he was a convicted felon for his activities with the Young Ireland movement. In poor health, he would die weeks later on 20th March. Mitchel wrote for The Nation and was founder of The United Irishman newspaper which openly preached rebellion against England returns to Ireland. Convicted of treason […]

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#OTD in 1877 – Death of Gaelic scholar, John O’Mahony, founding member of the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States, sister organisation to the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

THE FENIAN MOVEMENT – The Fenians wanted one simple desire for Ireland – Independence from British rule. The Great Hunger had a massive impact on Ireland. Many in Ireland believed that the government in London, to solve the ‘Irish Problem’, had deliberately did as little as possible to aid the people of Ireland – in […]

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#OTD in 1878 – Death of Fenian General John O’Neill.

O’Neill is best known for his activities leading the Fenian raids on Canada in 1866 and 1871.   He was born in Drumgallon, Clontibrit, Co Monaghan, where he received some schooling. He emigrated to New Jersey in 1848 at the height of An Gorta Mór. He received an additional year of education there and worked […]

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#OTD in 1820 – Birth of Thomas Sweeny in Co Cork. He was a soldier who served in the Mexican-American War and then was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

Thomas William Sweeny was born in Co Cork on 25 December 1820. He immigrated to the United States in 1833. In 1846, he enlisted as a second lieutenant in the 2nd New York Volunteers and fought under General Winfield Scott in Mexico. Sweeny was wounded in the groin at the Battle of Cerro Gordo, and […]

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Christmas with the Irish Brigade

‘Near one of the huge fires a kind of arbour was nicely constructed of the branches of trees, which were so interwoven on one another as to form a kind of wall. Inside this, some were seated on logs, some reclining in true Turkish style. Seated near the fire was Johnny Flaherty, discoursing sweet music […]

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#OTD in Irish History – 13 December:

In the Julian calendar before the Gregorian reform, this was the shortest day and longest night, and widely celebrated as such. 1779 – The demand for the removal of restrictions on Irish free trade through out the colonies is satisfied on this day. After boycotting British goods and parading on College Green, Dublin in November, […]

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#OTD in 1892 – Death of Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore.

Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore served as a musician and stretcher-bearer in the 24th Massachusetts Infantry during the American Civil War. His incredible post-army musical career includes penning “When Johnny Comes Marching Home”, the tune he took from an old Irish antiwar folk song, “Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye”, that was published under the name Louis Lambert. […]

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#OTD in 1862 – The Irish Brigade suffered over 60% casualties at the Battle of Antietam at an area that came to be known as Bloody Lane.

At the Battle of Antietam, the Irish Brigade led its division in attacking the infamous Bloody Lane. In preparation for the deadly work ahead, Father William Corby, one of the brigade’s chaplains and future president of Notre Dame, rode down the firing line and administered a general rite of absolution to the men. Thomas Meagher […]

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#OTD in 1861 – The 10th Tennessee Infantry Regiment enters Confederate service in the American Civil War.

Company D was known as the ‘Rebel Sons of Erin’ because so many of them were Irish. Indeed, the roster of Company D reads like any small town in a 19th century Irish village (every surname was Irish). While the Fighting 69th on the Union side is the most famous “Irish Brigade,” it is estimated […]

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