Know Thy Place Team Up With TheJournal.ie

Know Thy Place have teamed up with Ireland’s online news site thejournal.ie to bring some of the stories we have researched to their readership. The work we undertake while producing the charts often provides fascinating insights into Ireland’s history and reveals some of the country’s lesser known heritage. In the first post we looked at Yola, an incredible dialect once spoken in parts of Co. Wexford. You can read it here.

 

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The Swede and Finn Who Fought For Ireland in the GPO, 1916

The Easter 1916 Rising in Ireland saw groups such as the Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army take up arms in an effort to secure a republic. Although the majority of participants were Irish, some had come from further afield to throw in their lot with the insurgents. Many men from England and Scotland travelled to join the volunteers in Dublin. Surely the most unusual were two seamen who just happened to be in the capital when the Rising erupted. These two ‘Irish rebels’ were unusual because of where they were from- Sweden and Finland.

The General Post Office, Dublin (Image via Wikipedia)

The General Post Office, Dublin (Image via Wikipedia)

Volunteer Captain Liam Tannam was in charge of some of the ground floor windows at the General Post Office, which had been taken over during the Rising. On Monday afternoon one of his men called him over to one of the barricaded windows:

‘…there were two strange looking men outside and I went to the window and I saw two obviously foreign men. Judging by the appearance of their faces I took them to be seamen. I asked what they wanted. The smaller of the two spoke. He said: “I am from Sweden, my friend from Finland. We want to fight. May we come in?” I asked him why a Swede and Finn would want to fight against the British. I asked him how he had arrived. He said he had come in on a ship, they were part of a crew, that his friend, the Finn had no English and that he would explain. 

So I said: “Tell me why you want to come in here and fight against England.” He said: “Finland, a small country, Russia eat her up.” Then he said: “Sweden, another small country, Russia eat her up too.” “Russia with the British, therefore, we against.” I said: “Can you fight. Do you know how to use a weapon?” He said: “I can use a rifle. My friend- no. He can use what you shoot fowl with.” I said: “A shotgun.”  I decided to admit them. I took them in and got the Swede a rifle, the Finn a shotgun. I put them at my own windows.

So it was that a Swede and Finn became part of the garrison of the GPO in 1916. However, the Finn’s inexperience with firearms quickly told. Everyone stood too when an alarm was raised at the barricades. The crisis passed, but as the Finn stepped back from the window his shotgun banged off the floor and went off. The blast hit the ceiling and sent a shower of plaster down on the men manning the windows. One of the volunteers, Joe Plunkett, was unimpressed, and gave the Finn a piece of his mind. Tannam continues:

The Finn looked at him [Plunkett], looked at me, at everyone. Joe said: “Can you not talk, man?” The Swede spoke up and said: “No. He has no English.” “Who are you?”, Joe said.  I intervened then and I explained to Joe. Joe looked at me and said: “Amazing, but obviously that man there is a danger,” pointing to the Finn. “We will have to get him another place out at the back of the Main Hall.”

According to volunteer Charles Donnelly the shotgun blast had actually wounded a man in the foot, and that James Connolly has said “The man who fires a shot like that will himself be shot.” It was decided that the Finn should go back from the barricade to help with the filling of fruit tins with explosives and pieces of metal. The Swede insisted he accompany his friend. Both men stayed for the week, and were there until the surrender. According to Tannam the Swedish Consul succeeded in getting the Swede home, but the Finn remained a prisoner for three weeks in Kilmainham Gaol. Apparently, despite the fact that the Finn was not a Catholic with no English, before he was released he was saying the rosary in Irish. Volunteer Robert Holland remembered the Finn in prison (he thought he was Swedish): “We also had for some weeks an unfortunate seaman, a Swede, who was picked up in O’Connell Street during Easter Week. He had endless trouble convincing them he was not an Irishman as he could not speak a word of English.”

According to Liam Tannam the Finn’s name was Tony Makapaltis, but that of the Swede was unrecorded. Their little known tale remains one of the most remarkable of Easter Week, 1916, when a Swede and Finn took up arms for an Irish republic and, in a somewhat convoluted way, against Russia.

References

Witness Statements of Liam Tannam, Charles Donnelly and Robert Holland.

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Damian Shiels:

The latest post from The Midleton Archaeology & Heritage Project, which Know Thy Place is involved in

Originally posted on The Midleton Archaeology & Heritage Project:

Rubicon were very fortunate last week to have Transition Year student Ruth Murphy working with us. Ruth spent much of her week examining a hilltop enclosure in Curragh Woods, as part of the Midleton Archaeology & Heritage Project. Ruth researched the enclosure, conducted a site visit, and wrote up her findings to share on the blog (she even produced the accompanying graphics!). She tells us below what was discovered regarding the site.

Louise Baker of Rubicon Heritage, and TY student Ruth Murphy recently paid a visit to a hilltop enclosure situated in the beautiful Curragh Woods, just north of the busy market town of Midleton, Co. Cork, as part of the Midleton Archaeology and Heritage Project.

Location of the Curragh Woods enclosure

Location of the Curragh Woods enclosure

The woods are situated between the townlands of Curragh, Ballynaclashy, Ballyedmond, Ballycurranny and Ballyleary, on either side of a valley of the Owennacurra and Leamlara rivers. The nearby…

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Whiskey Galore in Midleton (Part 1)

Know Thy Place MD Colm Moloney describes the history of a famous attractions in his home place 0f Midleton, Co. Cork- the Jameson Distillery. In Part 1 of the post Colm outlines the history of the distillery and its main attractions. 

As a native of Midleton, I grew up under the shadow (and the aroma!) of the largest whisky distillery in Europe. It is a great employer for the local population and a great friend to the town. However the history of this ‘place’ and its industrial heritage provides a fascinating insight into the social history of the town and the industrial development of the country. Acknowledging this fact, Irish distillers opened the Jameson Heritage Centre in 1992 in order to promote both the industrial archaeology of the site and the story of the development of Irish whisky and its growth to be a global leader in the drinks industry.

The Jameson Centre in Midleton, Co. Cork

The Jameson Centre in Midleton, Co. Cork

The distillery in which the heritage centre is based was established by James Murphy in 1825 on the site of a woollen mill founded by Marcus Lynch in 1793.  The site was also used as a military barracks during the Napoleonic wars and there is a local tradition that soldiers destined for the battle of Waterloo were trained at the site. The majority of the surviving range of buildings date from the 1830s onwards and include three malting kilns. The complex is dominated by a six-storey grain store built c. 1830, each floor of which can hold up to 250 tonnes of grain. The original wooden floors have been preserved, which makes it the most complete surviving distillery grain store in Ireland. A late 19th century brew house, complete with steel mash tuns and vats also survives intact in its original form. The late 18th century woollen mill was converted for use as a malt mill and mash house, powered by both water and steam. Its extant 6.70 m diameter waterwheel was fabricated by William Fairburn of Manchester and was installed in 1852, when it was used in conjunction with two steam engines, one of which, a six-column independent beam engine by Peele and Williams of Manchester installed in 1835, has been retained in situ. The Midleton distillery also boasts the largest pot still in the world, a wash still with a capacity of 31,648 gallons, installed in 1826, which required 4 tonnes of coal every 24 hours. Two more recent feints and low wine stills were built by D. Miller of Dublin in 1949 and are preserved in an adjacent still house.

The old distillery survives almost completely intact as it was replaced by an entirely modern successor in 1975 on a neighbouring site.  The completeness of the site makes it one of the most significant industrial heritage sites in the country. The promotional brochure which accompanies the tour (From Grain to Glass: The story of Jameson Irish Whiskey) claims the site is ‘the only self-contained 18th century industrial complex of its kind in Britain or Ireland’. Although the original whiskey distilled in the plant was Powers, Jameson is now produced exclusively in Midleton together with premium products such as Midleton Very Rare and Redbreast.

The next installment of this two-part post will follow Colm and his wife Louise as they took a tour of the distillery. Colm was persuaded to sacrifice some of his time to conduct the visit in aid of ‘scientific research’, and bravely accepted his fate. He further impressed all who know him by showing great resilience during the excursion when he was forced to face the prospect of tasting some of the whiskey the distillery produces….

Midleton distillery is included in the Know Thy Place chart for Midleton which can be purchased from http://www.knowthyplace.com

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Bealtaine, the beginning of Summer (we hope!)

The Celtic calendar had two main seasons, warm and cold. The end of the cold season and the beginning of summer were marked by one of the most important festivals of the year, Bealtaine. The corresponding festival for the end of the Summer and beginning of the winter was Samhain which has now become Halloween.

Belenus- The go-to God for all things Bealtaine

Belenus- The go-to God for all things Bealtaine

Bealtaine traditionally fell on the first of May and was highly symbolic for the indigenous population of Ireland. This corresponded to the date when cattle could be driven to open grazing and was therefore a time of great importance for pastoralist societies.  The lighting of great fires in prominent locations was central to the celebration of this festival, presumably to reflect the rebirth and rejuvenation of the sun. It was also customary to drive cattle between large fires in order to protect them from disease. TGE Powell in his book The Celts believes that the word is a combination of the celtic word for fire (tine) and reference to a god called Belenus known widely in Northern Italy, south-eastern Gaul, Nordicum and south-west Britain. Belenus is thought to have been a sun-god and his name is believed to have meant ‘Brilliant’ or ‘Bright’ one. In modern Irish Bealtaine is still the name given to the month of May.

Fire, a key component of Bealtaine

Fire, a key component of Bealtaine

More recently a particular raucous festival has become very popular in Edinburgh know as Beltane which involves naked dancers, drums and massive fires on Carlton Hill on the eve of the 1stof May.

Dramatic scenes at the Beltane Fire Society's annual festival on Edinburgh's Calton Hill

Dramatic scenes at the Beltane Fire Society's annual festival on Edinburgh's Calton Hill

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RTE Radio Titanic Special includes Know Thy Place Research

As part of the centenary commemorations of the voyage of Titanic, the Irish national broadcaster RTE produced a special History Show programme on the luxury liner. Broadcast on RTE Radio One on Sunday, presenter Myles Dungan spoke to a panel of guests which included Know Thy Place Director Damian Shiels. We carried out a lot of unique research into the Irish links to Titanic for our Know Thy Place Titanic Chart and Damian discussed some of these stories with Myles. The programme was recorded in the atmospheric surroundings of the Titanic Experience in Cobh, which occupies the building where Titanic’s last passengers embarked for the doomed vessel.

The show is now available as a podcast, which you can listen to by visiting the History Show site here or by going direct to the podcast at the following link: RTE History Show Titanic Special. The Titanic Chart is a unique record of the White Star liner’s links to Ireland, and is available for only €39.99 or $56.00. If you are interested in ordering a copy you can do so from our website here.

The Know Thy Place Titanic Chart (Copyright Know Thy Place Ltd. 2012)

The Know Thy Place Titanic Chart (Copyright Know Thy Place Ltd. 2012)

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Titanic Sites in Cobh: A Photo Journey

To celebrate the launch of our new Titanic Chart, the Know Thy Place team paid a visit to Cobh (formerly Queenstown), the last port of call for the White Star liner. While there we took the opportunity to visit some of the sites associated with the Titanic in the town, and photographed them for our readers. We were fortunate to also be accompanied by Master Reuben Moloney, who took time out from his busy schedule to tell us what life was like for a boy of eight in 1912…

The former train station at Cobh, where many of the passengers destined to board the Titanic arrived. Today it serves as the towns Heritage Centre.

The former train station at Cobh, where many of the passengers destined to board the Titanic arrived. Today it serves as the towns Heritage Centre.

The former offices of James Scott and Company, the agents of the White Star Line in Cobh. Steerage passengers queued beside this building to board the Titanic. Today it is home to the Titanic Experience.

The former offices of James Scott and Company, the agents of the White Star Line in Cobh. Steerage passengers queued beside this building to board the Titanic. Today it is home to the Titanic Experience.

Master Reuben with a model of the Titanic in the Titanic Experience. (Photo: Gerard McCarthy, Thanks to Titanic Experience Cobh)

Master Reuben with a model of the Titanic in the Titanic Experience. (Photo: Gerard McCarthy, thanks to Titanic Experience Cobh)

Master Reuben at the back of the James Scott offices. The pier in the background is 'Titanic Pier' where steerage passengers embarked for the Titanic aboard the tender 'America' (Photo: Gerard McCarthy, thanks to Titanic Experience Cobh)

Master Reuben at the back of the James Scott offices. The pier in the background is 'Titanic Pier' where steerage passengers embarked for the Titanic aboard the tender 'America' (Photo: Gerard McCarthy, thanks to Titanic Experience Cobh)

Another view of 'Titanic Pier'. Sadly it is today in urgent need of restoration.

Another view of 'Titanic Pier'. Sadly it is today in urgent need of restoration.

St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh. This would have been visible to passengers as they pulled out towards the Titanic on the tenders 'America' and 'Ireland', although the tower had not been completed in 1912.

St. Colman's Cathedral, Cobh. This would have been visible to passengers as they pulled out towards the Titanic on the tenders 'America' and 'Ireland', although the tower had not been completed in 1912.

The Deepwater Quay beside the former train station in Cobh, where the tenders 'Ireland' and 'America' put in for their final stop before travelling out to the Titanic, anchored off Roches Point.

The Deepwater Quay beside the former train station in Cobh, where the tenders 'Ireland' and 'America' put in for their final stop before travelling out to the Titanic, which was then anchored off Roche's Point.

The Memorial in Cobh to those lost aboard the Titanic in 1912

The Memorial in Cobh to those lost aboard the Titanic in 1912

For anyone who would like a sneak preview of our Titanic Chart, or is interested in obtaining a copy, please see our website here.

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