Author Archives: Damian Shiels

About Damian Shiels

I am an archaeologist based in Ireland, specialising in conflict archaeology.

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.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Know Thy Place, TheJournal.ie

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1916 Rising

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

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.

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 Ballyedmond Estate was once home to…

View original post 476 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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)

Leave a comment

Filed under Titanic

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.

2 Comments

Filed under Know Thy Place, Titanic

Mapping the Irish Lost in the Titanic Disaster

After extensive research and hard graft from all the team at Know Thy Place, we are delighted to say that our R.M.S. Titanic Chart is now complete. It tells the story of the ill-fated luxury liner’s connections with Ireland in a unique and informative way. The centre-piece is a map of Ireland, marking the home places of 129 people from the island that our researchers identified as being lost. Know Thy Place Director Damian Shiels describes some of the intriguing details we found out.

The story of the Titanic’s connections with Ireland begins with the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast, where she was designed and built. We explain her building with the aid of a Belfast docks map, showing the key sites associated with the White Star Liner. One of the interesting stories we were able to uncover was the involvement a number of Irish businesses had with the Titanic’s fit-out, such as William Liddell & Company from Co. Down who produced the linen for the vessel, and the Kildare Carpet Company in Co. Laois which made the state-room carpets.

A key part of the Titanic story is that of her last port of call, Queenstown (now Cobh). A total of 123 passengers embarked from here on the doomed ship, and we look at their journey from ‘Titanic Pier’ behind the James Scott and Company offices aboard the tenders that took them to the liner anchored off Roche’s Point. As with Belfast, a map of Cobh highlights a number of the key areas in the town associated with the Titanic’s brief visit.

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

The Know Thy Place Titanic Chart- Click to enlarge (Copyright Know Thy Place Ltd. 2012)

The central part of the chart’s story looks at the Irish passengers and crew who were aboard the Titanic, telling some of their stories. We spent a long time trying to generate a comprehensive list of people from Ireland who were lost when the Titanic went down, as we discovered that many publications cite wildly different numbers in this regard. There are many reasons for this- some exclude Irish crew members from their totals, while others fail to include Northern Ireland in their calculations. We found the only solution was to create our own list of individuals specifically for the chart.

We eventually generated a list of 129 passengers and crew from the island who were lost, a number that was almost certainly higher as only scant details survive for many of the crew. For the first time, the cities, towns and townlands where these people were from were used to create an at a glance image of the human cost to Ireland of the ship’s sinking. This unique map allows you to see which parts of the island were most affected, and brings home the scale and range of the impact that the loss of the Titanic must have had. For anyone interested in the Titanic Chart you can find order it direct from our website by clicking here.

6 Comments

Filed under Know Thy Place, Media

Know Thy Place team up with the National Museum of Ireland

We are delighted to announce that the National Museum of Ireland have decided to stock our Know Thy Place charts in their Museum Shop from this month. Now you will be able to buy County and Ireland charts while visiting some of the archaeological objects that inspired them! As professional archaeologists ourselves, it is great for the Know Thy Place team to have the quality of our work acknowledged, and we hope to continue to work with the Museum in the future! All our charts our still available from our website as well, which you can check out here.

Our Know Thy Place Chart for Co. Cork, now available in the National Museum of Ireland

Our Know Thy Place Chart for Co. Cork, now available in the National Museum of Ireland

We have issued a press release to mark the occasion:

Begin a Voyage of Discovery:

Uncover the story of Ireland and your ancestral home

with Know Thy Place at the National Museum of Ireland

 Ireland has a long and glorious history. People first settled this wonderful land 9,000 years ago and have left their mark everywhere. If you’ve ever wondered what part your home place played in this wonderful story there’s good news, as visitors to the National Museum of Ireland can now explore their chosen county thanks to a unique heritage service called Know Thy Place.

The National Museum is delighted to introduce Know Thy Place’s ‘Ireland’ and ‘County’ charts, which will be available to purchase in the Museum shop from the end of March. Know Thy Place uses high quality archaeological research to provide an overview of the history and archaeology of Irish towns and regions from the earliest human settlers right up to modern times. The company’s archaeologists trawl through archives to track down every known monument in ‘thy place’ and the information is compiled into the story of your place from the earliest times, producing an end product of a beautifully illustrated wall chart which provides maps and information about the archaeology and history of the place.

Our Know Thy Place Ireland Chart, now available at the National Museum of Ireland

Our Know Thy Place Ireland Chart, now available at the National Museum of Ireland

Studying our past has come a long way in recent years, particularly with regard to Ireland and Irish heritage, and Know Thy Place is perfect for anyone who really wants to explore the archaeology of Ireland. Speaking about the charts now available at the National Museum, Colm Moloney, Director of Know Thy Place said “If you want a general overview of the archaeology of Ireland, our ‘Ireland’ chart explains the development of settlement on the island from earliest times through to the present day, featuring some of the most famous archaeological sites in Ireland as examples; while our ‘County’ charts are ideal if you have not yet identified your ancestor’s exact town land, as they look at each of the 32 counties in more detail.”

Commenting on their introduction to the National Museum, Colm said This new partnership is a real coup our team at Know Thy Place, as one of Ireland’s major archaeological institutions has recognised the great appeal and accuracy of our charts, each of which is prepared for the general reader by a professional archaeologist. We are also currently exploring the potential for the production of a range of exclusive charts for the Museum, focusing on some of the major objects and exhibitions on display, and this could prove a very exciting project for all involved.”

Know Thy Place’s ‘Ireland’ and ‘County’ charts are available, and retail for €19.99 and €39.99 respectively, pre-rolled and packaged for ease of transport from the Kildare Street shop. If you want to find out more about these and other charts available visit www.knowthyplace.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Irish Heritage, Know Thy Place