Five Things You Didn’t Know About Irish History

Often, when we think about Irish history we think of the 1916 Easter Rising, the Great hunger and stories of evictions, starvation, social injustice. While all these things are true, and I certainly would not want to downplay any of it, there were other more positive things going on in Ireland, despite all that heartache and hardship. Below are 5 things You Didn’t Know About Irish History, from my new book, 100 Things You Didn’t Know About Irish History.

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Sir Josselyn Gore-Booth, One Exceptional Irish Landlord

A landlord is a man who has property or keeps lodgings to whom tenants pay a fixed rent. The operative word here is fixed, something an Irish landlord had complete will to establish as he wished, often using his immense power to do just that. Many Irish landlords were cruel and  looking to make a good buck at the expense of poor Irish peasantry but that was not always the case and one has to understand the situation of the times.

People crammed into coffin ship.

People crammed into coffin ship.

Several things contributed to the disaster so to put all the blame on landlords, perhaps is too simplistic an explanation. Not for the first time, the potato crop failed in the mid nineteenth century. This was the staple of the poor Irish diet. Along with widespread famine, all other crops were exported out of Ireland, the prices increased as well, and store houses of grain kept locked while the British government adopted a Laissez-faire doctrine of response,  creating mass hunger, misery, evictions, emigration, and for some, death. Many landlords left  their Irish estates in the hands of an estate agent, some leaving the country altogether. The estate agents had one goal and one only, to make the estate viable. Soon all landlords were grouped together as  tyrants.

Not all landlords fit into this stereotype but there with their horrible reputations, would it be that easy to trust any landlord?.

Josslyn Augustus Richard Gore-Booth was born in 1869, a year after his famous revolutionary sister, Constance Markievicz. He was sensitive and caring and thought to be frail, yet these qualities did not hold him back from endeavors which not only expanded and cultivated the rich estate of Lissadell in County Sligo but endeared him to the Irish peasantry by creating jobs from it. Josslyn

Sir Josslyn officially took over Lissadell estate in 1889. He was just 31 years old. He made remarkable accomplishments in business at a time when many Anglo-Irish landowners were struggling to make ends meet. Not only was the Lissadell property in good hands but it had multiple ambitions and Josselyn, personally had his hands in several different pots, all of them to benefit his Irish tenants by creating jobs. Added to this was his encouragement to other landlords to allow their tenants to buy portions of their land via the Wyndham Land Bill. Continue reading

100 Things You Didn’t Know about Irish History

100 Things You Didn’t Know About Ireland, filled with little known Irish history, is soon to be released May 1st. Over thirty four million Irish Americans live in the U.S alone, more than 7 times the population of Ireland. Do you wish you knew more about your Irish ancestors? Do you have anyone to ask? Have your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents passed on? Were you told ‘be proud you are Irish’ but not sure of what you should be proud of? Do you know anything else in Irish history beyond the history of the Famine,corned beef and cabbage and  St Patrick’s Day? Are your relatives dead or were you told not to ask questions about the past? Do you live in Ireland but know next to nothing about Irish history? Then 100 Things You Didn’t Know about Ireland is for you.  100 Things(1) Continue reading

ST Patrick, Man or Myth?

St Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland is shrouded in so many fantastical stories that one wonders if he was a man at all. The real Patrick was a simple human being who was kind, gentle, courageous, and confident in his beliefs. True, he was larger than life but not the way most people think.ST Patrick black and white

Maewyn Succat is the name given at birth to the man we know as Patrick of Ireland around the end of the 4th century. Most likely, he was born in Britain and the son of a Roman deacon named Calpornius who was also a tax collector. His grandfather was Potius during the reign of Constantine the Great, first Christian emperor of the Romans so it is easy to see how Patrick would be influenced in ‘the family business’ from an early age on. As one of Roman nobility, a station of honor and privilege, Patrick would have had hereditary privileges as well. His father would have had high hopes for his son, knowing he could one day rule over his less fortunate countrymen. Continue reading

How memorable Dialogue in Fiction Writing Sell and Where To Get Ideas

Know how to write dialogue?

Read. Read. Read. But also think outside the box. Watch popular movies.  The Princess Bride is one of my all time favorites for dialogue and one of the few screenplays that was written before the book was ever created, which I am told is  really about the making of the movie so that makes sense. If you haven’t seen the Princess Bride, you owe it to yourself to watch this great film which is a fairy tale love story, if for no other reason than to hear some of the most quotable long-lasting dialogue of alll time. The movie aired for the first time 25 years ago. Lines that if you or I had in our books, would be remembered  and  cherished. Now what author wouldn’t dream of that?  Incidentally, the movie was not an immediate success, something that should make all of the authors reading this take heart. I, myself watch movies for some of the reasons I read books, not only to be entertained, but to learn more  about generating believable and entertaining fiction. Things like how actors portray emotion and dialogue for instance. Continue reading

The Matchmakers of Ireland, The Real Valentines Day

Valentine silouetteNeed a matchmaker? Everyone wants to fall in love and its been that way since the beginning of time. Nothing has changed about the desire  but what has changed is how we go about it or how often we try  and try again only to be disappointed. Ever wish there was an easier way to meet a man or woman?  For centuries, people had arranged marriages. They married for status, wealth, security or to secure peace between two separate countries. Some of those marriages actually lasted and some were very happy ones. Continue reading

Proof Pope Francis should have been a Mother

Pope Francis is my hero. For years. Catholicism ruled much of Ireland and there are those who believe it still does.  Ar least, 80% of Irish schools are still Catholic and even with history dug up from the Magalene laundries .. to priest pedophiles ..  to the power the church had to take children away from single mothers and fathers .. Catholicism still thrives today. In fact, according to the viewpoints and actions of Pope Francis,  the church has more responsibility than just making an atonement for her sins.  Continue reading

How Celtic People Measured time. New Years in Ireland?

Celtic people measured time not by days but by nights. beginning at dusk instead of dawn. With Samhain when the crops were waning.Celtic king Beginning on  Oct. 31st. Not Jan 1st. One of the reasons for beginning with evening, is the Celts’ reverence for the moon and certainly they followed the stars, were great astrologers in fact. Take Newgrange in Ireland.  Newgrange is a  5000 year old passage grave and is situated so that the only drop of light shines through a tiny window on the Winter Solstice, Dec. 21st, remarkably close to Christmas and not a coincidence for sure, as the way of the Catholic church was to replace what pagan ideas they could with their own Christian teachings. See other posts on this blog for more information about early Christianity in Ireland. Continue reading