Ollie Jedlick email@example.com
Armagh Rail Disaster
A Sunday School 24-mile seashore excursion turned into Ireland’s worst rail disaster ever. On June 12, 1889, 132 years ago today, an overloaded train came within 200 yards of cresting a grade before the engine stalled and could not continue. The decision was made to split the train and continue up the grade with five of the original fifteen carriages, store those five carriages on a siding two miles up ahead and return to gather the ten stranded carriages and reconnect.
As the shortened train became uncoupled, the ten-carriage abandoned section had the non-automatic vacuum brakes fail and jump the chocks and start rolling back down the hill towards Armagh Station. Immediately behind this train was another scheduled service train departing Armagh Station.
A worker from the stranded train met the oncoming scheduled train and he had signaled it to stop. The second train was slowing to about five-mile an hour when the runaway ten-car train section came into view. When the numbers were finalized, 80 out and 940 passengers had died and 260 passengers were injured.
The point of impact was on top of a steep sided elevated section of track. The runaway carriages tumbled down both sides of the elevated viaduct. The doomed passengers were trapped because the carriages were locked at Armagh Station after all the ticketed travelers were verified.
Some of the other contributing factors for this event was the original order was for a thirteen-carriage train accommodating 800 people. The size of the engine selected was based on those specifications. The Armagh Station Master insisted on adding two more carriages to accommodate more passengers. The Engineer tried to convince him that they needed a larger engine, but he lost that battle.
The technology was available in 1872 for automatic air brakes pioneered by George Westinghouse at his Pittsburgh facility. And, by 1887 Westinghouse had perfected an emergency braking system with a three-way valve that vented trapped air and applied individual brakes more quickly. The same year as the Armagh Rail Disaster, 1889, Westinghouse moved his Air Brake plant to Wilmerding.
Could it be that the timing of Ireland’s worst rail disaster might also have become one of the best Westinghouse Air Brake (WABCO) selling points?
Ollie Jedlick, Jr. June 12, 2021
Postponed Dublin Parade
The 2020 Pittsburgh St Patrick’s Day Parade was cancelled and the 2021 Parade was postponed. Both were due to the COVID 19 pandemic.
Looking back; Wednesday, March 4, 2020 the Pittsburgh St Patrick’s Day Parade was a sure thing according to all Pittsburgh Broadcast Media. The City was buzzing with excited anticipation. The Button Party on Friday March 6th and the AOH Division 9 Communion Breakfast on Sunday, March 8th all suggested the Pittsburgh St Patrick’s Day Parade was going to happen on Saturday, March 14th.
On Wednesday, March 11th the decision was made to cancel the parade for Saturday, March 14th. KDKA reported there were 16 cases of COVID19 in the Eastern part of PA. Acting on CDC recommendations, the City cancelled the event.
Pittsburgh was in good company in 2020 because Dublin Ireland also cancelled their St Patrick’s Day Parade due to COVID19. But this wasn’t the first time Ireland had their celebration interrupted. It seems Dublin’s 2001 St Patrick’s Day Parade also had to be postponed due to an extremely contagious foot and mouth disease decimating their livestock. Over 42,000 animals had to be put down.
Even though foot and mouth disease is rarely harmful to humans, Ireland didn’t want to be ground zero for a worldwide livestock epidemic. They also didn’t want to give up their parade, so it was postponed until May 21, 2001. Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of that postponed St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin.
The postponement must have paid off because the Irish Post said that there were over one million visitors to Dublin to see the eagerly anticipated celebrations. CNN reported there were a half million St Patrick’s Day Parade spectators in Dublin.
Could that mean there were many more Dublin visitors already participating in what was supposed to be the After Parade celebrations?
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
May 20, 2021
The Irish Tricolor Flag
On March 15, 1848 Thomas Francis Meagher was an Irish Nationalist and leader of the Young Irelanders in the Rebellion of 1848. It was on this day, 173 years ago today that Thomas Meagher officially presented his Tricolor Flag at a Young Ireland Party Meeting.
Thomas Meagher had just returned from France with a delegation there to congratulate the French on their successful revolution. He was inspired by the tricolor French flag and it inspired his creation of an Orange White and Green flag for his dream of a united Ireland. His original Tricolor Flag had the Orange next to the staff and there was a Red Hand on the White field to denote Ulster. The public first saw the Tricolors on March 1, 1848, but it was ‘officially’ presented at the Young Ireland Party Meeting on March 15th.
The Tricolor fell into obscurity after the failure of the 1848 Rising, but it was revived by the Fenians for the Easter Rising of 1916. This time the Green was next to the staff and there were no images on the Green, White or Orange; just colors.
Thomas Meagher was no longer able to support his Tricolor flag because he was sentenced to be drawn and quartered for his participation in the 1848 Rising. His sentence was later changed to life of servitude in Van Dieman’s Land; modern day Tasmania. He later escaped and made his way to the United States where he started an Irish newsletter, joined the Union Army, formed Company K of New York’s Fighting 69th or the Irish Brigade and rose to the rank of Brigadier General.
President Andrew Johnson appointed Thomas Meagher to Secretary of the Territory of Montana. In that position, Thomas Meagher was functioning as the acting Governor of the Montana Territory. He met his demise as the age of 43 from a riverboat accident on the Missouri River while traveling to Fort Benton.
Had Thomas Meagher been able to stay in Ireland, his Tricolor Flag might not have taken 68 years (from 1848 to 1916) to become the National Flag of Ireland!
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
April 15, 2021
Happy Sheelah’s Day
When St Patrick died, he was sorely missed by his followers and they wanted to celebrate his life. No one knew when St Patrick was born, so the event was celebrated on the day St Patrick died, March 17th.
This posed another problem for St Patrick’s followers because March 17th would always fall between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday; AKA Lent, a time of major prohibitions for the faithful
According to Folk Tradition, these celebrations of St Patrick were given special Lenten dispensations so the Irish People were able to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Some time later, there were those who wanted to push the envelope and continue the celebrations for another day by honoring Sheelah, the Wife of St Patrick.
How many of us knew March 18th was Sheelah’s Day; the wife of St Partick?
The 18th of March is celebrated as Sheelah’s Day by Australia and some parts of Canada, but Ireland hasn’t celebrated Sheelah’s Day since the 19 Century. Some speculate the celebration’s demise was due to confusion with the Sheela-na-Gig, a grotesque adornment on European Medieval Cathedrals.
In the beginning, Catholic Priests were allowed to marry. It wasn’t until the 11th Century that the Church started pushing back against married Priests. St Patrick was alive in the late 4th and early 5th Century, so he very well cold have been married; although some accounts of Sheelah say she was St Patrick’s Mother. I suspect this might have been an attempt to scrub her from St Patrick’s story.
If you want to celebrate Sheelah’s Day on March 18th, plan on driving 300 miles North because the closest formal celebration is in Newfoundland, Canada.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
March 18, 2021
Robert Hanssen FBI
Twenty years ago today, FBI Agent Robert Hanssen was arrested in what was described as “possibly the worst intelligence disaster in U.S. History.” Hired by the FBI in 1976, he worked into counterintelligence monitoring the Soviet threat. In 1979 he started a twenty-two-year period selling information to the Soviets, receiving about $1.4 million for his treachery. An unknown number of Black Stars are on the wall at CIA Langley because of his Treason-for-hire.
Along comes Field Operative Eric O’Neil, who was turned down as an FBI Special Agent for being too young. He had been working five years counterintelligence and counter-terrorism for the FBI. His moral compass was set early in life with his Irish Catholic upbringing and graduating from an all-boys Jesuit High School in Washington D.C. Eric’s lack of training as an agent also made him the ideal person to observe and work with the twenty-five-year Special Agent who was suspected of treason.
Robert Hanssen was the son of an emotionally abusive Chicago Cop. He gave up his Lutheran Religion when he married his Catholic wife. He pursued his new religion with a zeal that led him to Opus Dei.
Hanssen kept his records on a Palm Pilot which O’Neill managed to take during an unguarded moment and hustle it to an FBI Lab for analysis. Robert Hanssen was arrested on February 18, 2001 about five weeks before he was due to retire. The FBI sting was all made possible by the efforts of a ‘27-year-old’ Eric O’Neill.
Robert Hanssen is twenty years into three consecutive life sentences in a Federal Colorado Prison. Another account says it’s fifteen consecutive life sentences, but after one life sentence, who really cares? The movie “Breach” (2007) is loosely based on the events leading up to the capture of FBI Agent Robert Hanssen.
Meanwhile, Eric O’Neill left the FBI and earned a Law Degree from George Washington University and was recruited by CyberSponse, Inc. for his investigative and risk management expertise. Eric O’Neil is also enjoying the success of his book: “My Undercover Mission to Expose America’s First Cyber Spy”, published in the Spring on 2019. His challenge now is surviving Hollywood.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
February 18, 2021
The First Dail
January 21, 1919, 101 years ago today, the First Dail or Independent Irish Parliament met in Dublin and declared an independent Irish Republic.
Previously, the Irish General election of December 1918 saw the Irish republican party Sinn Fein win a landslide victory of 73 out of 105 Seats in the British Parliament. Their transition from Bullets to Ballots after the 1916 Easter Rising was starting to bear fruit. Then they decided to push their luck.
The following month, Sinn Fein established an independent parliament in Dublin and declared independence from the United Kingdom or Great Britain and Ireland. As ambitious as it was, these actions had a lot of things stacked against it.
Only 27 Sinn Fein MP’s were in attendance for the First Dail. There were 35 Sinn Fein MP’s who were unable to attend because they were in prison, 4 Sinn Feil MP’s were unable to attend because they were deported and 7 Sinn Fein MP’s were just absent. In opposition, there were 6 Irish MP’s and 26 Unionists MP’s of the 105 total MP’s who elected to boycott the First Dail.
Undeterred, the 27 Sinn Fein MP’s in attendance in Dublin elected a Speaker and passed a short Provisional Constitution. Then they read the Declaration of Irish Independence and sent a message to the free nations of the world, calling on them to recognize the infant Irish Republic.
January 21, 1919 will also be known for the Soloheadbeg Ambush where two RIC policemen were killed by a party of Irish Volunteers hijacking a shipment of explosives being delivered to a quarry. This killing was roundly denounced by many because both RIC Policemen were native Irish Roman Catholics.
When pressed for a reason, one Volunteer said: “We felt there was a grave danger. . . the Volunteer organization would degenerate. . .into a purely political body, such as the AOH. . .and we wished to get it back to its original purpose.”
The Irish Volunteers, later known as the IRA, didn’t fall under to control of the Dail until March of 1921. This was covered in a statement published by Eamon de Valera, who missed the First Dail by being one of the Sinn Fein MP’s in prison.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr
January 21, 2021
Plagues upon Ireland
Ireland’s open for visitors and interior travel is unrestricted. The government has declared they are at Level 3 and tomorrow, Level 3 will be relaxed to where you may entertain visitors in your home from two households, but it is recommended that masks be used in crowds. U.S. Citizens are not ‘required’ to quarantine, but they are ‘requested’ to self-isolate for 14 days. Ireland does ‘require’ U.S. visitors to complete a COVID19 Locator Form with a fine and/or jail for failure to comply.
Epidemics of infectious diseases are not new to Ireland. In fact, they go back before recorded history. Tallaght is a suburb of Dublin. The name is believed to be a corruption of the Gaelic “Tamh” or “Plague” and “Leacht” or “Grave Stone”; due to some long forgotten pre-historic epidemic.
The Black Death, or Bubonic Plague decimated 40% of the population in the 14th Century. The Eastern Ports of Dublin & Drogheda, the infestation is believed to have come from France; while the Southern Ports of Cork & Waterford, the infestation is believed to have come from England. Ireland’s interior was initially spared, as the plague mainly attacked the English-speaking urban settlements. The Black Death outbreaks reoccurred six more times in the next three hundred years.
The mid-17th Century the Plague returned and was made worse by war and famine. The Army of Cromwell was likely the source of the latest infestation. Estimates of 10% to 40% of the Irish population deaths at that time were caused by the plague.
The plague subsided by the 19th century, but it was replaced by Typhus, Cholera, Typhoid and Dysentery. Typhus was also known as the Famine Fever. Of the 1.5 million deaths attributed to An Gorta Mor, 400,000 of those deaths, or almost one third, can be linked to Typhus. When you add in Smallpox to 19th Century Ireland, it is amazing there are any of us around who can claim Irish Ancestry.
The Pittsburgh Business Times reported (on December 13, 2020) that UPMC has set into motion the acquisition of their fourth hospital in Ireland. So, if you you’re planning on visiting Ireland, it might be beneficial to know where some of these ‘hometown’ hospitals are located. Safe travels!
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
December 17, 2020
John Russell Young
On November 20, 1840 John Russell Young was born in County Tyrone to George and Eliza Rankin Young. Before John was a year old, he and his family moved to America and settled in Philadelphia. After starting school in Philadelphia, John Young became a ward of an Uncle in New Orleans. History doesn’t burden us with details of John Young in New Orleans, and picks back up with John Young was a 17-year-old copyboy/proofreader for the Philadelphia Press.
His breakout moment came when a 21-year-old John Russell Young was given the assignment to cover the First Battle of Bull Run. This was the first major battle of the U.S. Civil War and it was a major victory for the Confederacy. The following year, a 22-year-old John Young was made the Managing Editor of the Philadelphia Press.
Soon, New York came calling. John Russell Young was made managing editor for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, but they parted company over philosophical differences; John Young supported Ulysses S. Grant while Horace Greely supported Salmon P. Chase. This is when the U.S. Government became interested in John Young and he accepted missions in Europe for The U.S. Treasury and the U.S. Department of State. These credentials helped this 32-year-old become the New York Herald’s Reporter in Europe.
When Ulysses S. Grant left office, he persuaded a 37-year-old John Russell Young to accompany him on a two-year world tour to chronicle all the events. The work became known as Around the World with General Grant. Impressed with his work, U.S. Grant persuaded President Chester A. Arthur to appoint a 42-year-old John Young a minister to China. There he distinguished himself by mediating disputes between the U.S. and China and later, France and China.
The year 1885 found this 45-year-old back in Europe representing the Herald and in 1890 he returned to Philadelphia trying to get back to a normal life. He was almost successful, but in 1897 President William McKinley persuaded John Young to become Librarian of Congress. He was the seventh person to have that position, but the first to be actually confirmed by Congress.
The Librarian of Congress job involved moving the Congressional Library from the U.S. Capitol to its own building and merging the works and collections of Jefferson and others who had their own libraries. Of this work, his greatest accomplishment was when John Young made sure there were provisions for the blind and the physically handicapped could also share all the information contained in the Library of Congress. John Young didn’t live long enough to see his work completed. He died in 1899 at the age of 59 from injuries of a severe fall on Christmas Eve.
There is a down-side to leading an active and impressive life. John Russell Young had three marriages. Rose Fitzpatrick and John were married in 1864 and they had three children. None of their children survived and Rose died in 1881. In 1882 John married again. His wife Julia, died while they were in Europe shortly after childbirth. And John married his third Wife, Mary, in 1890 and in 1891 they had a Son, Gordon Russell Young, who became a success, but John Russell Young never got see this as John died when Gordon was only 8 years old.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
November 19, 2020
Lord Edward Fitzgerald
On October 15, 1763, 257 years ago today, Lord Edward Fitzgerald was born to a prominent family in Co. Kildare. His Father was the 1st Duke of Leinster and his Mother was the Daughter of the Duke of Richmond. He also had some Rebel blood, being descended from Silken Thomas Fitzgerald; executed by Henry VIII.
Lord Edward Fitzgerald served in the British Army against the American Colonists and was wounded at the battle of Eutaw Springs, the last major engagement of the war in the Carolinas. That battle was determined to be a ‘tactical’ victory for the British, but a ‘strategic’ victory for the American Colonists. The British lost the Southern Loyalists support and that ultimately led to their surrender at Yorktown.
Recovering from his wounds in Paris, he became a companion of Thomas Paine, the English born American political activist and author of “Common Sense” and The American Crisis”; both of Paine’s works were influential in starting the American Revolution. His association with Thomas Paine must have caused Lord Edward Fitzgerald to question many aspects of his life. At a dinner in Paris, attended by British residents, Lord Edward Fitzgerald toasted the abolition of hereditary titles. That outburst got him bounced from the British Army.
Lord Edward Fitzgerald returned to Ireland in the mid 1790’s and joined the United Irishmen, an organization made up of Catholics, Presbyterians and Methodists. His military experience allowed him to be one of the planners of the 1798 Rising, but, by then, the United Irishmen were not very united and many other events forced the Rising into a premature compromised March 1798 disaster.
Escaping capture, Lord Edward Fitzgerald managed to lay low in Dublin. A spy betrayed him and he was arrested on Thomas Street on May 19. But he didn’t go without a fight and managed to kill one of his captors. Another captor shot him and Lord Edward Fitzgerald died of his wound on June 4th. His untimely death at age 34 dealt a terrible blow to the resistance, but he joined a long line of Irish Rebels who made a conscious choice of Principle and Integrity over Power and Wealth.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
October 15, 2020
One hundred two years ago today, Chiam Herzog was born in Belfast. Soon his family moved to Dublin when his Dad became the Chief Rabbi of Ireland.
Raised in Dublin during his formative years, he immigrated to Palestine in the mid 1930’s to continued his education and also receiving military training. During World War II he joined the British Army, but the Brits had difficulty pronouncing “Chiam” so they gave him the nickname “Vivian”. Ok? I don’t get it, either?
Chiam Herzog worked in British Military Intelligence and he participated in the liberation of Normandy. After World War II, Chiam Herzog left the British Army with the rank of Major.
He returned to Palestine in time for the Arab-Israeli War and he participated in the Declaration of Independence that ultimately established the State of Israel. This time he left the Israeli Military as a Lawyer with the rank of Major General.
Chiam Herzog and two partners established what was to become Israel’s largest Law Firm. These credentials were impressive enough to make Chiam Herzog Israel’s representative to the U.N. During his three years there, he is credited with the defeat of U.N. Resolution 3379; AKA the “Zionism is Racism” resolution.
His credentials now directed Chiam Herzog to politics. From 1983 to 1993 Chiam Herzog was the sixth President of Israel. At that time the President of Israel was largely ceremonial, but Chiam Herzog was still the Face of Israel to the world.
I wonder how often someone thought during those ten years, “Is the President of Israel speaking with the hint of an Irish Brogue?”
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
September 17, 2020
On June 18, 1815 (205 years ago today) Arthur Wellesley, AKA the Duke of Wellington, defeated the Conqueror of the World, AKA Napoleon Bonaparte in a battle near the Belgian town of Waterloo. This was the military victory that would later propel Author Wellesley to the office of British Prime Minister.
Arthur Wellesley was born into an Aristocratic Anglo-Irish family in Dublin on May 1, 1769. His widowed Mother sent him to military school in France. From there he served in India. Knighthood was bestowed on Arthur Wellesley in 1805 and he participated in Copenhagen, Ireland, Portugal and Spain. With these credentials, Arthur Wellesley was selected for Napoleon’s latest rampage.
During his careers he wasn’t really appreciated. As a General, he was considered to be too cautious and a Prime Minister, he was thought to be the worst Prime Minister of the 19th Century. His title was ‘The Duke of Wellington’ and his nickname was the Iron Duke. Some say it was his strict discipline for his troops, while others say it was a reference to iron shutters protecting the windows of his residence when mobs were trying to break the windows. It took history to really appreciate all the abilities of The Iron Duke, Arthur Wellesley.
One major accomplishment Arthur Wellesley made as Prime Minister was when Catholic Emancipation became law (April 1829). Of course, that might have also led to the need for iron shutters on his residence.
A lesser known part Arthur Wellesley’s contribution to history was the use of his title, Duke of Wellington, for the high-top boots known as “Wellington Boots” pioneered during his military campaigns. That name has lasted over 200 years.
Without those Wellington boots we may never have been able to hear Gaelic Storm singing about “Kevin Kelley and his chopped off Wellies. . ..”
“. . . Sure he was looking fine
His pants has holes in the knees
But he was proud as could be
With his old Wellies. . ..”
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
June 18, 2020
Veintiuno de Mayo
Today is May 21st or Vientiuno de Mayo, sixteen days after the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo. Many believe Cinco de Mayo is celebrating Mexican Independence Day, but it is really celebrating the Mexican defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
To the Irish, Cinco de Mayo is recognised as the day the first Irish Hunger Striker, Bobby Sands, died 39 years ago. In all, Ten Hunger Strikers gave their lives in protest.
The second Hunger Striker, Francis Hughes, perished on May 12th. May 21st or Veintiuno de Mayo was to have the distinction as the only day when two Hunger Strikers died: Raymond McCreech and Patsy O’Hara.
The next Hunger Striker to die was Joe McDonnell. He died on July 8th; 48 days later. Martin Hurson passed five days later on July 13th.
August will be as deadly as May with the deaths of four Hunger Strikers. They were Kevin Lynch (August 1), Kieran Doherty (August 2), Thomas McElwee (August 8) and Michael Devine (August 20). All this happened at Maze Prison, at Long Kesh.
The Irish Hunger Strike was the final protest against the British withdrawing Prisoner of War status for the Irish Paramilitary Prisoners and reducing them to a Criminal Status. The actions began with the Blanket Protest in 1976 and culminated in the martyrdom of ten Irish Patriots during the Hunger Strike in 1981.
When Bobby Sands, a Member of Parliament died, it caused shock waves to reverberate all over the world. Reverberation repeated for each subsequent Hunger Striker’s death.
British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher refused to give in to the five demands of the Strikers, although their demands were fulfilled eventually. Maze Prison closed in 2000, after only 29 years of operation and Margaret Thatcher remained in power until 1990.
Margaret Thatcher, AKA the Iron Lady, passed in 2013 and I imagine and hope she had an interesting welcome upon her arrival in paradise?
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
May 21, 2020
Battle of Clontarf 1014
On April 23 1,006 years ago, 4,000 Irish died in the Battle of Clontarf, just outside of Dublin. It should also be noted that 6,000 Norse died in that battle. Though this battle was costly, it was a decisive victory for the Irish over the Ostermen or Norse invaders, who first appeared 219 years earlier (795). The greatest single loss of this battle was the death of Brian Boru, the last High King of Ireland.
In 975, 39 years earlier, Brian’s brother Mahon was the King of Munster and was murdered by Norse. To avenge his brother’s death, Brian killed the Osterman King Imar of Limerick and became the undisputed King of Munster with control over the trade center of Limerick.
Gradually Brian became more powerful and by 997 he ruled over half of Ireland. Five years later (1002) Brian ruled over all of Ireland. Tributes came from all the minor rulers and he became known at ‘Brian of the Tributes’ or Brian Boru. With these resources he was able to restore monasteries and libraries destroyed by the Norse invaders.
The Battle of Clontarf made the Ostermen forever subordinate to the Irish and they eventually retreated to Urban centers like Dublin, Limerick, Waterford, Wexford and Cork. There the Ostermen or Norsemen were gradually absorbed into the Gaelic Culture.
This clears up a mystery for me that was 1,000 years in the making. My results from Ancestry.com shows me having 53% Celtic heritage and 22% Scandinavian heritage. There were many traces of various other ethnicities that each were less than 1%. What I still can’t determine is, where the heck did I get the 2% Native American?
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
April 23, 2020
Hugh Murphy was born in Belfast on March 2, 1952 but he preferred to be known by his middle name Leonard. He felt that being called Hugh Murphy made him sound to be Irish Catholic while being called Lenny Murphy made him sound more like an Irish Protestant. The last thing Lenny ever wanted to be is Catholic.
Lenny Murphy was the youngest of three sons of the Murphy’s of Shankill Road in the Loyalists section of Belfast, also called Shankill. In Primary School Lenny was known to use a knife and his older brothers as equalizers to make up for his small stature. He was somewhat of a wild-child, logging his first conviction at the age of twelve. At sixteen he felt he had all the education he needed to face the world.
Hatred of Catholics was the main focus of Lenny Murphy and he managed to work that feeling into his conversations; referring to them a ‘scum or animals’. Lenny Murphy was involved in the torture murder of four Catholic men in early 1972. Later that year he committed his first murder of a Protestant who had gone bird shooting with a Catholic Priest. In prison, he compelled his accomplice to write a suicide note confessing to the crime, then poisoned that poor fellow with cyanide.
That got Lenny Murphy released from prison and fortified his confidence to continue acting on his hatred of Catholics. There were 23 stabbing and torture deaths attributed to Lenny and his gang known as the Shankill Butchers. These murders were primarily committed against Catholics, so the investigations conducted by the Royal Ulster Constabulary might not have been very thorough.
Lenny Murphy found himself in prison in 1977 for shooting a Catholic girl, but that was pled down to a firearm offence. It still caused Lenny Murphy to get some prison time. What’s worthy of note is the murders stopped at nineteen and stayed there until Lenny Murphy was released from prison five years later.
When the murders began again in 1982, victims twenty through twenty-two were Irish Protestants. The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), a civilian vigilante group, may have been intimidated by Lenny Murphy and the Shankill Butchers. After the murder of an Irish Catholic, Lenny Murphy was gunned down by an IRA hit squad. Rumor has it they were working from intelligence provided by the UVF. Who says Catholics & Protestants can’t work together when they really want to?
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
February 20, 2020
John Chickie Donohue (or the 15K Nautical Mile Beer Run)
Sandhog is a slang term for New York urban miners who dig the tunnels and other underground construction projects. They are represented by Local 147 of the Laborers International Union of North America. John Chickie Donohue served as the Political and Legislative Director of the Sandhogs for over three decades.
Chickie Donohue earned a Master’s Degree from Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government. Being known as the Sandhog who went to Harvard might have helped Chickie Donohue become an Executive Producer for the 2008 “Sandhog” series on the History Channel. While his love of Ireland drove him to cofound the “New York Friends of Ireland” during the “Troubles”. The ‘Friends’ was primarily focused on children and Peace for all of Ireland.
At 17, Chickie Donohue left his Manhattan neighborhood if Inwood to travel the world with the US Marine Corp. After discharge, Chickie became a Merchant Seaman for more adventures. Between adventures, Chickie visited Dr. Fiedler’s, an Inwood bar. It was there the 26-year-old Chickie was listening to the patrons grousing about the 1967 War Protesters in San Francisco. George Lynch, the bartender, said someone should pat our guys on the back and buy them a beer.
This proved to be too much of a challenge for Chickie, so he asked George to get him some names and locations of neighborhood guys serving in Viet Nan. A few days later, Chickie got a call to come over to the bar and there he met the Mother of one of the three guys George had information about. They were: Bobby Pappas, Tom Collins and Ricky Duggan. Soon Chickie was on the Drake Victory hauling ammunition to Viet Nam with a burlap sack with 18 cans Pabst Beer.
Chuckie’s cover story: he was looking for his step-brother cause Mom died. True luck of the Irish, the first port, the MP’s had Tom Collin’s outfit stenciled on their helmets. He asked the Sarge if Tom Collins was there. He was and they downed six Pabst’s. Chickie hooked a plane ride to where Ricky Duggan was stationed. Six Pabst’s later Chickie was off to find Bobby Pappas, just outside Saigon. Pabst’s downed and mission accomplished. Chickie just made it back to his ship for the 2-month ride home. These exploits became the subject of a book and their reunion at Dr. Fiedler’s is on You Tube; sponsored, of course, by Pabst. (below)
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
January 18, 2020
John (Half-Hanged) MacNaghten
John MacNaghten was born in Derry to a wealthy Anglo-Irish family in 1722. His Father, Bartholomew, was a merchant and a magistrate for Co. Antrim. When his father passed away, John was only six, but he inherited the family estate.
His education began at the Raphoe Royal School and he later moved to Dublin to attend Trinity College. Within a year, his lavish lifestyle and gambling caused John to part ways with Trinity College without ever graduating. His lifestyle and gambling problems soon had John parting ways with pieces of his estate.
When John met and married Sophie Danial, he received a healthy dowry which he promptly used to pay off his debts. John promised Sophie he would no longer gamble when they moved to Dublin, but that promise proved impossible for him to keep. Soon he accumulated so much of debt, a warrant was issued for his arrest. These events proved to be too much for Sophie and, some say, they were the cause of her death during a difficult childbirth. John’s world was crumbling around him.
Family rushed to help John and Sophie’s brother-in-law had John appointed tax collector. The Gambling Demon again possessed John and soon he was caught embezzling over four times his annual salary. This time John’s friends bailed him out. Andrew Knox was a life-long friend who took John in to live on his estate.
Also living on the Knox Estate was Andrew’s daughter, Mary Ann Knox and she took a liking to this man with good looks and a witty charm. Problem was, John was thirty-nine years old and Mary Ann Knox was fifteen. John broached the subject of a marriage between himself and Mary Ann with Andrew, but Andrew immediately rejected that idea.
John hatched a plot for an elopement and waylaid Andrew Knox and his family on their way to Dublin. The confrontation soon became violent and John was about to shoot Andrew when Mary Ann stepped between them and received the bullet meant for her father. John got away, but was soon apprehended and placed in prison.
This past Monday was 258 years from the day John MacNaghten had his date with the gallows. The noose was placed around his neck and the trap-door opened. John plummeted but the rope snapped and he fell to his knees. The crowd gasped and tried to persuade him to escape.
Ignoring the crowd’s pleas, he stood up, climbed the ladder back on to the gallows and shouted: “I will not live to be known as Half-Hanged MacNaghten.” The second attempt was successful.
The true irony is, the rope snapping during his execution was one of the few times in this poor creature’s life that Luck was going his way, but John Half-Hanged MacNaghten rejected it.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
December 20, 2019
At almost every Irish gathering there is assumed to be someone there who was sent to observe and report activities. The term for these people varies from ‘spy’ to ‘agent’ to ‘yellow belly’ (my Grandparent’s favorite), but their mission was to betray the Irish. The Molly Maguires had their James McParlan, who was a Pinkerton Agent, reporting and, some say, fabricating information that led to the hanging of many Irishmen in Carbon County, Pennsylvania in the 1880’s.
Now, imagine many ‘agents’ living openly in Irish communities and keeping tabs on all Irish activities there. This was what life was like almost a century ago in Dublin and Michael Collins had enough. He believed it was time to make something happen.
Irish intelligence gathering had determined there were 50 people who were feeding information to the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC), the Black & Tans and the British Army. A day was set to destroy the British intelligence network and that day was ninety-nine years ago today on November 21, 1920.
There were originally 50 targets, but the list was reduced to 35 from a lack of resources to complete the mission. The Assassination Squads were readied on the morning of November 21st, but not all the targets were taken out. A total of fifteen spies were killed and five were wounded. Only one Squad member was captured, but he later escaped jail soon after being captured.
Michael Collins later said: “My one intention was the destruction of the undesirables who continued to make miserable the lives of ordinary decent citizens. I have proof enough to assure myself of the atrocities which this gang of spies and informers have committed. If I had a second motive it was no more than a feeling such as I would have for a dangerous reptile. By their destruction the very air is made sweeter. For myself, my conscience is clear. There is no crime in detecting in wartime the spy and the informer. They have destroyed without trial. I have paid them back in their own coin.”
Later that same afternoon, the Dublin Gaelic football team was to play against the team from Tipperary in Croke Park. A convoy of Royal Irish Constabulary and Black & Tans attacked that arena and peppered everyone with automatic weapon fire. When the shooting stopped, seven spectators were killed immediately and five later died of wounds. Also, two spectators were trampled to death in the stampede. Two of the football players, Jim Egan & Michael Hogan were also shot. Jim Egan survived, but Michael ‘Mick’ Hogan, of the Tipperary team, later died of his wounds. Hogan Stand in Croke Park is named in his honor.
Three members of the IRA were previously being held in Dublin Castle and were later found dead this day. The official accounts say they were trying to escape, but their bodies had signs of being tortured. These three murders brought the total body count for this day to thirty-two. Is it any wonder as to why November 21, 1920 is referred to as Bloody Sunday?
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
John Hume & David Trimble
Today, October 17, 2019, is the 21st Anniversary of the Noble Peace Prize being awarded to John Hume and David Trimble for their work in making the Good Friday Agreement happen on April 10, 1998. John Hume represented the Irish side and David Trimble represented the Northern Irish/British side.
Together John & David cobbled together a two-part agreement: One part dealt with a multi-party agreement between N.I. political parties. The other part dealt with Irish and British governments and how they should play nice with each other.
The Good Friday Agreement also had three major complex series of provisions: One defined Northern Ireland and its relationship within the United Kingdom, one
defines how Northern Ireland deals with the Republic of Ireland and one defines the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom.
For over 21 years the Good Friday Agreement has had a calming effect on most of the differences that previously caused conflict and unrest in Northern Ireland. Then, along came Brexit; and all bets were off.
In 2013 British PM David Cameron promised Britain's a referendum dealing with Britain leaving the E.U. On June 23, 2016 that referendum passed with 52% of the United Kingdom voters in favor of leaving the E.U. Is should be noted that Scotland and Northern Ireland voters did not have a majority vote in favor of Brexit, but they were bound by the total United Kingdom vote.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this Tuesday had an AP article about Brexit and how it just might be able to pass in the very near future. Their take suggests that an open border between Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit will, according to the E.U., make the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain an E.U. border.
There are other factors that are worth noting. Northern Ireland has been without a government since it was dissolved on January 26, 2017 (due to the Renewable Heat Scandal; November 2016). And, today, October 17, 2019 is also the very last day Britain can petition the E.U. for another extension to go past the drop-dead date of October 31, 2019. Earlier today (10/17) a deal was reached in Brussels, but it needs a vote in Britain on Saturday. So, what’s your bet: Deal of No-Deal?
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
October 1, 2019
Lately we have been blessed with very pleasant weather in the Pittsburgh Area. It has not been oppressively hot and there has been very little rain. Other parts of the U.S. have not been so lucky. Hurricane Humberto is off the coast of the Carolinas bringing high winds and rain from Florida to New Jersey. While Hurricane Imelda has come ashore in Eastern Texas. Houston has not really recovered from the last visit from Hurricane Harvey in 2017. For United States’ Coastal dwellers, hurricanes are a way of life.
For the Irish, hurricanes are rare; or they used to be. One year ago today, Hurricane Ali paid a visit to the Old Sod and promptly killed power to 250,000 households. Aside from the damage, only two people lost their lives; a delivery man died when a tree fell on his vehicle and a Swiss Tourist died when her RV Camper was blown off a cliff in Western Ireland. Fortunately, injuries and property damage were minimal.
Hurricane Ali happened late in hurricane season, but it had a name beginning with an “A”; suggesting it was the first one of the Hurricane Season. Usually Ireland receives someone else’s used hurricane. In reality, Hurricane Ali began as Hurricane Helene and died in the Atlantic on September 16th. A day later it reconstituted itself and started heading for Ireland. On September 17th it was back up to hurricane strength. This gave Ireland the first opportunity in Irish history to name its own hurricane; and they called it Hurricane Ali; a name that was preselected.
The year before, 2017, Hurricane Ophelia visited Ireland on October 16th. Before 2017, Ireland didn’t have a hurricane until Hurricane Katia came on September 12, 2011; six years earlier. The next previous Hurricane to hit Ireland was Debbie; arriving 50 years earlier on September 16, 1961. Hurricane Debbie was the last of only 10 hurricanes to hit Ireland between 1851 to 2010. That’s 10 hurricanes hit Ireland in 159 years. Also, please note all Irish Hurricanes seem to happen in September & October; so, plan your travels accordingly. None so far this year.
Let me clarify here about Hurricane Debbie (1961). It should not be confused with the other Hurricanes named Debbie. Florida had a Hurricane named Debbie in 1969, 2012 & 2018. While Australia had a Hurricane Debby in 2017; but it was called Typhoon Debby on that side of the international date line. Debbie seems to be a very popular name for weather folks.
The hurricane that is etched in my memory is Hurricane Gladys, who I had the pleasure of meeting in Jacksonville, Florida in 1968. The alarm went out telling us to get all our F8 fighters in flyable condition. The plan was to ferry them to Atlanta to avoid the storm. We got all ready but one and that was tucked in the safety of a very robust hangar. When we asked where we should go, we were told to go back to our barracks. She passed over us on October 19, 1968 as a Category One Hurricane. After living through Hurricane Gladys, I just can’t imagine what the Bahamas experienced with a Category Five Hurricane that stayed there for 36 hours.
“. . . May. . .the rains fall soft upon your fields. . ..”
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
September 19, 2019
The Day of the Rope
Christmas and New Years are in the rear-view and everyone is getting caught up and staying warm. Next month our County meeting is not on Valentine’s Day, so we should be clear until St. Patrick’s High Holy Days.
The St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Pittsburgh will be held on Saturday, March 11 this year, six days before the day. Many other areas will march on Friday, March 17 in their own parade. This is going to jam up the Girardville St. Patrick’s Parade and caused it to be pushed back to Saturday, March 25, two weeks after our parade. This is the second time the Girardville Parade was two weeks after our parade. The year was 2008 and it was due to a conflict with an early Holy Week and Easter.
The Hibernian House in Girardville is the center of their celebration and it was once owned by an Irish Greenhorn, John Kehoe, A.K.A. Black Jack Kehoe. The Parade is hosted by AOH Division 1, Girardville; the Black Jack Kehoe Division.
The theme of this year’s Girardville Parade is: The day of the rope. This year is the 140th anniversary of the hanging of John Kehoe and 19 other miners in 1877. Their crime was trying to improve mine working conditions. As an example: There were 110 miners killed in Luzerne Co at the Avondale Mine in a fire because the owners wouldn’t finance a secondary exit. In a seven-year period, 566 miners died and 1,655 miners were injured in accidents in Schuylkill Co.
John Kehoe was pardoned by PA Governor Milton Shapp in the late 1970’s. His speech noted that the men who died were Martyrs to Labor and heroes in the struggle to establish a union and fair treatment for workers.
The present owner of the Hibernian House is Joe Wayne, the great grandson of Black Jack Kehoe. Parade Day you will see Joe Wayne along the side cheering the marchers and later he will be topping off your brew at the Hibernian House.
The Girardville 2017 Parade internet site says we should: Save the date - Saturday, March 25th, 2017- and join the fun as we honor St. Patrick, Jack Kehoe, the Molly Maguires, and all things green!
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
January 21, 2017
Last Witch Executed in Salem MA
We are fast approaching Samhain or Halloween. Get ready to be inundated with images of black cats, ghosts and witches. New England seems to have cornered the market on witches, as there were over 200 accused of practicing witchcraft or ‘the Devil’s Magic’ in the 1600’s. The hysteria came to an end on November 16, 1688 when the last witch was executed in Boston. Her name was Ann Glover.
Cromwell was devastating Ireland in the early 1650’s when Ann and her husband were gathered up and shipped off to Barbados. As they were Irish peasants, they spoke no English, only Gaelic. To them that was a foreign language. It was in Barbados where Ann’s husband was slain for not renouncing his Catholic faith.
Barbados is where the Irish were given new names, usually the names of their owners. This was because their Irish names were too much for their English overlords to understand. Ann Glover’s true Irish name is lost in history.
The late 1670’s found Ann Glover and her daughter living in the American Colonies. It was there she became a servant to the Goodwin Family in the Salem part of the Boston Colony. During a dispute with the Goodwin Children about laundry, the children claimed they were sickened by Ann. A doctor could find no cause for their sickness, so he claimed that it must be due to witchcraft.
Ann Glover was tried and convicted of witchcraft. Her Puritan prosecutors believed that a true witch could not say the Our Father. The proof they used in her conviction was the fact that Ann Glover could only say the Our Father in Gaelic. For this, she was convicted and hung as a witch on November 16, 1688.
History would redeem itself and Ann Glover, who was also known as Goodie Glover, would later be honored with a plaque and a memorial in North End Boston. At that memorial Ann Glover is recognized as the first Catholic Martyr in Massachusetts. Her memory is also celebrated every November 16th in Boston as Goodie Glover Day.
So, when you see those black cats, ghosts and witches; take a moment to remember the last witch and martyr executed in Salem for her Catholic Faith: Goodie Glover.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
October 20, 2016
It is fact that Irish Catholics were the first slaves in the Western Hemisphere due to the decimation of Ireland by Oliver Cromwell in the 1650’s. Irish Slaves predated African Slaves; which didn’t take hold in the New World until the 1680’s.
This fact does not sit well with certain ‘Rights Groups’ because White Supremacists are running with this information. These Rights Groups firmly believe African Slavery should have a lock on slavery victimization in the Americas. To do this they need to cast doubt on Irish Slavery in the New World.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) of Montgomery AL cites the work of Liam Hogan (Limerick Librarian) in an attempt to debunk the White Irish Slave Myth. Alex Amend of the SPLC wrote an article on April 16, 2016 pushing the idea that Irish White Slavery is not a fact. Refer to the link below for the text.
The fact that Ann Glover survived to make her mark on early American History is her living testimony that White Irish Slavery existed in the New World long before African Slavery took hold.
I am mentioning this information because I’m hearing these debunking ideas being put forth by people who I considered to be knowledgeable. What is really scary is that some of these people are teaching our children.
Another link below is a 2014 article in a Canadian Newspaper.
IRISH: THE FORGOTTEN WHITE SLAVES
Between 1846 and 1851, more than one million sailed from Ireland to America; fleeing An Gorta Mor, or the Great Hunger. Much has been written about the courage and determination of the Irish who crossed the Atlantic in leaky, overcrowded Coffin Ships and made new lives for themselves in America.
A young William Ford traveled to America with his family. He later became the father of Henry Ford. Also, a 26 year-old Patrick Kennedy became the Great-grandfather of John F. Kennedy. The mortality rate of these Coffin Ships was as high as 70% per crossing. I can remember my grandparents talking about the Great Hunger and the ‘trail of bones’ between Ireland and America.
The deck of the Ship Jeanie Johnston was 123 feet long. This did not allow for much individual space for almost 200 passengers on a 47-day crossing. However, it should be noted that not all of these voyages were disastrous. The ShipJeanie Johnston made 16 crossings carrying 2,500 people and never lost a passenger. In fact, one crossing was completed with one more passenger than when they started.
Dr. Richard Blennerhassett was part of the permanent crew of the Jeanie Johnston. A doctor on board was not standard. On the maiden voyage from Tralee to Quebec a boy was born to Daniel and Margaret Reilly. Nicholas Reilly was born at sea. This crossing started with 193 passengers and arrived with 194 passengers.
Kathryn Miles wrote about Nicholas Reilly in her work titled All Standing. An excerpt picks up on a 31 year-old Nicholas tending bar at O’Brian’s Saloon somewhere on Ohio. Full of all the anxieties of a young father trying to provide for his family, Nicholas was living the life of a greenhorn striving in America. It did bother him that he wasn’t really born in Ireland. However, he had a special feeling about being born at sea. He listed that as his place of birth on documents.
Daniel and Margaret Reilly were very grateful to everyone who made their journey and the birth of Nicholas possible. They acknowledged this when they named their son. Occasionally Nicholas Reilly would need to use his full name on a document. Nicholas Reilly’s given name was: Nicholas Richard James Thomas William John Gabriel Carlos Michael John Alexander Trabaret Archibald Cornelius Hugh Arthur Edward Johnston Reilly. And yes, there were two Johns. When naming Nicholas Reilly, maybe Daniel and Margaret went a little overboard.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr. - June 16, 2016
The location was Sackville Street on April 24th, 1916: “Dublin is cloaked in an eerie silence. The Easter Rising is an afternoon old. A horse lies dead by Nelson’s Pillar. I shall not forget the strange atmosphere of that evening,” recalls Charles Wyse-Power. His is one of 1,770 statements in a time capsule closed in March of 1959. The documents stayed there until the death of the last military-service pensioner who made a testimony about the Easter Rising.
March 11, 2003 the archives were formally opened to the public. From a band of brothers who walked from Meath and Kildare to women smuggling guns, comes a fresh angle on the events of 1916.
The Headquarters of the Rising was the GPO. It was Easter Monday and James Connolly turned to a volunteer officer, Eamon Bulfin, and handed him two flags and said, “Here, have these hoisted on the flagpoles.” Eamon hoisted the flags himself on the flagpoles on either end of the GPO roof. The tricolor was hoisted at the right corner of Henry Street while the traditional green flag with the words ‘Irish Republic” was hoisted at the left corner at Princess Street. The battle peaked at dawn on Thursday and by noon on Sunday the Rising was over.
Dubliners were at first hostile to the rebels because many working-class Irish families had sons serving in the British Army. One by one, the firing squad executions were carried out and Ireland went into a state of shock. These recently released recollections explain why there was a slow swing from ‘quiescent unionism’ towards ‘separatism’ after 1916. This was the true goal of the Easter Rising; to awaken in Ireland the spirit of nationalism.
Eamon Bulfin was sentenced to death by a British military court martial after the surrender; however, the fact that he was an Argentine citizen (born in Buenos Aires) saved his life. He was deported to Argentina. Eamon’s father, William Bulfin, had immigrated to Argentina at the age of 20 as a writer and a journalist. William became the editor and proprietor of a newspaper ‘The Southern Cross’, established in 1875. This is the oldest continuously published newspaper for the Irish in Buenos Aires. He was also a friend of Arthur Griffith and helped launch Sinn Fein.
The Irish General Election resulted in an overwhelming victory for Sinn Fein. Eamon de Valera, President of the Republic, appointed Eamon Bulfin to be the Irish Consul to the Argentine Republic and Eamon Bulfin marshaled the Argentine Irish of 1919 to provide support to the Volunteers in Ireland’s War of Independence.
In 1920, during a county council election, Eamon Bulfin was nominated and elected (in his absence) for a seat on King’s County Council. Their first order of business was to rename the county to the ancient Irish, Co. Offaly.
The Treaty that established an Irish state was signed in 1922. Eamon Bulfin was finally allowed claim his Irish Diaspora and return to Ireland as a citizen of Ireland. He settled in Co. Offaly and died there in 1968.
Ollie Jedlick, Jr.
Fr. Frank Duffy
Born in 1871, it was tough in the industrial town of Cobourg, Ontario for Frank Duffy to realize his dreams of someday being a teacher. Frank traveled 100 miles west and studied at St Michael’s College, a seminary in Toronto. Working and studying was hard, so he welcomed a one year scholarship, but Frank had no intentions of becoming a priest. A classmate later helped Frank get a teaching job at the college of St. Francis Xavier in New York City. It was there he discovered he did have a vocation for the priesthood and it was there he was ordained a priest.
Frank volunteered for the Chaplin Corp when the Spanish American War started. The shooting war was over by the time he was called to serve, so he volunteered to serve the sick and wounded returning to a hospital at Montauk Point, L.I. This proved to be dangerous because it was there he was stricken with typhoid fever.
At the outbreak of ‘the War to end all Wars’ in 1914, Fr. Frank Duffy was assigned to be the Chaplin of the 69th New York Volunteer Infantry. This was the same 69th made famous during the Civil War. Of course, the U.S. Army redesignated the 69th the 165th U.S. Infantry Regiment, making my research a little more difficult. What wasn’t difficult was following the accomplishments of the Fighting 69th and Fr. Frank Duffy in France and Germany during WW I.
When the smoke cleared, Fr. Frank Duffy became the most decorated cleric in the history of the U.S. Army. The City of New York created Duffy Square in a section of Times Square. There you will find the only monument to a priest in New York City. In the 1940 movie, The Fighting 69th, Fr. Frank Duffy was immortalized by the screen actor Pat O’Brian.
In 1927, Al Smith was a Catholic running for President. Fr. Frank ghost-wrote a rebuttal for Al Smith explaining how a Catholic could serve as a loyal President. The ideas he presented then seem to be very similar to the ideas expressed in the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom written in the ‘60’s.
Fr. Frank Duffy served as pastor of Holy Cross Church in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen until he died in 1932. With all the accomplishments of Fr. Frank Duffy, it is a little difficult to focus on the fact that he was a great American Military Veteran.
November 19, 2015