Saturday, January 21, 2006


Today in History - Freedom struggle begins

Heroes It was on this day, 21st January, 1919, that two massively important events occurred in Irish history.

The first big event that occurred in 1919 was that the first Dáil, chaired by Sean T. O'Kelly, convened in the Mansion House in Dublin for the first time where it ratified the 1916 Proclamation of Independence, called for the evacuation of the British Military garrison, and called on the "free nations of the world" to recognise Ireland's independence.

The second significant thing was that on this day in 1919, by an odd coincidence, IRA volunteers under Dan Breen, acting on their own initiative, killed two RIC members when they refused to surrender a consignment of gelignite they were guarding in Soloheadbeg, Tipperary. This is regarded as being the beginning of the War of Independence despite the fact that it was some time before the Dáil accepted responsibility for the actions of Irish Volunteers.

Clearly then today is a hugely important date for the people of this island.

Ireland said to hell with British oppression
An inspirational document

As we look back on the 21st of January, 1919, let us be grateful that finally, at long last, a stand was made against the British occupying tyrants who had mistreated the Irish people for centuries.

Tyrants who took land from the natives and gave it to settlers, tyrants who sought to do their best to destroy Catholicism, tyrants who sought to destroy the language and other aspects of Irish culture, tyrants who left Irish people to rot in the Great Famine, tyrants who denied Irish people self-government and tyrants who thrust partition on an unwilling majority of Irish people.

Let us be grateful that brave men and women sought to establish an independent Republic free of these horrors. Let us praise the brave men and women who did what had to be done against an occupying force with superior numbers.

Let us be grateful that the British were driven out by the scruff of the neck from 26 Irish counties and let us lament the fact that they did not possess the decency to leave the entire island.

I myself was privileged to grow up in a Dublin without a union jack flying over the GPO and without having a British monarch as head of my state. I must thank the men and women who played such a crucial role in Irish history on January 21st, 1919, for that.

We are all slowly getting closer to the day when the total dream will be fulfilled, when Ireland's destiny is made complete and when the island as a whole is made a sovereign and independent entity.

We are lucky to have that chance and we owe it to those who acted on this very day back in 1919.

Go saoraigh Dia Éire!


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