Roger Casement (1864 -
Diplomat, Humanitarian, Irish Nationalist and Poet
Roger Casement, the youngest of four children, was born to Roger
Casement and Anne Casement (née Jephson) on Sept.1, 1864 in Sandycove, Co. Dublin.
Roger father was a British army officer and a member of the Church of
Ireland. His mother, who was born into the Catholic faith, converted to
Protestantism in order to marry his father. Her conversion to
Protestantism was not a guanine act of faith as she secretly continued
to attend Mass and celebrate the sacraments.
When Casement was four years old his mother took him and his siblings to
visit her sister in Liverpool. During that visit she had him secretly
baptized into the Catholic faith in nearby Rhyl in north Wales. Too
young to remember or attach any significance to his baptism he
considered himself a Protestant and lived his life accordingly.
After his mother died in 1873 his father sent the children to Magherintemple House, the seat of the Casement family, near Ballycastle
in Co. Antrim to be cared for by their great-uncle John Casement and his
wife. He himself went to live in Ballymena where he brooded on the loss
of his wife’s until his own death in 1877.
After a short stay at Magherintemple House Casement sent to the Ballymena
Academy, a Church of Ireland Diocesan Free School, one of the three
Diocesan Free Schools remaining in the country. In 1878 the
attendance at the school consisted of six boarders and five day
pupils. Casement was one of the boarders. He was an average student
except for languages and ancient history, subjects in which he
James Larkin (1876-1947)
Labor Leader & Irish Nationalist
James Larkin, the second of six
children, was born to James Larkin and Mary Ann Larkin, nee
McNulty on January 21, 1876 in the Toxeth Park district of Liverpool in
England. The Larkin’s like most of their
neighbors left Ireland during or after the Great
Hunger of 1845 - 1851 to escape starvation and oppression; ubiquitous and
ever-present evils lurking in the shadow of Ireland’s poor city
dwellers and peasant farmers. Everything considered, leaving Ireland
was the only viable option for the Larkin’s as it was for the
millions of their countrymen and women who joined the institutionalized exodus out
of Ireland that surged during the years of the Great
Hunger and, afterwards, during periods of political oppression or
Both of James's parents were of tenant farmer stock. His father's
family eked out a meager living on a small holding (plot of land) in
south Armagh as did his mother’s family in south Down. Living in near poverty was a
way of life for tenant farmers who slaved tirelessly to produce enough food to
feed their families and pay rent to the landlord who owned vast
landed estates that incorporated their plots. For the landlords who reaped
the bounty -- abundance and privilege was the order of the day. continue
Fr. Michael O’Flanagan (1876 - 1942)
O’Flanagan was born in Kilkeeven, Castlerea,
Co. Roscommon in 1876 to Edward Flanagan and Mary Flanagan, nee Crawley.
The Flanagan's were smallholding
farmers who managed to eke out a living by raising enough crops and
livestock to provide for the family.
Despite the many hardships they faced under
British rule they remained defiantly steadfast and confident in their
Irishness, resolute and determined to resist the attempted anglification
of the Irish people which, at that time, was an imperative British
objective. To that end they embraced all aspects of their ethnic Irish
cultural heritage including its history, literature, arts and language.
They also engaged in Fenian and
Land League activities despite the risk such so-called "subversive
activities" posed to their wellbeing and freedom.
Such were the childhood difficulties and
influences that characterized Michael early years.
In a historic context it’s worth noting
here that another notable individual, Douglas Hyde, founder of the
Gaelic League, also hailed from Castlerea. A speech delivered by Hyde to
the Irish National Literary Society in November of 1892 titled ‘The
Necessity for De-Anglicizing Ireland’ led to the formation of the Gaelic
League. Hyde was a leading figures in the Irish Literary Revival
movement at the turn of the 20th century. ---
Michael O’Brien (1837 - 1867)
O’Brien, one of eight children, was born at Ballymacoda, County Cork
where his father had rented a large farm but in 1856 the family was
evicted. He was described physically as being “a tall squared-shouldered
man whose bearing bespoke the American soldier.” In his youth he was
apprenticed to a draper in Youghal and later worked as an assistant in
one of the large stores in Cork City. O’Brien would eventually emigrate
to the United States.
wrote in his book 'Irish Rebels in English Prisons' he had met
O’Brien in 1859 and had also known him during his time in America and
had found him to be “one of the truest and one of the noblest; as
devoted as a lover and as courageous as a lion.” ---
'Twas on Good
All in the month of May,
A German Ship was signalling,
Beyond out in the Bay,
We had twenty thousand rifles
All ready for to land,
But no answering signal did come
From the lonely Banna Strand.
"No signal answers
from the shore",
Sir Roger sadly said,
"No comrades here to meet me,
Alas, they must be dead,
But I must do my duty
And at once I mean to land",
So in a small boat rowed ashore
On the lovely Banna Strand.