Tuesday 28 May 2013

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Magazine Fort, Phoenix Park

The Dublin Magazine Fort was built in 1735 within the Phoenix Park. The building is located in the south-eastern part of the park, close by a wooded ridge and has a commanding view of the surrounding area.
During the British occupation of the area, the Fort had been seen as a symbol of that occupation but by 1939 it's purpose was to house the Irish Army's stocks of guns and ammunition.
The magazine fort seems to serve no useful purpose, nor ever did as the jingle by Jonathan Swift (1667 to 1745, Author of Gulliver's Travels, etc ) proclaims:
"Now's here's a proof of Irish sense
Here Irish wit is seen
When nothing's left that's worth defence,
We build a Magazine."
During the Easter Rising of 1916, thirty members of the Irish Volunteers and Fianna Eireann captured the Magazine Fort. They took guns and withdrew, after setting fires to blow up the magazine's ordinance; but the fuses burned out before reaching the ammunition and little damage was caused.
The Christmas Raid
The term Christmas Raid is a name used within the folklore of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to describe the theft of a huge quantity of weapons and ammunition from the Regular Irish Army's ammunition in the  Magazine Fort storage depot.
The raid took place on 23 December 1939, and was immediately prior to the passing of the Emergency Powers Act in Ireland.
A total of 1,084,000 rounds of ammunition were taken and removed in thirteen lorries with no casualties or hindrance.
The ammunition didn't remain at large long, however. On 1 January 1940 it was reported that almost three quarters of the ammunition had been recovered.
The raid had turned into another disaster for the IRA to contend with. The volume of material stolen, and the massive hunt to recover it that followed turned up all the stolen ammunition and weapons plus more, along with the IRA volunteers attempting to store it. The positive effect on morale that the raid had made evaporated. The day after the raid the Irish Minister for Justice, Gerald Boland, at an emergency session of the Dail introduced the Emergency Powers bill to reinstate internment, Military Tribunal, and executions for IRA members. It was rushed through and given its third reading the next day creating the Emergency Powers Act.

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Monday 20 May 2013

Grangefertagh Church and Round Tower

Today I visited this wonderful Round Tower and ruined church near Johnstown in County Kilkenny. The monastery was probably founded by St. Ciarán of Saighir in the late 5th or early 6th century close to a crossing point on the River Goul. The site was called Fearta-Caerach in the Annals of the Four Masters. The Annals record that in 861 King Cearbhall of Ossory killed a host of Vikings at Fearta Na gCaireach, and took forty of their heads.  
The killing of the foreigners at Fearta Na gCaireach, by Cearbhall, so that forty heads were left to him, and that he banished them from the territory.
Today the site is a sub-rectangular graveyard with a well-preserved Round Tower and remains of a church but the original site would have been a much larger, probably oval to circular area. The Round Tower, which acted as the bell tower of the monastery, is the only surviving part of the original monastery. The Tower, one of the tallest in Ireland  has 8 floors and is 33m high. Each level was reached by a ladder. The other upstanding remains are of an Augustinian monastery church, west of the tower. The Abbey was founded by the Blanchfield family in the thirteenth century. The remains of the church have been converted to a handball alley. A better preserved side chapel contains the fine late gothic tomb of Brian Mac Giolla Phádraig, Lord of Ossory, who died about 1540. The tomb has effigies of Brian in armour and his wife with fine gothic carving. 
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Friday 17 May 2013

Thursday 16 May 2013