86 The Irish American Mob

On this episode of the Irish History Show John Dorney was joined by John Joe McGinley to discuss the Irish American Mob and orgainised crime from the 19th century onwards.

We speak about: the early gangs from the influx of Irish immigration after the Great Famine.

The Prohibition era when many Irish gangsters made fortunes and also their conflict with Italian crime organisations.

Famous Irish American criminals such as Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll and Owney Madden.

The relationship of the ‘Irish mob’ with the broader Irish American community.

Later Irish gangs such as the ‘Westies’.

The demise of organised crime in the era of the RICO Act.

John Joe McGinley is a Donegal historian and a regular contributor to the Irish Story, Irish Central and Ireland’s Own. His book Irish Wise Guys is available here.

Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive.

85 Ian Paisley

On this episode of the Irish History Show we were joined by journalist and author Ed Moloney to discuss the life of Ian Paisley.

Reverend Ian Paisley was the founder of the Free Presbyterian Church and the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party from 1971 to 2008. In 2007 he became the First Minister of Northern Ireland.

We discussed Paisley’s rise to prominence in Northern Ireland during the 1960s; the political and religious traditions he came from; his American influences; his opposition to ecumenism, liberalism and the Civil Rights Movement; his relationship with Loyalist paramilitaries; his longevity and popularity in Northern Irish politics; power sharing with Sinn Féin, and the end of his leadership of both the DUP and the Free Presbyterian Church.

Ed Moloney is the former Northern Editor of both the Irish Times and the Sunday Tribune. He has published work in a variety of newspapers and magazines in Ireland, the UK, and the United States, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, The New York Post, The Economist, The Independent, The Guardian and The New Statesman.

Moloney is the author of three books dealing with aspects of the Irish Troubles,  A Secret History of the IRA (2007), Paisley: From Demagogue to Democrat? (2008) and Voices from the Grave: Two Men’s War in Ireland (2010). He has also helped to produce documentaries for the BBC, Channel Four, London Weekend Television and a recent RTÉ documentary, Voices From the Grave, which was based on his book and was shortlisted for best documentary prize by the Irish Film and Television Academy.

Ed Moloney’s website is available here.

84 Irish Army Deserters during World War 2

On this episode of the Irish History Show we were joined by Cían Harte to discuss Irish Army deserters during the Second World War.

When the Second World War began the Irish government declared neutrality. As many neutral European nations were to find out, neutrality was no guarantee to avoiding invasion.

In the episode we discussed the state of the Irish Defence Forces at the outbreak of war; the massive recruitment campaigns undertaken by the state forces; the conditions and morale of soldiers; reasons for desertion; serving soldiers deserting and joining the British military and the repercussions for these deserters after the war.

Cían Harte is an historian, a serving officer in the Irish Defence Forces and self-published author of works such as ‘Heroes Or Traitors? Irish Deserters of WWII’, ‘Soldiers of Sligo’ & ‘The Lost Tales: Riverstown’s Great War, 1914-1918’ among others.


Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive.

83 The IRA in Dublin during the War of Independence

On this episode of the Irish History Show we were joined by Liz Gillis and James Brady to discuss the IRA in Dublin during the War of Independence.

Liz Gillis is an historian and researcher on RTE’s History Show. She is the author of seven books covering the Irish Revolutionary period 1916-23 including ‘Ireland Over All’, ‘The Fall of Dublin’, ‘Revolution in Dublin’, ‘Women of the Irish Revolution’, ‘The Hales Brothers and the Irish Revolution’, ‘May 25: The Burning of the Custom House 1921’ and co-author of ‘Richmond Barracks We Were There: 77 Women of the Easter Rising’.

James Brady is a local historian of republicanism in south County Dublin. His book ‘With the Sixth Battalion, South County Dublin and the War for Independence 1916-21’, was published in 2020 by Litter Press, Wexford.

Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive.

82 Sean Russell

On this episode of the Irish History Show we were joined by Gerard Shannon to discuss Seán Russell, the former Chief of Staff of the IRA. Russell continues to be a deeply controversial and divisive figure to the present day and his statue in Fairview Park, near Dublin’s city centre, has been frequently vandalised, and at one stage decapitated.

Russell joined the Irish Volunteers in 1913 and fought in the Easter Rising. After being interned in Frongoch, he fought in the War of Independence, rising to become IRA Director of Munitions in 1920. He fought with the Anti – Treaty IRA in the Civil War and was interned by the new Irish government. He remained with IRA after his release and became Quarter Master General.

It was his actions during the Second World War that would lead to his continuing notoriety. As chief of staff he oversaw the ill fated bombing campaign in British cities in 1939. In 1940, following a tour of the United States, he travelled to Genoa and then onto Berlin where he held discussions with German military intelligence and received explosives training with the Abwehr.

As he was travelling back to Ireland aboard a German U – Boat he suffered a burst stomach ulcer and died.

Gerard Shannon is a historian from Skerries in Co. Dublin and a graduate of the School of History and Geography in DCU. He is currently working on a biography of the IRA Chief of Staff during the Civil War, Liam Lynch for Merrion Press. You can find his website at gerardshannon.com

Gerard has written two articles on Russell for the Irish Story website which are available here: https://www.theirishstory.com/2020/07/02/the-only-irishman-that-was-incorruptible-sean-russell-and-the-ira-part-one-1893-1930/#.YL_5tvlKjIU


Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive.

81 The Arms Crisis

On this episode of the Irish History we were joined by Dr. Brian Hanley to discuss one of the biggest political scandals in 20th century Irish history, the Arms Crisis. On the 6th of May 1970 the Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, sacked two of his most senior ministers, Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney and another minister, Kevin Boland, resigned in protest.

Haughey, Captain James Kelly, John Kelly and Albert Luykx were put on trial and charged with illegally importing arms into the state for northern nationalists. After the first trial collapsed, the defendants were all acquitted at a second trial. The crisis was to cause deep divisions within Fianna Fáil for the following twenty years. With the recent 50th anniversary of the trials many of the accepted narratives of the crisis are being challenged and in particular the role of Jack Lynch and what he knew about the plans to import arms at the time.

Dr. Brian Hanley lectures in 20th century Irish History in Trinity College, Dublin. He has written several books including The IRA 1926 – 36, The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party and Boiling Volcano – The impact of the Troubles on the Republic of Ireland 1968 – 79.

Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive.

80 Partition and the Irish Border

2021 marks 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland.  To discuss this, and the events that led up to the partition of Ireland, we were joined by Dr. Cormac Moore.  Cormac is a historian in residence with Dublin City Council.  His previous works include The GAA vs. Douglas Hyde, The Irish Soccer Split, and his most recent work, Birth of the Border – The impact of partition in Ireland.

On this episode of the Irish History Show we discussed the Home Rule Crisis of 1912 – 1914, proposals to partition Ireland, reactions to partition proposals from northern nationalists, the Long Committee, the Government of Ireland Act 1920, the founding of Northern Ireland, the Anglo – Irish Treaty, the Boundary Commission, and the tangible effects of partition.

Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive

79 James Hoban – White House Architect

On this episode of the Irish History Show we were joined by the president of the White House Historical Association, Stewart D. McLaurin, to discuss the life of the White House architect, James Hoban.

James Hoban was born in 1755 in Kilkenny and trained at the Dublin Society Drawing School in Grafton Street in Dublin. Following the American Revolutionary War he emigrated to the United States and worked as an architect in Philadelphia and South Carolina. In 1792 Hoban won a competition to design the president’s residence in the new federal capital.

On the show we discussed the work of the White House Historical Association; the new anthology published by the association on the life of Hoban, his education in Dublin and the type of architecture he would have seen and worked on; the Irish influences on his design for the White House; his ownership of slaves and the role of slave labour in building the White House; and Hoban’s membership of the Freemasons.

Stewart D. McLaurin has been president of the White House Historical Association since 2014. He leads the Association’s non-profit and non-partisan mission to support conservation and preservation at the White House with non-government funding. Mr. McLaurin has held leadership roles with national non-profit and higher education organizations such as the American Red Cross, Georgetown University, and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation.

James Hoban: Designer and Builder of the White House is available here.

Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive

78 Howe Peter Browne 2nd Marquess of Sligo

On this episode of the Irish History Show we were joined by Anne Chambers to discuss her book, The Great Leviathan, The life of Howe Peter Browne, 2nd Marquess of Sligo, 1788 – 1845.

His story moves from Westport House in county Mayo to Eton, into the staid family world of King George III at Windsor Castle; through wild student days at Cambridge, on to Regency London and the scandalous world of celebrity, gambling clubs, bawd houses and theatres, to the sophisticated salons of Paris. Horse racing at Newmarket and the Curragh (he was a founder member of the Irish Turf Club) treasure-seeking with his college friend Lord Byron in Greece and Turkey, some of his ‘finds’ are on view in the British museum. A sensational trial at the Old Bailey in 1812 led to his imprisonment in Newgate goal. There is a hint of double-espionage about his time at the court of Joachim Murat, King of Naples and with Napoleon Bonaparte on the island of Elba, while his sleuthing in Italy on behalf of the ‘prince of pleasure’ George IV, (godfather to his eldest son) on the King’s equally debauched consort, Caroline, is in the realm of high comedy.

A passionate advocate of Catholic Emancipation, multi-denominational education
and reform of the nefarious legal system, he did his best to alleviate the desperate circumstances of his numerous tenants, aggravated by a rapid rise in population and by the ‘curse of sub-division’. He established manufacturing outlets in Westport as an alternative to the over dependence on land and encouraged trade, mining, fishing
and kelp harvesting. As famine engulfed the west in 1831 he imported food, built a hospital and raised money for relief and public works.

In 1834 Sligo was appointed Governor General of Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. As owner of two plantations, Kelly’s and Cocoa Walk, which he inherited from his grandmother, Elizabeth Kelly, daughter of Galway-born Denis Kelly, former Chief Justice of Jamaica, the planters expected the new governor to be on their side.
Sligo’s stated objective on his arrival on the island ‘to establish a social system absolved forever from the reproach of slavery’ however, set them on a bitter collision course.
Sligo found slavery personally abhorrent. From the flogging of field workers with the dreaded cart-whip, branding with hot iron, to the whipping of female slaves, ‘I call on you to put an end to conduct so repugnant to humanity’ he ordered the Jamaican House of Assembly.

To restrain the worse excesses he personally monitored the activities of the sixty special magistrates appointed to investigate charges of brutality in the 900 plantations throughout the island. Much to the derision of their masters ‘he [Sligo] gave a patient hearing to the poorest Negro who might carry his grievance to Government House’.
He advocated the building of schools for the black population, two of which he built at his own cost on his property. He was the first plantation owner to initiate a wage system for black workers and later, after emancipation in 1838, to divide his lands into farms leased to the former slaves.

The Planter-dominated Assembly accused Sligo of ‘interpreting the law in favour of the negro’ and, as he wrote, ‘set out to make Jamaica too hot to hold me.’ They withdrew his salary and started a campaign of vilification against him in the Jamaican and British press which, backed by powerful vested commercial interests, resulted in his removal from office in September 1836.

77 Ireland and the Anglo – Zulu War

On this episode of the Irish History Show, we looked at Ireland’s involvement in the Anglo – Zulu War of 1879. We looked at British involvement in South Africa from their formal annexation of the Cape Town Colony in 1806; British immigration into the region throughout the 19th century; The complicated relationship between the British and the mainly Dutch colonists, the Boers; The rise of the Zulu nation to become the predominant native ethnic group in the east of what is now South Africa; Zulu society and their military prowess; The local British administration provoking a war with the Zulus so as to neutralise the power of Zululand; The war itself; Reactions to the war in Ireland, and the role of Irish people during the war.

John Dorney’s article on Ireland and the Anglo – Zulu War is available here https://www.theirishstory.com/2021/02/15/ireland-and-the-anglo-zulu-war-1879/#.YFXUGp37TIU

Intro / Outro music “Sliabh” from Aislinn. Licensed under creative commons from the free music archive.