14 July-Bastille Day, Joseph Kavanagh

One of the leaders of those who stormed the Bastille in Paris in 1789 was Joseph Kavanagh from Carlow. However some records also say that he was from Clare, others that he was a native of Ferns in County Wexford and still others that he was of Irish extraction living in Lille, France. Kavanagh was working as a cobbler in Lille just over 200km north of Paris near the Belgian border. He moved to Paris shortly before the outbreak of the revolution.

By 1787 France had a growing population and had been hit by poor harvests during the previous few years. It had a budget deficit following its involvement in the American war of independence. The bourgeoisie and the peasants felt excluded from the political system and the French monarchy was unable to adapt to the changing circumstances. In 1788 there were crop failures in many parts of France leading to food shortages and further rises in food prices. The finance minister Joseph Necker who had tried to introduce reforms and was generally trusted by the people was dismissed on July 11th 1789. His dismissal combined with reports of troops being assembled outside Paris led to insurrection in the capital.

Groups of militia were organised and Joseph Kavanagh was appointed leader of one of those groups. In order to obtain arms Kavanagh and others led their militia to the Bastille which was regarded as a symbol of royal tyranny. They stormed the bastille and released the six prisoners being held there. Following the victory he was honoured as a hero. He was the subject of a contemporary pamphlet ‘Les Exploits Glorieux du celebre Cavanagh’ which stated: ‘the nation should not leave forgotten this brave patriot who so influenced the course of events on July 14 and surely determined in large part the fate of the Bastille, the taking of which was becoming very difficult, to say the least’. One of those released from the Bastille was Francis Xavier Whyte who was born Dublin in 1730 and had served in the French army. However on the night of his release he stole a horse belonging to a citizen who had given him shelter and he was promptly returned to custody.

Joseph Kavanagh later became an influential police officer. He served during what became known as the Terror. He was one of those involved in the massacre carried out at La Force Prison in 1792 during which some Irish prisoners were murdered. Following the fall of Robespierre on July 27th 1794 and his execution the following day those who had taken part in the Terror were arrested. Joseph Kavanagh seems to have escaped arrest as his name does not appear on any list and he disappeared from circulation.

The storming of the Bastille took place in the year 1789 On This Day.

Bastille Day Celebrations, 1889 by Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections on 2009-08-24 09:31:51

The Bastille photo

Image taken from page 27 of ‘A Franczia rémuralom torténete a legujabb forások felhasználásával

Photo by The British Library

 

28 April-HMS Bounty

Michael Byrne was born in Kilkenny in 1761. He was an able seaman who was hired by Captain Bligh to play the fiddle on board HMS Bounty. Byrne had gone to sea first at the age of 19 and by the time he was 26 years old he had served on five naval ships.

When he was hired by Bligh in 1787 to sail on the Bounty, Byrne was described as being two thirds blind. Captain Bligh wrote: ‘I had great difficulty before I left England to get a man to play the violin and I preferred at last to take one two-thirds blind than come without one’. He went on to describe Byrne as being ‘5 feet 6 inches high. Fair complexion and is almost blind. Plays the fiddle’. The sailors would be at sea for long periods and someone was needed to entertain them because according to Bligh ‘after four o’clock the evening is laid aside for their amusement and dancing’

The Bounty set sail from Spithead in England on December 23rd 1787. It was bound for Tahiti to collect a cargo of breadfruit. The breadfruit was to be transported to the West Indies. The ship arrived in Tahiti on October 24th 1788. Having harvested and loaded the cargo the Bounty left Tahiti just over five months later on April 5th 1789.

Three weeks into the voyage several members of the crew led by Fletcher Christian revolted. They seized command of the ship and took Bligh and the other officers prisoner. Byrne, though loyal to Bligh, was kept aboard the Bounty when Bligh and those loyal to him were put aboard a launch with some supplies. The Bounty returned to Tahiti where Byrne was put ashore. The mutineers having taken on several Tahitian women set sail for Pitcairn Island where their descendants still live today.

Bligh and his crew survived and made the return journey to England. When a ship called the Pandora arrived in Tahiti in 1791 Byrne gave himself up and despite a shipwreck was returned to England where he faced court-martial. He was however acquitted of mutiny at his trial in 1792. He later went on to serve on board H.M.S. La Prompte with Bligh’s nephew Francis Godolphin Bond.

The mutiny on board HMS Bounty occurred near the Friendly Islands in the Pacific Ocean in the year 1789 On This Day.

HMS Bounty

 

 

 

23 January-Georgetown University

Georgetown University in Washington DC was founded by Bishop John Carroll, whose father Daniel Carroll was a native of Co Offaly, Ireland. Daniel Carroll was a member of the Ó Cearbhaill, lords of Éile. He was born in the Townland of Aghagurty near Kinnitty Co Offaly in 1696. He emigrated to America where he married Eleanor Darnall who was the owner of a large plantation near Upper Marlboro in the state of Maryland.

Daniel Carroll and his wife Eleanor had seven children. Two of their sons, Daniel Carroll II and John Carroll were educated at a Jesuit College in Maryland. Daniel and John and their cousin Charles Carroll were then sent to Europe to continue their education. They studied at the Jesuit College of St. Omer in French Flanders from 1742 to 1748.

Daniel Carroll II and Charles Carroll returned to America where they became two of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Daniel Carroll II was one of the signatories of the US Constitution. He was also a signatory of the Articles of Confederation. Carroll and Thomas Fitzsimons of Co Wexford were the only two members of the Roman Catholic Church to sign the US Constitution. Charles Carroll was the only Roman Catholic signatory of the US Declaration of Independence.

John Carroll joined the Jesuit Order and was ordained to the priesthood in 1769. He taught for a time at the Jesuit College in Liege before returning to the United States in 1775. He served as the first Roman Catholic Bishop and later Archbishop in the United States. During his time as Bishop John Carroll founded Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic and Jesuit University in the USA. He secured the deed to 60 acres of land on a hilltop overlooking the village of Georgetown on which he established the University in 1789.

In its first year the university had an enrolment of over 40 students. Today Georgetown University has an enrolment of over 17,000 students. It is a major international research university with several highly ranked academic programs. Alumni of the university are prominent in public life in the United States and abroad. Among them is former U.S. President Bill Clinton.

Georgetown University was established by Bishop John Carroll in the city of Washington DC in the year 1789 On This Day.

Washington, DC – Georgetown University

Bishop John Carroll photo

Image from page 369 of “Life and times of the Most Rev. John Carroll, bishop and first archibishop of Baltimore” (1888) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1888-01-01 00:00:00

 

 

06 November-Bishop John Carroll

John Carroll, whose father Daniel Carroll was born near Kinnitty Co Offaly, was the first Roman Catholic Bishop to be appointed in the USA. He was also the founder of Georgetown University in Washington DC. Daniel Carroll was a member of the Ó Cearbhaill, lords of Éile. He was born in the Townland of Aghagurty near Kinnitty Co Offaly in 1696. He emigrated to America where he married Eleanor Darnall who was the owner of a large plantation near Upper Marlboro in the state of Maryland.

Daniel Carroll and his wife Eleanor had seven children. Two of their sons, Daniel Carroll II and John Carroll were educated at a Jesuit College in Maryland. Daniel and John and their cousin Charles Carroll were then sent to Europe to continue their education. They studied at the Jesuit College of St. Omer in French Flanders from 1742 to 1748.

Daniel Carroll II and Charles Carroll returned to the United States where they became two of the Founding Fathers. John Carroll joined the Jesuit Order and was ordained to the priesthood in 1769. He taught for a time at the Jesuit College in Liege before returning to the United States in 1775. He served as the first Roman Catholic Bishop and later Archbishop in the United States. During his time as Bishop John Carroll founded Georgetown University. It is the oldest Catholic and Jesuit University in the USA.

John Carroll was appointed as the first Roman Catholic Bishop in the United States of America by Pope Pius VI in the year 1789 On This Day.

Bishop John Carroll photo

Image from page 369 of “Life and times of the Most Rev. John Carroll, bishop and first archibishop of Baltimore” (1888) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1888-01-01 00:00:00

Georgetown University founder by Serge Melki on 2010-10-16 12:01:00