CURRENT ISSUE:  OCTOBER 2023

Donnybrook: The King’s Speech

Last month marked the first “Kings Speech” in over 70 years. King Charles III presided over the first Kings Speech of his Reign, rain? Accompanied by all the pomp and circumstance, regalia, and officiousness the British are known for, Charles and Camilla travelled in style in the Diamond Jubilee State Coach the one-mile distance between their royal crib at Buckingham Palace to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster. Essentially the Kings Speech, or as it was labeled, the Queen’s Speech during his mothers reign, is the official opening of Parliament, akin to USA’s State of the Union Speech.

In this case, the government of the day writes the speech, outlining its priorities for the year. The King acts as the audio actor delivering the words of Rishi Sunak’s Tory government. The King has no input.

The King and Queen arrived in full dress, the King could barley walk in his outfit, trailed by a 20ft long heavy cape that took four young boys in tow just to maneuver. The Queen’s cape/train only took two young lads to orchestrate. The King wore the Crown with its precious metals, velvets and encrusted by almost 3,000 diamonds and gems.

The Speech is delivered in the House of Lords, over 800 members strong, each wearing their own red velvet robe with white ermine collar. The House of Commons crosses the length of Westminster to join the House of Lords for the Speech, where the door is ceremoniously closed in their face until someone named Blackrod pounds on the door three times, (secret code?) and the Commons is admitted.

This was also Sunak’s first Kings Speech as Prime Minister. The unpopular Sunyak government will likely stand for election during 2024. Charles and Sunyak represent themselves as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Well, no surprise, but tell our loyalist friends in the Six Counties that there was no mention of Northern Ireland. The fact that His Majesty’s Northern Ireland Assembly has failed to meet for almost two years was of little consequence nor a priority of the Tory Government. And remind our Catholic friends that a part of the annual Kings Speech ritual is to sweep the basement of parliament looking for explosives.

This a reminder of the Catholic Guy Fawkes attempt way back in 1605 to blow up the parliament (and they say the Irish have long memories). The British Crown and Government continue this four-century year dig at Catholics to this day, i.e. Catholics really can’t be loyal to the Crown. Perhaps they are right.

Boston Tea Party at 250

Boston Tea Party at 250 It was on December 16th, 1773 that one of the critical sparks that ignited the American Revolution took place on a cold night in Boston Harbor at Griffins Wharf. Incensed at being taxed without representation in Parliament, American Colonialists expressed their opinion as to taxes on their tea.

Among those patriots that night was Thomas White, a native of County Kilkenny, Ireland. This month lets honor the memory and deeds of the Sons of Liberty who laid the foundation for the American Revolution and the birth of the World’s greatest democracy.

If you can’t make it to Boston on December 16th, one is still invited to participate. All are invited to send clean, dry loose tea to The Boston Tea Party and Ships Museum at 306 Congress St., Boston, MA., 02210. Know that your state or town is truly a part of the celebration. Any tea received will be added to the tea that will be thrown into Boston Harbor this December 16th, 2023. ​

John Fitzgerald Kennedy Rest in Peace 60 
Last month we called to mind the tragic events of November 22nd,1963 in Texas. One always laments at what was lost in the assassination of one of America’s most dynamic leaders.

The Irish American community is especially proud of Kennedy’s place in history as the first Irish Catholic President, doubly sad at him being stolen from us in his prime in such a horrific way.  JFK was a member of The Watertown Division of The Ancient Order of Hibernians. JFK’s daughter was appointed by President Joe Biden, America’s Second Irish Catholic President, as the American Ambassador to Australia.

This past summer, Caroline and her son Jack visited the Solomon Islands, the site of PT109’s sinking. With members of the local island community, Ambassador Kennedy and son swam a mile in the same sea where their dad and Grandda swam several miles in the middle of the night, August 1, 1943, to Plum Pudding Island, now officially known as “Kennedy Island.” 

Unfortunately, Plum Pudding Island had no food or water. They risked life again, Kennedy, towing his severely burned and wounded comrade, and nine other sailors swam to a neighboring island, which had coconuts for hydration. Local native coast watchers eventually located Kennedy and his PT 109 crew, and the rest in history.

Michael Davitt
was a native of Straide, County Mayo, and became one of the most significant figures in Irish History. His family was one of the many victims of Irish Landlord evictions.

His family was forced to move to England, where he became part of the many casualties of the Industrial Age’s use of child labor. Davitt lost his arm in the machinery around age 12. While a horrific tragedy, it presented the opportunity to receive an education.

Eventually Davitt returned to Ireland and founded and lead the Irish Land League, pushing for reforms so that the Irish could own their own land. Previously, the English feudal system of absentee landlords, mostly remote members of the English ruling class, owned and controlled land. The landlord could set any rents they wanted and could evict you at any time.
Davitt became active with the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and spread the word to America, including a couple of trips to Cleveland. Read more on him; his land league, along with the Gaelic Athletic Association and the Gaelic Revival that laid the foundation for the 1916 Easter uprising.

There is a museum in Straide County Mayo that tells his story. [Ed. Note: See HERE or paste  https://iirish.us/michael-davitt-museum-a-dont-miss-when-in-mayo/ for more about Michael Davitt].

The Pat Chamber’s Shed, now remodeled

History in a Jar
Recently leaders of the Michael Davitt Museum travelled to Cleveland to share an exhibition of the “Pat Chambers Civil War Collection” papers. The papers were a collection of personal letters written by John Chambers from Cleveland to Tom Mulchrone in Newport, County Mayo in 1921, amongst others.

The letters are a treasure trove of everyday history from the post war era of Irish Independence during the time of the Irish Civil War (Pro-Treaty v. Anti-Treaty).

One of the remarkable things about these papers are that they were hidden or lost for almost a century. Pat Chambers, a local sheep farmer from Newport, was renovating an old stone shed on his farm when he discovered a jar in the walls of the shed. This jar contained these Chambers Civil War era letters and papers, a remarkable find. 

Pat Chambers instinctively realized the potential significance of these papers and looked to the expertise and skills of the Michael Davitt Museum in County Mayo. The Museum under the direction of Yvonne Corcoran Loftus and John Reid reached out to local historians, Sean and Peggy Cadden, to determine the context of the letters and who the “John” from Cleveland was; no last name was included.

Having completed significant local and genealogical research, they made the connection to John Chambers, who lived at Lawn Avenue, Cleveland, in the St. Colman’s Parish neighborhood. John Chambers was a native of Newport and a brother in the cause of the Irish War of Independence.

In his letter, John told of the significant dollars raised in Cleveland for the Irish struggle. John still has two daughters, Mary Patrice Chambers and Sheila Caco, who live in the Cleveland area. His other children, Billy, Rev. Clarence, Francis, Louis and Emmett are deceased.

Mayo County Librarian Austin Vaughn and native Clevelander and historian Mick Mulcrone, who now lives in County Mayo, added to the research and travelled with the Museum group to Cleveland recently on the occasion of the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Cleveland-Achill Twinning.  The group made several presentations and brought the papers and the jar to share with all the Yanks. Thanks to all who worked to discover and keep these ties with America fresh and relevant today.

To Read more about the Pat Chamber’s Collection, see HERE or paste the link into your browser: https://iirish.us/mayo-delegations-visit-to-cleveland/. 

Find this and other John Myer’s Donnybrook and other columns  HERE!

John Myers

John Myers

*John is an attorney in Cleveland. He can be reached at [email protected]

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