Tag Archives: napoleon bonaparte

Edmund Burke – A Great Orator

Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke was born in Dublin on 12th January 1729 to a Protestant father, Richard and Catholic mother, Mary Nagle who was County Cork. Richard was a prosperous solicitor and he sent young Edmund to be educated in a Quaker school in Ballitore, County Kildare. Later, in 1744 he entered Trinity College and in 1747 established a debating society called the Edmund Burke Club. The society merged with the Historical Club in 1770 to form the College Historical Society which is the second oldest student society in the world.

He went to London 1750 to study law, and against the wishes of his father, soon gave up and decided to earn his living by writing. His first published work, A Vindication of Natural Society: A View of the Miseries and Evils Arising to Mankind (1756), attacked social philosophy, especially that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the great Swiss philosopher.

By the late 1750s he counted Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, David Garrick and Sir Joshua Reynolds among his circle of friends in London.

After a return to Dublin, where he acted as private secretary to William Hamilton, the Chief Secretary for Ireland, he entered parliament in 1765. Over the following years he established himself as one of the greatest orators ever to speak in the House and his speeches have been studied ever since. He spoke out against Britain’s actions in America and thought war was the wrong path to follow. Subsequently, he attacked the French Revolution, for which he was criticised. However, many of his desperate warnings were borne out with the execution of Louis XVI and the rise of the despotic Napoleon.

A few of his many famous quotes:

  • Reading without reflecting is like eating without digesting
  • Never apologise for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologise for the truth
  • You can never plan the future by the past

He died in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire on the 9th July 1797 and is buried in the local churchyard with his infant son Richard, whose loss affected him deeply.

Statue in Trinity College, Dublin

Statue in Trinity College, Dublin

 

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Martello Towers – A Defensive Line

 

James Joyce Tower

James Joyce Tower

Although it is the most famous of them all, the Martello Tower in Sandycove that houses the James Joyce Tower & Museum, is one of about fifty built to repulse a possible invasion by Napoleon’s navy. After the passage of the National Defence Act 1804, towers were erected along the East Coast from Bray to Balbriggan, with others on the south coast and Cork harbour.

When war broke out between Britain and France in 1793 two British ships, the Fortitude and Juno, attacked  a round tower at Cape Mortella in Corsica in February 1794. After hours of heavy bombardment by the two ships the tower was finally taken with little damage to the structure. However, the Fortitude had been set on fire and lost 62 men in the fight. Impressed by the strong defensive nature of the tower, engineers used the design when building the line of towers in 1804.

Howth Tower

Howth Tower

Around Dublin 28 towers were erected: 16 stretching southwards from Sandymount to Bray, and 12 northwards from Red Rock, Sutton  to Balbriggan. Seven of those to the south have been demolished while all to the north are standing. Many are in private ownership with Howth tower, now the Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio, the only one open to the public on the northside.

Cannon atop Seapoint Martello Tower

Cannon atop Seapoint Martello Tower

Apart from that at Sandycove, Seapoint tower is the only other open to the public (during the summer) on the southside. There you can see the equipment used for loading the 18-pounder gun (there is a replica on the roof), and feel what it was like to have lived there. The towers were usually 40feet tall with eight-foot thick walls and housed an officer and 10-15 soldiers. Although built in time of war they, thankfully, never saw any action as the French invasion never materialised. It is somewhat ironic that towers designed in Corsica, where Napoleon was born, were the blueprint for a defence against him!

 

Seapoint Tower

Seapoint Tower

As part of dlr Summer of Heritage 2018 the Martello Tower at Seapoint is open Wed/Sat/Sun, from1-5pm, until 2 September. The James Joyce Museum is open every day from 10am-6pm.

 

 

 

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Wellington – The Iron Duke

6 Upper Merrion Street

6 Upper Merrion Street

One of the most decorated soldiers in history was born in 6 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin in 1769 (now the Merrion Hotel). The son of a  noble, but impoverished family, Arthur Wesley (later changed to Wellesley by his eldest brother who became Governor General of India) did not show much flair for anything other than playing the violin when he joined the army as an ensign in 1787, having been withdrawn from Eton due to a downturn in the family’s finances.

He sat in the Irish House of Commons as member for Trim, Co. Meath. After his proposal of marriage to Kitty Pakenham had been turned down he applied himself to military life with a determination of purpose that was to be his trademark and strength. After his first taste of action in Holland he was left with a distinctly low impression of many of his commanding officers, an experience that only increased his awareness of the value of preparation and attention to detail. Suitably prepared, he used his skill to good effect while in India, after which he had become a rich man and had been promoted to major-general.

Back in England he renewed his relationship with Kitty and eventually, not having seen her for ten years, married her in what he later described as the ‘biggest mistake of his life’. Difficult though the marriage was, he craved and immersed himself in the security and familiarity of the army. This is where he was at his best and within a short time he was back in action – this time against the armies of Napoleon (who coincidently was also born in 1769).

He led the British Army that fought against the French in Spain and Portugal during the Peninsular Wars. His scorched earth policy, allied to superb defensive positioning, allowed the opposing army little freedom of movement and significantly reduced its ability to feed itself and inhibit its fighting capability. This led to the French being expelled and Wellesley occupying Toulouse in 1814, whereupon he was promoted to field-marshal and made Duke of Wellington. He was subsequently appointed as Ambassador to Paris, from where he travelled to negotiate the Congress of Vienna 1814-15.

While in Vienna he learned of Napoleon’s escape from his island prison on Elba, and the subsequent gathering of his once proud army in France. Wellington was put in charge of the British and Dutch forces that left Brussels for Waterloo (8 miles to the south). June 18th 1815 has gone down as one of the most momentous days in European history, when late in the day, Wellington, who was facing Napoleon for the first time on the battlefield, survived enormous early attacks and won the day with the late and critical arrival of Marshal Gebhard Blucher’s Prussian army. Irishmen fought that day on both sides with 10,000 in the British ranks alone, and it is reckoned that almost 50,000 men were killed or injured in the bloody battle. It was a crushing blow for Napoleon who resigned as emperor four days later. His transportation to the remote island of St. Helena in the South Atlantic brought French expansionism to an end, and allowed Britain to ‘rule the waves’ and gain a position of pre-eminence in trade and influence.

A political career beckoned and Wellington became a minister in 1819 and Prime Minister in 1828. It was during his time in Downing Street that Catholic Emancipation was granted (1829). Various offices, such as the Chancellor of Oxford University and Commander-in Chief of British forces, were bestowed upon him. Apart from these he was also made a prince in Holland, a duke in Spain and a marshal in seven European armies. Parliament, in recognition of his service, granted him funds to build a home, Apsley House, which later became known as ‘No. 1 London’. In late life he led a simple and austere existence in his castle in Walmer, Kent where he died in September 1852. His wish to be buried nearby was ignored, and he was finally laid to rest with all the pomp and circumstance that could be mustered in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

'Waterloo' relief on Wellington Monument

‘Waterloo’ relief on Wellington Monument

The good people of Ireland (in fact, he denied his Irishness by proclaiming ‘that not everyone born in a barn was a horse’) had already showed their respect by raising over £20,000 for the erection of the Wellington Monument, designed by Sir Robert Smirke. The Lord Lieutenant, Lord Whitworth, laid the foundation stone on the site of the Salute Battery, in the Phoenix Park, in June 1817. Unfortunately the funds dried up and the obelisk was finished but nearly fifteen feet short of the desired height. The reliefs around the base of the monument, which tell of his military victories and political reforms, were cast from captured cannon guns, appropriate indeed when they recount the heroic life of one who is known to history as ‘The Iron Duke’.

Wellington Monument in the Phoenix Park, Dublin

Wellington Monument in the Phoenix Park, Dublin

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Get Together!

Hi there,

And I hope that you had a Merry Christmas and that the new year will be good for you. After all that doom and gloom with the ‘expected’ end of the world  on Dec 21st, it’s time we had a good year and shake off all those ‘negative vibes’ that have been dominating us for too long. As someone said to me the other day in Dublin – ‘Make it be, in One-3’ and I could only smile a response at its simple, poetic rhythm. So that’s my mantra for the next twelve months – it’s certainly better many others out there!

PS – On Christmas Morning I had a brisk walk in Sanycove (Co. Dublin) and it blew away, out into the Irish Sea at least,  any cobwebs that had been hanging on. In the photo (below) is the circular James Joyce Museum where his most famous book Ulysses begins, and is a ‘must see’ for all Joyceans visiting Ireland. The museum was one of many so-called Martello Towers, built in the early 1800s to guard against a possible invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte’s navy which, thankfully, never came. Phew!

Christmas morining - and it's bright & brisk!

Christmas morining – and it’s bright & brisk!

This year is the year of The Gathering, when Irish people from far and wide, are welcomed ‘home’ and there are many, many events planned. It should be a brilliant time and no doubt  ‘it’ll be great craic’. A year is a long time to party, talk and get to know people, and if anyone can do then the Irish can – see you there!

So, you know what to do – ‘Make it be, in One-3’,

Slan

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