Published in Cromwell, General, Issue 6 (Nov/Dec 2009), News, Robert Emmet, Volume 17

First the big news—Oliver Cromwell has apologised to the Irish people for massacring them and sending them off to Barbados as slaves. Well, he has not spoken in person but the Arise Mission from his home town of Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire, has issued an apology on his behalf and brought a letter to that effect to community groups and churches in Northern Ireland. The Mission, consisting of vicars and pastors of Huntingdon’s Protestant churches, puts its apology down to a divine revelation, although there was a suggestion at one meeting that Cromwell’s ghost had issued the apology! Probably just wishful thinking on someone’s part.

An interesting new website is documenting abandoned significant historical structures, especially  ‘big houses’, on a county by county basis (although Northern Ireland is treated as one county). For those interested in historical architecture, the photos and information on the site are worth looking at. And if you know of any abandoned historic properties in your county, why not let Abandoned Ireland know about them so that they can be documented before being lost forever? The web address is

A major development for anyone using maps in historical research is that Ordnance Survey Ireland (OSI) is changing its Historic Maps website to be Free to View shortly. OSI maps are a great resource for historians, especially local ones, but some have been put off by the fee charged for accessing the maps. It is a welcome development in these economically straitened times that they are to be made available on-line free of charge.

Worth keeping an ear open for is the new series on Raidió na Gaeltachta, Pobal ar Aire: Gluaiseacht Chearta Sibhialta na Gaeltachta 1969–2009, about the mostly forgotten fight for civil rights in the Gaeltacht—an important piece of social history and a movement that has had a significant impact on the policies and politics of the Gaeltacht. It goes out every Sunday at 1.15pm. More details at
n It seems that the battle for the Irish language goes on, if recent developments in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council are anything to go by. The Council adopted a policy on local placenames based on the Draft County Placenames Policy produced by the Genealogical Society of Ireland. The idea is to use Irish-language placenames when it comes to new developments, estates, etc. This policy is not, however, included in Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown’s Draft County Development Plan, even though as part of the public consultation process the Genealogical Society’s policy document was presented to the Council for inclusion. Submissions from the general public are invited, so there is still the opportunity to get the Irish names policy into the County Development Plan. See or send your ideas on Irish placenames to Cllr Marie Baker, Cathaoirleach, Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council, County Hall, Dún Laoghaire.

A 200-year-old document signed by Robert Emmet has been discovered in an old cupboard of the Dublin Unitarian Church, St Stephen’s Green. Phillip Emmet, a direct descendant of Thomas Addis Emmet, on 21 September unveiled a framed copy of the marriage certificate of Mary Ann Emmet, which Robert Emmet signed as a witness on 21 September 1799. Revd Bridget Spain of the church said: ‘We know that our congregation was very much involved in the Dublin Society of United Irishmen. The names of William Drennan and Archibald Hamilton Rowan and many others appear in our records, which we have donated to the Royal Irish Academy.’

Finally, a quiz. People remember the Germans bombing Dublin in May 1941, but when did the Germans first bomb Ireland? Not many people now remember that the Luftwaffe dropped bombs on the Wexford towns of Campile, Ballynitt and Duncormick on 26 August 1940. The creamery in Campile received a direct hit, killing three women and injuring another. Following protests by the Irish chargé d’affaires in Berlin, the Nazi government finally issued an apology in October, stating that the bombing was an accident caused by an aircraft going off course and not realising that it was over neutral territory.


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