Day and the uncrowned king
visit to Ennis.
The Champion's recent publications of a letter linking
Carmody's Hotel to the fall of Charles Stewart Parnell
aroused much interest in the great man's Clare connections.
As Joe Ó Mhircheartaigh writes, the Banner County
was a favourite haunt of the Uncrowned King
as a famous 1891 gathering in O'Connell Square proved.
February 1st and its bright and breezy - a St Brigid's
Day with a different and it had nothing to do with the clement
weather. The old Great Southern Railway steam engine is
southbound, puffing its way from the city of the Tribes
Different times for sure. And, if the steam doesn't
give that away - then fast-track forward to the sad fact
of life that no trains run from Galway to Clare anymore,
there's no West Clare and much more.
Such eventualities would have been hard to imagine way back
in 1891- those different times for sure, when railways ruled
the world where transport was concerned. Railways wended
their way into nooks and crannies all over Ireland. They
ironed the land.
The tracks of the West Clare were laid after Charles Stewart
Parnell turned the first sod in 1886. Five years on, the
Uncrowned King was back on track to Clare -
in that old Great Southern steam engine puffing its way
His crown was slipping, so Parnell headed for the Banner
County - a home away from home. Would the banners be flying
high or was the crown slipping in Clare as well?
Maybe the latter! After all, the county's two MPs -
Jeremiah Jordoan and JR Cox - were among of band of 43 Irish
Party brothers involved in a heave against Parnell's
leadership because of his liaison with Kitty O'Shea.
Maybe the former! News of the heave prompted a telegram
of support from Ennis, Just learned unfortunate news
for Ireland. Remain master of situation. Clare and Ennis
with you to the core, said his old Ennis friend Edward
The heave came on December 6th, 1890 in a committee room
of the House of Commons, three weeks after Captain Henry
O'Shea's divorce from Kitty. St Brigid's
Day would tell a tale - the grassroots were heaving or with
Parnell to the core.
There was no fear of Parnell as that old Great Southern
steam engine puffed its way south.
There were excursion trains all over the place. A busy St
Brigid's Day for the signal men as the signal went
out in town and country that all railway tracks led to Ennis
on this day.
500 came from Miltown. 600 came from Limerick while the
Parnell train was packed to suffocation point.
Then there was the cavalcade of horsemen and carriages from
From every part of the county, from Carrigaholt to
Scariff and from Ballyvaughan to the borders of Limerick,
there were delegates representatives of Parnellite feeling.
said the Saturday Record.
The town began to fill from an early hour, and when
the proceedings commenced in the Square, there could not
have been less than 12,000 people present, added the
Saturday Record correspondent.
Parnell's train steamed slowly, its arrival in Ennis
being heralded by the explosion of a number of fog signals.
Parnell was in the first class carriage with staunch supporters
-MPs John Redmond and JJ Clancy. He was back in a home away
from home alright.
The surging cheering mass of humanity swayed around
the carriage, each struggling to find a means by which he
could express his feelings that there was but one man from
whose leadership there could be any hope for the realisation
of the hopes of the Irish people, the Record reported.
Parnell hadn't even alighted and the Parnell
Party' had cranked into action already. The Uncrowned
King's crown was safe in Clare and the great
man was moved by it all. One of his followers said so afterwards.
Mr Parnell was for once visibly affected. That stern
reserve which in the House of commons baffles all observers
was thrown aside. His eyes gleamed, and with an air of confident
determination he stood up to receive the plaudits of the
people. Through the multitudes went that swaying motion
which gives to an enthusiastic throng its most electric
Now, all the roads and alley ways in the old Franciscan
town led to O'Connell Square. Ennis was en fete.
It was a triumphal and circuitous procession to O'Connell
Square. Down Clare Road, through to Jail Street, on to Church
Street, Harmony Row and Mill Street before ending up at
There were bands and banners. Bands from Broadford, Miltown
Malbay, Kilrush, Garryowen and the home town of Ennis. Banners
on every street and alley way, all preaching the Parnellite
Spanning the streets along the route were streamers,
on which were written in green letters mottoes that were
pithy expressed and full of meaning, reported the
Parnell for the Irish and Ireland for Parnell
was one at Mr Finucane's. No Dictation
was one crossing the Causeway. Parnell must be leader
at Arthurs Row
A cheer for the hillside men was the slogan
at the entrance of Market Street and Jail Street. See
the conquering hero comes, at Lally's Corner.
The along the front of the platform ran the words: We'll
have no kings but Charlie
A platform that received Charlie to thunderous and prolonged
cheers then echoed around the town. Charlie was High King
as the eyes of nationalist Ireland were fixed on Ennis.
Nationalist Ireland that was being torn apart at the seams
with some of Clare's own doing the tearing. Jeremiah
Jordan and JR Cox were in the dock, while the Clare clergy
were in the same dock.
Clergy like Tuamgraney parish priest, Fr Murphy, who told
his congregation that Parnell is a debased wretch
and a low scoundrel who has been living in sin
with Kitty O'Shea since 1880.
Fr Molony in Ennis labelled him an anti-Christ.
Masses in Ennis Cathedral that day heard clergymen warn
people away from attending the rally while Miltown Malbay
parish priest Fr. White hit out at the glorifying
of a man steeped to the ears in sin.
But even the power of the pulpit couldn't put supporters
of Parnell down. They glorified him on St Brigid's
Day, looked up to the platform that was Parnell's pulpit.
They had ears for his words only. Ready to cheer his every
The cheering died for a few seconds as Parnell readied himself.
The Uncrowned King was on familiar ground, on
home ground because home was the hero. The hero whose every
word was about to stir souls.
Men of historic Clare Galway and Limerick and last
but not least in my heart and affections, people of gallant
little Ennis, said Parnell as the first cheerful interruption
rented the air.
I have to say to you that I am proud to be here in
the midst of this great and patriotic multitude. To attempt
to tell you how much your welcome spurs my heart and inspires
my courage, to describe to you how your reception today
strikes a chord in my memory of the long bygone years when
I stood upon this platform would be impossible for my powers,
he said to more sustained cheers.
I am reminded that I have spoken oftener and have
been receive more warmly in this square than on any other
spot on Irish soil. With that there were more cheers
before Parnell rolled back the years.
There are memories, sweet, magnificent triumphant
memories which the place recalls to my mind; how in 1879
I won my first important victory here; how in the autumn
of 1880 we commenced a great campaign of the Irish Land
League here; and how at every opportunity Ennis and Clare
from that day to this have stood faithful and unfailing
to the cause of Ireland, to the principles of Irish nationality
and of legislative independence.
All the while there was no reference to the current crisis.
All because Parnell wasn't fighting his own corner.
He was fighting Ireland's corner only, with the Clare
crowd cheering him on.
I do not fight today for my own position, but for
the legislative right of Ireland I still fight today. And
you and I will continue to struggle together for these rights
until we have got them, and when we get them we will keep
a firm group upon them.
Now fellow countrymen, I have touched on no personal
topics. This meeting today showed me that you have been
willing to leave the issue of the question of my own honour
and in my hands, and just as always I only asked to be judged
by results, so today at the foot of this statue I ask the
men of Clare and Ireland to have patience and judge me by
There were prolonged cheers. It was clear the Ennis crowd
would have no king but Charlie.
The square had never seen anything like it. A show of solidarity
for Charles Stewart, a show that moved on down the road
to Charles Stewart's favourite old haunt of Carmody's
At Carmody's deputations representing the GAA, Irish
National League branches, labourers associations, the Parnell
Leadership Committee and Boards of Guardians from around
the county presented Parnell with addresses. Again the Uncrowned
King was bowled over.
I will only say gentlemen, as the floor is shaking,
that it would be a faint way for me to describe my impression
of today's demonstration, including the presentation
of these addresses, to say that it constitutes, in my opinion,
the most remarkable series of demonstrations that I have
ever taken part in.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your presence
in such numbers. I look around and I recognise scores of
familiar faces - men who never hesitated to fill the gap
of danger, to go to prison, to suffer eviction, to undergo
any suffering that might be necessary to stem the tide of
coercion and English misgovernment from time to time. With
such men round me I shall have no fear.
The ground was shaking, so said Parnell and so the Saturday
Record man in Carmody's Hotel. So numerous were
the deputations that the room, situated on the first floor,
was dangerously crowded, and fears were entertained that
the floor would give way
The floor didn't give way, but it was a haunting foretelling
of the fate that ultimately lay in store for the famous
hotel. Instead, the Carmody's crowd just followed their
leader down the road on the Railway Station.
The crowds carried lighted torches while tar barrels lined
the route. Bands trumpeted the sound while a rousing rendition
God Save Ireland filled the Ennis air.
Leader, Leader, shouted the hoards
as Parnell forced his way into his carriage. Leader',
Leader they kept shouting as the old Great Southern
Railway steam engine gently puffed out of Ennis.
Charlie was the darling' of Clare and always would
be, whatever the clergy might say.
Courtesy of The Clare Champion
By Joe Ó Muircheartaigh