Page 231. " Dad lets me read his favourite book, John Mitchel's Jail Journal. "
John Mitchel
Public DomainJohn Mitchel

In 1847, John Mitchel launched the "United Irishman", the newspaper of the militant Young Ireland Movement.  He was charged with treason and sentenced to 14 years and transportation to Van Diemen's land (Tasmania).  After his escape to New York, where he edited the "Citizen", he made many Roman Catholic enemies because of his criticism of the temporal power of the pope.  His "Jail Journal" was published in 1854.

 

   

Further Reading:

Young Ireland in Exile by J.H. Cullen

Irish Exiles in Australia by T.J. Kiernan

Page 232. " Then a miracle happens and it's all because of St Francis of Assisi, my favourite saint "

St Francis of Assisi (1181 - 1226) was the founder of the Franciscans and the patron saint of animals.

 

                      

Page 236. " It's a shock to everyone when he says, the Battle of Kinsale in sixteen nought one was the saddest moment in Irish history, a close battle with cruelty and atrocities on both sides. "

By 1590, the English had subjugated all Gaelic and Anglo-Norman leaders, except Hugh O'Neill and Hugh O'Donnell.  They looked to England's enemy, King Philip III of Spain for help in driving the British out of Ireland.

Philip III of Spain
Public DomainPhilip III of Spain

Instead of meeting their Irish allies in the north and joining forces, the Spanish landed in the south at Kinsale.  Here, they were met by the British.

O'Neill and O'Donnell marched their armies 250 miles to Kinsale.  They were able to surround the British, but instead of waiting and starving them into surrender, they attacked. In the Battle of Kinsale that followed, the Irish lost 1,200 and the English  200. 

 

Page 238. " Catholic children met in hedge schools in the depths of the country "

The Penal Law of 1702-19 banned education for Roman Catholics.  The Irish refused to use English-sponsored schools which were intended to Anglicise the children. Instead, they sent their children to hedge schools where they were secretly taught Irish history and culture.  In 1826, of 550,000 children at school, 403,000 were in hedge schools.  In 1832, state elementary schools, acceptable to the Irish, were instituted.