When revolution threatened from Dalkey Island!


There's really nothing new under the sun, as history repeats itself. The current Tshombe-Lumumba crux in the Congo had a quaint parallel nearly two centuries ago when our former rulers were scared that Dalkey would do what Katanga is now trying to do - secede from the rest of the country.

To get out of the British Empire - that was what the Government thought Dalkey was up to.

The main thing wrong with power-politics is that it rarely moves with any sense of humour at all, and so when King Tom O'Mara was most solemnly crowned Absolute Monarch of the Kingdom of Dalkey amid multitudes of his liege subjects, the power-that-were took such drastic action that the diplomacy of even Dag Hammarskjoeld would have been strained in an attempt to ease their apprehensions.

King O'Mara was arrested and brought before one of the highest officials of the Crown - Lord Chancellor Clare. Mock King

The authorities feared the establishment of the Kingdom of Dalkey, in 1790, by a society called the Druids, when "it was the custom to elect here a mock king and officers of state, whose proceedings were recorded in a newspaper called the Dalkey Gazette," according to the History of Dublin, written by Rev. Whitelaw and Walsh, in 1818.

A tourist guide of 1885 gives further information explaining the political background of the period that let the Government to take such a serious view of these proceedings, developing as they did at the time when the widely rampant French revolutionary spirit quailed the hearts of monarchs in many lands.

The whole thing was, of course, just another manifestation of the ever-famous Dalkey sense of humour, but the Government was convinced that some sort of revolution was being planned, and they were determined to dethrone King O'Mara.


"Late in the last century, this booklet stated," about the time when events in France were at their most terrible climax, and a revolutionary propaganda was, right or wrongly, supposed to have its ramifications over the whole of Europe, it entered the minds of a party of convivial citizens of Dublin to establish upon Dalkey a burlesque kingdom. The tenure of office for the king was but one year, and the election was renewed annually from among the leading spirits in the city.

His Majesty, O'Mara, was arrested and brought before Lord Chancellor Clare for the following brain-washing: "You, sir, are I understand, connected with the Kingdom of Dalkey?"

"I am, my lord," said King O'Mara.

"Pray, may I ask what title you are recognised by?"

"I am King of Dalkey, Emperor of the Muglins, Defender of my own Faith, and respecter of others. I am Sovereign of the Illustrious Order of the Lobster and Periwinkle, Prince of the Island of Magee, and Elector of Lambay and Ireland's Eye.


"And what posts do you hold under the Government?" asked Lord Clare, growing madder and madder as reports came in from the island kingdom of a revolution as ominous it seemed, as the French one.

"I am Chief Commissioner of the Revenue," was King O'Mara's answer.

"And what are the emoluments in rights of your office?" "I am allowed to import 10,000 hogsheads, duty-free, replied the King.

"Hogsheads of what?"

"Hogsheads of salt water, my lord".

And out went King O'Mara cool as a periwinkle, while the countenance of his Governmental inquisitor grew red as a boiled lobster.

O'Mara, one of the foremost "characters" of the period, was a well-known solicitor and as famous for his wit as he was for his convivial hospitality, as was Stephen Armitage, well-known Dublin bookseller and pawnbroker who reigned as King Stephen 1, the last monarch of Dalkey.

More than 20,000 attended the last regal procession, carnival and coronation anniversary on August 20 1797. Then came the terrorism that wound up the strange and hilariously eventful history of this extra-territorial monarchy.


All the jails were packed with adherents of the united Irishmen movement, the Government was keyed up by the mutiny of the Nore of 1797, by the spread of the French Revolution's radical concepts and other contemporary upheaval.

All Dublin Castle's remote control rulers had no sense of humour to see through the royal hokus-pokus of the Elective and Limited Monarchy of the Kingdom of Dalkey, and the rapier satire in the annual speeches from the Muglin throne and in the political jibes in the outlandish Kingdom's official "Dalkey Gazette."


It was hardly any great wonder that such a dour personality as Lord Clare took such a dim view of Dalkey's regal doings when one reads such accounts in the above paper of the coronation ceremonies: "His Majesty, on his arrival at the island, to be saluted with twenty-one guns and nine rockets, then to proceed to the royal tent, where, after the Ministers of State forming council, His Majesty will receive all foreign ambassadors, and such noblemen of his kingdom, as some to pay their respects.

"The City to march in form, proceeded by a band to the levee; the Lord Mayor and Aldermen in their wigs and gowns, after which His Majesty, attended by the whole Kingdom..." while the entire Bay across to Howth reverberated with the acclamations of the thousands afloat and ashore on the 18 acre kingdom to the monarch of all he surveyed for one day in the year.

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