#OTD in Irish History | 8 May:

1567 – Shane O’Neill’s army crosses the Swilly estuary at Farsetmore, and is defeated in a pitched battle by Hugh O’Donnell. Many drown while trying to escape; O’Neill loses 1,300 men.

1597 – Death of Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne. Fiach Mac Aodha Ó Broin was Lord of Ranelagh and sometime leader of the Clann Uí Bhroin, or the O’Byrne clan, during the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland.

1796 – John Pitt Kennedy, civil engineer; road and railway pioneer in India, is born in Carndonagh, Co Donegal.

1879 – Birth of surgeon, Sir William Wheeler, in Dublin.

1888 – Engineer, Samuel Geoghegan designed his own narrow-gauge steam locomotives and laid 8 miles (13 km) of track in the St James Gate premises, in Dublin. A unique spiral tunnel turned 2.5 revolutions under St James’ St, connecting the high and low parts of the brewery. On this date, Geoghegan introduced ingenious converter wagons that allowed the 1ft 10in (37.4 cm) gauge locomotives to travel on the broad-gauge lines outside the brewery.

1899 – The first production of the Irish Literary Theatre, The Countess Cathleen is performed. Like many of Yeats’ plays, it is inspired by Irish folklore. In a time of famine, demons sent by Satan come to Ireland to buy the souls of the starving people. The saintly Cathleen disposes of her vast estates and wealth in order to feed the peasants, yet the demons thwart her at every turn; at last, she sacrifices her own soul to save those of the poor.

1916 – Easter Rising: Irish patriots, Michael Mallin, Eamonn Ceannt, Cornelius “Con” Colbert and Sean Heuston are shot dead in Kilmainham Gaol.

1920 – Volunteers of IRA 1st Cork Brigade led by Mick Leahy captured Cloyne RIC barracks.

1921 – An IRA column was surrounded by British troops in the hills of Lappanduff, Co Cavan. One IRA man was killed, two wounded and eleven captured.

1921 – British forces in Carrigtohill, Co Cork, shot dead an IRA volunteer.

1935 – Birth of footballer and manager, Jack Charlton.

1942 – Birth of former football player and manager, Terry Neill, in Belfast. He captained and later managed Arsenal, guiding the club to a European final in 1980 and three consecutive FA Cup finals between 1978 and 1980, winning a dramatic final against Manchester United in 1979. Before his seven-year spell as manager of Arsenal, he managed Hull City, Tottenham Hotspur and Northern Ireland on a part-time basis.

1945 – VE Day is marked in Dublin by small disturbances throughout the city which quickly turn into major disorder.

1951 – The Arts Council is founded in the Republic.

1958 – Birth of novelist, dramatist and screenwriter, Roddy Doyle, in Dublin.

1974 – The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) issued a statement condemning the security situation in Northern Ireland and gave its support to the United Ulster Unionist Council (UUUC) and the policy of opposing the Sunningdale Agreement.

1975 – The first meeting of the Constitutional Convention was held. Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Robert Lowry, chaired the session. There were 30 sessions in total and the Report of the convention was published on 20 November 1975.

1977 – The loyalist paramilitary group the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), announced that it might be forced to ‘coerce’ loyalists in Northern Ireland into supporting the UUAC strike. Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), reiterated his belief that the strike had already been a success even if at some point it had to be called off. However, a spokesman for the UUAC stated that there was ‘no chance’ of the strike being called off.

1981 – Joe McDonnell begins his hunger strike at the H Blocks in Long Kesh prison. He was a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who died on 8 July after 61 days on hunger strike.

1982 – Nicholas Budgen, an Assistant Government Whip, resigned his post because of his opposition to the Northern Ireland Bill which would introduce a new Assembly.

1987 – The Loughgall Ambush | The SAS kill eight IRA soldiers and one civilian, in Loughgall, Co Armagh. The IRA members were in the process of attacking the police station at Loughgall when they were ambushed by forty SAS soldiers. An innocent civilian was shot dead by one SAS group as he drove through the village. This incident was the highest loss of life suffered by the IRA in any one incident.

1990 – Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiach, died, aged 66, from a heart attack while on a visit to Lourdes, France.

1992 – British Home Secretary, Kenneth Baker, announced that responsibility for intelligence-gathering on the IRA would be moved from the Special Branch of the Metropolitan Police to MI5 (the British Security Service). The move was part of an attempt to counter IRA operations in England.

1994 – A Catholic civilian, Rose Anne Mallon (76), was shot dead by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at her relatives home, Cullenramer Road, Greystone, near Dungannon, Co Tyrone. On 27 July 1994, a neighbour discovered in a nearby field two security force surveillance cameras pointing at the house where the shooting took place. There were subsequent claims of collusion between the security forces and Loyalist paramilitaries.

1997 – A Catholic civilian, Robert Hamill (25), died as a result of injuries sustained in a sectarian attack in the centre of Portadown on 27 April 1997. Hamill, who left a wife and three children, had been savagely beaten by a loyalist gang and it was claimed that RUC officers sitting in a police vehicle some 30 meters away did not intervene to save him. The Independent Commission for Police Complaints later began an investigation into the incident. On 16 November 2004, Secretary of State, Paul Murphy, announced the terms of reference for a public Inquiry into the death of Robert Hamill. Full public hearings began on 13 January 2009.

1997 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, announced that the period of notice required for a parade or march to be held would be extended from 7 days to 21. The RUC would in future be empowered to confiscate alcohol from those taking part in parades.

1998 – The ‘real’ Irish Republican Army (rIRA) issued a statement saying that the organisation’s ceasefire was over and military attacks would resume. In particular, the group said that it had declared war on the British Cabinet.

1998 – An Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), William Thompson, gave a radio interview in which he effectively called for the resignation of Leader of the UUP, David Trimble. Thompson was in turn attacked by Deputy leader of the UUP, John Taylor, who called on him to ‘do the decent thing’ and resign.

1999 – A freak mini-tornado hits Carraroe, near Williamstown in Co Galway, leaving a trail of destruction in its path and almost killing a couple who just manage to escape from their mobile home before it is picked up and torn apart.

2000 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Mandelson, offered to reduce the number of British Army soldiers in Northern Ireland if the IRA kept to its promise on decommissioning. Mandelson refused to discuss the precise number of troops that would be withdrawn from the region.

2001 – A strike by more than 100 ATGWU drivers along the east coast causes havoc for 120,000 travellers who find themselves without suburban and inter-city train service; Dart service is cut in half.

2001 – Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), David Trimble, said that he would resign as First Minister on 1 July 2001 unless the IRA began to decommission its weapons. He did resign on 1 July 2001.

2003 – Visiting French angler Marc Peyronnie lands an enormous 44 lb-3oz pike following a 25 minute titanic struggle at Ardan Lake. The fish measured 1.18 metres and following this photo shoot he was returned to the lake with a kiss from his proud conqueror!

2007 – The Reverend Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness mark the end of almost four decades of bitter and bloody conflict in Northern Ireland as they are formally appointed first minister and deputy first minister. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, British prime minister Tony Blair and other dignitaries, including former US president Bill Clinton and US democrat Ted Kennedy, witness the creation of a powersharing government led by political polar opposites the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin. This is the first time that Northern Ireland will be run by a government in which all the main nationalist and unionist parties have agreed to operate power together.

Image | Moody aerial capture of Melmore Point, Rosguill Peninsula, Co Donegal | Captive Landscapes by Stephen Emerson

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