Today in Irish History: 21 December: ___________________.

In the Celtic Calendar, today is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. In Dublin, on this date, the sun will rise at 8:39 am and set at 4:09pm, giving just seven hours and 30 minutes of daylight. In Belfast, the day is even shorter. The sun will rise at 8:43 and set at 3:59.

1796 – A French fleet under General Hoche with Wolfe Tone, 43 vessels and 14,500 men sails from Brest in December and is scattered by storms; 36 ships arrive at Bantry Bay but do not attempt a landing and return to France, thus preventing what might have been an Irish/French victory over the English.

1821 – Birth in Co. Carlow of Samuel Haughton, scientist, mathematician and doctor; he is “famous” for calculating the drop required to kill a hanged man instantly.

1843 – Death of Irish musician, Edward Bunting.

1843 – Birth of late 19th century poet, Thomas Bracken. He wrote “God Defend New Zealand”, one of the two National anthems of New Zea-land and was the first person to publish the phrase “God’s Own Country”.

1865 – Birth in Surrey, England of Maud Gonne McBride, revolutionary and patriot, who dedicates her life to the attainment of an independent Irish nation.

1915 – Violet Martin, an Irish novelist who wrote under the pen name, Martin Ross, dies. Edith Somerville continues to list her as co-author.

1919 – Dáil Éireann meets for the first time and elects Eamon de Valera as President of Ireland.

1924 – Golfer Christy O’Connor is born in Knocknacarragh, Co. Galway.

1934 – An Anglo-Irish ‘cattle and coal’ pact is signed.

1940 – F Scott Fitzgerald dies of a heart attack at the age of forty four.

1948 – Republic of Ireland Act passed by Dáil.

1985 – Progressive Democrats founded by Dan O’Malley, Mary Harney, and other former members of Fianna Fáil, following split within party.

1998 – Clear skies over Co. Meath guarantee one of the best winter solstice displays ever witnessed at the Newgrange burial tomb.

2001 – University College Cork is awarded a £62.2m research grant, the highest research funding ever secured under the Government’s prestigious Programme for Research at Third Level Institutes.

2001 – The pedestrian Ha’penny Bridge across Dublin’s River Liffey is reopened after a multimillion pound restoration.In the Celtic Calendar, today is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. In Dublin, on this date, the sun will rise at 8:39 am and set at 4:09pm, giving just seven hours and 30 minutes of daylight. In Belfast, the day is even shorter. The sun will rise at 8:43 and set at 3:59.

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