Today in Irish History – 1st February:

In the liturgical calendar, today is the feast day of St. Brigid. It is also celebrated in the Celtic nations as Imbolc – the first day of spring.

1177 – John de Courcy invades Ulster and seizes Down; he defeats its king, Rory MacDonlevy, twice, even though the northern clergy use sacred relics as talismans on MacDonlevy’s behalf.

1315 – Edward the Bruce of Scotland and his Irish allies win the battle of Skerries in Kildare.

1754 – Denis O’Neal, having been convicted of a footpad robbery and sentenced to death, is executed on this date despite an appeal to the Chief Secretary by Charles O’Neill, MP for Randalstown, to have him spared.

1796 – Theobald Wolf Tone, United Irish leader, arrives in France seeking assistance.

1814 – The Belfast Academical Institution – later the Royal Belfast Academical Institution, a Presbyterian college – is opened.

1815 – Daniel O’Connell, having killed Norcot d’Esterre in a duel fought on this date, repudiates violence.

1873 – John Barry, who would be awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his bravery during a Boer War incident is born in Kilkenny.

1878 – Thomas MacDonagh, patriot, poet, critic and scholar, is born in Cloughjordan, Co. Tipperary.

1894 – Film Director John Ford, born in Maine to Irish immigrant parents. His father was born in Spiddal, Co. Galway. His mother from the Aran Islands. Although born John Martin “Jack” Feeney, he never forgot his Irish roots.

1921 – British soldiers imposed a curfew on the Mountjoy Square area of north Dublin city and conducted a house-to-house search. Shortly afterwards another similar curfew was imposed on the Nassau Street/Kildare Street area. Few arrests were made but some arms were seized.

1921 – Led by Sean MacEoin, the North Longford IRA ambushed two lorries of Auxiliaries at Clonfin County Longford. A landmine was exploded under the lorries, followed by a two-hour firefight. Four Auxiliaries and a driver were killed and eight wounded. The IRA volunteers captured 18 rifles, 20 revolvers and a Lewis gun.

1921 – The first execution under martial law of an IRA man took place. Cornelius Murphy of Millstreet, County Cork, was shot by firing squad in Cork city.

1922 – An RIC constable was shot dead in battle with the IRA in Killarney, County Kerry.

1923 – Moore Hall in County Mayo is burned down by Republican guerrillas, because its owner, Maurice Moore is a senator in the Dáil.

1925 – The Derry to Burtonport train crashes in Co. Donegal, killing 14 people.

1943 – Establishment of the Central Bank of Ireland.

1967 – The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement is founded.

1994 – The US Government breaks its policy of “censorship by visa denial” and allows Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams to make a speech in New York City.

1998 – Up to 40,000 people march through Derry to commemorate the 26th anniversary of Bloody Sunday.

1998 – It is announced that the partial filming of the Steven Spielberg film ‘Saving Private Ryan’ at Curracloe beach in Co. Wexford last summer brought over £4 million to the local economy. The Normandy D-Day landings of 1944 were re-created at the beach during four weeks of filming last July and August.

2002 – Thousands of commuters and motorists are stranded by freak tides, heavy wind and rain. Rush hour traffic grounds to a halt thanks to fallen trees, downed power-lines and heavy flooding.

2003 – Roy Keane’s controversial autobiography is nominated at British Book Awards.

2008 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern visits Ballymena to meet Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley in his Co Antrim constituency. Dr. Paisley says the Taoiseach’s visit to north Antrim is a historic day, and Mr Ahern says his visit is another tangible benefit of the ongoing peace process.

2011 – Following the dissolution of the 30th Dáil by President McAleese on the advice of Taoiseach Brian Cowen, it is announced that a general election will take place on February 25th.

Photo: Saorstát Éireann Official Handbook. This official handbook of the Irish Free State is the most amazing production, filled with woodblock engravings by the likes of Harry Kernoff and images by Paul Henry.

Date: 1932

Printed by: Hely’s Ltd., Dublin

Paper by: The Swiftbrook Paper Mills, Dublin

Plates by: The Irish Photo Engraving Co., Dublin

Photo courtesy of The National Library of Ireland.

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