Today in Irish History – 5 August:

1722 – Birth of William Fortescue, politician and sportsman, who tried unsuccessfully in the 1760s to introduce a bill ‘to preserve partridges and hares and to take away the lives of above half the dogs in the nation’.

1888 – Philip Henry Sheridan, the son of Irish immigrants from Cavan, dies in Nonquit, Massachusetts. He became an officer in the Federal cavalry and is infamously credited with the phrase: “The only good Indian is a dead one”. Portrayal of a mournful Philip Sheridan in John Ford’s Rio Grande:

1891 – The Land Purchase Act further facilitates tenants’ purchase of acreage from former landlords and establishes a board to purchase and redistribute land at a local level in the west.

1901 – Peter O’Connor sets long jump record at 24′ 11 3/4″. He was born in Ashford, Co. Wicklow, but he lived and worked as a solicitor in Waterford City for most of his life. He won his first title in 1899 at the age of 25 years and his last in 1906 – but that was the Olympic title. He was the first IAAF ratified long jump world record holder and his remarkable world, and Irish, long jump record, set in Ballsbridge, Dublin on this date lasted for 20 years.

1922 – About 2,000 Free State troops under Eoin O’Duffy take Kilmallock, County Limerick. The Republicans retreat towards Charleville.

1922 – Plot to Isolate Dublin Fails when Free State Intelligence officers discover from captured the Anti-Treaty officer Liam Clarke that Republicans have planned to destroy all the bridges leading into Dublin. In the ensuing manoeuvres: 31 Anti-Treaty Irregulars are captured at Glencullen Bridge and Troops capture 104 Anti-Treaty fighters in the act in north County Dublin, including their officer Pat Sweeney, crippling the remnants of the Anti-Treaty IRA in Dublin.

1922 – A National Army soldier is killed by sniper at Tralee, Co Kerry.

1931 – Birth of Billy Bingham, a former footballer and football manager. He managed Northern Ireland during two separate periods as well as Greece. He is currently a scout for English Premier League side Burnley.

1934 – Birth of Gay Byrne, affectionately known as “Gaybo” or “Uncle Gaybo” is a veteran Irish presenter of radio and television. His most notable role was first host of The Late Late Show over a 37-year period spanning 1962 until 1999. The Late Late Show is the world’s longest-running chat show. His time working in Britain with Granada Television saw him become the first person to introduce The Beatles on screen.

1940 – Death of Joseph McGarrity, born in Carrickmore, County Tyrone. He emigrated to the USA in 1892 at the age of 18 and settled in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. From 1893 until his death he was a leading member of the Clan na Gael organisation. He also was a successful businessman; however, his business failed on three occasions, twice due to embezzlement by his business partner. McGarrity founded and ran a newspaper called the Irish Press from 1918-22 that supported the War of Independence in Ireland. McGarrity is also known to have been strongly involved in the Hindu German Conspiracy, having arranged the Annie Larsen arms purchase and shipment from New York to San Diego for India.

1969 – The UVF plant their first bomb in the Republic of Ireland, damaging the RTÉ Television Centre in Dublin.

1983 – The ‘supergrass’ trial trial of 38 alleged members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ended in Belfast. Eighteen would later have their convictions quashed. The trial had lasted 120 days with most of the evidence being offered by IRA supergrass Christopher Black. The judge jailed 22 of the accused to sentences totalling more that 4,000 years. Four people were acquitted and others received suspended sentences. [In 1986, 18 of the 22 who received prison sentences had their convictions quashed by the Court of Appeal.]

1984 – U2 finish recording “The Unforgettable Fire”.

1999 – A unique exhibition – “75 Years of Giving” – is officially opened in in Dublin by President Mary McAleese. It comprises a collection of treasures from museums and art galleries throughout the country and marks the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland (FNCI).

Photo: Great Blasket Village, Co Kerry, George Karbus Photography

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