Today in Irish History – 7 December:

521 – Birth of Saint Columba sometimes referred to as Columba of Iona, or, in Old Irish, as Colm Cille, Columbkill, Columbkille or Columcille (meaning “Dove of the church”). He was an outstanding figure among the Gaelic missionary monks who, some of his advocates claim, introduced Christianity to the Kingdom of the Picts during the Early Medieval Period. He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland. He is the Patron Saint of Derry.

1487 – The Earl of Desmond is murdered at the instigation of his brother, John; another brother, Maurice, is his heir.

1688 – Thirteen ‘Apprentice Boys’ refuse to let a Catholic army into Derry (7 December); Tyrconnell backs down and allows the city to keep its Protestant garrison. Enniskillen also defies James II.

1754 – Francis Rawdon-Hastings, 1st Marquess of Hastings, soldier and colonial administrator, is born in Dublin.

1768 – William Bulkely, an officer in the Irish Brigade of France, is born in Clonmel, Co Tipperary.

1879 – Birth in Tralee, Co. Kerry of Austin Stack, anti-Treaty nationalist.

1888 – (Arthur) Joyce Cary, author, is born in Derry/Londonderry. Two of his novels were made into films: The Horse’s Mouth (1958) starring Sir. Alec Guinness and Mister Johnson (1990).

1921 – Éamon de Valera Summons Collins, Griffith to Emergency Meeting. Disturbed at reports from London as to the Treaty signature, a furious de Valera issues an announcement that “In view of the nature of the proposed treaty with Great Britain, President de Valera has sent an urgent summons to the members of the cabinet in London to report at once so that a full cabinet decision may be taken.”

1922 – The six counties of Northern Ireland opt out of the Free State.

1972 – Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland (Voting age reduced to 18).

1972 – Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland, (Recognition of religions).

1973 – Birth of Damien Rice, an Irish singer-songwriter, musician and record producer who plays guitar, piano, clarinet and percussion.

1985 – Attack on Ballygawley Barracks – the PIRA launched an assault on the RUC barracks in Ballygawley, County Tyrone. Two RUC officers were killed and the barracks was completely destroyed by the subsequent bomb explosion.

1998 – The IRA makes an historic decision to start decommissioning following an IRA Army Convention meeting in Donegal.

2000 – Blackrock Castle in Cork City goes on the auction block with a starting bid of £850,000. There are no bidders.

2010- The Irish government passes its most austere budget in living memory with most workers facing substantial tax increases, while social welfare recipients will have their benefits cut.

Photo: Cahermore, Iron Age Promontory Fort, Enniscrone, Co Sligo, Copter View Photography

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