In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast day of St. Brigid. Saint Brigid of Kildare or Brigid of Ireland (c. 451-525) is one of Ireland’s patron saints along with Saints Patrick and Columba. Her feast day is 1 February or Candlemas (Imbolc), the traditional first day of spring in Ireland. She is believed to have been an Irish Christian nun, abbess, and founder of several convents.
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. Rosmanagher Bridge and Toll Gate were built by Henry D’Esterre in 1784 at his own expense. The large inscription stone on the bridge commemorates this piece of engineering. D’Esterre owned extensive lands in the region and the Ratty River hindered both farming and communication, especially as the nearest bridge was at Sixmilebridge. Despite objections that the structure would interfere with navigation on the river, Henry D’Esterre built his bridge and then tried to recover his costs by erecting toll gates on the western side of the river. Daniel O’ Connell refused to pay the toll according to local tradition and this was the reason given for his famous duel with Captain John D’Esterre. The duel, in which O’Connell killed his opponent. Norcot d’Esterre’s wife refused O’Connell’s offer of a pension, but he later arranged for an annuity for her daughter.
1873 – Birth of John Barry VC. He was born in St Mary’s parish, Kilkenny and was by birth an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
1878 – Thomas MacDonagh, patriot, poet, critic and scholar, is born in Cloughjordan, Co Tipperary.
1894 – John Ford (Sean Aloysius O’Fearna) is born in Maine to Irish immigrant parents. His father was born in Spiddal, Co Galway. His mother from the Aran Islands. Film site IMDb states “John Ford is, arguably, The Great American Director.” Although born John Martin Feeney, he never forgot his Irish roots.
1921 – Led by Sean MacEoin, the North Longford IRA ambushed two lorries of Auxiliaries at Clonfin Co 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, Co Cork, was shot by firing squad in Cork city.
1922 – An RIC constable was shot dead in battle with the IRA in Killarney, Co Kerry.
1923 – Moore Hall in Co 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.
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 25 February.
2015 – Death of Colum Corless. He was a hurler who played as a right corner-back for the Galway senior team.
2015 – Death of Patrick Aidan Heelan. He was a physicist and philosopher of science.
Photo: Northburg Castle is locally known as ‘Greencastle’, Co Donegal
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