Today in Irish History – 5 February:

1811 – Maurice Lenihan, journalist and historian, is born in Waterford.

1820 – Death of William Drennan; physician, poet, educator and political radical, he was one of the chief architects of the Society of United Irishmen. He is also known as the first to refer in print to Ireland as ‘the Emerald Isle’ in his poem ‘When Erin Dirst Rose’. Burial takes place in Clifton Street burial-ground in Belfast and, according to his will and with deliberate symbolism, his coffin is borne to the grave by three Catholics and three Protestants.

1827 – Birth of Peter Fintan Lalor in Tenakill at Raheen, Co Laois. He was an activist turned politician who rose to fame for his leading role in the Eureka Stockade, an event controversially identified with the ‘birth of democracy’ in Australia. He is famous for being the only outlaw to make it to parliament. The son of Patrick ‘Patt’ Lalor, a landowner and supporter of the abolition of tithes who held a seat in the House of Commons from 1832 to 1835. He was the first Catholic MP for Queens County, since the reign of James II. His mother was Ann, née Dillon.

1880 – The Irish Rugby Football Union is founded in Dublin.

1866 – Birth of Domhnall Ua Buachalla in Maynooth, Co Kildare. He was an Irish politician and member of the First Dáil who served as third and final Governor-General of the Irish Free State and later served as a member of the Council of State. He was a member of the Irish Volunteers and on the outbreak of the 1916 Easter Rising he walked the 26 kilometres to Dublin to fight for Irish independence. He was imprisoned in the mass arrests and deportations that followed, and released in 1917.

1918 – The SS Tuscania, a Cunard passenger liner converted for troop use is torpedoed off Rathlin Island, north of Ireland by U-boat 77. The ship was carrying over 2,000 troops heading for the war in Europe. Over 200 people lost their lives.

1921 – Death of Katharine O’Shea, also known as Katie O’Shea, Kitty O’Shea or following her second marriage Katharine Parnell was an English woman of aristocratic background, whose family relationship over many years with Charles Stewart Parnell eventually caused his political downfall.

1921 – Éamon de Valera in America: de Valera states ‘The so-called Ulster difficulty is purely artificial as far as Ireland itself is concerned. It is an accident arising out of the British connection and will disappear with it.’

1921 – British Intelligence officer Lance Corporal MPC/MFP John Ryan was assassinated by IRA volunteers in a pub on Corporation Street in Dublin.

1921 – An IRA Volunteer of Cork 3 Brigade died in an accidental shooting.

1922 – Cumann na mBan, at the behest of Countess Markievicz votes overwhelmingly to reject the Treaty. During the civil war, over 400 members of the movement were arrested by the Free State Government.

1923 – A party of 50 Anti-Treaty IRA fighters, operating from the Arigna mountains, raid the town of Ballyconnell in County Cavan. They shoot dead two Free State supporters and wounded another man. The Post Office was robbed and car dealership blown up. The raid was in reprisal for the shooting of a Republican named Cull the month before in the town.

1923 – A National Army soldier accidentally shoots dead a civilian, Elizabeth Walsh, in her home in Parnell Street, Dublin, while she was making him dinner, his revolver went off.

1960 – The Gael-Linn film ‘Mise Éire – I am Ireland’, with music by Seán Ó Riada, has its first public showing.

1961 – The Sunday Telegraph begins its publication.

1967 – The Musicians’ Union bans the Rolling Stones’s ‘Let’s Spend The Night Together’ from Eamonn Andrews’ television show.

1993 – Death of Seán Flanagan. He was a senior Fianna Fáil politician and Gaelic footballer in Ireland. He served under Taoiseach Jack Lynch as Minister for Health (1966-1969) and Minister for Lands (1969-1973).

1998 – It is announced that the Ulster Democratic Party, which was suspended from the Northern talks in the wake of Ulster Freedom Fighters-orchestrated sectarian killings, will not be granted a reprieve in time for the upcoming Dublin Castle negotiations.

1999 – The French arrive in force in Dublin for tomorrow’s Five Nations clash at Lansdowne Road.

2001 – Extra British troops are deployed in an attempt to prevent further loyalist pipe bomb attacks on Catholic homes in north Belfast.

2003 – A 120-strong 12th Infantry Battalion from Sarsfield Barracks is sent to Shannon to beef up security at the airport. The troops will remain until the threat of further attacks on military planes abates.

2003 – The trial of three Irishmen charged with training members of the FARC guerilla movement resumes in Bogota, Columbia.

2006 – Former Bishop of Galway, Eamonn Casey, returns to Ireland after 14 years in exile. The cleric fled the country after he admitted to fathering his son, Peter.

Photo: The Irish Wolfhound

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