Today in Irish History – 7 February:

1873 – Death in Dublin of Joseph Sheridan LeFanu. Journalist, novelist, and short story writer, he is often called the father of the modern ghost story. Although Le Fanu was one of the most popular writers of the Victorian era, he is not so widely read anymore. His best-known works include Uncle Silas (1864), a suspense story, and The House by the Churchyard (1863), a murder mystery. His vampire story ‘Carmilla,’ which influenced Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, has been filmed several times.

1875 – Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, mining engineer, philanthropist, art collector and the first honorary citizen of Ireland, is born in New York.

1877 – John O’Mahony, founder of the Fenian Brotherhood in US, dies in New York.

1922 – In Northern Ireland, the IRA kidnaps more than forty loyalists activists and ‘B’ Specials (a part-time auxiliary police force which was almost 100% protestant) in response to the arrest of some Monaghan footballers, 14 January who were travelling to play in an Ulster Championship game. At least one of this party was an IRA activist. After intense negotiations between Michael Collins and Winston Churchill, all parties on both sides were released. Following this incident, Churchill who was leading the UK effort on the transfer of power following the Treaty wrote to his wife Clementine in what might be termed an understatement, ‘Ireland is sure to bring us every form of difficulty and embarrassment.’

1923 – An anti-Treaty IRA column attack the Free State post in Ballinamore, Leitrim. The National Army garrison of 35 men surrenders and the barracks is blown up. The prisoners are taken to the Arigna mountains.

1923 – A civilian, Thomas Roche is shot dead at a roadblock near Newcastlewest, Co Limerick by Free State troops when he failed to halt his car in time.

1940 – Birth of Harold McCusker, unionist politician, in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

1940 – IRA volunteers Peter Barnes and James Richards are hanged in Winston Green Prison in Birmingham for their involvement in a bombing in Coventry the previous year which killed five people.

1959 – Birth of Mick McCarthy, Barnsley, Manchester City, Celtic, Olympic Lyonnais, Millwall and Republic of Ireland footballer; Millwall and Republic of Ireland manager.

1973 – The United Loyalist Council held a one-day strike to ‘re-establish some sort of Protestant or loyalist control over the affairs of the province’. Loyalist paramilitaries forcibly tried to stop many people going to work and to close any businesses that had opened. There were eight bombings and thirty-five arsons. Three loyalist paramilitaries and one civilian were killed.

1991 – The IRA fires at least three mortar bombs at 10 Downing Street; they fail to detonate.

1998 – A burst of ‘Dear Old Skibbereen’ shatters the stillness as GAA star Michael McCarthy is laid to rest in his West Cork hometown.

1999 – The British Government urges David Trimble and Gerry Adams to agree to some sort of compromise in a bid to end the paramilitary disarmament deadlock.

1999 – Two Irish soldiers are hospitalised after being hit by shrapnel from a heavy 120 mm mortar explosion in crossfire between the Southern Lebanese Army and Hezbollah guerrillas.

2001 – More than 3,500 passengers are affected by the cabin crew pay strike at Shannon Airport.

2002 – The Cranberries announce that proceeds from their new single, Time is Ticking Out, will be donated to the Chernobyl Children’s Project.

2002 – One elderly woman, in line at St Patrick’s Church in Ringsend, Dublin for a €1,000 cheque for flood damage, had all her possessions with her – in just one bag. She is just one of hundreds of homeowners who benefit after the Archdiocese of Dublin donates hundreds of €1,000 cheques to victims of the recent flooding in the city.

2003 – Northern Secretary Paul Murphy says he is hopeful the Executive in the North will be up and running again by March 17 once a series of intense roundtable talks are completed.

Photo: Slievemore Mountain standing over Silver Strand beach in Dugort, Achill Island, Co Mayo

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