Today in Irish History – 8 February:

1601 – Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, rebels against Queen Elizabeth I – the revolt is quickly crushed. Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, KG was an English nobleman and a favourite of Elizabeth I. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years’ War in 1599. In 1601 he led an abortive coup d’état against the government and was executed for treason.

1847 – The Cork Examiner reports that following food riots by starving ‘famine’ victims, ‘a deputation, consisting of the principal Master Bakers in the city, waited on the Magistrates at the Police-office, and stated that in consequence of the present alarming height to which the disturbances in the city have risen, they should be compelled to close their shops and sell no more bread unless the court would ensure to them the protection of the military and police force.’

1847 – An ailing Daniel O’Connell makes his final speech to House of Commons pleading for help for a starving Ireland.

1872 – Captain John Philip Nolan, a supporter of home rule and tenant rights, defeats Conservative William Le Poer Trench in a Co Galway by-election.

1923 – The Free State suspends executions until 18 February, offering an amnesty to anyone who surrendered before that day.

1932 – Death of Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll (born Uinseann Ó Colla, in Gweedore, Co Donegal). He was an Irish mob hitman in early 20th-century New York City. Coll gained notoriety for the accidental killing of a young child during a mob kidnap attempt.

1983 – Shergar was an Irish racehorse, and winner of the 202nd Epsom Derby (1981) by ten lengths – the longest winning margin in the race’s history. A bay colt with a distinctive white blaze, Shergar was named European Horse of the Year in 1981 and was retired from racing that September. On 8 February 1983, he was stolen from the Ballymany Stud, near The Curragh, Co Kildare, by masked gunmen and was never seen again. The incident has been the inspiration for several books, documentaries, and a film.

1999 – Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams refuses to rule out the possibility his party will take legal action to secure the early release of Garda Det. Jerry McCabe’s killers when the anger surrounding the case dies down.

2000 – US President Bill Clinton makes it clear to the Irish and British Governments he is ready to become actively involved in trying to save the Northern Ireland government if needed.

2000 – The Northern Ireland peace process is plunged into further crisis following the disclosure that the UVF is planning a country-wide purge against the renegade LVF.

2000 – Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams issues a stark warning that he is ready to walk away from the Northern Ireland peace process if the Government re-imposes direct rule from Westminster.

2001 – A man is injured by an explosive device amid heightening fears of fatalities in an escalating campaign of loyalist pipe bomb attacks on Catholic families in Northern Ireland.

2002 – Dissident republicans are believed to be behind a bomb attack at an army training centre in Co Derry which left a civilian security guard critically injured.

2003 – Deposed loyalist terror boss Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair suffers a final humiliation when a new paramilitary regime is officially installed in his west Belfast stronghold.

Photo: Aerial view of Skellig Michael, photo credit: Irish Air Corps

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