Today in Irish History – 5 March:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast day of St. Kieran, sometimes listed as ‘Kevin the elder’.

1389 – Thomas Mortimer is appointed Justiciar of Ireland. Mortimer was an English soldier and nobleman. He moved to Ireland as a deputy to his brother Edmund after he was made Lord of Ireland.

1716 – Martin Bladen, soldier, politician, civil servant, gambler and writer, is given leave in the British House of Commons to bring in a bill to continue the privilege of exporting Irish linen cloth to British plantations without the duty payable by exporters in England and Scotland. The bill eventually passes.

1867 – Fenian Rising begins in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Clare and Tipperary. The Fenian Rising of 1867 (Éirí Amach na bhFiann, 1867) was a rebellion against British rule in Ireland, organised by the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).

1892 – Birth of Thomas ‘Tom’ Hales in Knocknacurra, Ballinadee, near Bandon, Co Cork. He was an Irish Republican Army (IRA) volunteer and politician and friend of Michael Collins. His father Robert was an activist in the Land War and a reputed member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

1911 – Birth of actor and playwright, Joseph Tomelty, in Portaferry, Co Down.

1921 – The IRA ambush a British army convoy near Clonbanin, Co Cork, killing Brigadier General H. R. Cumming, one of the highest ranked British officers to die in the Irish War of Independence.

1921 – Two ambushes took place in Dublin, one near Parnell Square and one in Clontarf, both in the north of the city. In both incidents, IRA members threw hand grenades and exchanged fire with British troops. One civilian was killed and four wounded. No combatant casualties were reported.

1923 – A Free state patrol comes upon a 36-man strong Anti-Treaty column about to attack Cahersiveen, Co Kerry. The IRA retreat, fighting a rearguard action against pursuing National Army troops through the Garrane mountains. In the running fights, 3 Free State soldiers killed. Two Republicans, including one Anti-Treaty engineer (Dan Clifford) are killed, allegedly after being wounded and then falling into the hands of the pro-Treaty troops. Another later died of wounds. The National Army claims that three more Anti-Treaty fighters were killed in the action and carried away by their comrades. Six Anti-Treaty men are captured, five of whom are executed on 28 March.

1947 – Birth of Clodagh Rodgers in Ballymena, Co Antrim. She is a singer and actress best known for her hit singles including, ‘Come Back and Shake Me’ and ‘Jack in the Box’. In 1970 she was asked to represent the UK in the 1971 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin. According to John Kennedy O’Connor’s The Eurovision Song Contest – The Official History, part of the reasoning behind the BBC’s invitation was their concern over the reaction the UK entrant would get on the stage from the Irish public. She received death threats from the IRA as a result of her appearing for the UK.

1976 – In the House of Commons, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Merlyn Rees announces the dissolution of the short-lived Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention, an ill-fated effort to bring an element of democratically elected domestic rule to the strife torn province.

1981 – Bobby Sands recorded his diary for the first seventeen days of his hunger strike in which he detailed his thoughts and feelings on the momentous task that lay ahead of him. In order to secure his status as Irish political prisoner he was willing to fast til death, an event that would earn him a place in the annals of Irish history and in the hearts and minds of Irish republicans world-wide. See Bobby Sands Trust for today’s recording:

1998 – Dublin gangland criminal Georgie ‘the Penguin’ Mitchell is arrested in Holland after a joint operation between Irish and Dutch police catch him red-handed stealing £4 million worth of computer parts.

1998 – The remains of Dermot Morgan are received at St. Theresa’s Church in his native Dublin. More than 1,000 mourners attend.

1999 – As a precautionary measure, eighteen workers at the Warner-Lambert plant in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, are taken to hospital following a chemical spillage. They are found to be unharmed and are released.

2000 – The Government closes the book on the millennium bug after spending £40m preparing for a potential disaster that doesn’t happen.

2001 – A total of 520 farms are under investigation because of fears of foot and mouth, Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh reveals.

2001 – The shortlist for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is announced by Lord Mayor Maurice Ahern. Six novels are in contention for the world’s richest literary prize (worth IR£100,000) for a single work of fiction, among them Colm Tóibín’s The Blackwater Lightship. Alistair MacLeod is later named the winner for his 1999 novel No Great Mischief.

2003 – In Blarney, Co Cork, pubs, restaurants and supermarkets enthusiastically embrace a no smoking day and the Blarney Stone restaurant in the town square takes the lead by slapping a permanent ban on smoking.

2015 – Death of James ‘Jim’ McCann. He was an Irish entertainer and folk musician. Although a solo artist for most of his career, McCann was a member of the Dubliners from 1974 until 1979, then later appearing with them in their 2002 reunion and their 50th anniversary tour in 2012. He had been battling throat cancer for some time.

Photo: Skellig Michael, Co Kerry, Mariusz Kamionka Photography

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