Today in Irish History – 8 April:

1719 – Birth of Viscount Edmond Pery, speaker of the House of Commons from March 1771 to September 1785.

1805 – Sir William Rowan Hamilton, mathematician and astronomer, is born in Dublin.

1816 – Sir Frederick Burton, painter, is born in Corofin, Co Clare.

1835 – Jonah Barrington, the Irish Parliament’s leading opponent of the Union with Britain and author of The Rise and Decline of the Irish Nation, dies.

1861 – Ulster-Scot landlord, John George Adair who owned considerable real estate in Ireland, including the large Glenveagh Castle, evicts 244 tenants on his estate at Derryveagh, Co Donegal. More than 150 screaming children and their parents were ordered off the property. Adair cleared twelve thousand acres. Many of the evicted had no idea where they might find shelter; some relocated to Australia. The incident is recorded by the Donegal band, “Goats Don’t Shave,” in the song “The Evictions” on their “Rusty Razor” album.

1867 – A. E. (George Russell), pivotal Irish Renaissance poet, painter, journalist and mystic, is born.

1886 – Home Rule Bill introduced in English Parliament by Gladstone.

1910 – Death of Thomas Francis Walsh. Born in Lisronagh, Tipperary, he emigrated to Colorado and became a miner who discovered one of the largest gold mines in America. The wealth that Walsh discovered soon provided his family with a lavish lifestyle. Around 1898, the family moved to Washington, D.C. where in 1900, he was appointed by President William McKinley as a commissioner to the Paris Exposition of 1899. In 1903 the family moved into the ornate mansion at 2020 Massachusetts Avenue. Later, the house became the Indonesian Embassy. Walsh’s daughter, Evalyn Walsh McLean, was the last private owner of the Hope diamond.

1923 – Edward Mulhare is born in Co Cork; he grew up to become an actor and starring roles include Capt. Daniel Gregg in the 1968 release of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

1930 – Birth in Dublin of Frank Cluskey, politician and Labour Party leader from 1977-1981.

1930 – Writer and critic John Jordan is born in Dublin.

1933 – The Army Comrades’ Association parades in blue shirts on this date.

1951 – Birth of poet, Paul Muldoon in Co Armagh. He has published over thirty collections and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He held the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1999 to 2004. At Princeton University he is both the Howard G. B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities and chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He is also the president of the Poetry Society (UK) and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker.

1951 – A census on this date shows the population of the Republic to be 2,960,593 and that of Northern Ireland is 1,370,921.

1960 – The Royal Showband is forced to change its name to the Waterford Showband for an appearance at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London because two members of the British royal family are in attendance.

1981 – Death of Greta Bowen, artist known as “The Irish Grandma Moses”.

1999 – The peace process is plunged into a new crisis after mainstream loyalist paramilitaries make it clear they have no intention of handing over weapons and the Sinn Fein’s leadership brands the Hillsborough Declaration “unacceptable”.

1999 – The Department of Education unveils a new primary school curriculum which replaces the one of 1971.

2002 – The IRA makes a second and substantial gesture of putting arms beyond use which is broadly welcomed by political leaders in Dublin, London and Belfast.

2003 – U.S. president George W. Bush leaves Belfast at the end of a two-day summit attended by British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern.

2003 – Paul Muldoon wins the Pulitzer prize for poetry. The 51-year-old Belfast poet is awarded the prestigious prize for his work Moy Sand and Gravel.

Photo: The Three Musicians Sculptures; Kenmare, Co Kerry

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