Today in Irish History – 4 May:

1699 – According to Jonathan Swift’s book, Gulliver’s Travels, it was on this day that Lemuel Gulliver sets sail on board the Antelope from Bristol.

1715 – Joseph Deane, Justice of Assize for Munster and MP for Co Dublin, dies of a fever resulting from a cold he caught (allegedly caused by a total eclipse of the sun) while returning from circuit on horseback.

1773 – Art Ó Laoghaire, the subject of Eileen O’Leary’s lament ‘Caoineadh Airt Uí Laoghaire’, an Irish Roman Catholic, got into a feud with the High Sheriff of Co Cork, an Englishman named Abraham Morris and is killed near Millstream, Co Cork. Ó Laoghaire’s tomb at Kilcrea Friary has the epitaph (probably composed by his widow): “Lo Arthur Leary, generous, handsome, brave, / Slain in his bloom lies in this humble grave.”

1773 – The Dublin Journal of 4-6 May reports that Thomas Burton (former MP for Ennis) ‘met with the melancholy accident of being overturned in his chaise, by which he was killed on the spot, on his return home, in company with a gentleman who was to have been married to his daughter the following day’.

1782 – Second and third Catholic Relief Acts (4 May, 27 July) allow Catholics to own land outside parliamentary boroughs, to be teachers, and to act as guardians.

1782 – Acts establish the Bank of Ireland, and validates marriages by Presbyterian ministers.

1836 – The Ancient Order of Hibernians in America is founded in New York City.

1838 – Charles Williams, war correspondent, is born in Coleraine, Co Derry.

1902 – Eight fishermen from the Claddagh fishing village lost their lives while sailing on Galway Bay, near the village of Killcolgan, Co Galway.

1916 – Easter Rising: Edward Daly, Michael O’harrahan, William Pearse (brother of Pádraig Pearse) and Joseph Mary Plunkett are executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol.

1921 – The Kerry IRA ambushed an RIC patrol. Eight Policemen were killed/died of wounds, with only one escapee from the RIC patrol. Five houses and a creamery were burned in reprisal by British forces. The IRA had left the body of an 80 year-old informer, Thomas Sullivan, they had killed at the side of the road near Rathmore, in order to lure the police into the ambush.

1922 – Pro and Anti Treaty IRA forces clash in Donegal. There is firefight at Buncrana in which two republicans and two civilians are wounded, two fatally.

1928 – Poet, Thomas Kinsella, is born in Inchicore, Co Dublin.

1946 – Birth in Belfast of John Watson, former Formula 1 racing driver.

1956 – Birth of Steve Barron in Dublin. He is a film director and producer, and music video director. He is best known for directing the films Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990), Boneheads (1993) and the innovative music videos for a-ha’s “Take on Me” and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean”.

1989 – Birth of Rory McIlroy in Hollywood, Co Down. He is a professional golfer who is a member of both the European and PGA Tours. He was world number one in the Official World Golf Ranking for 95 weeks. He is a four-time major champion, winning the 2011 U.S Open with a tournament record lowest score under par (−16), 2012 PGA Championship with a tournament record eight strokes victory margin, 2014 Open Championship, and 2014 PGA Championship. Along with Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods he is one of three players to win three majors by the age of 25.

1998 – Dissident IRA bombers strike in the heart of west Belfast to disrupt the city’s annual marathon in an incident which reflects the growing divisions among republicans.

1999 – TV3 pulls off the biggest coup of its short existence by securing the broadcasting rights to the UEFA Champions League for three years from the start of the 2000-01 season.

1999 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has a working dinner in Government Buildings with the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, who is in Ireland as part of an European tour.

2000 – Ciaran Nugent, the first person to start the blanket protest against the British Government’s treatment of republican prisoners, is found dead at his home.

2001 – The remains of St Therese of Lisieux arrive at Mountjoy Prison where they will remain overnight.

2003 – Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, tells a republican rally in west Belfast that the British government has effectively capitulated to the leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party by postponing the Assembly elections until the autumn.

Photo: Inis Mór, Aran Islands, Co Galway

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