Today in Irish History – 7 May:

1689 – James II arrives from exile in France and addresses the Irish Parliament. Thanking them for support, applauding their courage and vowing to “venture my life…in defence of your liberties”. Thus begins the events leading up to the Battle of the Boyne.

1689 – James II’s predominantly Catholic Irish parliament which is in session from this date until 18 July, implements various measures redressing Catholic grievances.

1716 – John Medcalf, previously dismissed as Church of Ireland curate of Powerscourt for conducting clandestine marriages, is excommunicated for refusing to appear in the Consistory Court when cited by a woman for conjugal rights.

1720 – James Cotter is executed for high treason in supporting the Jacobite cause: his son, Sir James Cotter, will later be MP for Askeaton.

1741 – Anthony Tanner, perpetual curate for Holmpatrick, who has been married for less than six months, is murdered near Rush, Co. Dublin.

1838 – Charles Owen O’Conor, politician, is born in Dublin.

1865 – John MacBride, revolutionary and leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, is born in Westport, Co Mayo.

1915 – The Lusitania is sunk by a German U-boat off the Old Head of Kinsale, Co Cork with the loss of more than 1,100 lives.

1931 – An Óige, Irish Youth Hostel Association is established. At the end of that year, it has just 215 members and 2 hostels. Today, An Óige has well over 30 youth hostels located throughout Ireland.

1936 – Birth of former businessman and rugby player, Tony Reilly in Dublin. He is known for his involvement in the Independent News and Media Group, which he led from 1973 to 2009, and as former CEO and Chairman of the H.J. Heinz Company. He was the leading shareholder of Waterford Wedgwood. Perhaps Ireland’s first billionaire, as of 26 May 2014 O’Reilly is being pursued in the Irish courts for debts amounting to €22 million by AIB, following losses amounting to hundreds of millions of euro in his unsuccessful attempt to stop Denis O’Brien from assuming control of Independent News and Media. As a rugby player, he represented Ireland, the British and Irish Lions and the Barbarians and is enshrined as a member of the International Rugby Board’s Hall of Fame.

1938 – Johnny Caldwell, flyweight boxer and winner of a bronze medal in the 1956 Olympics, is born in Belfast.

1945 – Birth of Christy Moore in Newbridge, Co Kildare. A popular Irish folk singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He is well-known as one of the founding members of Planxty and Moving Hearts. His first album, Paddy on the Road (a minor release of 500, although made available again on CD through his website and at gigs in 2010) was recorded with Dominic Behan (brother of Brendan) in 1969. In 2007, he was named as Ireland’s greatest living musician in RTÉ’s People of the Year Awards.

1965 – Soccer player, Norman Whiteside, is born in Belfast.

1966 – The UVF carry out a petrol bomb attack on a Catholic-owned bar and off-licence in Upper Charleville Street in the Shankill Road area of Belfast. The attackers miss their intended target and set fire to the home of Matilda Gould (77), a Protestant civilian, who lived next door to the public house. Gould is severely injured in the attack and dies on 27 June 1984.

1977 – Birth of Lisa Kelly in Dublin. She is a singer of both classical and Celtic music and has taken part in many musical theatre productions and concerts. She is a founding and former member of the musical group Celtic Woman.

1992 – Bishop of Galway, Dr. Eamonn Casey, resigns.

1996 – Henry Diamond, Irish Nationalist MP, dies at 87.

1999 – James le Moyne, a UN negotiator, has agreed to help break the decommissioning deadlock in the Northern peace process before the marching season begins.

2001 – The Broadway play Stones in His Pockets by Belfast playwright Marie Jones receives three nominations for the theatre world’s top honour, the Tony awards, in New York. Conleth Hill and Sean Campion are nominated in the Leading Actor category and Ian McElhinney is nominated for Best Director.

2001 – Islanders off the coast of Cork rescue a 20ft pilot whale who became stranded at Hare Island with another dead whale.

Photo: Inis Meáin, Aran Island, Co Galway

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