Today in Irish History – 8 May:

1567 – Shane O’Neill’s army crosses the Swilly estuary at Farsetmore, and is defeated in a pitched battle by Hugh O’Donnell. Many drown while trying to escape; O’Neill loses 1,300 men.

1597 – Execution of Fiach MacHugh O’Byrne. Fiach Mac Aodha Ó Broin was Lord of Ranelagh and sometime leader of the Clann Uí Bhroin, or the O’Byrne clan, during the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland.

1796 – John Pitt Kennedy, civil engineer; road and railway pioneer in India, is born in Carndonagh, Co Donegal.

1879 – Sir William Wheeler, surgeon, is born in Dublin.

1899 – The first production of the Irish Literary Theatre, The Countess Cathleen is performed. Like many of Yeats’ plays, it is inspired by Irish folklore. In a time of famine, demons sent by Satan come to Ireland to buy the souls of the starving people. The saintly Cathleen disposes of her vast estates and wealth in order to feed the peasants, yet the demons thwart her at every turn; at last, she sacrifices her own soul to save those of the poor.

1916 – Easter Rising: Irish patriots, Michael Mallin, Eamonn Ceannt, Cornelius “Con” Colbert and Sean Heuston are shot dead in Kilmainham Gaol.

1920 – Volunteers of IRA 1st Cork Brigade led by Mick Leahy captured Cloyne RIC barracks.

1921 – An IRA column was surrounded by British troops in the hills of Lappanduff, Co Cavan. One IRA man was killed, two wounded and eleven captured.

1921 – British forces in Carrigtohill, Co Cork, shot dead an IRA volunteer.

1935 – Birth of Jack Charlton, footballer and manager.

1945 – VE Day is marked in Dublin by small disturbances throughout the city which quickly turn into major disorder.

1951 – The Arts Council is founded in the Republic.

1958 – Birth of Roddy Doyle, an Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter.

1981 – Joe McDonnell begins his hunger strike at the H Blocks in Long Kesh prison. He was a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who died on 8 July after 61 days on hunger strike.

1987 – The Loughgall Ambush: The SAS kill 8 IRA soldiers and 1 civilian, in Loughgall, Co Armagh.

1990 – Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Tomás Ó Fiach, dies in Lourdes.

1999 – A freak mini-tornado hits Carraroe, near Williamstown in Co Galway, leaving a trail of destruction in its path and almost killing a couple who just manage to escape from their mobile home before it is picked up and torn apart.

2001 – A strike by more than 100 ATGWU drivers along the east coast causes havoc for 120,000 travellers who find themselves without suburban and inter-city train service; Dart service is cut in half.

2003 – Visiting French angler Marc Peyronnie lands an enormous 44 lb-3oz pike following a 25 minute titanic struggle at Ardan Lake. The fish measured 1.18 metres and following this photo shoot he was returned to the lake with a kiss from his proud conqueror!

2007 – The Reverend Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness mark the end of almost four decades of bitter and bloody conflict in Northern Ireland as they are formally appointed first minister and deputy first minister. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, British prime minister Tony Blair and other dignitaries, including former US president Bill Clinton and US democrat Ted Kennedy, witness the creation of a powersharing government led by political polar opposites the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Féin. This is the first time that Northern Ireland will be run by a government in which all the main nationalist and unionist parties have agreed to operate power together.

Photo: Declan Kerr Art, Easter Rising 1916 Series

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