Today in Irish History – 24 July:

In the Liturgical Calendar, the Feast Day of Declán mac Eircc (also Déclán or Declan), Declanus in Latin sources, was an early Irish saint of the Déisi Muman, who was remembered for having converted the Déisi in the late 5th century and for having founded the monastery of Ardmore (Ard Mór) in what is now Co Waterford. The principal source for his life and cult is a Latin Life of the 12th century. Like Ailbe of Emly, Ciarán of Saigir and Abbán of Moyarney, Declán is presented as a Munster saint who preceded Saint Patrick in bringing Christianity to Ireland. He was regarded as a patron saint of the Déisi of East Munster.

1261 – The Norman-Irish under the justiciar, William de Dene, are heavily defeated by Fineen MacCarthy at the battle of Callann in Co Kerry; the MacCarthys and O’Sullivans now control the south-west corner of Ireland. Richard de la Rochelle becomes justiciar.

1294 – Before the council of Dublin, de Vescy accuses John Fitz Thomas, Baron of Offaly, of defaming him to the king and council in England. Fitz Thomas retorts that de Vescy has described the king as the most perverse and dastardly knight of his kingdom. A wager of battle follows and the party are summoned before the king at Westminster. On this date, de Vescy appears ready to give battle but Fitz Thomas does not; de Vescy thus wins his case by default. However, he has been removed from the post of justiciar.

1750 – John Philpott Curran, lawyer, politician, and defender of prominent United Irishmen, is born in Newmarket, Co Cork.

1847 – Án Gorta Mor mass emigration.

1863 – Death of John Moore Nelligan, one of the foremost physicians and medical teachers of his day. He was born in Clonmel, Co Tipperary in 1815. He received particular acclaim for his book Medicines, their Uses and Modes of Administration. He was editor of Dublin Quarterly Journal of Medical Science from 1849 to 1861. Nelligan was an expert on cutaneous diseases, and in 1852 published a work on Diseases of the Skin.

1878 – Edward Barrett, 18th Baron of Dunsany, fantasist, playwright and short-story writer is born in London.

1909 – Geoffrey Bing, Irish human rights activist and author, is born in Belfast.

1920 – Three days of sectarian riots in Belfast instigated by the Belfast Protestant Association come to an end. More than a dozen people are killed and many others are driven from their homes.

1922 – Republican fighters under Liam Deasy re-take Bruff and take 76 Free State prisoners.

1922 – Naval landing of 400 Free State troops at Clew Bay, Co Mayo. They link up with National Army troops advancing from Castlebar under Seán Mac Eoin and take Westport from the Anti-Treaty forces there.

1922 – Anti-Treaty IRA fighters ambush a prison train Killurin, Co Wexford, freeing its prisoners; two Free State soldiers are killed and 7 wounded.

1922 – Two civilians are shot dead in Dublin when Republican fighters rob a public house.

1922 – Two young female civilians are shot dead another man critically wounded by Northern Ireland forces along the border with the Free State, near Newry. They had failed to stop when challenged.

1922 – Two Free State soldiers are killed in Galway, when the car they were driving crashes into a tree laid across the road.

1940 – The Picture Post magazine is banned in Ireland after a campaign by the Irish Catholic which objected to the “vulgarity and suggestiveness of the illustrations”.

1943 – Edward McLysaght appointed first Chief Herald of Ireland.

1944 – Birth of guitarist, Jim Armstrong in Belfast). Armstrong’s musical career started while he was still a schoolboy, when he played in Belfast’s top showband, The Melotones, who were resident in the city’s Romano’s Ballroom. Armstrong played and recorded in the mid-’60s with Van Morrison and Them, touring both Europe and America (where he lived – playing and recording – for 4 years). Of the 51 tracks recorded by Morrison and Them (1964–66), Armstrong played on over half, and while living in America met and played with Jim Morrison and The Doors, Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa. During this time he was voted 3rd best guitarist in the world (after Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa).

1945 – Death of Kitty Kiernan. Born in Granary, Co Longford, she is widely known as the fiancée of assassinated Irish revolutionary, Michael Collins. Collins was introduced to the vivacious Kiernan sisters by his cousin Geared O’Sullivan, who was already dating Maud Kieran. Kitty died of Bright’s disease (as did all of her siblings), and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, not far from where Collins lies.

1962 – Death of Margaret Buckley, an Irish republican and president of Sinn Féin from 1937 to 1950.

1990 – IRA bomb in Armagh kills three RUC officers and a Catholic nun who was driving by at the time. The IRA and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Féin apologised for the death of the nun.

1998 – Cork Opera House announces significant rise in operating losses.

2000 – The new Student Drama Theatre in the NUI Galway opens.

2000 – Bus strike cripples large areas of Dublin.

2000 – Galway district court Judge John Garavan refuses to extend late night opening hours to a number of nightclubs because the women frequenting them are “dreadful and not respectable”.

2002 – Latest census figures show that the population of the State is just over 3.9 million – the highest level since 1871.

2010 – Death of Alexander Gordon Higgins (b. Belfast) also known by his nickname of Hurricane Higgins. He was a professional snooker player who was twice World Champion and twice runner-up. Higgins earned the nickname The Hurricane because of his speed of play. Higgins was also a former World Doubles champion with Jimmy White and won the World Cup three times with the All Ireland team. He also came to be known as the People’s Champion because of his popularity.

Photo: St Declan’s Oratory, Ardmore, Co Waterford

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