Today in Irish History – 4 August:

1654 – Birth in Midleton, Co Cork of Thomas Brodrick, politician in Irish and British Houses of Commons who led the inquiry into the ‘South Sea Bubble’.

1805 – Birth in Dublin of Sir William Rowan Hamilton. He was an Irish physicist, astronomer, and mathematician, who made important contributions to classical mechanics, optics, and algebra. His studies of mechanical and optical systems led him to discover new mathematical concepts and techniques. His greatest contribution is perhaps the reformulation of Newtonian mechanics, now called Hamiltonian mechanics.

1832 – The Making of Poitín. A lengthy article on this interesting Irish craft appeared in the Dublin Penny Journal on this day. Full article:

1846 – The Great Southern & Western Railway line between Dublin and Carlow opens.

1878 – Birth of Margaret Pearse, teacher, politician and sister of Padraic Pearse, in Dublin.

1920 – Unarmed IRA burn down unoccupied RIC barracks in Blackrock County Louth.

1922 – Republican troops abandon Cashel, County Tipperary.

1922 – 150 Free State troops under Paddy Daly take Castleisland, County Kerry. The Republicans abandon their positions after six shrapnel shells are fired at them from an 18-pounder field gun.

1922 – Three Free State soldiers, including two commandants, Collison and McCurtain, are killed in a mine and gun attack on a troop lorry in county Tipperary.

1927 – Death of John Dillon, an Irish land reform agitator, Irish Home Rule activist, nationalist politician, Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and last leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party.

1935 – Birth of politician, Michael J. Noonan, in Bruff, Co Limerick. He served as Minister for Defence from 1987 until 1989. Noonan was elected to Dáil Éireann on his first attempt as a Fianna Fáil TD for the Limerick West constituency at the 1969 general election. He remained a controversial figure by voting against the Divorce referendum bill in the Dáil and lost the Fianna Fáil party whip as a result. He retired from political life at the 1997 general election. He died on 17 September 2013.

1952 – Birth of Máire Philomena Ní Bhraonáin, better known as Máire Brennan or Moya Brennan (b. Gweedore, Co Donegal). She is a Grammy Award-nominated Irish folk singer, songwriter, harpist and philanthropist. She began her singing career when her family formed the band Clannad in 1970, and is widely regarded today as the “First Lady of Celtic Music”.

1956 – Heavyweight boxer Gerry Cooney is born to Irish-American parents on Long Island. As a teenager, Cooney won two New York Golden Glove Championships. After turning professional, he won his first twenty-five fights and of course becoming the media’s latest “Great White Hope.” Few would place him in the pantheon of great fighters but he was brave and had a lethal left hook that saw him win twenty-four of his twenty-eight victories via a knockout. Cooney fought Larry Holmes for the World Heavyweight Boxing Title in June 1982. Cooney performed credibly before being stopped in the thirteenth round by Larry Holmes who was then in his prime. Cooney has avoided the fate of many a washed up fighter like Irish Mike Quarry and today is still active in the fight game in media work. He also promoted a number of bouts for Roberto Duran and Hector Camacho. Cooney is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame.

1998 – Gerry Adams is under growing pressure to declare the republican war over after loyalists warn that the North’s peace agreement is in real danger of collapsing.

1999 – The Government abandons all plans to transform the Great Blasket Island into a State Park and the 1,132 acre island is to remain in private ownership.

2000 – The stand-off in the seven-week old train strike intensifies as Transport and Public Enterprise Minister Mary O’Rourke refuses to intervene.

2000 – Loyalists protest after the north of Ireland health minister Bairbre de Brun, a member of Sinn Féin, refuses to fly the Union flag outside her Belfast offices to mark the 100th birthday of Britain’s Queen Mother.

2000 – Residents of Belfast’s Lower Ormeau Road vote overwhelmingly against allowing Orange parades through the flashpoint district.

2002 – Less than two months after turning professional, rookie Graeme McDowell from Portrush, Co Antrim, wins the Scandinavian Masters.

2012 – Death of Con Houlihan, he was an Irish sportswriter. Despite only progressing to national journalism at the age of 46, he would become “the greatest and the best-loved Irish sports journalist of all”. A bronze bust of Houlihan was unveiled in his hometown of Castleisland in 2004. In 2011, another sculpture was erected outside The Palace bar in Dublin.

Photo: Hags Head, Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare, George Karbus Photography

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