Today in Irish History – 5 August:

1722 – Birth of William Henry Fortescue, politician and sportsman, who tried unsuccessfully in the 1760s to introduce a bill ‘to preserve partridges and hares and to take away the lives of above half the dogs in the nation’.

1829 – Birth of William Coffey VC DCM in Knocklong, Co Limerick. He was an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

1888 – Philip Henry Sheridan, the son of Irish immigrants from Cavan, dies in Nonquit, Massachusetts. He became an officer in the Federal cavalry and is infamously credited with the phrase: ‘The only good Indian is a dead one’.

1891 – The Land Purchase Act further facilitates tenants’ purchase of acreage from former landlords and establishes a board to purchase and redistribute land at a local level in the west.

1901 – Peter O’Connor sets long jump record at 24′ 11 3/4″. He was born in Ashford, Co.Wicklow, but he lived and worked as a solicitor in Waterford City for most of his life. He won his first title in 1899 at the age of 25 years and his last in 1906 – but that was the Olympic title. He was the first IAAF ratified long jump world record holder and his remarkable world, and Irish, long jump record, set in Ballsbridge, Dublin on this date lasted for 20 years.

1922 – Bridges Job: Plot to isolate Dublin fails when Free State Intelligence officers discover from captured Anti-Treaty officer Liam Clarke that Republicans have planned to destroy all the bridges leading into Dublin.

1922 – About 2,000 Free State troops under Eoin O’Duffy take Kilmallock, Co Limerick. The Republicans retreat towards Charleville.

1931 – Birth of Billy Bingham, Northern Ireland footballer and manager, in Belfast.

1934 – Gabriel Mary “Gay” Byrne (affectionately known as Gaybo) is a veteran presenter of radio and television. His most notable role was first host of The Late Late Show over a 37-year period spanning 1962 until 1999. The Late Late Show is the world’s second longest-running chat show. His time working in Britain with Granada Television saw him become the first person to introduce The Beatles on screen.

1952 – Birth of Michael Louis Vincent Walsh in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. He is an Irish entertainment manager and former judge on British television talent show The X Factor.

1969 – The UVF planted their first bomb in the Republic of Ireland, damaging the RTÉ Television Centre in Dublin.

1983 – In another ‘supergrass’ trial, twenty-two PIRA volunteers were jailed for a total of over four thousand years. Eighteen would later have their convictions quashed.

1984 – U2 finish recording ‘The Unforgettable Fire’.

1999 – A unique exhibition: ’75 Years of Giving’, is officially opened in in Dublin by President Mary McAleese. It comprises a collection of treasures from museums and art galleries throughout the country and marks the 75th anniversary of the foundation of the Friends of the National Collections of Ireland (FNCI).

Photo: Ashford Castle, Co Mayo

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