Today in Irish History – 7 August:

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Examination by secret committee of MacNeven, O’Connor, Neilson, Thomas Emmet, and Bond begins in the House of Lords.

1832 – The Parliamentary Reform Act increases Irish seats from 100 to 105 and introduces ten-pound franchise in the boroughs: the electorate is increased to 1.2% of the population (county electorate 60,000; borough electorate 30,000). 1 Irish urban dweller in 26 and one Irish rural dweller in 116 now has the vote, as compared to 1 in 17 and 1 in 24 in England.

1892 – Birth of Tom Falcon Hazell, WWI Ace, in Clifden, Co Galway. Hazell was a fighter pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, (Royal Air Force) downing forty-three enemy planes during World War I. He was one of a number of very skilled Irish-born air aces of the war including Edward Mannock and George McElroy. He was the only one of the three to survive the war and the most successful air ace to survive the war.

1914 – Death of Co Armagh born Charles Davis Lucas (b. 19 February 1834). Lewis was the first recipient of the Victoria Cross. Lucas won the VC for action during the Crimean War when serving with the Royal Navy. The citation reads in part that “at the height of the action a live shell landed on Hecla’s upper deck, with its fuse still hissing. All hands were ordered to fling themselves flat on the deck, but Mr. Lucas with great presence of mind ran forward and hurled the shell into the sea, where it exploded with a tremendous roar before it hit the water. Thanks to Mr. Lucas’s action no one was killed or seriously wounded.” He would go on to have a very successful career finally retiring as Rear Admiral.

1916 – O’Neil of the Glen, the first production released by the Film Company of Ireland, premiers at Dublin’s Bohemian Theatre.

1920 – The IRA East Limerick Flying Column under Donnchadh O’Hannigan and George Lennon, joined forces with Cork Column under Tom Barry to ambush a six man RIC foot patrol near Kildorrery, Co Cork. All the RIC men were wounded, one fatally (Black and Tan, Ernest S. Watkins). Six revolvers and 250 rounds of ammunition were seized.

1922 – Heavy fighting takes place at Newcastle West, Co Limerick. Free State troops, advancing from Rathkeale, take the town with armoured cars and infantry supported by artillery. During the 12 hour battle, a party of republicans is caught in machine gun fire from one of the Free State armoured cars, taking many casualties. The Republican headquarters is shelled by field guns and they eventually retreat along the Cork road. Press reports say that 12 Anti-Treaty fighters are killed in the action. National Army casualties are reported as, ‘less than those of the irregulars.’

1922 – Joe Hudson, Glasthule, Dún Laoghaire is shot dead in his Garden at the same address by Free State Army officer.

1922 – National Army troops assault and take Kildorrey, Co Cork from its Anti-Treaty garrison. Casualties are reported as one dead and 2 wounded on either side. 27 Republicans are taken prisoner

1937 – Ireland’s most successful female rally driver Rosemary Smith is born in Dublin. Smith’s career included successes in the Circuit of Ireland Rally, East African Rally, Cork 20, Scottish Rally. Smith was controversially disqualified from the 1966 Monte Carlo Rally, after winning the Coupe des Dames, the ladies class. Smith gives her reasons for the qualification at about 10.46 of this YouTube video. It is an excellent interview with a very entertaining lady. Her explanation of why she was prevented from driving in the Le Mans 24 is nothing short of hilarious. Listen at 13.00.

1943 – Death of artist, Sarah Purser. She was bown in Kingstown (now Dún Laoghaire), Co Dublin, and raised in Dungarvan, Co Waterford, educated in Switzerland and afterwards studied at the Metropolitan School of Art in Dublin and in Paris at the Académie Julian. She worked mostly as a portraitist. Through her talent and energy, and owing to her friendship with the Gore-Booths, she was very successful in obtaining commissions, famously commenting: “I went through the British aristocracy like the measles.”

1957 – Birth of Daire Brehan in Dublin. She was an actress, broadcaster and barrister who presented a variety of BBC Radio programs during the 1990s. Prior to her broadcasting career, she worked as an actress on stage and TV in Ireland. Her broadcasting work began with RTÉ Radio 1, for whom she presented programmes including Sounding Out and Brehan’s Law, the latter drawing on her earlier legal training. As an undergraduate in the 1970s at Trinity College Dublin her law tutors included Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson.

1991 – World Wide Web debuts as a publicly available service on the Internet.

1998 – Unemployment falls for the 16th month in a row to reach its lowest level in almost eight years.

2001 – British Airways begin a training programme for the crew of the Concorde aircraft at Shannon Airport amid speculation the supersonic plane could be back in the air within the next number of weeks.

2001 – Family and close friends gather in the Spanish resort of Alicante for the cremation of one of Ireland’s best loved actors, Joe Lynch.

2002 – The government announces that American Special Forces will not be allowed to use Irish airspace or airports during any attack on Iraq.

Photo: West Cork Coast

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