Today in Irish History – 8 August:

1588 – The Spanish Armada is defeated by the English, with some Spaniards slain upon reaching the coasts of Ireland and some survivors remaining.

1647 – The Irish Confederate Wars and Wars of the Three Kingdoms: Battle of Dungans Hill – English Parliamentary forces defeat Irish forces.

1694 – Birth of Francis Hutcheson, Presbyterian philosopher, in Co Down.

1781 – James Gandon moves from London to Dublin; the first stone of his Customs House is laid on this date.

1911 – Birth of Billy Behan, one of the men who made Manchester United one of the best clubs in world soccer. The Dublin born Behan scouted for the Red Devils for almost half a century discovering such players as Johnny Carey, Liam Whelan, Johnny Giles, Tony Dunne, Don Givens, Kevin Moran and Paul McGrath. In his memoir, John Giles – A Football Man, Giles says Behan was a “tall easy-going man” who had “a kind of a sixth sense for identifying the players who would make it.” To the astonishment of many, Behan encouraged Dublin All Ireland Football hero Kevin Moran to sign for United. Moran went on to have a distinguished career on the soccer field playing for Ireland 71 times.

1922 – Free State seaborne landings take place in Co Cork. Emmet Dalton and 800 troops, with two artillery pieces and armoured cars, land at Passage West. A further 200 men are put ashore at Youghal and 180 troops land at Glandore. Heavy fighting takes place at Rochestown in Cork, as 200 Anti-Treaty troops try to block the Free State advance on Cork City. Nine National Army and seven Republicans are killed before the Free State troops secure the area.

1923 – The Civic Guard is renamed the Garda Síochana.

1953 – The library of Alfred Chester Beatty, containing his unique collection of oriental manuscripts, opens in Dublin.

1955 – Birth of former racing driver, Michael Roe in Naas, Co Kildare.

1961 – David Evans (The Edge) is born in England. When he was one, his family moved to the beautiful seaside village of Malahide, Co Dublin. When Larry Mullen posted a notice at his high school Mount Temple Comprehensive seeking to start a band, Edge along with Paul Hewson (Bono) and Adam Clayton signed on. The rest is rock history and U2. Edge’s unique sound has been a crucial element in the success of U2. Self-taught, he is rated #24 in the Rolling Stone list of Greatest Guitarists. His influences included the great Irish blues guitarist Rory Gallagher whom Rolling Stone place at #57 on their list (about 50 places too low!).

1976 – Founding of the Peace Movement in the North. First Declaration Of The Peace People:
We have a simple message to the world from this movement for Peace.
We want to live and love and build a just and peaceful society.
We want for our children, as we want for ourselves, our lives at home, at work, and at play to be lives of joy and Peace.
We recognize that to build such a society demands dedication, hard work, and courage.
We recognize that there are many problems in our society which are a source of conflict and violence.
We recognize that every bullet fired and every exploding bomb make that work more difficult.
We reject the use of the bomb and the bullet and all the techniques of violence.
We dedicate ourselves to working with our neighbours, near and far, day in and day out, to build that peaceful society in which the tragedies we have known are a bad memory and a continuing warning

1980 – The Central Hotel Fire Bundoran, Co Donegal occurred. The Central Hotel was a popular family owned hotel in the heart of the seaside resort of Bundoran, Co. Donegal. On 8th August 1980, a fire broke out killing ten people, including both locals and holiday makers. The tragedy featured as part of the RTÉ television series Disasters in summer 2007.

1981 – Thomas McElwee, Irish political prisoner, dies on the sixty-second day of his hunger strike in Long Kesh Prison.

1999 – The INLA and its political wing the IRSP stated that “There is no political or moral argument to justify a resumption of the campaign”.

2000 – A leading figure in the Young Ireland Movement, Edward Walsh, poet, folklorist, song writer and teacher, is remembered on the 150th anniversary of his death.

2001 – The Taoiseach and Tánaiste urge Irish workers and employers not to panic as computer giant Gateway signals a shutdown of Irish operations with 900 job losses.

Photo: Castle Roche, Dundalk, Co Louth

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