Today in Irish History – 9 August:

1690 – Siege of Limerick commences when William of Orange encamps just outside the walls of the old city, with an army of about 26,000; the Irish defenders were similar in number though not nearly as well armed.

1850 – Irish Tenant League is founded.

1886 – Death of Sir Samuel Ferguson, an Irish poet, barrister, antiquarian, artist and public servant. Perhaps the most important Ulster-Scot poet of the 19th century, because of his interest in Irish mythology and early Irish history; he can be seen as a forerunner of William Butler Yeats and the other poets of the Celtic Twilight.

1920 – The Restoration of Order in Ireland Act received Royal assent. The Act gave Dublin Castle the power to govern by regulation; to replace the criminal courts with courts-martial; to replace coroners’ inquests with military courts of inquiry; and to punish disaffected local governments by withholding their grants of money.

1922 – There is fighting at Douglas County Cork. The Free State troops take 36 republican prisoners.

1922 – A National Army soldier is killed in ambush at Ferrycarrig, Wexford.

1922 – General Prout’s Free State column takes Redmondstown, Co Kilkenny, with the aid of artillery.

1971 – Internment is introduced in Northern Ireland. As violence continued to flare in the North, Unionist Prime Minister Brian Faulkner was under increasing pressure to halt Republican violence and bombings against the institutions of Northern Ireland. A conflict that had simmered, sometimes boiled since the introduction of the Northern Ireland state in 1922 was by now reaping terrible toil. The introduction of internment gave the authorities the power to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists without trial. More than 300 Republican suspects were detained in early morning raids. Faulkner claimed that Northern Ireland was “quite simply at war with the terrorist.” (In the 1940s, Éamon de Valera in the South of Ireland had also introduced internment against Republicans, many of whom would have fought with Dev and his colleagues during the War of Independence.) Internment provoked even greater violence in the North. Exactly what the authorities could have done in the circumstances is difficult to know, but internment proved a recruitment boon to the IRA. Arrests were often made based on outdated information. The internment of innocent Nationalists provoked even greater anger.

1971 – 9-11: During the internment round-up operation in west Belfast, the Parachute Regiment killed 11 unarmed civilians in what became known as the Ballymurphy massacre.

1979 – The first Vietnamese boat people arrive in Ireland.

1998 – U2’s PopMart movie debuts at the Festival Revue in Edinburgh, Scotland.

2000 – Secondary picketing by striking train drivers, who are members of the Irish Locomotive Drivers’ Association, causes transport chaos for thousands of Dublin commuters.

Photo: Mullaghcarbatagh’s cairn on the Sperrin Mountains

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