Today in Irish History – 19 August:

1504 – Battle of Knockdoe (also known as The Battle of Axe Hill). After Ulick Burke of Clanricard seizes Galway city, Edward Fitzgerald, the Earl of Kildare, goes to Connacht and defeats Burke at Knockdoe. This is the largest battle ever fought between Irishmen, with 10,000 participants and 2,000 fatalities; however, most of the fighting is done by gall óglach – foreign warriors – or gallowglass. As a reward, Fitzgerald is made a Knight of the Garter.

1792 – Edward Hincks, orientalist, is born in Cork.

1839 – Act passed for the “improvement of navigation on the Shannon”.

1876 – The ship Catalpa arrives in the U.S. with Irish Fenian prisoners rescued from Australia.

1887 – Birth of poet Francis Ledwidge in Slane, Co Meath.

1907 – A memorial arch is dedicated at St. Stephens Green Dublin in honour of the Irish soldiers who died fighting for “King and country” in the Boer war. Thousands of Irish fought in the Boer War for the British Army. And as always with the Irish, Irish fought against Irish thousands of miles from home. The executed 1916 leader John MacBride mustered an Irish Brigade on the Boer side which engaged the Royal Dublin Fusiliers and the Inniskilling Fusiliers at the Battle of Colenso and other incidents.

1922 – There is a four hour gun battle on the border near Dundalk between pro and Anti-Treaty fighters. The republicans eventually retreat across the border into Northern Ireland where they cannot be followed. Elsewhere, there are renewed attacks on Free State troops in Dublin and the railway bridge at Carrick on Shannon is blown up and destroyed by Republicans.

1922 – In Kerry, a Free State column is ambushed near Listowel, one soldier is shot dead.

1922 – In Tipperary, a National Army soldier is shot dead when visiting his family.

1930 – Birth of Francis “Frank” McCourt (in Brooklyn, NY) was an American-Irish teacher and Pulitzer Prize-winning author, best known as the author of Angela’s Ashes. His brothers Malachy McCourt and Alphie McCourt are also autobiographical writers. In the mid-1980s Francis and Malachy created the stage play A Couple of Blaguards, a two-man show about their lives and experiences.

1941 – Death of John Thomas Browne (b. 23 March 1845 in Ballylanders, Co Limerick) was an Irish Catholic Mayor of Houston, Texas. He was instrumental in starting the Houston Fire Department as a paid force. He served in that post from 1892 to 1896 and then in the Texas House of Representatives from 1897 to 1899 and again in 1907. He married Mollie Bergin on September 13, 1871 and was also known as “The Fighting Irishman” and “Honest John”. He was a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus. He died of pneumonia and was buried at Glenwood Cemetery in Houston.

1995 – After 26 years of shows by some of Ireland’s top artists, Dublin’s Baggot Inn hosts its final live concert performance.

1998 – David Trimble demands that the British government introduce anti-terrorist laws equal to those planned by the Republic.

1998 – Sonia O’Sullivan wins the 10,000m at the European championships in Budapest.

1989 – Radio Caroline, the offshore pirate station in the North Sea, is raided by British and Dutch governments. Founded in 1964 by Ronan O’Rahilly to circumvent the record companies’ control of popular music broadcasting in the United Kingdom and the BBC’s radio broadcasting monopoly. Ronan’s grandfather Michael O’Rahilly (The O’Rahilly) was an important figure in the quest for the independence of Ireland, a leader in the Easter Rising, who died in the fighting in Dublin in April 1916.

1999 – The Connemara Pony Fair in Clifden; the west of Ireland’s most prestigious horse festival – is marred by brawls between two traveller groups. The violence is a result of a long running feud between the McDonagh and Ward families.

2001 – The remains of Aer Lingus chairman Bernie Cahill, who is believed to have drowned after an accident while attending his boat, are received by Rev. Fr. Michael Nolan at St. Mary’s Church in Schull.

Photo: Valentia Island, one of Ireland’s most westerly points lying off the Iveragh Peninsula in the south-west of Co Kerry

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