Today in Irish History – 23 August:

In the Liturgical calendar, it is the Feast day of St Éogan of Ardstraw.

1170 – Strongbow, a henchman of Henry II, arrives in Waterford at the behest of Dermot McMurrough, an event described in the Annals of Ulster as “the beginning of the woes of Ireland”.

1742 – Birth of Walter Hussey (Burgh), lawyer, politician and orator.

1749 – Birth of John FitzGibbon, 1st Earl of Clare PC (Ire) (b. near Dublin), was the son of John FitzGibbon and his wife Isabella Grove, daughter of John Grove, of Ballyhimmock, Co Cork. FitzGibbon, later known as Earl of Clare or Lord Clare, was Attorney-General for Ireland in 1783, then Lord Chancellor of Ireland in 1789, (in which capacity he was first promoted to the Irish peerage). He was a controversial figure in Irish history, being described variously as a Protestant hardliner, a staunch anti-Catholic, and an early supporter of Union with England (which finally happened shortly before his death). He is said to have been an early opponent of measures for Catholic political relief (meaning the removal of some or all legal disabilities against Catholics) in both Ireland and Great Britain, and may have been the first to suggest to George III that the King would violate his coronation oath if he consented to the admission of Catholics to Parliament.

1798 – Frenchman General Humbert proclaims at Ballina, Co Mayo, “Union, liberty, the Irish Republic”. The Irish Republic more commonly referred to as the Republic of Connacht.

1825 – Death of Michael Dwyer. He was a Society of the United Irishmen leader in the 1798 rebellion. He later fought a guerilla campaign against the British Army in the Wicklow Mountains from 1798-1803. Dwyer was born in Camera, Co Wicklow. In 1784 the family moved to a farm at Eadesown in the Glen of Imaal. Dwyer was a cousin of Anne Devlin who would later achieve fame for her loyalty to the rebel cause following the suppression of Robert Emmet’s rebellion.

1887 – The Land Act gives courts the power to revise and fix rents.

1908 – Birth in Dublin of Mervyn Wall, writer who wrote under the pseudonym of Eugene Welply.

1912 – Birth of Irish American actor Gene Kelly.

1914 – Death of Maurice Dease the first soldier to win a Victoria Cross medal in WWI. Dease was born in Coole, Co Westmeath. He won the posthumous award for his bravery during the Battle of Mons Belgium, just nineteen days after World War I breaks out.

1920 – Violent clashes in Belfast; 30 people are killed between 23 August and 31 August; Catholics are expelled from shipyards and engineering works.

1953 – Birth of John Rocha, fashion designer, based mainly in Dublin since the late seventies.

1972 – Lord Killanin becomes the first Irish president of the International Olympic Committee.

1995 – RTÉ reports on the closure of the Irish Press newspaper.

1998 – A memorial service for the victims of the Omagh bombing is held at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin and attended by many dignitaries including President Mary McAleese.

1999 – Dublin Bus opens the controversial Stillorgan Quality Bus Corridor and triples travelling time for city bound motorists.

1999 – Bus Éireann announces a luxury Expressway coach hourly daily service from Limerick to Dublin.

1999 – Death of James White, author of science fiction novellas, short stories and novels. He was born in Belfast and returned there after spending some early years in Canada. After a few years working in the clothing industry, he worked at Short Brothers Ltd., an aircraft company based in Belfast, from 1965 until taking early retirement in 1984 as a result of diabetes. White married Margaret Sarah Martin, another science fiction fan, in 1955 and the couple had three children. He died of a stroke.

2001 – An Bord Pleanála grants permission to build a four-lane bridge between Macken Street and Guild Street in Dublin.

Photo: Rockfleet Castle, or Carrickahowley Castle, a tower house near Newport, Co Mayo. It was built in the mid-sixteenth century, and is most famously associated with Gráinne O’Malley.

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