Today in Irish History – 8 September:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast day of St. Disbode, a 7th century Irish missionary. According to German legend, the Irish saint founded the German wine industry when wine started pouring from his pilgrim’s staff.

1783 – A second convention of Dungannon – a gathering of Volunteers from Ulster – is held and prepares the way for a National Volunteer convention on parliamentary reform.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Battle of Ballinamuck – Last major battle of “The Year of the French” – after a short fight, Humbert surrenders.

1806 – Death of Patrick Cotter O’Brien. He was the first of only sixteen people in medical history to stand at a verified height of eight feet (2.44 m) or more. O’Brien was born in Kinsale, Co Cork. His real name was Patrick Cotter and he adopted O’Brien as his stage name in the sideshow circus. He was also known as the Bristol Giant and the Irish Giant. It is believed he died from the effects of the disease gigantism.

1812 – John Martin was an Irish nationalist activist who progressed from early militant support for Young Ireland and Repeal, to non-violent alternatives such as support for tenant farmers’ rights and eventually as the first Home Rule MP, for Meath 1871-1875. He was born near Newry, Co. Down.

1830 – Thomas Nicholas Burke, Dominican friar, preacher and lecturer, is born in Galway.

1852 – A conference of the Tenant League in Dublin adopts a policy of independent opposition in Parliament.

1908 – Poet, educator and eventual Easter Rising leader, Pádraig Pearse, opens St. Edna’s school for boys (Scoil Eanna), combining new European theories of education with a focus on the glory of the Gaelic past.

1909 – Death of tennis player, Vere Thomas “St. Leger” Goold. He quickly faded from the game and ended his life in prison convicted of murder and premature death, by suicide. His wife committed the murder, however, he confessed and she was sentenced to death; she died of typhoid fever in prison in 1914.

1919 – British troops “sack” the town of Fermoy, Co Cork as reprisal for an ambush by the IRA the previous day which resulted in the death of one soldier. The attack by the IRA, led by Liam Lynch was the first deliberate ambush by the IRA on British troops and opened the War of Independence.

1922 – A secret meeting takes place between Richard Mulcahy and Éamon de Valera, to try to arrange a truce. However, according to de Valera, they, ‘couldn’t find a basis’ of agreement.

1922 – Republican activist Timothy Kenefick is abducted from his home in Cork city by Free State troops. He is shot dead and his body is dumped near Macroom. Anti-Treaty fighters attack National Army posts protecting the railway line around Limerick Junction, County Tipperary. One Free State soldier and one republican are killed and several others wounded in the fighting

1931 – Birth of Desmond Guinness, author and conservationist.

1933 – Fine Gael was founded on 8 September 1933 following the merger of Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Centre Party and the National Guard, popularly known as the “Blueshirts.” It’s first leader was W.T. Cosgrove.

1970 – Birth of Andy Ward in Whangarei, New Zealand. He is a rugby player currently playing at Ballynahinch RFC. He has played for Ireland with 28 caps and for Ulster. In 2011, he became the strength and conditioning coach of the Antrim Gaelic Football team.

1980 – U2 plays the first of four consecutive Monday night performances at London’s famous Marquee Club.

1998 – A radical Government action plan aiming to cut thousands off the dole is launched.

1999 – AB Airlines will cease operations on the Shannon to London Gatwick route at midnight.

2000 – US President Bill Clinton announces he will visit Ireland in December.

2000 – Clonakilty, Co Cork claims the Best Village title in the prestigious European Entente Florale competition; in the town category, Letterkenny, Co Donegal, wins a bronze medal in the highly competitive environmental contest.

2002 – The Kilkenny Cats beat the Banner, Co Clare and collect their 27th All-Ireland hurling title in front of 76,254 fans at Croke Park.

2005 – Death of Noel Cantrell. Born in Co Cork, he was a cricketer and football player. Cantwell played as a full-back for Western Rovers, Cork Athletic, West Ham United, and Manchester United.

Photo: From the top of Loher looking out to the Skelligs, Photography by Mike Curran

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