Today in Irish History – 29 October:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast Day of Saint Colman Mac Duagh. He was born at Corker, Kiltartan, Co Galway c. 550, the son of the Irish chieftain Duac (mac Duach). He was educated at Saint Enda’s monastery in Inishmore/Árainn. Thereafter he was a recluse, living in prayer and prolonged fastings, first on Inismore, then in a cave at the Burren in Co Clare. With King Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin of Connacht he founded the monastery of Kilmacduagh, (‘the church of the son of Duac’), and governed it as abbot-bishop. The ‘leaning tower of Kilmacduagh,’ 112 feet high, is almost twice as old as the famous tower in Pisa. The Irish round tower was restored in 1880. There is a legend that angels brought King Guaire to him by causing his festive Easter dinner to disappear from his table. The king and his court followed the angels to the place where Colman had kept the Lenten fast and now was without food. The path of this legendary journey is called the “road of the dishes.”

1835 – Michael William Balfe’s opera Siege of Rochelle is first performed at the Drury Lane Theatre in London.

1885 – Confederate Civil War Gen. Joseph Finegan, from Co Monaghan, dies in Rutledge, Florida.

1892 – William Michael Hartnett was born in Clonakilty, Co Cork in 1848, one year before his family emigrated and settled in the Philadelphia area. Hartnett was known for his trompe l’oeil (literally, “fool the eye”) still life painting of everyday objects. Hartnett’s later life was ravaged by rheumatism which impacted his ability to work.

1922 – An Anti-Treaty IRA column under Michael Kilroy attacks and takes Clifden, Co Galway, capturing 80 Free State soldiers, after a ten-hour gun battle. The Irregulars burn the barracks there and take the Free State soldiers rifles before retreating. In a separate incident, a Free State soldier is killed by a landmine.

1923 – The Oriel House CID is disbanded and its members transferred to the Dublin Metropolitan Police. In April 1925 the DMP was amalgamated with the Garda Síochána. CID was responsible for a number of killings of republicans during the war.

1953 – The Health Act provides for a free mother-and-child healthcare scheme in the Republic.

1958 – The Dáil announces a bill to introduce a system of proportional representation into the Republic.

1960 – Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) wins his first professional fight.

1972 – Gilbert O’Sullivan reaches no. 1 in the UK charts with Clair.

1998 – The tax on tourists row flares up again when members of the Dáil Committee on Tourism clash over a proposed £1 levy on visitors to the Aran Islands.

1998 – In tribute to emigrants who sailed to the New World on coffin ships, Coillte announces plans for the establishment of the Forest of Dunbrody on the outskirts of New Ross, Co Wexford. The public, and particularly Irish-Americans, were invited to buy a tree in the name of their loved ones.

2001 – Hardline unionists seek to block David Trimble’s re-election as Northern Ireland First Minister.

2001 – Over £3.5m will be spent converting Limerick’s city centre into a pedestrian area. Within five years, only buses, taxis and delivery vehicles will be able to travel up O’Connell Street.

2002 – Continuous heavy rain brings severe flooding to many parts of the country.

2002 – Thousands of homes and businesses face massive disruption to Christmas mail delivery following a vote by postmasters in favour of industrial action.

2002 – Broadcaster Gerry Ryan becomes the latest homegrown celebrity to feature in the Irish version of Madame Tussaud’s collection when he unveils a life-size model of himself at the Dublin museum.

Photo: Slieve Bearnagh, Mourne Mountains, Alistair Hamill Photography


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