Today in Irish History – 27 November:

784 – Fergil, the Geometer, Irish educator, dies. He originated from a noble family of Ireland, where his name was Feirgil, and was educated in the Iona monastery. It is controversial whether he is identical to Abbot Feirgil of Aghaboe Abbey in Co Laois. He is said to have been a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages. In the “Annals of the Four Masters” and the “Annals of Ulster” he is mentioned as Abbot of Aghaboe, in Co Laois, where he was known as “the Geometer” because of his knowledge of geography.

1612 – Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is the first of 40 new boroughs to be incorporated.

1774 – John Kyan, inventor, is born in Dublin.

1812 – Death of John Dunlap. Born in Strabane, Co Tyrone, he was the printer of the first copies of the Declaration of Independence and one of the most successful American printers of his era.

1857 – Birth in Clogher House, Kilmore, Co Roscommon of Surgeon-General, Thomas Heazle Parke. He was an Irish doctor, explorer, soldier and naturalist. Parke was brought up in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim. He graduated from the College of Surgeons in Dublin and was appointed to a post in Ballybay, Co Monaghan. A bronze statue of Parke stands on Merrion Street in Dublin, outside the Natural History Museum. On the granite pedestal is a bronze plaque depicting the incident on 13 August 1887 when Parke sucked the poison from an arrow wound in the chest of Capt. William G. Stairs to save his life. He is also commemorated by a bust in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

1876 – Henry Robinson Allen, tenor and composer, dies.

1878 – Birth of Sir William Orpen, painter, in Stillorgan, Co Dublin.

1880 – English landlords were setting extortionate rents for their Irish tenant farmers. Not even a bad harvest could convince them to show leniency. The farmers banded together into the Irish Land League, a movement that gained massive popularity. Their first target was a particularly unsympathetic land agent in Co Mayo. The local residents refused to sell him goods, work in his fields, deliver his post or indeed speak to him. The agent’s will eventually broke and he bolted for home on this date. Charles Boycott had inspired and given the world an effective new campaigning tactic.

1906 – Death of Michael Cusack, Founder of the GAA.

1920 – RIC Constable Maurice Quirk was fatally shot outside Walsh’s Hotel in Cappoquin by Waterford Column men Mick Mansfield, George Lennon and Pat Keating.

1953 – Playwright Eugene O’Neill dies.

1960 – Death of Frederick Fane. Born in Co Kildare, he played cricket for the England cricket team in 14 Test matches. He also played for Essex, Oxford University and London County. He was the first Irish-born player to score a century in a Test match for England and remained the only one for over a hundred years, until Eoin Morgan repeated the feat against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in July 2010.

1963 – The Buchanan Committee warns of future chaos as traffic in cities multiplies.

1975 – Guinness Book of Records co-founder and editor Ross McWhirter dies of wounds inflicted by IRA gunmen (Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty); an outspoken critic of the IRA, the BBC Records Breaker presenter had recently offered a £50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of IRA bombers. His killers were captured and charged with his and nine other murders. They were sentenced to life imprisonment but freed in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

Photo: Nohoval Cove, Co Cork, Krzysztof Borożyński Photography

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