Today in Irish History – 29 November:

In the Liturgical Calendar today is the Feast Day of Saint Brendan of Birr (died circa 572). He was one of the early Irish monastic saints. He was a monk and later an abbot, of the 6th century. He is known as ‘St Brendan the Elder’ to distinguish him from his contemporary and friend St Brendan the Navigator of Clonfert. He was one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland, a friend and disciple of Saint Columba.

1330 – Execution of Roger de Mortimer, 1st Earl of March. He was a paramour of the English king Edward II’s queen, Isabella of France, with whom he contrived Edward’s deposition and murder (1327). For three years thereafter he was virtual king of England during the minority of Edward III. In November 1316, he was appointed Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. In October 1330, the young king Edward III, at the instigation of Henry of Lancaster, had him seized at Nottingham and conveyed to the Tower of London. Condemned for crimes declared to be notorious by his peers in Parliament in what became known as the Despenser War, he was hanged at Tyburn as a traitor, and his estates were forfeited to the crown. Isabella was banished and this revolutionized the political situation in Ireland and England.

1338 – Birth of Lionel of Antwerp, 1st Duke of Clarence, jure uxoris 4th Earl of Ulster and 5th Baron of Connaught, KG. He was the third son, but the second son to survive infancy, of Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault. He was so-called because he was born at Antwerp. His efforts to secure an effective authority over his Irish lands were only moderately successful; and after holding a parliament at Kilkenny, which passed the celebrated Statute of Kilkenny in 1367, he dropped the task in disgust and returned to England.

1521 – William Rokeby, Archbishop of Dublin, dies.

1641 – The Battle of Julianstown: Rory O’More defeated government troops marching to raise the siege of Drogheda.

1729 – Birth of Charles Thomson in Maghera parish, Co Derry. He was a Patriot leader in Philadelphia during the American Revolution and the secretary of the Continental Congress (1774-1789) throughout its existence.

1740 – Edward Sewell, a couple-beggar (i.e., a clergyman who conducted illegal marriages involving Catholics and Protestants) was hanged at Stephen’s Green.

1783 – Ulster Volunteers’ parliamentary reform bill was rejected by the Irish Parliament at College Green.

1895 – Death of Denny Lane, Young Irelander, author and poet.

1898 – Birth of novelist, C.S. Lewis, in Belfast.

1901 – Death of Thomas Clarke Luby. Born in Dublin, he was a revolutionary, author, Journalist and one of the founding members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

1922 – A Free State soldier was killed in an ambush at Rearcross, Limerick.

1944 – A coat of arms by the Chief Herald of Ireland was awarded to County Dublin.

1974 – The Northern Ireland Labour government rushed through the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill. The new Act gave the police powers to detain people for up to seven days without any charge being brought against them. The Act also allowed the authorities to ‘exclude’ people from entering Britain. It was initially viewed as a temporary measure, the Prevention of Terrorism Act was to be renewed each year and made permanent by a Conservative government in 1988.

1993 – The Conservative government has come under attack in the Commons over the revelations it has had secret contacts with the IRA.

1988 – The European Court of Human Rights decided that, by detaining suspects for more than four days, Britain was in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights. This was one of a number of decisions by European courts that were decided against Britain.

1989 – The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) shot and killed two Catholic men in Coagh, Co Tyrone. One of the men was a member of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

1995 – Bill Clinton, then President of the United States of America (USA), arrived in London as a prelude to a visit to Northern Ireland. Clinton gave his support to John Major, then British Prime Minister, and John Bruton, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister).

1998 – IRA leaders were on the brink of making a goodwill gesture which would have kick-started the stalled North peace process.

1999 – Pressure grows on the Provisional IRA to hand over weapons in the wake of Northern Ireland’s first power sharing Government in 25 years.

2000 – Death of The Hon. Mr. Justice Liam Hamilton. He was educated at C.B.S. Michelstown, University College Dublin and King’s Inns. He was called to the Bar in 1956 and won the John Brooke Scholarship for the best final year student. He was called to the Inner Bar in 1968. On retirement as Chief Justice, he was appointed to the enquiry into the Dublin, Monaghan and Dundalk bombings in 1976, but stepped down on health grounds.

2001 – Death of singer-songwriter, Mic Christopher. Best known for his posthumously-released debut album Skylarking’. He was born in the Bronx, New York to Irish parents, Harry Christopher from Dublin and Vaun Heaney from Sixmilecross. They moved back to Dublin in 1972 and together with an all-Irish school upbringing in Coláiste Chilliain Clondalkin, Christopher started to play traditional Irish music with school groups until he was about fifteen years old when he started busking. On 18 November 2001 in Groningen, the Netherlands, after he had played his set, Christopher was found unconscious, having apparently struck his head on some steps following a fall. On arrival at a local hospital, he was found to have lapsed into a coma as a result of severe swelling to the brain. He never regained consciousness and died on 29 November 2001, aged 32.

2002 – Hurling in Cork is thrown into chaos after the county’s senior squad goes on strike.

2012 – The Book of Kells is one of the most famous books in the world, a masterwork of calligraphy and beautiful illuminations. The manuscript contains four Gospels in Latin, and was written in a monastery on Iona around AD 800. However, when the Vikings showed up, the monks wisely bottled it and fled for the safety of Ireland, taking the book with them. It survived for centuries and was presented to Trinity College, Dublin, in 1661. This national treasure attracts over 500,000 visitors a year and on this date, became digitally available worldwide as an app on iTunes.

Photo: 19th century schoolhouse which lay in ruin, near Grange, Co Sligo, as well as the cave up high on Benwisken mountain; it is known as Diarmuid and Grainne’s cave

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