Today in Irish History – 6 December:

In the Liturgical Calendar, today is the Feast of St Nicholas. St Nicholas (Naomh Nioclás) is believed to have been buried in Newtown Jerpoint in Kilkenny some 800 years ago.

1679 – St. Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, is accused of instigating the ‘Irish Popish’ Plot and arrested.

1745 – Charles Edward Stuart’s army begins retreat during the second Jacobite Rising.

1820 – Spanish General Diego O’Reilly is defeated by Peruvian revolutionaries.

1828 – Business in Enniskillen was bad for James Gamble’s father, so he took his family to America. Young James set up his own soap business on this date. He married a Belfast girl, Elizabeth, whose father suggested James do business with Elizabeth’s sister’s husband, who was a candlemaker. The brother-in-law’s name was William Procter, and their partnership would go on to change the way the world washes itself.

1848 – The Belfast Commercial Chronicle reported that seventy-two Irish emigrants suffocated on board ‘The Londonderry’ steamship. The ship disembarked from Sligo to Liverpool, with a general cargo, a large number of cattle and sheep, about 150 steerage passengers, emigrants on their way, via Liverpool to America.

1908 – Cornelius Cremin, diplomat, is born in Kenmare, Co Kerry.

1920 – An IRA unit attacked the RIC barracks in Camlough, Co Armagh. Roughly 300 IRA volunteers assaulted the building, which was held by six RIC constables, for several hours. Troops arriving from Newry were ambushed by the IRA before they retired. In reprisal, the Ulster Special Constabulary burned buildings in the village of Camlough. Local IRA leader Frank Aiken’s home was burned the next day, as were the homes of ten of his relatives.

1921 – Representatives of the Irish government appointed by President Éamon de Valera, and those negotiating for the Crown sign the Anglo-Irish Treaty, ending the Irish War of Independence against England. Michael Collins declares: ‘I have signed my own death warrant’.

1922 – The Irish Free State, Saorstát Éireann, comes into being. For one day, it encompassed ALL of Ireland. On 7th December, Northern Ireland opted out and remained part of the United Kingdom.

1922 – National Army troops encounter 80 republicans at Kilcash, Co Tipperary occupying a hill-top position. A fire fight breaks out that lasts for three hours. Two Republicans are killed, four wounded and eleven captured. The remainder of their column gets away by burning the furze bushes to cover their retreat. Free State troops have three men wounded.

1923 – Scartaglen, Co Kerry. Free State Lt. Jeremiah Gaffney shot dead republican Thomas Brosnan in a revenge attack. Gaffney was executed for the shooting on 13 March 1924.

1925 – Con Houlihan, journalist, is born in Castleisland, Co Kerry.

1932 – Birth of actor, Declan Mulholland, in Belfast. His first role was in H.M.S. Defiant (1962) as Morrison. He also played Jabba the Hutt in a deleted scene of the original Star Wars (1977). The scene was later placed back into the movie for the film’s 20th anniversary re-release in 1997 replacing Mulholland with a computerised Jabba. He had a substantial part in the 1975 Amicus Productions film The Land That Time Forgot. His many TV appearances included the Doctor Who stories The Sea Devils (1972) and The Androids of Tara (1978), The Bill, The Onedin Line and Quatermass.

1933 – U.S. federal judge John M. Woolsey rules that James Joyce’s novel ‘Ulysses’ is not obscene.

1975 – Balcombe Street Siege: An IRA Active Service Unit takes a couple hostage in Balcombe Street, London. This marked the beginning of a six-day siege during which time the IRA members demanded a plane to take them to Ireland. The siege ended when the hostages were released unharmed and the IRA members surrendered to police.

1982 – ‘Droppin Well Bombing: The Irish National Liberation Army detonate a bomb in Ballykelly, Co Derry, killing eleven British soldiers and six civilians.

1999 – The Abbey Bridge is opened in Limerick. It is intended to relieve chronic traffic congestion and provide a link to the city’s historic quarter of King’s Island.

1999 – Actor Gabriel Byrne brings out a host of stars for the Irish premiere of his new movie End of Days in Dublin.

2001 – A draft report by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI) into the handling of prior warnings about the Omagh Bombing was leaked to the BBC in Northern Ireland.

2001 – Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, held a media briefing in Belfast calling on the British government to establish an International Public Judicial Inquiry into the killing of Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane, killed on 12 February 1989.

2002 – The RDS Irish Forestry and Wood Awards introduces a new special category award for hurley ash plantations and forests. This year’s award is won by Theresa Greene, from Cappamurragh House, Dundrum, Co Tipperary, who has an eight-year-old plantation specifically geared towards the growing of suitable ash trees for hurley-making.

2002 – Publicist to the stars, Chris Roche, loses his battle with cancer.

2007 – Death of Katy French. She was a socialite, model, writer, television personality and charity worker. According to the BBC, ‘in the space of less than two years, she had become one of Ireland’s best-known models and socialites.’ She collapsed at a friend’s house on 2 December 2007 and died on 6 December. A post-mortem examination determined that she had suffered brain damage, and that traces of cocaine were found in her body.

Photo: Classiebawn and Benbulben, Co Sligo, Bryan Hanna Photography

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