Today in Irish History – 12 December:

In the Liturgical Calendar, today is the Feast Day of Saint Finnian of Clonard (Cluain Eraird) also Finian, Fionán or Fionnán; or Vennianus and Vinniaus in its Latinised form (470–549). He was one of the early Irish monastic saints, who founded Clonard Abbey in modern-day Co Meath. The Twelve Apostles of Ireland studied under him. Saint Finnian of Clonard (along with Saint Enda of Aran) is considered one of the fathers of Irish monasticism.

1803 – Birth of novelist, poet and playwright, Gerald Griffin, in Limerick. One of his most famous works is The Collegians, a novel based on a trial he had reported on, that of John Scanlan, a Protestant Anglo-Irish man who murdered Ellen Hanley, a young Catholic Irish girl. The novel was adapted to the stage as The Colleen Bawn, by Dion Boucicault.

1881 – Birth of priest, teacher of acting, singing and dancing, James O’Flynn, also known as ‘Father O’Flynn of the Loft’ in Cork.

1883 – Birth of songwriter, revolutionary and house-painter, Peadar Kearney, in Dublin; best known for writing the words of the Irish national anthem.

1900 – Irish delegates convened to create what they called the ‘Irish Party’ and denounced British atrocities in the Boer War. An applauded John Dillon proposed a resolution passed that ‘the South African war was entered upon in pursuance of a conspiracy to deprive two free nations of their liberty in the interests of capitalists and mine owners.’

1903 – Roger Casement completes report about abuses in Belgian Congo.

1920 – Birth of hurler, Christy Ring in Cloyne, Co Cork. His 24-year career record earned him a reputation as the greatest hurler of all time.

1920 – Black and Tans continue their attacks, violence and destruction in Cork.

1920 – The Roman Catholic Bishop of Cork, Daniel Colahan, issued a decree saying that ‘anyone within the diocese of Cork who organises or takes part in ambushes or murder or attempted murder shall be excommunicated’.

1927 – First independent Irish coinage circulated.

1955 – The Cork Opera House is destroyed by fire.

1957 – The IRA begins a violent four-year campaign in Northern Ireland.

1960 – Birth of singer and songwriter, Daniel O’Donnell in Donegal.

1966 – Birth of actor, comedian, writer and entertainer, Pat Shortt in Thurles, Co Tipperary. His role in the 2007 film Garage led to him receiving the IFTA for Best Actor.

1974 – Seán MacBride receives Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.

1975 – A six-day siege on Balcombe Street in London ends peacefully after four IRA gunmen free their two hostages and give themselves up to police.

1993 – Ireland’s first and Radio Éireann’s own agony aunt, Frankie Byrne, whose legendary programme with its ‘Dear Frankie’ letters of advice was broadcast from 1963 to 1985, passes away at the age of 71.

1994 – Albert Reynolds, then acting Taoiseach, said that it was not a ‘sensible precondition’ to require the IRA to hand over weapons before the commencement of multilateral talks.

1997 – The Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair invite the key players in the talks into a 12-week negotiating blitz beginning in the New Year.

2000 – At a farewell reception in Dundalk, US President Bill Clinton makes an emotional plea to the people of Ireland: ‘redouble your efforts for peace’.

2001 – Intelligence agent William Stobie is gunned down in Belfast by former associates.

2001 – Nuala O’Loan, then Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, met the relatives of the victims of the Omagh bombing and presented them with the findings and recommendations of her report into the bombing and the handling of the subsequent police investigation. The report found that there had been two non-specific warnings given to police prior to the bombing. One telephone warning about a planned attack in Omagh on 15 August 1998 was received on 4 August 1998, but Special Branch officers took the decision not to pass on the information to the local police commander in Omagh. A second warning given three days before the bombing by ‘Kevin Fulton’ (a pseudonym), then a police agent, did not mention the town of Omagh. The report states that had the information been passed on and security checkpoints been put in place, the bombers may have been deterred.

2002 – The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism rules that Fossett’s Circus is be recognised as an art form and is thus entitled to State funding. The recognition makes the 115-year old circus the oldest performing arts institution in the country, 30 years’ older than the Abbey Theatre.

2006 – Irish criminal and gang boss, Martin ‘Marlo’ Hyland was murdered. Hyland, who had access to several properties and never stayed at the same place two nights in a row, stayed at the home of his niece in Scribblestown Park, Finglas. Just before 9am the next morning, after his niece had left to take her daughter to school, two gunmen entered the house. Hyland was sleeping in a bedroom upstairs. Hyland was shot twice in the head and four times in the back as he slept. Despite Gardaí suspecting the killers were two of Hyland’s most trusted lieutenants, no one has been convicted.

2012 – ‘The Notorious’ Conor McGregor became the undisputed UFC featherweight champion by knocking out Jose Aldo in just 13 seconds in the main event of UFC 194 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Photo: Carrigadrohid Castle and Bridge, Co Cork, Trish Punch Photography

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