Today in Irish History – 18 December:

In the Liturgical Calendar, today is the Feast day of St. Flannan. St. Flannan was an Irish saint who lived in the 7th century and was the son of a king of Thomond, an Irish Chieftain. He entered Molua’s monastery at Killaloe and became abbot there. He is remembered as a great preacher. He made a pilgrimage to Rome where Pope John IV consecrated him. On his return he became first bishop of Killaloe and also preached in the Hebrides.

1781 – Barry Yelverton introduces the bill that will become Yelverton’s Act; the bill is an amendment of Poyning’s Act and states that only bills passed by both Irish houses of Parliament would be forwarded to England for assent.

1796 – The French invasion fleet is beset by fog which prevents any chance of landing in Ireland. Wolfe Tone writes in his diary. ‘This damned fog continues without interruption. I asked General Cherin what we should do in case they did not rejoin us. He said that he supposed General Grouchy would take the command with the troops we had with us, which, on examination, we found to amount to about 6,500 men. The Captain has opened a packet containing instructions for his conduct in case of separation, which order him to cruise for five days off Mizen Head, and, at the end of that time, proceed to the mouth of the Shannon, where he is to remain three more, at the end of which time, if he does not see the fleet or receive further orders by a frigate, he is to make the best of his way back to Brest.’ Due to bad weather, the invasion would eventually be abandoned.

1798 – Birth of physician and classical scholar, James Henry, in Dublin.

1801 – John Hely-Hutchinson Jr, MP for Cork Borough, is created Baron Hutchinson of Alexandria and Knocklofty for his military service.

1829 – Birth of locomotive engineer and civil engineer, Alexander McDonnell, in Dublin. He brought order and standardisation to the workshops and locomotive designs of the Great Southern and Western Railway of Ireland, and was later employed to do the same for the North Eastern Railway in England, although resistance to his changes meant that he left before the task had got very far.

1834 – The Rathcormac massacre or Gortroe massacre, in Co Cork, was an affray during the Tithe War. Between twelve and twenty protesting locals were killed by soldiers enforcing the collection of tithes. Daniel O’Connell published a legal opinion that forces’ action amounted to wilful murder. An inquest was held for the nine who died at the scene. Feargus O’Connor appeared at this to argue O’Connell’s points, and 13 of the jury voted for ‘wilful murder’, 2 for manslaughter and 8 for justifiable homicide. The magistrates were arrested and released on bail. Criminal charges were later dropped.

1850 – Birth of Times correspondent in the Balkan peninsula, James Bourchier, in Bruff, Co Limerick.

1871 – The first ever rugby international is held in Ireland. The North are defeated by the West of Scotland.

1875 – Birth of Matt McGrath in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. He was a member of the Irish American Athletic Club, the New York Athletic Club, and the New York City Police Department. At the time of his death at age 65, he attained the rank of Inspector, and during his career received the NYPD’s Medal of Valor twice. He competed for the U.S. team in the Olympics in 1908, 1912, 1920 and 1924 (at age 47). In his prime, he was known as ‘one of the world’s greatest weight throwers.’

1878 – Birth of novelist and civil servant, Joseph O’Neill, in Tuam, Co Galway.

1878 – John Kehoe, the last of the Molly Maguires is executed in Pennsylvania.

1922 – Armed raiders fatally shoot a father and son named Dennison at Drumkeeran, Co Leitrim.

1927 – Birth of writer, Críostóir Ó Floinn in Limerick. He has published over 50 works in Irish and English, including novels, plays, short stories, biography, 12 books of poetry and a three-volume autobiography.

1931 – Gangster, bootlegger, associate of Arnold Rothstein, Jack ‘Legs’ Diamond (born Jack Moran of Irish emigrant parents) was gunned down in New York while in a drunken stupor following a court case acquittal.

1964 – Sean O’Faolain’s autobiography ‘Vive Moi’ is published.

1964 – While weather bound in Dublin Che Guevara speaks to RTÉ reporter Sean Egan: RTÉ Archives

1967 – Death of Florence O’Donoghue. He was an Irish historian and head of intelligence of the Cork No.1 Brigade of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence. He was born in Rathmore, Co Kerry in 1895 and moved to Cork in 1910, where he worked as an apprentice in the drapery trade.

1970 – Jockey, Pat Taffe, retired. He was a National Hunt jockey who famously rode Arkle to win three Cheltenham Gold Cups between 1964 and 1966. He died in 1992 in Dublin Hospital, aged just 62, of a heart condition, having previously undergone only the third heart transplant operation in Ireland (in 1989).

1980 – Prisoners in Armagh and Long Kesh end their hunger strike on promises of political status. The promises are not kept.

1998 – The Loyalist Volunteer Force becomes the first terrorist group in Northern Ireland to decommission some of its weapons.

1999 – A limestone sundial built on a hilltop at the Dursey Sound in West Cork is set to capture Europe’s last daylight of the second Christian millennium.

2000 – A boating accident in Mexico claims the life of singer Kirsty MacColl. She was best known for her vocals alongside The Pogues’ Shane McGowan on the 1987 Christmas No 1, Fairytale of New York.

2000 – The first Diploma in Nursing students from Cork University Hospital graduate on this date. 178 students are awarded diplomas in nursing, and higher diplomas in midwifery and public health.

2001 – The Conservative Party ends more than three decades of co-operation over Northern Ireland in protest at the British government’s plans to allow Sinn Féin MPs to use offices at Westminster.

2002 – The first section of the Dublin spire is lifted into place.

2002 – According to the latest census figures, the prospect of a Catholic majority in Northern Ireland is fast becoming a reality.

2002 – A study reveals that Ireland is the third worst country in Europe for traffic gridlock.

2002 – The Irish and British governments issue firm assurances about the temporary nature of arrangements in operation during the current suspension of the elected Northern Ireland Assembly.

Photo: Aerial view of Carrigafoyle Castle, Ballylongford, Co Kerry, Hartney Photographics

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