Today in Irish History – 8 January:

1547 – Henry VIII suppresses the Chapter of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin; it will not be restored until 15 June 1555.

1779 – Birth in Newry of actress Julia Glover.

1860 – The Church of St Andrew in Suffolk Street, Dublin, is destroyed by fire.

1871 – James Craig, Ist Viscount Craigavon, Unionist politician and PM of Northern Ireland from 1921 to 1940, is born in Belfast.

1873 – Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain is founded.

1876 – Lucien Bul, inventor of the electrocardiograph, is born in Dublin.

1878 – Death of Fenian General John O’Neill. He was born in Clontibret, Co Monaghan, in 1834 and emigrated to the United States at age fourteen. He fought with the Union Army during the civil war where he attained the rank of Captain. He then became involved with the Fenian Brotherhood and was involved in the abortive Fenian raids on Canada in 1866.

1901 – Death of Kilkenny born Private John Barry during a Boer War action for which he was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross. The London Gazette reported on Barry’s bravery.

1910 – Sinéad Ní Fhlannagáin and Éamon de Valera are married at St Paul’s Church, Arran Quay, Dublin. She taught Irish at the Leinster College of the Gaelic League in Parnell Square. One of her students was Éamon de Valera, then a teacher of mathematics. Sinéad played little part in Éamon de Valera’s public political life.

1916 – Evacuation of Gallipoli Peninsula in the Dardanelles is completed; there are 100,000 casualties, mostly Australian, New Zealanders and Irish, in the eight-month campaign.

1916 – Death of Limerick-born actress, Ada Rehan. Known as one of the great comediennes of her day, and typifying the ‘personality’ style of acting in the nineteenth century. Ada Rehan was widely admired in both America and Europe, having acted in Paris, Berlin, Hamburg, London, Edinburgh, Dublin, and Stratford-on-Avon. When she died newspapers across the country mourned her passing, including a prominent obituary in the New York Times.

1921 – Thomas Kirby executed by IRA.

1923 – Four Republican prisoners are executed in Dublin. One National Army soldier is also shot for ‘treachery’ for complicity in an Anti-Treaty ambush of Free State troops at Leixlip.

1926 – Birth of international showjumper and equestrian, Iris Kellett, in Dublin.

1945 – Birth of Kevin Conneff in Co Louth. He is more familiarly known as the voice and rhythmic heartbeat of the legendary Irish folk group, The Chieftains, through his talents as vocalist and bodhrán player.

1950 – Birth of Martin Galvin. He is an Irish-American lawyer and Irish republican political activist. Galvin was born on 8 January 1950, and was raised in New York City, although he may have been born in the Republic of Ireland as he once, during an interview with 60 Minutes, referred to the ‘partition of the country of my birth’. He attended Catholic schools, Fordham University and Fordham University School of Law.

1952 – Birth of statistician, Peter McCullagh, in Plumbridge, Co Tyrone. He is a John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Statistics at the University of Chicago.

1968 – Taoiseach Jack Lynch meets Terence O’Neill (Prime Minister of Northern Ireland) in Dublin. In December 1967, Taoiseach Jack Lynch travelled to Stormont for his first meeting with O’Neill. On 8 January 1968 they met again in Dublin. On 19 January 1968, O’Neill made a speech marking five years in office to members of the Irish Association, calling for “a new endeavour by organisations in Northern Ireland to cross denominational barriers and advance the cause of better community relations”. On 20 May 1968, O’Neill was pelted with eggs, flour and stones by members of the Woodvale Unionist Association who disapproved of his perceived conciliatory policies.

1979 – An oil tanker explodes at Whiddy Island oil terminal on Bantry Bay, Cork, killing at least 50 people.

1994 – Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, said in an interview with the Irish News, that the ‘Republican struggle’ could go on for another 25 years. He also criticised statements made by Patrick Mayhew, then Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, since the publication of the Downing Street Declaration (DSD). Mayhew had said that talks between the British government and SF would concern the decommissioning of IRA weapons.

1998 – Garda Síochána uncovered an estimated one and a half tonnes of home-made explosives in a disused shop at Howth pier in Dublin. Four men were arrested as part of the operation. One of the men was believed to have links to the Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Committee. Dissident Republicans believed to be led by a former Irish Republican Army (IRA) Quartermaster General were believed to be responsible for the bomb.

1998 – Bernadette Sands McKevitt, the vice-chairperson of the Thirty-Two County Sovereignty Committee and sister of Bobby Sands, criticised the peace process. She said that her brother and other Republicans did not die for cross-border bodies with executive powers.

1998 – The first licensed drug to treat mild to moderately severe Alzheimer’s disease is launched in Ireland.

1999 – French, Irish, English and Dutch relatives gather at the hilltop granite memorial sculpture in Bantry’s Abbey Cemetery for a wreath-laying ceremony in memory of those who perished when the oil tanker Betelgeuse blew up at the Whiddy Island oil terminal.

1999 – The British Government comes under pressure to stop the early release of prisoners in Northern Ireland after an upsurge in paramilitary shootings and beatings.

2000 – Thousands of acres are still flooded, roads blocked and farmyards remain under water after the River Shannon bursts its banks.

2001 – All schools are to receive a CD ROM of one of the masterpieces of Western art — the Book of Kells. On behalf of the schools, the Minister for Education and Science, Dr Michael Woods, accepts the CD ROMs from Trinity College Library in Dublin and leading internet company, X Communications. https://youtu.be/rRGQPJIO5CM

2002 – Thousands of commuters experience delays after fallen cables knock out DART services at some of Dublin’s busiest stations.

2002 – Former Soviet leader Gorbachev sinks a pint of Guinness with Dublin Lord Mayor Michael Mulcahy in the famous Doheny and Nesbitt pub in Baggot Street.

2007 – Northern ireland’s Progressive Unionist Party leader David Ervine dies at age 53 after suffering a heart attack and later a stroke and a brain haemorrhage. A former UVF prisoner and a key figure in brokering the loyalist paramilitary ceasefire of 1994, a party statement is quoted as saying: “Unionism has lost the most progressive voice of this generation. Politics has lost a statesman. Our peace process has lost its most optimistic advocate and Ulster has lost a devoted son.”

2008 – First Irish expedition arrives at South Pole. Team leader Pat Falvey and Clare O’Leary, Sean Menzies and Jonathan Bradshaw, journeyed for 58 days to reach their destination. Dr O’Leary is the first Irish woman to make the trip. She is also the first Irish woman to climb Mount Everest.

2009 – The Celtic Tiger suffers one of many blows as Dell announces it is cutting 1,900 jobs at its manufacturing plant in Limerick. Dell opened its first manufacturing plant in Ireland eighteen years previously.

Photo: Rock of Dunamaise, Co Laois, Gerry Chaney Photography

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