#OTD in Irish History – 8 February:

1601 – Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, rebels against Queen Elizabeth I – the revolt is quickly crushed. Politically ambitious, and a committed general, he was placed under house arrest following a poor campaign in Ireland during the Nine Years’ War in 1599. In 1601 he led an abortive coup d’état against the government and was executed for treason.

1833 – Birth of sculptor, Launt Thompson, in Abbeyleix, Co Laois. Forced to emigrate to the US in 1847, during ‘the Great Hunger’, with his widowed mother, they settled in Albany, New York. There, he found work as a handyman. He spent nine years as the studio boy of the sculptor, E. D. Palmer. In 1858 he moved to New York City where he opened a studio.

1847 – The Cork Examiner reports that following food riots by starving ‘famine’ victims, ‘a deputation, consisting of the principal Master Bakers in the city, waited on the Magistrates at the Police-office, and stated that in consequence of the present alarming height to which the disturbances in the city have risen, they should be compelled to close their shops and sell no more bread unless the court would ensure to them the protection of the military and police force.’

1847 – An ailing Daniel O’Connell makes his final speech to House of Commons pleading for help for a starving Ireland.

1872 – Captain John Philip Nolan, a supporter of home rule and tenant rights, defeats Conservative William Le Poer Trench in a Co Galway by-election.

1923 – The Free State suspends executions until 18 February, offering an amnesty to anyone who surrendered before that day.

1932 – Death of Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll. Born Uinseann Ó Colla, in Gweedore, Co Donegal, he was an Irish mob hitman in early 20th-century New York City. Coll gained notoriety for the accidental killing of a young child during a mob kidnap attempt.

1983 – Shergar was an Irish racehorse, and winner of the 202nd Epsom Derby (1981) by ten lengths – the longest winning margin in the race’s history. A bay colt with a distinctive white blaze, Shergar was named European Horse of the Year in 1981 and was retired from racing that September. On 8 February 1983, he was stolen from the Ballymany Stud, near The Curragh, Co Kildare, by masked gunmen and was never seen again. The incident has been the inspiration for several books, documentaries, and a film.

1983 – Birth of actress and singer, Susan McFadden, in Dublin, Ireland. She is best known for playing the roles of Sandy in Grease at the Piccadilly Theatre and Elle Woods in Legally Blonde the Musical at the Savoy theatre in London’s West End. She has also been a member of the all female Celtic music group, Celtic Woman, since 2012.

1991 – The government in the Republic of Ireland agreed to abide by the arrangements for planned political talks on the future of Northern Ireland. The arrangements meant that Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, would decide the point in the talks at which the Irish government would be invited to attend.

1993 – The leaders of the four main churches (Catholic, Presbyterian, Church of Ireland and Methodist) travelled to the USA to encourage new business investments in Northern Ireland.

1996 – Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring, travelled to the US for talks with President Bill Clinton. The European Court of Human Rights found that aspects of the British Government’s emergency legislation in Northern Ireland infringed the European Convention on Human Rights.

1999 – Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams refuses to rule out the possibility his party will take legal action to secure the early release of Garda Det. Jerry McCabe’s killers when the anger surrounding the case dies down.

1999 – Death of novelist and philosopher, Iris Murdoch. Born in Phibsborough, Co Dublin, she is best known for her novels about good and evil, sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious.

2000 – US President Bill Clinton makes it clear to the Irish and British Governments he is ready to become actively involved in trying to save the Northern Ireland government if needed.

2000 – The Northern Ireland peace process is plunged into further crisis following the disclosure that the UVF is planning a country-wide purge against the renegade LVF.

2000 – Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams issues a stark warning that he is ready to walk away from the Northern Ireland peace process if the Government re-imposes direct rule from Westminster.

2001 – A man is injured by an explosive device amid heightening fears of fatalities in an escalating campaign of loyalist pipe bomb attacks on Catholic families in Northern Ireland.

2002 – Dissident republicans are believed to be behind a bomb attack at an army training centre in Co Derry which left a civilian security guard critically injured.

2002 – Representatives of the Police Association said that they intended to apply to the High Court for a judicial review of the recent report by Nuala O’Loan, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (PONI). The report was into the investigation of the Omagh bombing (15 August 1998). The Police Association claimed that the report was inaccurate and unfair.

2003 – Deposed loyalist terror boss Johnny ‘Mad Dog’ Adair suffers a final humiliation when a new paramilitary regime is officially installed in his west Belfast stronghold.

2006 – At the 48th Grammy Awards, U2 won song of the year, a songwriter’s award, for ‘Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own,’ as well as best rock album for ‘How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb.’ After the song of the year award, Bono explained the odd album title was a reference to his father, Bob, the ‘atomic bomb’ of the title. He hoped winning the Grammys would provide some comfort to what was sometimes a difficult relationship. Bob Hewson died in 2001; his wife, Bono’s mother, had died when Bono was 14 and he raised the singer alone.

Photo: Connemara, Co Galway, Peter Meller Photography

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