#OTD in Irish History – 27 August:

1695 – The second Irish parliament of William III is called in Dublin; Robert Rochfort is unanimously elected Speaker.

1798 – General Humbert appears outside Castlebar. The Government forces are deployed to cover the direct route and Humbert unexpectedly appears on their flank. Humbert attacks. French advance causes Militia to run. Government defence collapses and Humbert takes the town. Cornwallis reaches Tullamore. Rebels assemble on Rebel hill, near Baileborough, Co Cavan.

1798 – Wolfe Tone’s United Irish and French forces clash with the British Army in the Battle of Castlebar.

1870 – The Oceanic, a liner built in Belfast by Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line, is launched.

1874 – Death of celebrated Irish sculptor John Henry (JH) Foley. Foley’s work features in Dublin and London. His sculpture of Daniel O’Connell dominates Dublin’s main thoroughfare O’Connell Street. His most prominent work in London is the statute of Prince Albert at the Albert Memorial in Kensington Gardens. Foley died before the Albert statue was finished, but the design and concept is his.

1908 – Birth of Niall Ó Dónaill, Irish-language scholar and lexicographer, in the Rosses, Co Donegal.

1920 – Birth of James Molyneaux, Ulster Unionist Party leader.

1921 – A house in Belfast was bombed by loyalists. Over the next two days, two Protestants are killed by republican snipers.

1922 – Three National Army soldiers are killed in ambush near Nenagh, Co Tipperary, when a mine is exploded under their lorry and they are fired on by Anti-Treaty fighters. Several more men are injured in the shooting. Another two are killed in a separate mine attack near Bushfield, Tipperary.

1922 – Anti-Treaty IRA units mount an ambush of Free State troops at Glenflesk, near Killarney, County Kerry. The Free State troops bring up an 18 pounder artillery piece and eventually drive off their attackers. Press reports say that the bodies of 20 Anti-Treaty fighters are found at the scene.

1922 – A soldier is shot dead in an ambush near Macroom, Co Cork.

1922 – Two Anti-Treaty IRA men are captured in Tralee, Kerry and shot by Free State troops. One of them, James Healy, survives and escapes.

1922 – Free State troops assault an Anti-Treaty IRA position at Convent hill, near Newport, Co Mayo. They are repulsed with seven men wounded

1928 – The Galway Gaelic Theatre – afterwards called the Taibhdheare Theatre – opens with Micheál Mac Liammóir’s production of Diarmuid agus Gráinne.

1931 – Death of author, editor, journalist, and publisher, Frank Harris. Born in Co Galway, he was friendly with many well-known figures of his day. Though he attracted much attention during his life for his irascible, aggressive personality, editorship of famous periodicals, and friendship with the talented and famous, he is remembered mainly for his multiple-volume memoir My Life and Loves, which was banned in countries around the world for its sexual explicitness.

1932 – Birth of Dame Antonia Margaret Caroline Fraser, DBE, an Anglo-Irish author of history, novels, biographies and detective fiction, best known as Lady Antonia Fraser. She is the widow of Harold Pinter (1930-2008), the 2005 Nobel Laureate in Literature, and, prior to her husband’s death, was also known as Antonia Pinter.

1937 – The first traffic lights in the Free State are installed at the junction of Merrion Square and Clare Street.

1949 – Birth of mezzo-soprano, Ann Murray, in Dublin. Having won a number of prizes at the Feis Ceoil, she studied singing at the College of Music (now the DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama, Dublin) with Nancy Calthorpe, as well as arts and music at University College Dublin.

1979 – A Provisional Irish Republican Army bomb kills British retired admiral Lord Mountbatten and three others while they are boating on holiday off the coast in Co Sligo. Shortly after, 18 British Army soldiers are killed in an ambush near Warrenpoint, Co Down.

1982 – The official police death count of the Troubles reaches 3,000 on this date with the killing of Hugh McKibbin in Belfast.

1999 – On their first official overseas visit, Prince Edward and his new bride Sophie Rhys Jones arrive at Dublin Castle for the opening of the Millennium Gold Encounter. A total of 77 young people from 25 countries who have won their nation’s equivalent of the Gaisce award will attend the conference. Prince Edward is the chairperson the International Awards Association.

2000 – A former member of British military intelligence reveals that weapons used by loyalist gangs who rampaged through Belfast’s Shankill district the previous week were provided by British intelligence as part of a plan to defeat the IRA.

2001 – Opponents claim that the introduction of tolls on the planned Kinnegad-Enfield-Kilcock motorway will cost commuters to Dublin an extra £20 a week; they outline their objections at an oral inquiry in Mullingar to plans by the National Road Authority to charge car users £1.65 to use the new 35 kilometer road.

2001 – The newly restored century-old trading schooner, Kathleen and May arrives in Youghal after a 24-hour historic voyage from England to Ireland.

2002 – Roy Keane’s autobiography breaks the record for first day sales of a hardback book in Ireland.

2005 – Death of Seán Purcell, nicknamed “The Master”, was a famous footballer for Co Galway. Best known as a centre half forward, his versatility saw him used in virtually all outfield positions throughout an illustrious career. He was recognised by many football enthusiasts as one of the greatest players of all time. In 2009 he was named in the Sunday Tribune’s list of the 125 Most Influential People In GAA History.

2014 – Death of RUC Detective Chief Inspector, Jimmy Nesbitt. Born in Belfast, he was best known for having headed the Murder Squad team investigating the notorious Shankill Butchers’ killings in the mid-1970s. Working from the C Division headquarters at Tennent Street off Shankill Road, Belfast, he eventually caught most of the “Butchers” which led to their convictions. Having received a total of 67 commendations throughout his career, this is the highest number for any policeman in the history of the UK. In 1980, he was given the MBE “in recognition of his courage and success in combating terrorism”.

Photo: Corcomroe Abbey, Co Clare, MK Photography

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