#OTD in Irish History | 18 August:

In the liturgical calendar, today is the feast day of St Fiacre of Breuil. He was a Catholic priest, abbot, hermit, and gardener of the seventh century who was famous for his sanctity and skill in curing infirmities. He emigrated from his native Ireland to France, where he constructed for himself a hermitage together with a vegetable and herb garden, oratory, and hospice for travellers. He is the patron saint of gardeners.

1579 – Death of rebel leader, James Fitzgerald. He was a member of the 16th century ruling Geraldine dynasty in the province of Munster. He rebelled against the crown of Queen Elizabeth I in response to the onset of the Tudor conquest of Ireland. FitzMaurice was one of the first Irish leaders to use the Catholic cause as an explicit justification for rebellion against the crown.

1728 – James Caulfeild, 4th Viscount and 1st Earl of Charlemont; soldier and nationalist, is born in Dublin.

1814 – Birth of David Moriarty, Catholic Bishop of Kerry and opponent of nationalism, in Kilcarah, Co Kerry.

1886 – Speech by John E. Redmond at the Irish National Convention in Chicago (18 August 1886): Let no man desecrate that principle (of Irish Freedom) by giving it the ignoble name of hatred of England. Race hatred is at best an unreasoning passion. I, for one, believe in the brotherhood of nations, and bitter as the memory is of past wrongs and present injustice inflicted upon our people by our alien rulers, I assert the principle underlying our movement is not the principle of revenge for the past, but of justice for the future. When a question of that principle arises there can be no such thing as compromise. The Irish leader who would propose to compromise the national claims of Ireland, who would even incline for one second to accept as a settlement of our demand any concession short of the unquestioned recognition of that nationality which has come down to us sanctified by the blood and tears of centuries, would be false to Ireland’s history and would forfeit all claims upon your confidence or support. Such a contingency can never arise, for the man who would be traitor enough to propose such a course would find himself no longer a leader. No man can barter away the honour of a nation. The one great principle of any settlement of the Irish question must be the recognition of the divine right of Irishmen, and Irishmen alone, to rule Ireland. This is the principle in support of which you are assembled today; this is the principle which guides our movement in Ireland. But, consistently with that principle, we believe it is possible to bring about a settlement honourable to England and Ireland alike, whereby the wrongs and miseries of the past may be forgotten; whereby the chapter of English wrongs and of Irish resistance may be closed; and whereby a future of freedom and of amity between the two nations may be inaugurated.

1920 – IRA volunteers led by Sean MacEoin raided the British army barracks in Longford town and Ballymahon to obtain arms.

1922 – A lorry of Free State soldiers is ambushed between Clonmel and Cahir, Co Tipperary. Three National Army troops are killed and seven wounded.

1922 – Anti-Treaty fighters attack the Free State barracks in Monaghan town. They are driven off after a half hour gun battle. One National Army lieutenant is killed and three Republicans are wounded. The Republicans also raid the post office in the town, and shoot dead a postman. They get away with £900.

1922 – Anti-Treaty IRA men attack a Free State patrol on Longford Street, Dublin, one civilian is killed and three more wounded.

1923 – A Free State soldier is accidentally shot dead by his comrades, firing in the air to celbrate the election reulsts in Ballybay, Monaghan.

1924 – The First Walter Scott Medal for Valour awarded to Garda James Mulroy. Mulroy was accosted by two armed men who told him he had five minutes to live. PoliceHistory.com relates what happened next. Guard Mulroy waited for his opportunity sprang upon the man with the revolver, tackled him and held him but was shot and seriously wounded by the other man who fired his single barrelled shotgun who then proceeded to beat Guard Mulroy on the head with the shotgun. The struggle ended when the stock of the shotgun separated from the barrel and Guard Mulroy grabbed the barrel with one hand while still holding the other man with the loaded revolver with the other. Guard Mulroy disarmed the man with the revolver while the other ran off. He the told the remaining man to go home. Guard Mulroy fell unconscious and later awoke to find himself in the ditch with the revolver in one hand and the barrel in the other. He returned to his station at 5 a.m. got his wounds dressed and then went out with another Guard and arrested one of the men.

1934 – Birth of singer, entertainer, and political candidate, Ronnie Carroll. He was born Ronald Leghorn in Roslyn Street, Belfast, the son of a plumber. He scored his first hit in 1956 with “Walk Hand in Hand” on the Philips label. He is the only singer to have represented the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest two years in succession. Having taken part in the 1960 UK Eurovision selection contest with the song “Girl with a Curl”, he returned to win the selection and be the UK’s entry in the 1962 contest, and with the song “Ring-a-Ding Girl” shared fourth place, the same placing he reached in 1963 with “Say Wonderful Things”.

1961 – Death of playwright, humorist and writer Lynn Doyle.

1971 – Eamon Lafferty (20), a member of the IRA, was shot dead by the British Army during a gun battle in the Creggan area of Derry.

1971 – Eamon McDevitt (24), a Catholic civilian who was deaf and dumb, was shot dead by the British Army in Strabane, Co Tyrone.

1971 – The BBC was accused of political bias by the British Minister of Defence, Lord Carrington. This was the first of many direct and indirect attempts by successive British governments to influence the way the media reported the conflict in Northern Ireland.

1976 – Brian Faulkner announced that he would be retiring from active political life.

1986 – Chris de Burgh reaches no.1 in British and Irish charts with Lady In Red.

1992 – Jimmy Brown (36), then a member of the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO), was shot dead in Belfast at the start of an internal IPLO feud. It was later revealed that a new group called the Belfast Brigade of the IPLO was responsible for the killing.

1994 – Death of prominent criminal, Martin Cahill. Born in Dublin, Cahill generated a certain notoriety in the media, which referred to him by the sobriquet “The General”. The name was also used by the media in order to discuss Cahill’s activities while avoiding legal problems with libel. During his lifetime, Cahill took particular care to hide his face from the media and was rarely photographed.

1995 – Chief Constable of the RUC, Sir Hugh Annesley, said that he believed IRA units were active behind the scenes. However, he believed that the IRA ceasefire would hold.

1997 – In the Student Union building in Queen’s University of Belfast, signs which were in English and Irish were removed. This was in response to a report which claimed that the Irish language alienated Protestant students by causing a “chill factor”. The Student Union had a policy of promoting bilingualism.

1997 – Thirteen Republican prisoners serving sentences in Britain had their security status reduced allowing them to be moved from Special Secure Units to main prison accommodation.

1998 – The “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA) announced that “all military operations have been suspended”. The announcement came in a telephone call to the Irish News at 11.35 pm and the ‘suspension’ took effect from midnight. Earlier in the day the rIRA had contacted the Dublin office of the Irish News and stated that the organisation was responsible for the Omagh bombing but denied that it had deliberately set out to kill people. During the day people all over Ireland were still coming to terms with the death toll in the Omagh bomb as the first of the funerals took place. Funerals continued for the rest of the week.

2000 – Guinness agrees to suspend the closure of its Dundalk plant and plans to axe 90 jobs at the Harp Brewery.

2000 – The RUC defused a pipe-bomb in Cullybackey near Ballymena, Co Antrim. Police ruled out a sectarian motive for the pipe-bomb attack in which a woman in her 80’s escaped injury. The device was found by a neighbour on the windowsill of the house at Lowtown Terrace in Cullybackey at about 7.30am. The police said the fuse of the bomb had been lit but it did not explode.

2000 – Thousands flock to Kilrush in Co Clare for the 40th anniversary of Ireland’s only concertina-based festival which is held every year in memory of Elizabeth Crotty.

2001 – The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) held a parade down the Shankill Road in Belfast. The paramilitary march involved an estimated 15,000 members of the organisation. Around 100 masked members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name used by the UDA, together with 16 bands took part in the parade. The event was held to commemorate Jackie Coulter (46) who was shot dead during the Loyalist feud on 21 August 2000.

2002 – In a bid to redress the huge population imbalance, it is announced that the Government is to scrap tough planning laws banning the building of single houses in rural Ireland.

2004 – The Dublin Port Tunnel excavation works are completed.

Image | St. Finbarr’s Church, Gougane Barra, Co Cork | Captive Landscapes by Stephen Emerson

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