#OTD in Irish History – 1 August (Lúnasa):

Today is Lúghnasa; in the old days this was the Feast of the god Lúgh, a thirty-day agrarian celebration with 1 August at the center. It is also the first day of Autumn in the Celtic Calendar.

Celebration of the Slavery Abolition Act 1833 which ended slavery in the British Empire.

1166 – Dermot MacMurrough, King of Leinster and ally of Muirchertach Mac Lochlainn, is defeated in battle by Rory O’Connor and forced to flee from Ireland.

1535 – John Travers, Chancellor of St Patrick’s Cathedral, is executed for high treason at Oxmantown Green for conspiring with Lord Offaly.

1649 – Jones defeats Ormond at Rathmines, ending royalist hopes of taking Dublin.

1714 – Following the death of Queen Anne, George I accedes to the throne. The second Irish parliament of Anne’s reign is thereby dissolved.

1800 – The Acts of Union 1800 are passed which merge the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1822 – Irish Constabulary Act sets up county police forces and salaried magistracy.

1837 – Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, union activist is born in Cork. Jones who was once deemed “the most dangerous woman in America” because of her union activities. Loved by the labour movement, she suffered major tragedies in her own life losing her husband and four children to Yellow Fever and then some years later losing everything in the Chicago Fire. A lengthy biography at AFLCIO.org states “In June 1897, after Mary addressed the railway union convention, she began to be referred to as “Mother” by the men of the union. The name stuck. That summer, when the 9,000-member Mine Workers called a nationwide strike of bituminous (soft coal) miners and tens of thousands of miners laid down their tools, Mary arrived in Pittsburgh to assist them. She became “Mother Jones” to millions of working men and women across the country for her efforts on behalf of the miners. Mother Jones was so effective the Mine Workers sent her into the coalfields to sign up miners with the union. She agitated in the anthracite fields of eastern Pennsylvania, the company towns of West Virginia and the harsh coal camps of Colorado.”

1851 – The Ecclesiastical Titles Act forbids Catholic bishops to assume ecclesiastical titles taken from any place in the United Kingdom.

1872 – Gladstone’s first Land Act, decreeing that tenants who were evicted be compensated for improvements and that tenant who were evicted for any reason other than nonpayment of rent should also be compensated.

1908 – Irish Universities Act setting up the National University of Ireland passed.

1910 – Birth of Cathal Gannon in Dublin He was a harpsichord maker, a fortepiano restorer and an amateur horologist. Born into a craftsmen family of carpenters, many of whom worked in the famous Guinness Brewery. Trinity College Dublin gave Cathal an honorary MA degree for his contribution to the authentic performance of early music in Ireland.

1915 – Nationalist Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa is buried in Glasnevin cemetery, Dublin.

1920 – On various dates in August, members of the IRA and the Volunteers swore allegiance to Dáil Éireann; previously they had sworn to obey their Executive Councils.

1931 – Seán Ó Riada, born John Reidy in Cork City, was a composer and bandleader, and perhaps the single most influential figure in the renaissance of traditional Irish music from the 1960s, through his participation in Ceoltóirí Chualann, his compositions, his writings and his broadcasts on the topic.

1938 – Birth of Paddy Moloney, one of the founders of the Irish musical group The Chieftains who has played on every one of their albums.

1975 – Two Catholic civilians, Joseph Toland (78) and James Marks (42), died as a result of a gun attack on a minibus near Gilford, Co Down. Marks died from his injuries on 7 January 1976. No group claimed responsibility but ‘Lost Lives’ (2004; p614) records: “the attack …, according to reliable loyalist sources, was carried out by the UVF”.

1975 – David House, a Lieutenant-General in the British Army, replaced Frank King as General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the army in Northern Ireland.

1978 – Catholic Primate of Ireland, Tomás Ó Fiaich, who had paid a visit to Republican prisoners in Long Kesh Prison on 30 July 1978, issued a statement saying that the prisoners engaged in the ‘blanket protest’ where living in ‘inhuman’ conditions. At this stage of the ‘blanket protest’ over 300 Republican prisoners were refusing to wear prison clothes or follow normal prison regulations. This protest was an attempt to secure a return of special category status for people convicted of politically motivated crimes.

1979 – The United States State Department halted a private firearms shipment to Northern Ireland. The shipment also included firearms that were intended for the RUC. The RUC later purchased the arms from West Germany instead. This decision by the US State Department was brought about by a campaign to try to bring pressure on the British government to undertake a new political initiative in Northern Ireland to find a solution to the conflict. The campaign was headed by the so-called ‘Four Horsemen’ who were: Speaker of the House of Representatives, ‘Tip’ O’Neill, Senator Edward Kennedy, Senator Daniel Moynihan, and Governor of New York Hugh Carey. Previously the US had been uncritical of British policy in Northern Ireland and these developments were to prove worrying for the British.

1980 – Buttevant Rail Disaster kills 18 and injures dozens of train passengers in Co Cork.

1981 – After 71 days on hunger strike, Kevin Lynch dies at Long Kesh prison.

1986 – Death of James Horan (b. Partry, Co Mayo), a late Parish Priest of Knock. He is most widely known for his successful campaign to bring an airport to Knock, his work on Knock Basilica, and is also credited for inviting Pope John Paul II to visit Knock Shrine in 1979.

1988 – An IRA bomb killed one soldier and injured nine at an army barracks in London. It was the first IRA bomb in Britain since the ‘Brighton’ bombing on 12 October 1984.

1997 – A Protestant civilian, Stewart Hunter (24), was found dead at the side of a road near his home near Larne, Co Antrim. It was believed that Loyalist paramilitaries were responsible for the killing.

1998 – Thirty-three civilians and two members of the RUC were injured when a car bomb, estimated at 500 lbs, exploded in Banbridge, Co Down. Extensive damage was also caused in the explosion that was later claimed by the “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA).

1998 – The Irish government took the decision to release six IRA prisoners from Portlaoise Prison. Unionists reacted angrily to the announcement.

1999 – In the aftermath of the killing of Charles Bennett on 30 July 1999, John Bruton, Leader of Fine Gael, called upon Taoiseach Bertie Ahern,  to make “an authoritative statement” on the relationship between Sinn Féin and the IRA.

2001 – One of Ireland’s best loved actors, Joe Lynch, dies after being taken ill at his holiday home in Spain. Joe Lynch, was an Irish actor who enjoyed a long career in both serious drama and light comedy. He also did voice work for children’s animated series, in particular Chorlton and the Wheelies for which he performed the theme tune. He had a fine singing voice and composed songs, such as for the movie Johnny Nobody (1961). He also recorded the work of other songwriters, including Leo Maguire’s “The Whistling Gypsy” and Dick Farrelly’s “Cottage by the Lee”, one of Joe’s biggest 1950s recordings.

2001 – British Army technical officers defused a car-bomb was left in the main car park at Belfast International Airport. There had been an initial warning at 5.00am but security forces were unable to locate the bomb. Following a second warning the vehicle was found close to the main terminal building. The car park was closed but flights in and out of the airport were not affected. The “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA) was thought to have been responsible for the attack.

2001 – The British and Irish governments published their Implementation Plan for the Good Friday Agreement. The document addressed the remaining issues of policing, normalisation, stability of the institutions, and decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. The political parties were given until 6 August 2001 to give their response to the proposals.

2001 – The funeral of Gavin Brett (18), who had been shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries on 29 July 2001, took place at Carnmoney Parish Church. Nigel Baylor (Rev), then Church of Ireland rector, said that those responsible for the killing “have done nothing but bring shame on the name of Protestantism.

2007 – Death of Tommy Makem, an internationally celebrated Irish folk musician, artist, poet and storyteller. He was best known as a member of The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. He played the long-necked 5-string banjo, guitar, tin whistle, and bagpipes, and sang in a distinctive baritone. He was sometimes known as “The Bard of Armagh” (taken from a traditional song of the same name) and “The Godfather of Irish Music”.

Image | Ross Bay, Co Clare | Peter Cox Photography Gallery

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