December 2013

History Selection

Poynings' Parliament
Poynings' Parliament
 December 1494
Apprentice Boys closed the gates of Derry, December 1688
Derry siege
 December 1688
Harry Ferguson became the first person to fly in Ireland
First flight in Ireland
 December 1909
Burning of Cork
Burning of Cork
 December 1920
McGurk Bombing by the UVF
McGurk Bombing
 December 1971
Sunningdale Agreement signed
Sunningdale Agreement
 December 1973


Ireland in 1957

January 1st: Seán South and Fergal O'Hanlon were killed during an IRA attack on the RUC barracks in Brookeborough, County Fermanagh. Subsequently, the Irish Government used the Offences Against the State Act to arrest most of the IRA's leadership.

January 12th: Over 100 Republican suspects were arrested under the Special Powers Act in Northern Ireland.

January 24th: Sir Alfred Chester Beatty became the first person granted honorary citizenship of the Republic of Ireland.

February 4th: St. Mary's Church of Ireland Cathedral at Elphin, County Roscommon, was damaged in a storm and had to be abandoned.

Seán South and Fergal O'Hanlon
Seán South and Fergal O'Hanlon
Dublin in 1964
Dublin in 1964
March 3rd: Éamon de Valera told a crowd in Cork that a 'United Ireland' could be achieved with time and the support of the people.

March 5th: General election. Charles Haughey became a TD for the first time.

March 7th: Fianna Fáil returned to power winning 78 seats in the Sixteenth Dáil.

March 11th: Prize Bonds were introduced, with the Bank of Ireland operating the scheme on behalf of the Minister for Finance.

March 28th: Patrick Yeats, Ireland's leading painter of the twentieth century, died.

April: Kilkenny won the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship.

April 27th: Sheila Kelly fled Fethard-on-Sea for Northern Ireland to ensure that her children could be educated in a Protestant school, leading to a local boycott of Protestant-owned businesses.

May 2nd: Death of Fr. Aloysius Roche. He had been active during the 1916 rebellion.

May 12th: The Pike Theatre in Dublin staged the Tennessee Williams play The Rose Tattoo. After a short run, director Alan Simpson was arrested for producing a 'lewd entertainment' for a mime of dropping a condom.

May: Raid for explosives on Wolfhill Quarries in Co. Laois.

May 16th: Seán Moylan became the Minister for Agriculture.

June 26th: Micheál Ó Móráin became Minister for the Gaeltacht.

Dublin 1964
Dublin in 1964
Seán O'Casey
Seán O'Casey
July 2nd: Bridie Gallagher reached no. 1 in the Irish charts with "The Boys From The County Armagh".

July 4th: Following the killing of a Royal Ulster Constabulary officer, the new Government of Ireland introduced wholesale internment without trial in the Republic for IRA suspects.

July 4th: The Dáil debated the Fethard-on-Sea Ne Temere boycott.

July 22nd: The Gough Monument in the Phoenix Park was destroyed by a violent explosion.

August 7th: A 20-foot high war memorial in Limerick was blown up. It was erected to commemorate Limerick men who died in World War I.

September 26th: The Shamrock Rovers became the first League of Ireland team to play in the European Cup. They lost 6 - 0 to Manchester United.

September 27th: The Royal Showband was formed.

September 30th: A number of railway lines were closed down.

October 2nd: The Minister for Health, Seán MacEntee, launched the Voluntary Health Insurance Board.

October 7th: The country residence of President Seán T. O'Kelly's country residence, Roundwood House in County Wicklow, was burnt down.

October 10th: A fire occurred at the Windscale Nuclear Power station. Years later there would be allegations that it had caused birth defects in Co. Louth.

October 27th: The foundation stone of Galway Cathedral was blessed.

Ireland 1964
Dublin in 1964
Dublin in 1964
Dublin in 1964
November 1st: The Soviet satellite Sputnik is visible over Dublin for the second time in a month.

November 6th: Northern Ireland beat England in a soccer match.

December 11th: IRA internee Gerard Lawless was released, having successfully challenged his internment.



Christmas Past

Children on Christmas Day, 1894

Children on Christmas Day, 1894
Christmas turkeys delivered, 1907

Christmas turkeys delivered, 1907
Girl dressed as Santa, 1912

Girl dressed as Santa, 1912
Irish History on Film

Dublin in 1920

Dublin in 1965



Life of St Columba

Book 3

Adomnán of Iona

Penguin Classics, 1995

St Columba

St Columba

[III 1]

An angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to St. Columba's mother one night after his conception but before his birth. He seemed to stand beside her and to give her a robe of marvellous beauty, decorated with what looked like the colours of every flower. After a little time, he asked for it back and took it from her hands. Then he raised the robe and spread it out, letting go of it on the empty air. She was disappointed that it was taken away from her and spoke to the man of holy appearance:

'Why do you take away from me so quickly this delightful mantle?' she said.

'Because,' he said, 'this is a cloak of such glorious honour that you will no longer be able to keep it with you.

Then the woman saw the robe moving further and further from her as if in flight, growing greater and greater so that it seemed to be broader than the plains and the exceed in measure to mountains and the forests. Then she heard a voice which said:

St Columba
St Columba

'Woman, do not be distressed, for you shall bear to the man to whom you are joined in marriage a son of such flower that he shall be reckoned as one of the prophets. He is destined by God to lead innumerable souls to the heavenly kingdom.'

As she heard these words, his mother woke up.

[III 2] On a ray of light seen over the face of the sleeping boy

One night Columba's foster-father, a priest of admirable life, whose name was Cruithnechán, was returning from his house to the church after the office, when he saw the whole house bathed in a bright light, and poised over the face of the sleeping child was a fiery ball of light. He began to tremble, and bowed his face to the ground for he recognised that the grace of the Holy Ghost was poured from heaven upon his foster-son, and he stood in awe.

[III 3] How St Brendan saw an apparition of holy angels walking with St Columba over the plain

Many years after this, St Columba was excommunicated for some trivial and quite excusable offences by a synod that, as eventually became known, had acted wrongly. The saint himself came to the assembly that had been invoked against him.

When St Brendan, the founder of the monastery of Birr, saw St Columba approaching though still a little distance away, he rose quickly to meet him, bowed his face and kissed him with reverence. Some of the elders of that synod, moving the others to one side, berated him, saying:

'Why do you not shrink from rising before an ex-communicate and kissing him?'

'If you,' replied Brendan, 'had seen what the Lord deigned to disclose to me today, concerning this chosen one who you refuse to honour, you would never have excommunicated him. For in no sense does God excommunicate him in accordance with your wrong judgement, but rather glorifies him more and more.

'How, we should like to know,' said the elders, bridling, 'does God glorify him, as you say, whom we have excommunicated for a good reason?'

'I saw a very bright column of fiery light going in front of the man of God whom you despise, and holy angels as his companions travelling over the plain. Therefore I do not dare to spurn this man whom God, as I have had visible proof, is predestined to lead the nations to life.'

After this statement, the elders dropped their charge, for they dared not continued with the excommunication. Instead, they honoured him with great reverence.

This statement was made at Teltown.

[III 4] How St Uinniau saw that the saint's travelling companion was an angel of the Lord

Once, in his youth, St Columba went to his master, the holy bishop Uinniau, who was an old man. When St Uinniau saw him approach, he noticed also that the companion walking by his side was an angel of the Lord. St Uinniau, so the story is handed down to us by learned men, drew this to the notice of those monks who were near by, saying:

'Look. Do you see now, St Columba is coming here, who has deserved to have as the companion of his journey an angel out of heaven.'

[III 5] Of the angel of the Lord who was sent to St Columba to bid him ordain Áedán as king, and who appeared to him in a vision while he was living in the island of Hinba

Once, when the praiseworthy man was living in the island of Hinba, he saw one night in a mental trance an angel of the Lord sent to him. He had in his hand a glass book of the ordination of kings, which St Columba received from him, and which at his bidding he began to read. In the book the command was given him that he should ordain Áedán as king, which St Columba refused to do because he held Áedán's brother Eoganán in higher regard. Whereupon the angel reached out and struck the saint with a whip, the scar from which remained with him for the rest of his life. Then the angel addressed him sternly:

Know then as a certain truth, I am sent to you by God with the glass book in order that you should ordain Áedán to the kingship according to the words you have read in it. But if you refuse to obey this command, I shall strike you again.

In this way the angel of the Lord appeared to St Columba on three successive nights, each time having the same glass book, and each time making the same demand that he should ordain Áedán as king. The holy man obeyed the word of the Lord and sailed from Hinba to Iona, where Áedán had arrived at this time, and he ordained him king in accordance with the Lord's command. As he was performing the ordination, St Columba also prophesied the future of Áedán's sons and grandsons and great-grandsons, then he laid his hand on Áedán's head in ordination and blessed him.

[III 6] How angels were seen carrying the soul of a saintly Briton to heaven

Once when St Columba was living in Iona, one of his monks, a Briton, dedicated to good works, was taken ill with a bodily affliction and came close to death. The holy man came to visit him in his last hour, standing for a time beside his bed and blessing him. But he soon left the monk, for he wished not to see the man die. The end came as soon as the saint had left the house.

Then St Columba, as he walked across the open area of his monastery stopped and looked up to heaven, standing awestruck for some time. One of the brethren, Áedán mac Libir, a devout man of natural goodness, was the only person with him at that moment. He knelt down and began to ask the saint to share with him the reason for his wonder.

'I have just now seen holy angels fighting in the air against the powers of the Adversary. I give thanks to Christ, who watches over the contest, for the angels are victorious and they have carried to the joys of the heavenly kingdom the soul of this pilgrim who is the first of us to die here in this island. But I beg you, do not reveal this mystery to anyone while I am living.

St Columba and the horse by John Duncan

[III 7] Concerning a vision revealed to St Columba in which angels led the soul of a man called Diarmait to heaven

There was once an Irish pilgrim who came to visit St Columba and stayed several months with him in Iona. One day the saint said to him:

'Now a man from your own territory, a cleric, is being carried to heaven by angels, although I do not yet know his name.'

When the brother heard this, he began to search his memory about his territory, that of the Easteners or in Irish the Airthir, looking for the name of this blessed man.

'I know a soldier of Christ,' he said, 'who built a little monastery for himself in the district where he and I used to live. His name was Diarmait.'

'That is the man,' said St Columba, 'who is now brought to paradise by the angels of God.'

I mention here something that should not be overlooked. God revealed to this holy man many sacred mysteries that are hidden from others, but St Columba would not allow them to come to public notice. This was for two reasons, as he disclosed one time to a few of the brethren. First, he wanted to avoid boasting, and, second, so that widespread reports of these revelations would not attract unmanageable crowds of people, wanting to put their questions to him.

[III 8] Of a fierce fight with demons in which St Columba received timely help from the angels

One day, when St Columba was living on Iona, he set off into the wilder parts of the island to find a place secluded from other people where he could pray alone. There, soon after he had begun his prayers – as he later disclosed to a few of his brethren – he saw a line of foul, black devils armed with iron spikes and drawn up ready for battle. The holy man realised in the spirit that they wanted to attack his monastery and slaughter many of the brethren with their stakes. Though he was alone against such an army of countless opponents, he was protected by the armour of St Paul and flung himself into a great conflict. The battle continued most of the day, and the hosts were unable to vanquish him while he could not drive them away from Iona on his own. Then the angels of God came to his aid, as he afterwards told a few of the brethren, and the devils were terrified of them and left the place.

That same day, after the demons had been driven off the island, St Columba returned to the monastery, and gave this account of those hosts of the enemy, saying:

'Those deadly opponents which have today by God's favour and with the help of angels, been banished from this island have gone to Tiree. They will invade the monastery there, and attack the monks cruelly and bring deadly plagues. Many of those afflicted will die.'

That is what happened at the time, as St Columba had foreknown. But two days later, the spirit revealed to him the outcome, and he said:

'With God's help, Baithéne has managed everything well, so that the community in that church over which he presides in Mag Luigne has been saved by prayer and fasting from the attack of the demons. One man has died, on this occasion he has been the only one.'

This prophecy was fulfilled. For although many died of the same disease in the other monasteries of Tiree, no one but the man mentioned by St Columba had died in Baithéne's community.