August 14

Published in On this Day listing

Above: Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone—
inflicted the heaviest defeat ever suffered by the English in Ireland at the Battle of the Yellow Ford.

  • 1598 The Battle of the Yellow Ford. Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, along with his Ulster allies and some Spanish, inflicted the heaviest defeat ever suffered by the English in Ireland. Early that morning Sir Henry Bagenal, marshal of the queen’s army in Ireland, set out from Armagh with 300 cavalry and c. 4,000 foot-soldiers to relieve the starving garrison of 150 men at Portmore Fort, some five miles away. But O’Neill was well prepared. Using an elaborate series of carefully constructed earthworksto block Bagenal’s path and concealing his men in the thick woods on either side, he subjected the English to a constant barrage of deadly fire. Bagenal himself, riding in the vanguard, fell early, shot in the head when he lifted his visor to catch his breath. To add to their woes, their best cannon became stuck in the mud and their powder accidentally detonated. Forced to retreat, the remainder of Bagenal’s army was dispersed by the Irish cavalry and harried by O’Neill’s pikemen and sabremen. In all, the English lost up to 2,500 men, including eighteen captains, and a mere 1,500 managed to make it back to Armagh. O’Neill lost c. 300 men. O’Neill could have pursued them all the way to Dublin, but he hesitated. It was one thing to trounce an ill-prepared English army on his own patch. Further action, however, would require a firmer commitment from Spain. Instead, he made strict terms. Having surrendered all of their arms and ammunition, the remnants of Bagenal’s army were given safe passage to Newry, where they boarded ships to take them to Dublin. Portmore Fort was abandoned.
  • 1958

    Above: The KLM Super Constellation Hugo de Groot, which crashed 160km off the coast of Galway on 14 August 1958.

    The KLM Super Constellation Hugo de Grooten routefrom Amsterdam to New York, crashed at dawn some 160km off the Galway coast just half an hour after refuelling at Shannon—one of the worst air disasters ever off these islands. There were no survivors. All 91 passengers (Dutch, British, US, Polish and Israeli nationals), along with a United Arab Republic fencing team and the crew of eight, lost their lives. A subsequent inquest agreed verdicts of death from multiple injuries, haemorrhages and fractures owing to violent impact but failed to produce any evidence as to the cause. Only 34 bodies were recovered, including that of a fourteen-month-old baby. Just twelve, including the baby, were identified, of whom eleven were repatriated. In the search-and-rescue mission, the RAF was assisted by the Irish naval service, the Aran Islands ferry Naomh Éanna, lifeboats from the Aran Islands and Fenit, and several fishing vessels. It was a traumatic event for the people of the West, and of Galway in particular, with the sombre transfer of the bodies ashore at Galway docks, the round-the-clock post-mortems at the Regional Hospital, the religious services for six denominations and, five days later, the funeral of the remaining 23 to Bohermore cemetery, the largest the city had ever seen. On the 50th anniversary of the disaster in 2008 a KLM representative paid tribute to the people of Galway for their outstanding assistance at that time. Wreaths were laid on the mass grave of the unidentified victims and on a separate grave nearby—that of baby Bernadette de Kock Van Leeuwen.

  • 1969 Battle of the Bogside ends with the deployment of troops from the Prince of Wales’ Own Regiment.
  • 1958 The KLM Super Constellation Hugo de Groot, en route from Amsterdam to New York with 91 passengers and a crew of eight, crashed some 90 miles off the Galway coast after refuelling in Shannon. There were no survivors.
  • 1940 Seán Russell, IRA chief-of-staff, died from a burst gastric ulcer on board a German submarine off the Galway coast. He was returning to Ireland along with fellow Republican Frank Ryan after completing over three months’ training with German intelligence in Brandenburg.
  • 1922 Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe (57), newspaper and publishing magnate who was born in Chapelizod, Co. Dublin, and was an early promoter of popular journalism, died.
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