August 03

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1969 The RUC dispersed a loyalist crowd massing at Unity Flats. Clashes began as they pushed them back to the Shankill, barricades went up, shops were looted and police cars set on fire. Fighting went on over night until B-Specials were sent in and the situation calmed down.
  • 1916 Sir Roger Casement (51), humanitarian and militant nationalist, was hanged in Pentonville prison.
  • 1914 Germany declared war on France. Britain became the last of the Great Powers to engage in the July crisis when the cabinet decided that a ‘substantial violation’ of Belgium had occurred, justifying war. Speaking in the House of Commons, the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, John Redmond, pledged Ireland’s support for Britain should she enter the war.
  • 1907 Augustus Saint-Gaudens (59), the dominant figure in nineteenth-century American public art, died.Whilst Chicago-born Lady Hazel Lavery (1880–1935) adorned Irish banknotes from 1928 until the 1970s,it is less well known that a Donegal woman made her début on US currency over two decades earlier. In 1904 the recently re-elected Theodore Roosevelt decided to redesign the existing $10 and $20 gold pieces and gave the job to Saint-Gaudens. The artist, however, seeking inspiration from the coinage of ancient Greece, soon hit a problem: he couldn’t visualise the face he required—that is, the story goes, until he stepped out to lunch one day to an inn near his studio in Cornish, New Hampshire.As the waitress approached him, he realised at once that he had found his model, none other than Mary Cunningham (24) from Carrick, Co. Donegal, who had emigrated to the US with six of her brothers and one sister. Her face, with its straight classical nose and strong chin, was precisely what he required for his ‘Miss Liberty’, which appeared on the back of the coins.Although there were some loud objections to the fact that the model for Liberty was Irish, little attention was drawn to the fact that Saint-Gaudens himself was Irish. His coins are regarded today as amongst the most exquisite of all American coinage.Saint-Gaudens is better known on this side of the pond for his Parnell monument on O’Connell Street, Dublin, unveiled in October 1911, four years after his death.
  • 1823 Thomas Francis Meagher, Young Irelander and leader of the Irish Brigade in the Union army in the American Civil War, born in Waterford.

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