May 08

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1567 Shane O’Neill of Tyrone was heavily defeated by Hugh O’Donnell at the Battle of Farsetmore, near Letterkenny, Co. Donegal.
  • 1916 Éamonn Ceannt (34), Michael Mallin (36), Con Colbert (25) and Seán Heuston (25) executed.
  • 1987At Loughgall, Co. Armagh, an eight-man IRA unit, about to attack the local RUC station, was wiped out by a 36-man SAS unit. It was the IRA’s greatest single loss of life in the recent Troubles. A passing civilian was also killed.
  • 2007 Devolution day in Northern Ireland. Ian Paisley (DUP) and Martin McGuinness (SF) were sworn in as first minister and deputy first minister of the Northern Ireland executive.
  • 2007‘Devolution Day’ in Northern Ireland. DUP leader Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness (SF) took office as first minister and deputy first minister respectively in a restored Northern Ireland Assembly.
  • 1987 The Loughgall ambush. Eight members of the East Tyrone Brigade of the IRA, including their commander, Patrick Joseph Kelly, were killed by the SAS/RUC as they attacked the part-manned RUC station in north Armagh. The East Tyrone Brigade was one of the most active and successful IRA brigades during the Troubles, with a simple strategy to create and expand ‘no-go zones’ which the RUC/British Army did not control, in the course of which they had carried out 22 attacks over the previous six months, killing seven members of the security forces. Meanwhile, Det. Chief Supt. Francis Murray—a Catholic from the Ards Peninsula, based in Portadown, who had played hurling in his youth—was determined to do his duty. Ten years earlier, whilst investigating a booby-trapped IRA arms dump in Lurgan he lost a hand, a leg and an eye, which sidelined him for three years. Returning to duty, he spent most of his time scrutinising intelligence reports until he eventually made a breakthrough; in a monitored telephone call an IRA Volunteer indiscreetly told his girlfriend about the plan for Loughgall. With permission to deploy a group of SAS personnel and RUC marksmen, he briefed them in detail—from his knowledge of previous attacks—on the IRA modus operandi before they took up positions at the station. As predicted, the IRA arrived with a stolen mechanical digger with a 200lb bomb in the bucket, which destroyed much of the base. Then, as they proceeded to their getaway van, they were mown down in a hail of 1,200 rounds, though six did manage to escape. The ambush, however, had no long-term effect on the East Tyrone Brigade, which lost 53 Volunteers during the Troubles, mostly at the hands of the SAS and UVF. Chief Supt. Murray was awarded an MBE and the Queen’s Police Medal and retired after a 32-year police career. Twenty years to the day of the ambush, Sinn Féin went into a devolved government with the DUP in Stormont.

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