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During the afternoon and evening of Sunday July 12 1691 the people of Galway could hear the distant thud of cannons as two armies in the Cogadh na Dá Rí (war of the two kings) was nearing its climax. The Irish army, led by the inept French general, Charles Chalmont, Marquis de Saint-Ruhe, known as Saint Ruth, and the heroic Earl of Lucan, Patrick Sarsfield, had taken a stand on Kilcommodon Hill, below which lay the village of Aughrim, some 5km from Ballinasloe, Co Galway.
The battle for Normandy June-August 1944, launched on D-Day exactly 75 years ago, marked, after Stalingrad, the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany. It was a major battle. The Allies suffered 209,672 casualties of whom 36,796 were killed. Some 28,000 Allied airman were lost in the months preceding and during the campaign.
Home Rule, the campaign for self-government for Ireland within the United Kingdom, was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1870 to the end of World War I. It dominated all local and national papers in Ireland. Men fiercely argued its pros and cons while Ulster protested that if Home Rule was introduced it ‘would fight, and Ulster would be right.’
Throughout the centuries the islands of Lough Mask have stood silently and helplessly by as they played host to many extraordinary events. This week I am able to touch on just some of those events chronologically.