#OTD in Irish History | 6 May:

1074 – Donatus (or Dunan), the first Bishop of Dublin, dies on this date and is buried in Christ Church Cathedral. Patrick, his successor, is sent to Canterbury for consecration (records are unreliable – the date of his death is also recorded as 23 November).

1384 – Philip de Courtenay lands at Dalkey and campaigns in the midlands and the Leinster mountains.

1728 – Act of Parliament removes the right to vote from Catholics.

1763 – Mary Molesworth, widow of Richard Molesworth (3rd Viscount Molesworth, MP for Swords 1715-26), and her daughters Melosina and Mary die in a fire at their London house.

1820 – Birth in St Clean’s, Co Galway of Robert O’Hara Burke. He was a soldier and police officer who achieved fame as an Australian explorer. He was the leader of the ill-fated Burke and Wills expedition.

1830 – Birth of Irish naturalist and librarian, William Archer in Magherahamlet, Co Down. Archer did work on protozoa and was the first librarian of the National Library of Ireland.

1832 – Birth of Margaret Anna Cusack, a Catholic nun and the founder of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Sister Margaret was a strong advocate for the poor and oppressed, especially women.

1881 – Birth of painter, William Conor, in Belfast. Celebrated for his warm and sympathetic portrayals of working-class life in Ulster, William Conor studied at the Government School of Design in Belfast in the 1890s. His artistic talents were recognised at the early age of ten. More than 50 works of his in crayon and watercolour are in the permanent collections of the Ulster Museum.

1844 – Irish Catholics in the Kensington slum area of Philadelphia are attacked by a mob of Nativists, a group of virulent anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant activists whose philosophy permeated much of American Protestant society at the time. The riots last for a number of days.

1882 – Phoenix Park murders: The British chief secretary of Ireland, Lord Frederick Cavendish, and his under-secretary, T.H. Burke are murdered. Both are stabbed to death as they walk in Dublin’s Phoenix Park by members of a nationalist secret society, the “Invincibles”. The attack is attributed to the Fenians, however, the murders were carried out by the Irish Invincibles, a team of Irish Republican Brotherhood assassins.

1903 – The Riddle of the Sands by Irish nationalist and writer, Erskine Childers, was published. The book, which enjoyed immense popularity in the years before World War I, is an early example of the espionage novel and was extremely influential in the genre of spy fiction. It has been made into feature-length films for both cinema and television.

1923 – A National Army sergeant is shot dead while on sentry duty.

1925 – Birth of archaeologist and arts activist, Máire de Paor (née McDermott), in Buncrana, Co Donegal.

1937 – Birth of Irish international footballer, Shay Brennan, in Manchester, UK.

1960 – Birth of Emmy-nominated actress and producer, Roma Downey, in the Bogside, Co Derry.

1967 – Seven Drunken Nights by the Dubliners enters the UK Top Ten. It also appeared on Top of the Pops, thanks to its diffusion on Radio Caroline, though it was banned from the national broadcasting station. The song also charted at No.1 in Ireland.

1969 – Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Chichester-Clark, announced an amnesty for all offences associated with demonstrations since 5 October 1968 and this resulted in the release of, among others, Ian Paisley and Ronald Bunting.

1970 – Minister for Finance, Charles Haughey and Minister for Agriculture, Neil Blaney are dismissed by Taoiseach Jack Lynch; later, they are arrested and charged with importing arms for the IRA. On 28 May 1970, Haughey and Blaney appeared in court at the beginning of what became known as the ‘Arms Trial’. Blakey is discharged on 2 July; Haughey is acquitted on 23 October.

1970 – Birth of novelist, Alan Monaghan in Dublin. He has been shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and won the 2002 Hennessy New Irish Writer Award the Award for Emerging Fiction for his short story The Soldier’s Song. He was nominated in the Best Newcomer category of the 2010 Irish Book Awards.

1976 – Eight members of the Special Air Service (SAS) were arrested across the southern side of the border. The official explanation was that the soldiers had made a map reading error and accidentally crossed the border. During the course of the Northern Ireland conflict there were many instances of British Army personnel and vehicles, including aircraft, making illegal crossings of the border. In March 1976, SAS soldiers had crossed the border and grabbed an IRA commander, Seán McKenna, from his home before handing him over to a British Army patrol on the northern side of the border.

1977 – The United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) was unable to secure the support of the workers at the Ballylumford power station, near Larne, Co Antrim. This meant that power would be maintained and factories and commerce could continue to operate. The Ballylumford workers had control of a major part of Northern Ireland’s power supply, approximately two-thirds, and thus were crucial to the outcome of the strike. The Coachman’s Inn, a hotel situated near Bangor, Co Down, was attacked by a mob which set fire to the building. The premises had continued to remain open during the strike.

1977 – Secretary of State, Roy Mason, met a delegation led by Harry West, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Its members including representatives from the Orange Order, industrialists, farmers, and businessmen. The delegation pressed Mason to embark on a series of tougher security measures. Contrasting claims continued to be made about the progress of the UUAC strike. While the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) claimed that the business sector was ‘near normal’, leaders of the UUAC argued that support for their action was growing. In an attempt to increase the pressure the UUAC called for a complete shutdown of Northern Ireland on Monday 9 May 1977. This call was criticised by Harry West who said he had been guaranteed by Roy Mason that a tougher security policy would be implemented.

1981 – The British government sent 600 extra British troops into Northern Ireland.

1984 – There were riots in Nationalist areas of Belfast and other towns following the third anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands on hunger strike.

1986 – There was a vote at Belfast City Council to resume normal business that had been adjourned in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). The vote was carried by 27 to 23 votes. The vote was taken to avoid a £25,000 court fine, however the council began a policy of deferring business.

1987 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King, announced the recruitment of an extra 500 full-time RUC reservists.

1990 – Operation Conservation: the British Army attempted to ambush a PIRA unit in South Armagh, but were counter-ambushed and one British soldier was killed.

1997 – The RUC banned a parade planned by Apprentice Boys of Derry (ABD) for 10 May 1997. The march was intending to pass through the Nationalist lower Ormeau Road area of Belfast.

1998 – The High Court hears that an advance of £175,000 has been negotiated by convicted IRA killer-turned-informer Seán O’Callaghan for his autobiography.

1998 – The Sinn Féin leadership confirmed its support for the Good Friday Agreement, recommending that members in both the North and the South should vote ‘Yes’ in the forthcoming referendum. British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and former British Prime Minister, John Major, travelled to Northern Ireland to lend their support to the campaign for a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum. Blair welcomed the news that Sinn Féin had decided to support the Agreement. A majority of councillors in Ballymena District Council voted to support the Agreement. Ballymena has been viewed as a stronghold of Paisleyism and some people had expected that the vote would go against the Agreement.

1998 – It had been reported that the IRA had taken the decision to drop the ban on members of the Republican movement taking part in an assembly at Stormont.

1998 – Death of Sybil Connolly in Dublin. Born in Swansea, Wales and raised in Waterford, the Dublin-based fashion designer who was known for creating haute couture from Irish textiles, including finely pleated linen and Carrickmacross lace, and later for her work with brands such as Tiffany and Co. Her fashion label’s famous clients included Jacqueline Kennedy. Said to have put Irish fashion on the map, she was described by former Taoiseach Jack Lynch as: ‘a national treasure’.

1999 – Representatives of the British and Irish governments held talks in London with representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and Sinn Féin (SF).

2000 – Large crowds turn out in bright summer sunshine in Fenit, Co Kerry, where President Mary McAleese officially christens the three-masted, An Gorta Mór ship replica, the Jeanie Johnston.

2000 – The IRA undertook to open some of its arms dumps for inspection and said it was prepared to ‘initiate a process that will completely and verifiably put IRA arms beyond use’.

2000 – Peace and prosperity are within Northern Ireland’s grasp, according to European Commissioner Chris Patten.

2001 – A bomb explodes at a north London postal sorting office. It is the second such attack in three weeks and is linked to the Real IRA.

2003 – The Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister pledge to move the Northern peace process forward following their talks at Farmleigh in Dublin.

2008 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Northern Ireland First Minister Ian Paisley officially open the Battle of the Boyne site in Co Meath. It is the last official engagement of Bertie Ahern as Taoiseach.

Image | Charles Fort, Kinsale, Co Cork

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