Today in Irish History: 12 December …

Today in Irish History: 12 December …

1789 – Death of Irish politician and the second son of Brabazon Ponsonby, 1st Earl of Bessborough, John Ponsonby, PC.

1803 – Birth in Limerick of Irish novelist, poet and playwright, Gerald Griffin.

1881 – Birth in Cork of James O’Flynn, also known as ‘Father O’Flynn of the Loft’; priest; teacher of acting, singing and dancing.

1883 – Birth in Dublin of Peadar Kearney, songwriter, revolutionary and house-painter; he is famous for writing the words of the Irish national anthem.

1920 – Cork Bishop Threatens IRA with Excommunication.

1920 – Black & Tans continue their attacks in Cork.

1927 – First independent Irish coinage circulated.

1955 – The Cork Opera House is destroyed by fire. Cork Opera House is a theatre and opera house in Cork. It was originally built in 1855, although its existence has not been continuous; having survived the burning of much of Cork by British forces in reprisal for an ambush of a military convoy in 1920 by Irish rebels, the Opera House nevertheless was burned down in its centenary year by a combination of old wiring and wooden materials. Although Cork had until then boasted the presence of a proper theatre in some form for over 250 years, it wasn’t until 1963 that the Opera House was rebuilt fully and opened. More recently, in 2003, large scale renovation works were completed on both the facade of the building and the surrounding Emmet Square. Built, according to its original architect Sir John Benson, for the “promotion of science, literature and the fine arts, and the diffusion of architectural knowledge,” the Opera House has always housed far more than just Opera. Performances of all types are a part of its history and current repertoire, and locals find both its range and lack of affiliation with multinationals such as Ticketmaster make a refreshing change. Emmet place is a ‘hang-out’ area for teenagers in Cork especially skaters and rockers and is referred to as ‘The Op’. The Half Moon Theatre lies to the rear of the Opera House.

1956 – Commencement of the Irish Republican Army’s Border Campaign, was a campaign of guerrilla warfare (codenamed Operation Harvest) carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) against targets in Northern Ireland, with the aim of overthrowing that state and creating a united Ireland. Popularly referred to as the Border Campaign, it was also referred to as the “Resistance Campaign” by some activists, as found in the IRA statement ending the Campaign in February 1962.

1957 – The IRA begins a violent four-year campaign in Northern Ireland.

1960 – Birth of Donegal superstar Daniel O’Donnell.

1974 – Seán MacBride receives Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo.

1975 – A six-day siege on Balcombe Street in London ends peacefully after four IRA gunmen free their two hostages and give themselves up to police.

1993 – Ireland’s first and Radio Éireann’s own agony aunt, Frankie Byrne, whose legendary programme with its ‘Dear Frankie’ letters of advice was broadcast from 1963 to 1985, passes away at the age of 71.

1997 – The Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair invite the key players in the talks into a 12-week negotiating blitz beginning in the New Year.

2000 – At a farewell reception in Dundalk, US President Bill Clinton makes an emotional plea to the people of Ireland: “redouble your efforts for peace”.

2001 – Intelligence agent William Stobie is gunned down in Belfast by former associates.

2002 – The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism rules that Fossett’s Circus is be recognised as an art form and is thus entitled to State funding. The recognition makes the 115-year old circus the oldest performing arts institution in the country, 30 years’ older than the Abbey Theatre.

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