Today in Irish History: 24 December _________.

Christmas Eve (Christianity) and its related observances.

1601 – The Battle of Kinsale. Hugh O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell are heavily defeated by Mountjoy.

1701 – Captain Thomas Bellew fights a duel with Major-General William Stewart on Christmas Eve – both men’s right hands are disabled as a result of war wounds, and Bellew has served under Stewart. Stewart fires from two yards and blows Bellew’s hat off, whereupon Bellew throws his pistol away, saying he does not wish to kill Stewart.

1709 – Alan Brodrick, Speaker of the House of Commons, is appointed Lord Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench.

1713 – The second Irish parliament of Queen Anne sits from 25 November to this date. The Whig Alan Brodrick is elected Speaker for the second time (having served 21 September 1703 to 19 May 1710), in place of John Forster, after a stormy contest with the government’s Tory nominee, Sir Richard Levinge.

1810 – John O’Connell, politician and son of Irish Nationalist leader, Daniel O’Connell, is born in Dublin.

1889 – Captain William O’Shea files for divorce, citing Parnell as his wife Kitty’s lover, thus causing moral outrage and the subsequent loss of Parnell’s political power.

1895 – The 15-man crew of a Dun Laoghaire lifeboat crew is lost in a gale while attempting a rescue from a stricken vessel off Blackrock.

1918 – Birth of Irish uilleann piper, Willie Clancy.

1921 – Gerard Victory, composer, is born in Dublin.

1922 – A priest in Curragheen, County Kerry, alerts the local Free State garrison to the presence of the local Anti-Treaty guerrilla column at Midnight Mass. 22 of them are captured when National Army troops raid the church.

1939 – Birth of Irish folk musician, Robin Morton.

1942 – Psychiatrist and broadcaster Dr. Anthony Clare is born in Dublin.

1997 – In one of the worst storms in living memory, seven people die and many others are injured as hurricane-force winds wreak havoc across the country.

1998 – After 26 years, an exceptional era in broadcasting comes to a close on this date when Gay Byrne does his final morning radio show on RTE Radio One.

2002 – President Mary McAleese breaks her ankle in a skiing accident in Austria.

2012 – Dennis O’Driscoll passes away suddenly aged 58.
Mr O’Driscoll, author of nine volumes of poetry, had his work published in the Harvard Anthology of Modern Irish Poetry and Faber’s 20th Century Irish Poems. A book of his interviews with Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney was also published. An accomplished essayist and reviewer, he was a contributor to The Irish Times. Arts Council chairwoman Pat Moylan said Mr O’Driscoll’s poetry was always astute and insightful, often witty and sometimes sad. “He was a tremendous supporter of other poets, particularly the younger generation, and held an encyclopaedic knowledge of Irish poetry and literature,” she said. “His presence will be deeply missed in the literary community.”

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