1787 – On this date, which is a Sunday, Alderman Exshaw, accompanied by Archdeacon Hastings, is walking in Merrion Square, Dublin, when he encounters ‘a great number of people, leaping, wrestling, shouting, etc.’. The archdeacon observes that this activity profanes the Sabbath and is a disgrace to Exshaw’s district. The latter orders the police to advance and disperse the crowd with fixed bayonets. The MPs Richard Griffith, Henry Hatton and Sir John Freke intervene, and Griffith asks Exshaw ‘to consider what he was about to do; that he had no right to order his men to fire without reading the Riot Act, and that if they fired, they must kill many innocent persons’. These words, according to Exshaw later, encourage the mob, and they immediately attack the police with stones. Exshaw will admit that there was no riot before he ordered the police to disperse the crowd, ‘that some of his men were drunk, but not so much so, he said as to render them incapable of doing their duty; that it was with great difficulty he prevented them from firing on the mob’. Griffith will be found guilty of instigating a riot, and considered lucky not to be hanged.
1842 – Arthur Sullivan, the son of an Irish musician, is born. Along with William Gilbert he invented the English operetta. Sullivan’s last work is entitled “The Emerald Isle”.
1848 – The Irish Confederation splits; John Mitchel starts the militant United Irishman; he is arrested on this date and is sentenced to 14 years transportation under the new Treason-Felony Act.
1852 – Anna Catherine Parnell, sister of Charles and Fanny, and co-founder of the Irish Ladies Land League, is born in Avondale, Co. Wicklow.
1906 – According to his birth certificate, this is the day playwright and novelist, Samuel Beckett is born in Foxrock, Co. Dublin. Throughout his life, he insists his birth is on Good Friday – April 13, 1906.
1919 – Dan Breen and Seán Treacy rescue their comrade Seán Hogan from a Dublin-Cork train at Knocklong, Co. Limerick; two policemen guarding him are killed.
1921 – 13-15: “Black Whitsun”. A general election for the parliament of Southern Ireland was held on 13 May. Sinn Féin won 124 of the new parliament’s 128 seats unopposed, and its elected members refused to take their seats. If that had happened, under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act, the Southern Parliament would have been dissolved, and Southern Ireland would have been ruled as a crown colony. Over the next two days (14–15 May) the IRA killed fifteen policemen. These events marked the complete failure of the Coalition Government’s Irish policy.
1945 – In a radio broadcast, Churchill accuses de Valera’s government of frolicking with the Germans and Japanese.
1954 – Sean Patrick Michael Sherrard, better known as Johnny Logan, is born. He is considered to be the most successful Eurovision Song contestant of all time.
1972 – A car bombing outside a crowded pub in Belfast sparks a two-day gun battle involving the Provisional IRA, Ulster Volunteer Force and British Army. Seven people are killed and over 66 injured.
1977 – Death of Mickey Spillane, an Irish-American mobster from Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Spillane, who was called the “last of the gentleman gangsters,” was a marked contrast to the violent Westies gang members who succeeded him in Hell’s Kitchen.
1981 – Pope John Paul II survives an assassination attempt in St Peter’s Square, Rome.
1998 – Delegates at the Church of Ireland Synod in Dublin vote down a proposal that the church stop investing in companies involved in the production and selling of arms.
1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern calls on Sinn Féin and the IRA to state unequivocally that the war in Northern Ireland is over.
1998 – The British Government appoints Adam Ingram as “Minister for Victims” to co-ordinate a drive towards new proposals to help the forgotten victims of terrorist violence in Northern Ireland.
2000 – More than 3,500 people march through the centre of Dublin to show their opposition to the rising levels of racism directed at refugees.
2003 – Ferocious winds force an Irish team hoping to scale Mount Everest to return to their base camp. Two members of the team, Clare O’Leary, 31, from Cork and Hannah Shields, 37, from Derry, hope to become the first Irish women to scale the world’s highest peak.
Photo: St Patrick’s Well, Clonmel, County Tipperary