Today in Irish History – 23rd May:

1561 – The first court of High Commission, a group of officials and Protestant clergy, is set up to enforce the Reformation in Ireland.

1754 – Birth of Dr. William Drennan in Belfast; physician, poet, educationalist political radical and one of the chief architects of the Society of United Irishmen. Drennan’s poetic output included some powerful and moving pieces. He is chiefly remembered today for “Erin” written in 1800, in which he penned the first reference in print to Ireland as “the Emerald Isle”.

1794 – As part of a crack-down on seditious activity during Britain’s war with France, the Dublin United Irishmen are suppressed.

1796 – Death of Waterford architect John Roberts (b. 1712). Much of Waterford bears testimony to Roberts skills. He has the rare distinction of designing both the Catholic and Protestant Cathedrals in a city (especially given the times he lived in.)

1798 – United Irish Rebellion begins in Wexford and in Leinster.

1903 – Shelah Richards, actress and producer, is born in Dublin.

1920 – Oliver Plunkett is beatified by Pope Benedict XV.

1920 – Railway workers refuse to transport troops from this date.

1921 – The IRA in Clare ambushed an RIC patrol at Glenwood, between Sixmilebridge and Broadfoot. Six RIC men were killed including a District Inspector and two were wounded. The IRA volunteers captured 10 rifles.

1921 – A British Army Officer (2nd Lt Seymour Livingston Vincent) disappeared, presumed killed, in County Cork.

1934 – Birth of former rugby international, Syd Millar.

1951 – Lord Henry Mount Charles, Slane Castle impresario, is born.

1954 – Former soccer international, Gerry Armstrong, is born.

1955 – Birth of Luka Bloom (in Newbridge, County Kildare as Kevin Barry Moore), an Irish folk-rock singer-songwriter. He is the younger brother of Irish folk singer Christy Moore.

1998 – Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair, welcomes the resounding “yes” vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland, calling it “a day for joy”.

1998 – Thousands flock to Ennis for the 29th Fleadh Nua Traditional Music Festival.

1999 – Rural post offices are thrown a life-line when the Government gives its strongest commitment yet to preserving regional services.

2002 – The long simmering division between Roy Keane and manager Mick McCarthy erupts into a huge row and Keane is expelled from the World Cup squad.

Photo: Westport House, Westport, Co Mayo

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