Today in Irish History – 21st June:

Today is the summer solstice. At around 3.00 am Irish time the sun reaches the most northerly point of its oscillation and the longest day in Ireland results — just over 17 hours. The sun rises over Dublin at 4.57am, and sets at 9.57 pm.

1650 – Cromwell’s New Model Army is victorious at Scarrifhollis, Co. Donegal.

1691 – Godert de Ginkel, the commanding general of the William of Orange army, begins a ten-day siege of Athlone.

1782 – The Declaratory Act, which had given Britain the right to legislate for Ireland and had denied the appellate jurisdiction of the Irish House of Lords, is repealed.

1798 – United Irish Rebellion: The Rebels are defeated at Vinegar Hill; however, two Rebel columns escape; the Southern column camps at Sleedagh Demense; the Northern column camps at Peppards Castle. Government forces re-take Wexford town.

1826 – Frederick Blackwood, 1st Marquess of Dufferin and Ava, diplomat and holder of estates at Clandeboye, Co. Down, is born in Florence.

1854 – Charles Davis Lucas from Drumagole, Co Armagh, age 20 and a mate in the Royal Navy, hurls a Russian shell (its fuse still burning) from the deck of his ship during the Crimean War. For this action, he will become the first recipient of the Victoria Cross in 1857. Lucas later achieved the rank of rear admiral.

1877 – On a day that will long be remembered as Black Thursday, four members of the Molly Maguires – Alexander Campbell, John Donohue, Michael Doyle and Edward Kelly, shackled with chains, walk to the gallows specially constructed to accommodate four people; their lives are ended at the same split second.

1897 – James Connolly is arrested during a demonstration commemorating 1798; Maud Gonne pays the fine for his release.

1978 – The British Army shot dead three PIRA volunteers and a passing UVF volunteer at a postal depot on Ballysillan Road, Belfast. It is claimed that the PIRA volunteers were about to launch a bomb attack.

1995 – A mass rally of the entire Irish Press Newspaper workforce and their families and friends takes place through the centre of Dublin in a demonstration of unified protest against the planned closure of the newspaper group. The march, organised by the Dublin Printing Group of Unions, draws more than 1,000 Irish Press workers and their supporters. Led by a samba band, they march through the streets of Dublin, setting off from Parnell Square toward a rally outside the Dail.

1997 – At the county prison, which was closed as a jail in 1995 and reopened as The Old Jail Museum, the four Molly Maguires executed on this date in 1877, were remembered in a Memorial Mass attended by 100 of their descendants and members of the Ancient Order of Hibernians.

Photo: Dromoland Castle, Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co. Clare

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