Today in Irish History – 24 December:

Christmas Eve (Christianity) and 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, is born in Dublin. He was one of seven children (the third of four sons) of the Irish Nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell and his wife Mary. He followed his father as a member of parliament and leader of the Repeal Association.

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 Willie Clancy, an Irish uilleann piper. Clancy was born into a musical family in Miltown Malbay, Co Clare. His parents both sang and played concertina, and his father also played the flute. Clancy’s father had been heavily influenced by local blind piper Garret Barry (d. 1900).

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

1922 – A priest in Curragheen, Co 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.

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

1963 – Idle Wild Airport is rededicated as JFK Airport on this date in 1963 in memory of John F. Kennedy.

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 – Death of Dennis O’Driscoll, an Irish poet, essayist, critic and editor. Regarded as one of the best European poets of his time, Eileen Battersby considers him “the lyric equivalent of William Trevor” and a better poet “by far” than Raymond Carver. Gerard Smyth regards him as “one of poetry’s true champions and certainly its most prodigious archivist”. His book on Seamus Heaney is regarded as the definitive biography of the Nobel laureate.

Photo: Holly, ivy, and other evergreens have been used for thousands of years as ornamental decorations during the winter months.

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