Today in Irish History – 12 January:

1709 – Birth of Benjamin Burton, politician and Revenue Commissioner.

1729 – Edmund Burke, orator, statesman and philosopher, is born in Arran Quay, Dublin.

1765 – The Kinsale by-election caused by the death of John Folliott on this date is contested by Agmondisham Vesey and Richard Meade. Vesey wins by 64 votes to 48, but pays a price for being elected: William Dennis, vintner, receives £80 for Mr Vesey’s entertainment. Three other innkeepers receive a total of £76 3s 6d for providing ‘drink for Mr Vesey’s health’ and a further £14 9s for beer to the populace. His election agent, James Dennis, spends £46 12s 2d to send a coach and post-chaise to Dublin to collect voters. Vesey spends a further £12 7s 10d on ‘a notice to disqualify John O’Grady as a Papist from voting’. Ben Hayes, fiddler, is paid £5 13s 9d. Vesey’s election breakages bill amounts to £7 8s, exclusive of fines for ‘a crowd of broke heads and crakt limbs’. James Kearney (a future MP for Kinsale) spends £16 4s 3d to bring voters to Kinsale on Vesey’s behalf: this includes a post-chaise and hospitality on the four-day journey.

1885 – Thomas Ashe, patriot and nationalist revolutionary, is born in Lispole, Co Kerry.

1887 – Molly Allgood, actress (stage name Máire O’Neill) and fiancée of Synge, is born in Dublin.

1922 – In Belfast, loyalists threw five grenades at groups of Catholic civilians.

1930 – Birth of Jennifer Johnston, author of How Many Miles to Babylon and The Railway Station Man.

1947 – Matt Molloy of the Chieftains is born.

1947 – Micheal O’Siadhail, poet and linguist, is born in Dublin.

1951 – Birth of Steve Travers, surviving member of the Miami Showband massacre, and managing director of CAT Entertainments.

1993 – A Fianna Fáil-Labour coalition government is formed, with Reynolds as Taoiseach.

1998 – Political master strokes by Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair breath new life into the Northern peace process with a blueprint for peace which could replace the Anglo-Irish Agreement with a three-stranded government for the North.

2000 – Despite the controversy over the book, Limerick people turnout in huge numbers to attend the sell out film premiere of Angela’s Ashes.

Photo: Trinity Hall, Dublin, Photography by Steve Sheehy

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