Today in Irish History – 20 January:

1621 – Patents are granted for plantations in parts of Leitrim, King’s County, Queen’s County and Westmeath.

1841 – James Armour, Presbyterian minister and political activist is born in Ballymoney, Co Antrim.

1902 – Kevin Barry, medical student and nationalist revolutionary, is born in Dublin.

1902 – In the House of Commons, John Redmond criticizes the use of concentration camps by the British in South Africa.

1908 – The Municipal Gallery of Modern Art opens in temporary premises in Harcourt Street, Dublin. It is the first known public gallery of modern art in the world and is later to become the Hugh Lane Gallery named after its founder.

1915 – Death of Arthur Edward Guinness, 1st Baron Ardilaun, known as Sir Arthur Guinness, between 1868 and 1880, was an Irish businessman, politician, and philanthropist, best known for giving St Stephen’s Green to the people of Dublin.

1916 – Secret negotiations result in alliance of the Irish Citizen Army with the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

1920 – RIC Constable Luke Finnegan was shot dead in Thurles, Co Tipperary. Afterwards, RIC men attacked property belonging to local Sinn Féiners, and some public property. This is reported as the first instance of police reprisals.

1921 – Glenwood Ambush: IRA in Clare, under Michael Brennan, ambushed an RIC lorry at Glenwood, between Sixmilebridge and Broadford. Six RIC men were killed and two more were wounded but escaped. The IRA took their weapons and over 1000 rounds of ammunition before burning the lorry. Among the dead was RIC District Inspector William Clarke. In reprisals, the British forces burned 21 homes in the vicinity and arrested 22 people.

1923 – Eleven Republican prisoners are executed by the Free State – two in Limerick, four in Tralee and five in Athlone. In what was now becoming a brutal civil war between Pro and Anti-Treaty parties, the Pro-treaty government had instituted in October 1921 an aggressive policy of execution of Republican prisoners or ‘Irregulars’. The Government’s view was that anti-Treaty irregulars were rebels fighting against a legitimate Irish authority, elected by the people. Seventy-seven official executions occurred, thirty-four in January. Most of the people shot would have fought on the same side as their executioners in the War of Independence against Britain. The brutal reaction of the Irish government did bring a swift response with anti-treaty forces laying down their arms in April, but the bitterness of the civil war permeated Irish politics and society for much of the twentieth century.

1955 – Birth of Joe Doherty in Belfast. He is a former volunteer in the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who escaped during his 1981 trial for killing a member of the Special Air Service (SAS) in 1980. He was arrested in the United States in 1983, and became a cause célèbre while fighting an ultimately unsuccessful nine-year legal battle against extradition and deportation, with a street corner in New York City being named after him.

1961 – John F. Kennedy is inaugurated as President of the United States of America, becoming the first Irish Catholic to be elected to that office.

1968 – Birth of Charlie Swan, jockey.

1973 – ‘Whiskey In The Jar’ by Thin Lizzy enters the UK charts.

1998 – Hope remain high that the IRA ceasefire will hold despite escalating violence in the North and Sinn Féin’s implacable opposition to the Anglo-Irish blueprint.

1999 – The Loyalist Volunteer Force announces plans for a second round of arms decommissioning which could include the handover of explosives.

1999 – One of the world’s biggest software piracy investigations identifies over 6,000 Internet sites in Ireland copying and promoting illegal software.

2000 – According to a major international survey, Ireland is one of the least corrupt countries in the industrial world.

2002 – Rioting erupts on the streets of north Belfast as angry mobs throw petrol bombs and blast bombs at police.

2010 – Ireland’s oldest woman died at the age of 107. Bride O’Neill from Kilbarry, Co Cork trained as a nurse in England but returned home during the second world war to work in Dublin. She kept active even after her 100th birthday, and never married, smoke or drank.

Photo: Hook Head, Co Wexford, Landscapes by DigiCol Photography

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