Today in Irish History – 23 January:

1774 – Dudley Cosby (Baron Sydney), former MP for Carrick, commits suicide: ‘Our domestic news is first the death of Lord Sydney occasioned by a dose of Danish poison. His lordship to render himself agreeable to his lady upon their marriage stopped two issues he had in his thighs but found no ill effects until the 13th inst. when, after a night of great exercise by dancing, his temper and reason as appears since, was in some sort affected; however, not so much as to make those about him immediately suspect it or the consequence. He complained of indisposition and sent for a physician. He republished his will leaving his estate to Capt. Cosby of the Navy and added a codicil leaving the jewels he bought for his wife (whom in his delirium he was jealous of) and the family china to his sister Lady Farnham, after which being disappointed in an attempt to shoot himself and one to poison himself, he took on (this date) the dose which was sufficiently strong to carry him off in a few hours’.

1803 – Arthur Guinness, founder of the Dublin brewery, dies.

1881 – William O’Brien, trade unionist and Labour politician, is born near Clonakilty, Co Cork.

1898 – The United Irish League, a nationalist electoral organisation, is founded by William O’Brien.

1900 – Death of Kildare born Abraham Boulger who won the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the Indian mutiny 1857.

1923 – International reaction to Government executions.

1923 – Three Anti-Treaty IRA men are executed in Dundalk, having been captured on 7 January.

1923 – Two Republican prisoners are executed in Waterford.

1923 – Two civilian railway drivers are shot in Tralee railway station. One is killed, another is wounded. Republicans are blamed but do not claim the attack. The Railway drivers issue a statement that ‘neither murder nor intimidation would prevent them from carrying out their duties’. Free State soldier Niall Harrington later alleges the culprits were National Army officers.

1923 – An Anti-Treaty IRA column under Tom McEllistrim and John Joe Sheehy attacks the National Army barracks, containing 60 troops, in Castlemaine, Co Kerry. They use an improvised mortar, one of whose rounds makes a direct hit on the barracks. In a subsequent two hour gun battle, one Free State soldier is killed, the town’s railway station is burned and the bridge over the river Maine blown up by the Republicans. The National Army reports four Anti-Treaty fighters killed.

1923 – Two Free-State officers Lts. Kennedy and Cruise are seized while driving near Clonmel, Co Tipperary are shot and secretly buried. Their bodies are found On 3 April.

1980 – Guiseppe Conlon dies an innocent man in an English prison. He was arrested while travelling to London from Belfast to help his son, Gerry Conlon, who passed away in 2014:

1993 – Van Morrison Inducted to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Belfast Cowboy, Van Morrison is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with such luminaries as Cream, The Doors and Etta James. Inducting him, the Band’s Robbie Robertson said “in the tradition of the great Irish poets and the great soul singers, he is the Caruso of rock and roll.” This “Caruso of rock and roll” and magnificent songwriter is also one of the most curmudgeonly live performers in rock and roll history. The satirical Onion newspaper wrote of him ‘Morrison deserves a spot in the Rock Hall based on his record-breaking streak of 4,256 consecutive shows performed without cracking a smile’.

1999 – Two blast bomb attacks target Catholic homes in the seaport town of Larne, Co Antrim.

2000 – A historic show of Christian unity takes place as the Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, appeals to parishioners at Cork Masses to make contributions to a multi million pound restoration programme of a Protestant cathedral in Cork city centre.

2000 – Five grey Seals are released into the sea at Cullenstown Strand, Co Wexford. The seals had been kept in the seal sanctuary in Co. Dublin while recovering from injuries. This the largest amount of seals to be released at one time.

2001 – Irish airport charges are among the cheapest in the world, the latest independent study of the sector has found.

2001 – It is announced that the State is in negotiation with a private landowner to purchase the internationally renowned Poulnabrone dolmen in the Burren, Co Clare.

2003 – The Irish and British governments agree to plans for an all-out push to restore the North’s power-sharing Executive.

2013 – Death of Dolours Price, the woman convicted of the 1973 IRA bombing of the Old Bailey, along with her younger sister, Marian. She was also a political activist who became a staunch critic of Gerry Adams’ leadership of Sinn Féin and was among the first to publicly accuse Gerry Adams of being responsible for the abduction of those the IRA considered informers.

Photo: Killary Harbour, on Ireland’s biggest and brightest fjord, Connemara, Co Galway

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