Today in Irish History – 26 January:

1316 – At the battle of Ardscull, Co Kildare, Edward the Bruce defeats the army of Justiciar Edmund Butler. The Scottish dead are buried in the graveyard attached to the Dominican Priory in Athy which occupies the area on the east bank of the River Barrow. Among those buried are two Scottish chiefs, Lord Fergus Andressan and Lord Walter de Morrey.

1699 – The second session of William III’s second Irish parliament ends on this date.

1716 – Birth of Lord George Sackville (Germain), soldier, politician and MP for Portarlington.

1764 – United Irishman, William Sampson is born the son of a Presbyterian clergyman in Derry. A distinguished lawyer and author, he would die in New York in 1836.

1799 – Thomas Charles Wright, officer in Bolivar’s army and founder of the Ecuadorian naval school, is born in Drogheda, Co Louth.

1871 – Sir Arthur du Cros, pioneer of pneumatic tyre industry, is born in Dublin.

1904 – Birth of Seán MacBride, IRA leader, politician, head of Amnesty International, and recipient of Nobel and Lenin peace prizes.

1907 – Synge’s Playboy of the Western World is performed for the first time at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin; the audience riots because of the bad language and negative perspective on Irish peasant life.

1923 – Three men are executed by the Free State in Birr, Co Offaly for armed robbery. Although not actually IRA members, having been denied entry on the grounds that they were too young, the three had Republican connections and claimed as ‘Republican soldiers’ in an Anti-Treaty communique.

1923 – An anti-Treaty land mine outside Terenure College, Dublin destroys a National Army tender, badly injuring three Free State soldiers and two civilians.

1965 – Birth of Seán Savage (in Belfast). He was a volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who was shot and killed by British Army Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers in Operation Flavius.

1998 – Fears of a backlash heighten in the North due to the removal from the peace talks of the Ulster Democratic Party because of the recent spate of sectarian murders.

1998 – The trial of a Dublin man accused of the murder of journalist, Veronica Guerin, is adjourned until June by the Special Criminal Court.

1999 – Irish swimming takes its first step towards a fresh beginning following a series of child sex abuse scandals with the creation of a new identity, Swim Ireland.

2000 – Tánaiste Mary Harney announces that the new minimum pay rate of £4.40 per hour will apply from 1 April.

2000 – Amid reports that Britain is drawing up emergency legislation to re-impose direct rule on Northern Ireland, the IRA faces renewed pressure to start decommissioning its arsenal.

2000 – Supporters of ancient herbal remedies stage a wake in Dublin mourning the death of the free availability of the herb St John’s Wort, which can now only be obtained on prescription.

2001 – Motorists crossing Dublin’s East and West Links will have to pay an extra 20p following a VAT hike.

2001 – AN Bord Pleanála gives the go ahead for a £35 million leisure, residential and shopping development in Limerick.

2003 – The first Holocaust Memorial Day is held in Ireland. Justice Minister Michael McDowell apologised for an Irish wartime policy that was inspired by “a culture of muted anti-Semitism in Ireland.” He said that “at an official level the Irish state was at best coldly polite and behind closed doors antipathetic, hostile and unfeeling toward the Jews”.

2011 – Micheál Martin is elected leader of Fianna Fáil. Martin beat the competition of finance minister Brian Lenihan, tourism minister Mary Hanafin, and social protection minister Éamon Ó Cuív. He replaces Brian Cowan who stepped down on 22 January. During his acceptance speech, the new leader apologises for mistakes he and the Government made in managing the economy but said the most important thing was to learn from these mistakes.

Photo: St Colman’s Cathedral, Cobh, Co Cork

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