Today in Irish History – 31 January:

1800 – William Pitt, ‘the younger’, Prime Minister of Britain, advocates the union of Britain and Ireland.

1864 – Birth of Matilda Knowles, botanist.

1881 – Anna Parnell sets up the Committee of the Ladies’ Land League in Dublin.

1913 – The Ulster Volunteer Force is founded by the Unionist Council, posing a threat to the legitimate government.

1919 – Following a meeting of the Executive of the Irish Volunteers, the editorial of An t-Óglach (the official publication of the Irish Volunteers) stated that the formation of Dáil Éireann ‘justifies Irish Volunteers in treating the armed forces of the enemy – whether soldiers or policemen – exactly as a National Army would treat the members of an invading army’.

1920 – Tomás Mac Curtain is elected Sinn Féin Mayor of Cork city. MacCurtain was an active Republican who had participated in the 1916 Rising. Just two months after his election, he would be shot dead in front of his wife and children by a party of men who were later identified as RIC personnel.

1921 – The Black and Tans kill three rail workers in the Mallow area in retaliation for a botched IRA attack on a British officer which resulted in the death of the officer’s wife.

1922 – The first regiment of the Irish National Army was set up in Dublin.

1953 – The Princess Victoria, a British Railways car ferry steamer, bound for Larne in Northern Ireland, sinks in the Irish Sea in one of the worst gales in living memory, claiming the lives of 128 passengers and crew. Among the passengers who perish are the Northern Ireland Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Major J. M. Sinclair, and Sir Walter Smiles, the Ulster Unionist MP for North Down.

1972 – Bloody Sunday Aftermath.

1984 – Death of fifteen year old Ann Lovett in Childbirth.

1998 – Two men are arrested as they transfer cannabis resin with an estimated valued of £5 million into a vehicle in a wooded area near Cahir, Co Tipperary.

1999 – The end of an era in maritime history is reached as the high-tech world takes over from the old, manually operated morse code radio services. For over 100 years, the dot-dash-dot system operated by radio officers served shipping well, but is now superseded by a state-of-the-art communications network. Marine Minister Michael Woods marks the historic occasion at Valentia Coast Radio Station, Co Kerry, as the use of Morse ends in this country, Belgium, Denmark and Iceland.

1999 – Irish American business tycoon, Jay Michael Cashman splashes out a reported £250,000 to tie the knot with his film producer sweetheart, Christy Jean Scott, in a glittering ceremony in the 15th-century ruined Franciscan Abbey. It is the first wedding in the abbey in 500 years.

2000 – Seventeen fishermen from a blazing Spanish trawler off the Clare coast are rescued by the Irish Coast Guard.

2000 – President Bill Clinton and Northern Ireland peace envoy George Mitchell are among those nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

2003 – The coast guard remains on standby off the north-west coast for a major pollution incident as damage to the Panamanian-registered Princess Eva tanker, carrying 55,000 tonnes of oil, is assessed.

2016 – Death of Broadcaster Terry Wogan, aged 77. The Limerick-born radio veteran died after a short cancer illness.

Photo: Inch Abbey, near Downpatrick, Co Down

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