Today in Irish History – 14 February:

St Valentine’s Day, commonly shortened to Valentine’s Day, is a holiday observed on 14 February honouring one or more early Christian martyrs named St Valentine.

1628 – Valentine Greatrakes, or Greatorex, a physician who is known as the ‘touch doctor’, is born in Affane, Co Waterford.

1700 – A subsidy is authorised to Louis Crommellin for establishing a linen industry.

1792 – Pianist and composer John Field gives his first public performance at the Rotunda in Dublin.

1821 – Birth of Mary Lee, née Walsh in Co Monaghan. She was a notable leader in the South Australian suffrage movement and a worker for working women. She married George Lee in 1844, bore seven children, and in 1879 travelled to Adelaide when her migrant son became ill; it became her permanent home.

1853 – The Queen Victoria sinks in a storm off Howth, with the loss of 55 lives.

1856 – Frank Harris, writer and journalist, is born in Galway.

1878 – Daniel Corkery, writer, critic and Irish cultural enthusiast, is born in Cork. Download: free eBook ‘A Munster Twilight’ by Daniel Corkery

1895 – Birth in Tipperary of Revolutionary, Sean Treacy.

1920 – IRA unit commanded by Ernie O’Malley and Eoin O’Duffy captured an RIC barracks at Ballytrain, Co Monaghan.

1920 – IRA unit commanded by Diarmuid Hurley captured an RIC barracks at Castlemartyr, Co Cork.

1921 – Three IRA prisoners Ernie O’Malley, Frank Teeling and Simon Donnelly escape from Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. They had been arrested for involvement in the Bloody Sunday killings of the infamous Cairo gang. O’Malley was a particularly interesting character who went on to fight on the Anti-treaty side during the Civil War. He was captured and imprisoned by Irish government forces in 1922 and spent almost two years in jail. He had strong literary skills. His most famous work is a well received memoir about the Irish War of Independence titled On Another Man’s Wound which he wrote while traveling in Mexico and Peru.

1921 – Two IRA Volunteers, the Coffey brothers, were assassinated in their beds by unknown gunmen in Enniskeane, Cork. Republicans blame an Auxiliary or Black and Tan unit but suspicion also falls on a local loyalist organisation known as the Loyalist Action Group.

1921 – Two British soldiers were arrested near Liscarroll, Co Cork, court-martialled by the IRA and then released four days later

1921 – Pvt A. Mason of the Manchester Regiment went missing near Ballincollig, Co Cork.

1942 – The USS Juneau is commissioned at Brooklyn Navy Yard. The ship would become horribly famous as the vessel which carried the five Sullivan brothers to their death, 13 November 1942 after it was hit by a Japanese torpedo at the Battle of Guadalcanal. Only 10 of the almost 700 crew survived. The Sullivan brothers were descendants of an Irish immigrant. Early on the morning of 13 November, during the naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Juneau was torpedoed and badly damaged. The five brothers, George Thomas, Francis Henry, Joseph Eugene, Madison Abel, and Albert Leo had expressed a desire to serve on the same ship. In 1997, the US Navy commissions The Sullivans, the second ship to be named after the five Sullivan brothers.

1948 – In rugby, Ireland defeats England 11-10 at Twickenham, London. Ireland would go on to win the Grand Slam (defeating England, Wales, Scotland and France) this year, a feat they would not repeat for another sixty-one years (2009).

1951 – Alan Shatter, Fine Gael politician, is born in Dublin.

1981 – The Stardust Ballroom in Artane, Dublin goes up in flames; 48 young people are killed and more than 100 are injured.

1999 – The Provisional IRA calls a halt to ‘rough justice’ in a move which is being seen as a concession to the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland.

2000 – Four Irish soldiers are killed in a tragic road accident in South Lebanon.

2000 – Castlecove, Co Kerry wins two prizes in the Nations in Bloom competition, held in Hamamatsu, Japan, overcoming challenges from cities such as Lisbon and Toronto.

2000 – A joint Irish/British strategy for dealing with the difficulties left by the suspension of the Northern Ireland administration is finalised by Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

2000 – Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams says politics in Northern Ireland are now in ‘the worst crisis of a crisis ridden process’.

2001 – The Ulster Defence Association, the largest of the Protestant paramilitary groups, breaks its silence to deny any involvement in the wave of sectarian pipe bomb attacks which have spread terror across the north.

2001 – At Áras an Uachtaráin, president Mary McAleese presents the prestigious Gaisce gold medal awards to 55 young high achievers from 17 different countries.

2002 – Pregnant women are advised by the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and of Health and Children to avoid contact with sheep at lambing time. The advice is issued in the context of the potential risks of contracting an infection that can occur in some ewes.

2002 – The Bishop of Killaloe says he would welcome the ordination of women priests. Dr Willie Walsh made his comments amid a growing crisis within his own diocese. Just one priest is set to be ordained within the next seven years. In the same period, over a dozen priests are set to retire.

2003 – Hundreds of train passengers have their travel plans disrupted by a lightning industrial action by the National Bus and Rail Workers Union in Cork. All services out of the city’s Kent Station from lunchtime until 5pm are affected.

Photo: Eagle Rocks and Grainne and Diarmuid’s Cave in Gleniff, Co Sligo

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