1797 – The Bank of Ireland suspends gold payments.
1854 – William Smith O’Brien, leader of the 1848 rebellion, is pardoned. He was convicted of sedition for his part in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848, but his sentence of death was commuted to deportation to Van Diemen’s Land. In 1854, he was released on the condition of exile from Ireland, and he lived in Brussels for two years. In 1856 O’Brien was pardoned and returned to Ireland, but he was never active again in politics.
1880 – Birth of Kenneth Essex Edgeworth, DSO, MC in Co Westmeath. He was an astronomer, economist and engineer. He is best known for proposing the existence of a disc of icy bodies beyond the orbit of Neptune in the 1940s in much the same manner as Gerard Kuiper would publish ten years later. Observations later confirmed the existence of what has become known, somewhat controversially, as the Kuiper belt.
1914 – HMHS Britannic, sister to the RMS Titanic, is launched at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.
1916 – Birth of John Herbert ‘Jackie’ Gleeson. He was an Irish-American comedian, actor, and musician who developed a style and characters in his career from growing up in Brooklyn, New York. He was known for his brash visual and verbal comedy style, exemplified by his character Ralph Kramden in the television series The Honeymooners. His parents were Mae ‘Maisie’ (née Kelly), Farranree, Co Cork, and Herbert Walton ‘Herb’ Gleason, an Irish-American insurance auditor.
1923 – Meeting of Anti-Treaty IRA officers assembles at Ballinageary, Co Tipperary. Officers from the First Southern Division report that, ‘in a short time we would not have a man left owing to the great number of arrests and casualties’. Tom Crofts reports that the Cork Brigades have suffered 29 killed and an unknown number captured in recent actions, ‘if five men are arrested in each area, we are finished’. Nevertheless, Liam Lynch takes the opportunity to issue a statement rejecting the possibility of a truce.
1923 – A National Army soldier is executed in Portlaoise for treachery, having defected to and handed over weapons to the Anti-Treaty IRA.
1940 – Birth of James Francis ‘Jimmy’ Ferguson in Belfast. He was a founding member of the folk group The Irish Rovers. He was the only member who did not play an instrument. He sang in a rich baritone voice, in contrast to Will Millar’s tenor, and was also the comedian of the group. Ferguson suffered a heart attack in New Zealand in 1992 and continued to have heart problems for the rest of his life. He died while on tour in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1997 at the age of 57.
1960 – An Alitalia plane bound for NY crashes moments after take off from Shannon airport killing 34 of its 52 passengers. Strong headwinds forced the Douglas DC-7 plane to land at Shannon to top up fuel on its flight from Naples. No cause for the accident was ever established.
1962 – Due to ‘lack of support’, the Irish Republican Army ends what it calls ‘The Campaign of Resistance to British Occupation’; which is also known as the ‘Border Campaign’.
1978 – Film critic Ciaran Carty hails the Irish language film Poitín for its deromanticisation of the west. Poitín (1977) was the first feature film to be made entirely in Irish. It was also the first recipient of a film script grant from the Arts Council of Ireland. The film was produced by Cinegael, written and directed by Bob Quinn, and starred Cyril Cusack as a moonshiner in rural Connemara, living in an isolated cottage with his adult daughter.
1983 – Irishman Pat Jennings becomes the first footballer to play in 1,000 Football League matches.
1998 – During talks at Downing Street, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern launches a bid to persuade British Prime Minister Tony Blair to sign up to an Anglo-Irish paper which would lay out the details of a final Northern Ireland peace settlement.
1998 – An army recruitment programme to bolster the defence forces with 500 new members is officially launched with a commitment made to keep staffing levels at 11,500 by the end of 1998.
1999 – During talks in Bonn, the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair agree to push for implementation of the Good Friday peace deal by the March 10 deadline.
2001 – The Government imposes a temporary ban on the country’s 120 livestock marts as the devastating foot and mouth disease spreads in Britain. Strict procedures are also implemented in airports around Ireland to keep the disease out of the country.
2001 – Blizzards, gale force winds and driving hail sweep the country, leaving many householders without electricity or heat.
Photo: A rainbow coming out of the water and over O’Brien’s Tower, Co Clare
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