Today in Irish History – 11 March:

1605 – A proclamation declares all persons in the realm to be free, natural and immediate subjects of the king and not subjects of any lord or chief.

1722 – Death of John Toland. He was a rationalist philosopher and freethinker, and occasional satirist, who wrote numerous books and pamphlets on political philosophy and philosophy of religion, which are early expressions of the philosophy of the Age of Enlightenment. Born in Ardagh, Co Donegal, he was educated at the universities of Glasgow, Edinburgh, Leiden and Oxford and was influenced by the philosophy of John Locke.

1812 – Composer William Vincent Wallace, best known for his opera, Maritana, is born in Co Waterford.

1856 – Death of James Beatty. He was an Irish railway engineer. The son of a doctor from Enniskillen, Beatty was first employed in 1842 at the age of 22 by Peto and Betts on building the Norwich and Lowestoft line. In 1853 he was in Nova Scotia surveying the European and North American Railway and despite adverse weather conditions, the line was staked out in good time. Towards the end of 1854 he was appointed by Peto, Brassey and Betts as Chief Engineer of the Grand Crimean Central Railway, built to convey supplies to the Allied forces in the Crimean War. He arrived in Balaklava in January 1855 to join Donald Campbell and his team who had already started to survey the line. Beatty’s energy and enthusiasm ensured that the line, which included a stretch at a gradient of 1 in 14, was laid in a very short time.

1858 – Irish revolutionary Thomas James Clarke is born of Irish parents on the Isle of Wight and arguably the person most responsible for the 1916 Easter Rising.

1880 – On the last day of his tour of the United States, Parnell launches the Irish National Land League of the USA.

1920 – After an RIC officer was shot dead, RIC officers attacked many houses in Cork city.

1921 – Dáil Éireann debated, resolved and finally on 11 March declared war on the British administration.

1921 – The North Longford IRA officer Sean Connolly and five other IRA volunteers were killed by British troops at the Selton Hill ambush, near Mohill, Co Leitrim when their ambush position was betrayed by a local Orangeman.

1921 – Three RIC men were attacked by the IRA near the corner of Victoria Square and Church Street in Belfast resulting in the death of all three. Two civilians were also injured in the attack and one of them later died in the hospital.

1923 – A civilian suspected of Republican sympathies is shot dead on Donore Avenue Dublin by Free State Intelligence officers.

1923 – In Co Kerry, another Republican prisoner, Seamus Taylor is taken from Kenmare jail to Ballyseedy woods by National Army troops and shot dead.

1926 – Éamon de Valera resigns as head of Sinn Féin.

1929 – Erskine B. Childers, diplomat, is born in Dublin.

1936 – Irish soccer player Jimmy Kelly plays international soccer for Northern Ireland (v Wales) and one week later for what was then the Irish Free State soccer team in an international game against Switzerland.

1951 – Ian Paisley co-founds the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster.

1953 – Birth of Derek Daly in Ballinteer, Dublin. He is a former racing driver from Ireland. He won the 1977 British Formula 3 Championship, and competed as a professional racing driver for 17 years participating in 64 World Championship Formula One Grands Prix, debuting on 2 April 1978. He scored a total of 15 championship points. He also participated in several non-Championship Formula One races. Daly later became a US citizen and now resides in Noblesville, Indiana with his third wife, Rhonda, and three children from his second marriage.

1953 – Birth in Ballinasloe, Co Galway of Mary Harney, politician, leader of the Progressive Democrats and Tánaiste.

1954 – Margaret (Gretta) Cousins, Irish women’s rights activist, is born.

1964 – Shane Richie, actor and game-show host, is born Shane Roche to Irish parents in London.

1969 – Death of John Joseph Daly. He was an Irish runner who won a silver medal in the steeplechase at the 1904 Summer Olympics. He competed for Ireland at the International Cross Country Championships of 1903–1906 and 1911 and won three silver team medals; individually he won a bronze in 1903 and finished fourth in 1904 and 1906. When not competing for Ireland as a member of the Gaelic Athletic Association, Daly entered races as a member of the Irish American Athletic Club.

1974 – Brothers Kenneth and Keith Littlejohn break out of Mountjoy Prison. Jailed in 1973 for a £67,000 heist at a Dublin bank – the biggest to date in Irish history – during their trial they claim they are M16 spies working for the British Government against the IRA.

1981 – Bobby Sands recorded his diary for the first seventeen days of his hunger strike in which he detailed his thoughts and feelings on the momentous task that lay ahead of him. In order to secure his status as Irish political prisoner he was willing to fast til death, an event that would earn him a place in the annals of Irish history and in the hearts and minds of Irish republicans world wide. See Bobby Sands Trust for today’s entry:

1987 – Dr. Garret FitzGerald resigns as leader of Fine Gael. Succeeded by Alan Dukes.

1995 – Gerry Adams arrives in New York.

2000 – Emigrant Francis O’Neill, an American police chief who carried a Chicago gangster’s bullet to the grave is honoured at the weekend in his native West Cork where Garda Commissioner Pat Byrne unveils a life-sized memorial sculpture.

2001 – Over 1,300 people pack the Cathedral of the Assumption to pay their last respects to the former Archbishop of Tuam, Most Reverend Joseph Cunnane, at his funeral Mass.

2001 – Mr. Tony Luff, founder of the Galway Swan Rescue, coordinates a rescue operation involving dozens of volunteers in Galway city to save the lives of over 60 of the famous Claddagh swans after yet another oil slick surrounds the birds – just a fortnight after four are killed in a previous spill.

2002 – Limerick-born Michael Collins, author of The Keepers of Truth, is named as one of seven writers competing for the prestigious International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2002, worth €100,000.

2002 – Customs officers smash the biggest illegal oil laundering operation ever discovered in the State.The plant, near Dundalk, Co Louth, had the capacity to launder up to 300,000 litres of oil a week.

2015 – Death of DJ, Tony Fenton. Not many people can persuade U2 to play at their funeral, but not many people are Tony Fenton. The Dude, as he was affectionately known to his friends, planned his funeral from start to finish, beginning when he realised the prostate cancer he was first diagnosed with in 2011, was terminal.

Photo: Cow field in Co Roscommon

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