Today in Irish History – 15 March:

1672 – The first declaration of indulgence suspending penal laws against Catholics and dissenters is issued by Charles II.

1764 – Charles O’Conor, antiquary and historian, is born in Belanagare, Co Roscommon.

1773 – Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ is performed at Covent Garden Theatre, London.

1774 – Isaac Weld, author, is born in Dublin.

1813 – In the British House of Commons, Sir Eyre Coote (the younger), MP for Ballynakill and Maryborough, proposes the abolition of flogging in the army.

1852 – Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory (née Persse), playwright, folklorist and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre, is born in Roxborough, Co Galway.

1878 – Sir Robert McCarrison, medical scientist and honorary physician to King George V from 1928 to 1935 is born in Portadown, Co Armagh.

1895 – Bridget Cleary is burned to death by her husband Michael who believed her spirit had been taken by bad faeries and replaced with a changeling.

1904 – Birth of George Brent, born George Brendan Nolan in Ballinasloe, Co Galway. Brent was an became an American stage, film, and television actor. During the Irish War of Independence, Brent was part of the IRA. He fled Ireland with a bounty set on his head by the British government, although he later claimed only to have been a courier for guerrilla leader and tactician Michael Collins.

1922 – IRA shot dead two RIC constables and injured another in St Brigid’s hospital, Galway.

1923 – Anti-Treaty officer John Kevins killed in Beaufort, Co Kerry.

1923 – A Free State soldier is shot dead near Wellington Barracks, Dublin.

1923 – Two soldiers of the Railway protection Crops go missing in Co Louth. The body of one is found shot dead.

1923 – A Postmaster, Samuel Atkinson, is shot dead by raiders at Limalong, Co Monaghan.

1953 – Birth of Richard Bruton in Dublin. He is an Irish Fine Gael politician who has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin North–Central constituency since 1982. He was appointed as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on 9 March 2011.

1976 – The IRA is linked to a bomb that explodes on a London Underground train; the driver of the train, Julius Stephen, is shot dead while chasing a gunman who is believed to have detonated the bomb. Ten other people are injured.

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:

1981 – Francis Hughes begins his hunger strike in Long Kesh prison, two weeks after Bobby Sands.

1993 – Kitty Linnane, leader of the Kilfenora Céili Band, dies.

1998 – The US Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, confirms she will leave her post after US Independence Day celebrations in Dublin on 4 July.

1999 – A prominent Irish civil rights solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, who had represented the Garvaghy residents in the Drumcree dispute, was assassinated by a booby-trapped car bomb in Lurgan, Co Armagh. A loyalist group, Red Hand Defenders, claimed responsibility.

1999 – The Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Jim McDaid, unveils plans to commemorate the Year 2000. Commencing on St. Patrick’s Day, ‘The Party Starts Here,’ is the official title of a 21-month long series of events, which will link over 300 separate festivals.

2000 – The censor lifts a ban on more than two-thirds, or 400, of prohibited books following an appeal by the Labour Party. Only 187 books and about 270 magazines and newspapers now remain on the banned list.

2001 – John Gilligan is found not guilty of the murder of Veronica Guerin; however, he is sentenced to 28 years in prison on drug-related crimes. The sentence is twice what most people expected and six years more than the previous longest sentence handed down for a drugs offence.

2002 – Tesco’s supermarket chain in Ireland announces that, unlike its British counterpart, it has no plans to start issuing the morning-after pill to Irish teenagers free of charge.

2014 – Death of Paddy Cronin. He was a fiddler, born in Ré Buí near Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry. He was taught fiddle by Padraig O’Keeffe. In 1949, Seamus Ennis recorded him on acetate disc for Radió Éireann. Later that year (1949), after making these recordings, he left Ireland and emigrated to Boston in the United states. In 2007, Cronin was awarded the prestigious Gradam Saoil, or Lifetime Achievement Award, by the Irish Gaelic-language television station TG4, in honour of his contribution to Irish Traditional Music over six decades.

Photo: Downpatrick Head, Co Mayo, Bryan Hanna Photography

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