Today in Irish History – 26 March:

1787 – The Tumultuous Risings Act imposes penalties for rioting and for interference with the collection of tithes.

1838 – William Edward Hartpole Lecky, historian and philosopher, is born in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

1854 – Harry Furniss, caricaturist, is born in Wexford.

1856 – William Massey, New Zealand statesman and Prime Minister from 1912 to 1925 is born in Limavady, Co Derry.

1920 – Resident Magistrate Alan Bell, from Banagher was killed. He was tasked by the British to track down Sinn Féin funds; he had successfully confiscated over £71,000 from Sinn Féin’s HQ and, by investigating banks throughout the country, was set to seize much more. He was pulled from a tram in south Dublin and shot three times in the head.

1922 – An IRA anti-treaty army convention announces it will no longer accept the authority of Free State Minister for Defense Richard Mulch. He became commander of the pro-treaty forces in the Irish Civil War after the death of Michael Collins. The announcement signalled the beginning of a long and violent battle between the New State government and the anti-treaty IRA.

1931 – Death of Tim Healy, former Home Rule politician and first Free State Governor-General.

1932 – Death of Sir Horace Plunkett.

1963 – Basil Brooke resigns as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

1964 – Birth of motor racing driver, Hugh Peter Martin Donnelly, in Belfast. After competing in Formula Three and Formula 3000 where he won 3 races and was a championship contender, Donnelly raced in Formula One in 1989 and 1990, until a serious crash during qualifying at the Jerez circuit ended his Formula One career.

1968 – Birth of Nick Sweeney in Dublin. He is a retired Irish discus thrower, who represented Ireland in four consecutive Summer Olympics, starting 1992 (Barcelona, Spain). He is the current Irish national record holder in the discus (67.89 m), and won a total number of ten Irish national discus titles (1987, 1991–1997, 1999 & 2000). He finished 6th at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart.

1999 – SDLP leader, John Hume reveals that he intends to donate all of his £280,000 Nobel Peace Prize money to charity and victims of violence in Northern Ireland.

2000 – A German couple miraculously escape with their lives when the light plane they are flying crashes to the ground at Galway Airport.

2001 – Violence erupts at a number of demonstrations against the ASTI teachers’ strike.

2002 – Hillary Rodham Clinton makes her first official visit to Ireland as a US Senator. The trip is to promote trade between Dublin and New York state.

2002 – The Farm and Speciality Food Market at St George’s, Belfast Ireland’s becomes the first group to win the top prize in the Ballygowan/Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards.

2007 – DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams commit themselves to forming a powersharing executive by May 8th after engaging directly for the first time at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British prime minister Tony Blair hail this first meeting and agreement as a historic, reconciliatory and transforming moment in British-Irish history.

2012 – Death of Michael Begley. He was a politician, elected as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry South constituency between 1969 and 1989. He also served as a Minister of State in a number of government departments. Born in Dingle, Co Kerry in 1932 to a farming family, Begley was a carpenter and secondary school teacher before entering national politics.

Photo: Mellifont Abbey, Drogheda, Co Louth

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