Today in Irish History – 27 March:

In the Liturgical calendar, it is the Feast Day of St. Suairlech, Bishop of Fore, Co of Westmeath.

1174 – Death of St. Gelasius of Armagh B (AC) (Also known as Giolla Iosa, Gioua-Mac-Liag) Son of the Irish poet Diarmaid, Saint Gelasius (meaning ‘servant of Jesus’) was the learned abbot of Derry for 16 years. He was consecrated bishop of Armagh c. 1138, when Saint Malachy resigned and served as primate of Ireland until 1174.

1599 – Robert Devereux becomes Lieutenant-General of Ireland.

1625 – Charles I becomes king of England, Scotland and Ireland as well as claiming the title King of France.

1650 – Kilkenny surrenders to Cromwell. Cromwell and his army were determined on taking control of Ireland and Kilkenny yielded to the superior militant force of Cromwell, rather than suffer the same fate as other territories that chose to fight.

1725 – The first number of Faulkner’s Dublin Journal is published.

1766 – First publication of The Vicar Of Wakefield by Oliver Goldsmith.

1782 – A Whig administration comes to power in Britain.

1839 – Birth in Glenavy, Co Antrim, of John Ballance, Prime Minister of New Zealand.

1846 – In a letter to his mentor William Lloyd Garrison, Frederick Douglass writes about the poverty and famine he sees in Ireland. “The limits of a single letter are insufficient to allow any thing like a faithful description of those painful exhibitions of human misery, which meet the eye of a stranger almost at every step. I spent nearly six weeks in Dublin, and the scenes I there witnessed were such as to make me “blush, and hang my head to think myself a man.” I speak truly when I say, I dreaded to go out of the house. The streets were almost literally alive with beggars, displaying the greatest wretchedness—some of them mere stumps of men, without feet, without legs, without hands, without arms—and others still more horribly deformed, with crooked limbs, down upon their hands and knees, their feet lapped around each other, and laid upon their backs, pressing their way through the muddy streets and merciless crowd, casting sad looks to the right and left, in the hope of catching the eye of a passing stranger—the citizens generally having set their faces against giving to beggars.”

1855 – Birth of William Russell Lane-Joynt in Limerick. He was a barrister, philatelist and Olympic shooter. He founded the Irish Philatelic Society in Dublin and assisted the Duke of Leinster to form his collection which was bequeated to the Dublin Museum of Science and Art. Lane-Joynt was one of only two Irish philatelists to be honoured by signing the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists.

1860 – Birth of Thomas Fitzpatrick in Co Cork, pen name Fitz, was an Irish political cartoonist. He contributed to the satirical magazine Pat (published from 1881-1883), the Weekly Freeman, the Irish Figaro, the Irish Emerald, the Weekly Nation, Punch and the New York Gaelic American, and was for a time chief cartoonist of the National Press. In 1905 he launched his own satirical magazine, The Lepracaun, which he edited and drew most of the cartoons and illustrations for until his health began to fail in 1911. James Joyce contributed short pieces and cartoon ideas. He died in Dublin in 1912.

1869 – Birth of James McNeill (brother of nationalist leader Eoin MacNeill). He was an Irish politician, who served as second Governor-General of the Irish Free State.

1872 – Mary MacSwiney – Maire Nic Shuibhne – Irish patriot, is born in London. Educated in the Ursuline Convent, she later trains as a teacher at Cambridge University.

1876 – The Molly Maguires: The murder trial of Edward Kelly, a member of the militant Irish labor group The Molly Maguires begins in Pennsylvania.

1869 – Typhoid Mary, the first healthy carrier of disease ever identified in the United States, is put in quarantine, where she would remain for the rest of her life. She died on 11 November 1938.

1918 – Death of Martin John Sheridan. He was “one of the greatest athletes the United States has ever known” according to his obituary in the New York Times. He was born in Bohola, Co Mayo and died in St. Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, New York, the day before his 37th birthday, a very early casualty of the 1918 flu pandemic. He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery, Queens, New York. He was part of a group of Irish-American athletes known as the “Irish Whales.”

1923 – William Johnson of IFS Citizens’ Defence Force killed by IFS Lt. Frank Teeling; Teeling found guilty of manslaughter and serves 18 months.

1955 – Birth of writer, Patrick McCabe, in Clones, Co Monaghan. Known for his mostly dark and violent novels set in contemporary—often small-town—Ireland, McCabe has been twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, for The Butcher Boy and Breakfast on Pluto, both of which have been made into films.

1969 – Death of Willie Brady, born in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. He was an Irish ballad and country singer and recording artist, popular in Ireland and abroad in the 1950s and 1960s. He was singing and recording ballads before the “Ballad Boom” arrived in Ireland and recorded over 20 albums. He died at the age of 38.

1981 – John Lennon single “Watching the Wheels” released posthumously in UK.

1987 – U2 record the video for Where the Streets Have No Name on the rooftop of the Republic Liquor Store in Los Angeles. The video shows police advising U2 crew that they will shut down the performance due to crowd safety. While this apparently is actual footage, U2 manager Paul McGuinness later stated this was what U2 were hoping for to garner publicity. The soundtrack for this superb video is the studio recorded version of the song:

1999 – A major rail disaster is averted by the quick reactions of a train driver, when a 40ft articulated lorry ploughs through a bridge and falls onto the railway tracks below — straight into the path of an on-coming train. The train driver manages to stop the train — carrying an undisclosed number of passengers — just 200 yards from the crashed truck.

2000 – The Bloody Sunday Inquiry began in Derry. It is the biggest public inquiry in British history.

2001 – Ulster Unionist Party leader David Trimble kicks off his election campaign outside his party headquarters in Belfast with a massive poster of himself

2001 – The cross border cull of thousands more sheep in the south Armagh north Louth areas, where Ireland’s only two cases of foot and mouth have occurred, gets underway.

2002 – A copy of the Cork Examiner, a golf club, flowers and national media awards are among gifts presented at the funeral of one of Ireland’s best known newsmen. More than 1,000 people pack the Church of the Immaculate Conception, The Lough, Cork, to pay their last respects to Fergie O’Callaghan, editor of the Cork Examiner for 18 years before his retirement in November 1994.

2015 – Death of Nicholas “Claus” Dunne. He was a hurler who played as a centre-forward for Kilkenny. Born in Mooncoin, Co Kilkenny, Dunne first excelled at hurling in his youth. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of twenty when he first linked up with the Kilkenny under-21. He made his senior debut during the 1964-65 league. Dunne went on to enjoy a successful career with Kilkenny and won two All-Ireland medals, two Leinster medals and one National Hurling League medal. He was an All-Ireland runner-up on two occasions.

Photo: General Post Office, Dublin

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