Today in Irish History – 12 April:

1654 – The Ordinance of Union comes into effect, uniting Ireland and Scotland with England.

1816 – Sir Charles Gavan Duffy is born in Co Monaghan. He is self-educated as a journalist and founds the Nation, a nationalist weekly journal with Thomas Davis and John Dillon in 1842; ultimately, he emigrates to Australia and while determined to avoid politics, he is induced to enter the Victorian Parliament where he fills in succession the position of minister of public works and minister of public lands; for a brief period he is prime minister.

1824 – An Act establishes free trade in manufactured articles between Britain and Ireland.

1837 – Birth in Galway of Patrick Ford, journalist in the USA and fund-raiser for Irish causes.

1847 – The American relief ship, USS Jamestown, lands supplies in Cork for An Gorta Mor victims.

1861 – The American Civil War begins; 150,000 Irishmen will serve with the Union forces, and 40,000 with the Confederacy.

1888 – Birth of Dan Ahearn in Athea, Co Limerick. He was an Irish and later American track and field athlete and a member of the Irish American Athletic Club. He competed for the U.S. Olympic team in the 1920 Summer Olympics where he finished sixth in the Olympic triple jump competition. He was later a policeman in Chicago and died there aged 54.

1889 – Patrick McGilligan, pro-Treaty nationalist and politician, is born in Coleraine, Co. Derry.

1914 – George Bernard Shaw’s play “Pygmalion” opens in London with Mrs. Patrick Campbell as Eliza Doolittle and Sir Herbert Tree as Professor Higgins.

1923 – The Shadow Of A Gunman by Sean O’Casey premieres at the Abbey Theatre.

1923 – National Army officer in Clonmel barracks shoots dead a prisoner named Jerome Lyons. he allegedly tried to grab the officers revolver while under interrogation.

1951 – Ireland’s Minister for Health, Dr. Noel Browne resigns following confrontation with the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland over what became knows as the “Mother and Child” controversy.

1960 – The Broadcasting Authority Act grants Radio Éireann authority to provide and maintain national radio and television service.

1994 – Birth of actress, Saoirse Una Ronan in the Bronx, New York, her family moved to Co Carlow, when she was three years old, before moving to Howth, Co Dublin when she was a teen. She is a two-time Academy Award nominee; receiving Best Supporting Actress nomination for Atonement (2007), and a Best Actress nomination for Brooklyn (2015). She also received three BAFTA Award nominations, two Golden Globe nominations, two Screen Actors Guild nominations and a Satellite Award.

1999 – The country’s biggest building project, the giant Citibank site in Dublin’s financial services centre, is hit when 600 workers walk off the job in solidarity with striking scaffolders.

1999 – Demands for IRA disarmament are stepped up following fresh evidence that they are harbouring advanced anti-aircraft missiles.

1999 – A United Nations report points to evidence of security force collusion in the murder of leading Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane.

2000 – Queen Elizabeth II presents the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) with the George Cross, the highest civilian award for bravery.

2000 – The Irish Red Cross launches an appeal for approximately £3 million in an effort to avert the impending famine in Ethiopia.

2000 – A safety probe gets underway following an explosion at the SIFA Limited chemical plant in Co Clare. Seven people suffering from shock and hearing difficulties are transferred to Limerick Regional Hospital and are later released.

2000 – The first of two side-by-side castles on Dublin’s Dalkey seafront comes up for auction. Inniscorrig, built in 1847, has a starting price of £3.5m. The Herbert Park house has a pre-auction guideline of £3m.

2001 – Ted Sweeney, the weather forecaster instrumental in saving the D Day landings from disaster, dies in his native Blacksod near Belmullet in Co Mayo. In 1944, Ted Sweeney claims a special place in world history by filing a famous weather report which delays the D Day landings in Normandy for 24 hours.

2001 – Preliminary test results on a suspected foot and mouth case in Co Tyrone are negative.

2001 – The Real IRA threatens a fresh campaign of violence and vows to attack British targets in their quest for a united Ireland.

2002 – A blockade by salmon fishermen at the Port of Cork passes off without incident.

2003 – Hopes are raised of a breakthrough in the stalled Northern Ireland peace process, when the IRA outlines its future intentions to the Irish and British Governments. In a statement, the IRA sets out its position on the peace process, its ceasefire, and its approach to a third act of decommissioning.

2005 – Murder of Joseph Rafferty. Following the assault of Rafferty’s sister Carmel at a party, Rafferty confronted the alleged attacker, who reportedly told him that his family had connections to the “IRA” and could get him killed. Rafferty continued to receive threats that the IRA would get him for several months before his killing. The Rafferty family met with Daithí Doolan, the local Sinn Fein representative, asking him to have the threat stopped. On 12 April 2005, Rafferty was shot twice with a sawn-off shotgun, once in the leg and once in the chest, as he left his flat in Ongar, Dublin to go to work.

2008 – The sixth president of Ireland, Dr. Patrick Hillery passes away after a short illness at age 84. Born on 2 May 1923 in Milltown Malvay, Co Clare, he attended Rockwell College and University College, Dublin, studying sciences and medicine. His practice of medicine yielded to politics in 1951, when as a member of the Fianna Fáil party he won election to Parliament.

Photo: Loop Head Drive, Kilkee, Co Clare

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