Today in Irish History – 15 April:

1642 – Irish Confederate Wars: A Confederate Irish militia is routed in the Battle of Kilrush when it attempts to halt the progress of a Parliamentarian army. Though outnumbered, Ormonde managed to defeat the rebels and marched on to Dublin by 17 April.

1642 – A Scottish army under Robert Munroe lands at Carrickfergus.

1707 – Birth of Sir Henry Cavendish, MP and incompetent Teller of the Exchequer who left chaos in his wake.

1784 – First unmanned balloon in Ireland is launched by Richard Crosbie.

1840 – The Repeal Association is founded by Daniel O’Connell.

1864 – The first Dublin Horse Show is held.

1882 – Mary Swanzy, painter, is born in Dublin. She was tutored by the artist, John Butler Yeats, the father of Nobel Prize winning writer William Butler Yeats.

1908 – Birth in Greenock, Scotland of Dennis Devlin, poet, translator and diplomat.

1912 – The Titanic sinks on her maiden voyage with the loss of 1,513 souls, many of them Irish; 732 survive.

1912 – Death of Thomas Andrews, Jr. Born in Comber, Co Down, he was a businessman, shipbuilder, managing director and head of the drafting department of the shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff in Belfast. As the naval architect in charge of the plans for the ocean liner RMS Titanic, he was travelling on board that vessel during her maiden voyage when the ship hit an iceberg on 15 April 1912, and he died in the disaster.

1919 – 15-19: The “Limerick Soviet”, was a general strike called by the Limerick Trades and Labour Council, as a protest against the declaration of a “Special Military Area” under the Defence of the Realm Act. This covered of most of Limerick city and a part of the County. Special permits were to be issued by the Royal Irish Constabulary, and would have been required to enter the city. The response was a general strike and boycott of the troops. A special Strike Committee was set up to print money, control food prices and publish newspapers. However, by 27 April 1919 the Strike Committee issued a proclamation that the strike was at an end.

1921 – Major McKinnon, an Auxiliary officer, was shot dead by the IRA at Tralee golf course, County Kerry.

1923 – A fire-fight between an Anti-Treaty IRA column and Free State troops takes place at Glenvar, Co Kerry. The Free State claims that nine Republicans were killed in the action.

1931 – Birth of Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Northern Ireland public servant.

1936 – Aer Lingus (Aer Loingeas) is founded by the Irish government as the national airline of the Republic of Ireland.

1941 – 15/16: In the Belfast Blitz, two-hundred bombers of the German Luftwaffe attack Belfast, killing one thousand people. Around 56,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The Luftwaffe first targeted the city’s waterworks. Some thought that the reflection off the reservoir had fooled the pilots into thinking that they were near the docks. In fact, the waterworks had been deliberately targeted. Fire crews found that their hoses were of little use in the inferno because the water pressure was very low.

1945 – Birth of Liam O’Flynn in Kill, Co Kildare. He is a uilleann piper and Irish traditional musician. In addition to a solo career and his work with the group Planxty, O’Flynn has recorded with many international musical artists, including Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Kate Bush, Mark Knopfler, the Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Mike Oldfield, Mary Black, Enya and Sinéad O’Connor.

1951 – Birth of GAA footballer, John O’Keeffe in Tralee, Co Kerry. He played with the local Austin Stacks Gaelic sports club and was a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team from 1969 until 1984. He was a highly talented midfielder, and one of the most stylish and accomplished full-backs in GAA football history. He later became the Irish international rules team manager.

1968 – Birth of rock guitarist Ed O’Brien, grandson of a Tipperary emigrant. He is best known as a guitarist and backing vocalist of the alternative rock band Radiohead, with whom he has recorded eight studio albums.

1974 – The 78th Boston Marathon is won by Neil Cusack of Co Limerick in 2:13:39. He is the first Irishman to win this race.

1989 – Hillsborough disaster: A human crush occurs at Hillsborough Stadium, home of football club Sheffield, resulting in the deaths of 96 Liverpool F.C. fans.

1998 – Englishman Mark Robins is awarded £3,000 after winning the first racial abuse case to be heard in Belfast.

2000 – The generosity of two Londoners, Alice and Charles Armstrong, turns a dream into reality as a new state-of-the-art lifeboat is handed over to the RNLI. The craft is named Alice and Charles after its benefactors.

2001 – Security on the border is tightened after a third case of foot-and-mouth is confirmed in Cushendall, Co Antrim.

2001 – Hundreds of people greet the relics of St Therese of Lisieux at Rosslare for the start of a 75 day tour of the country.

2003 – The peace process remains deadlocked as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair continue to press the IRA for more clarity about its intentions.

Photo: St. Mura’s Cross, Fahan Churchyard, Co Donegal

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