Today in Irish History – 27 April:

1653 – The last major body of Irish Catholic troops under Phillip O’Reilly surrender to the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland at Cloughoughter in Cavan. End of the Irish Confederate Wars (begun 1641).

1696 – Act ‘for encouraging the linen manufacture of Ireland’: Irish linen gains duty-free access to the British market on this date.

1739 – Lord Barry of Santry is tried by his peers in the parliament house for the murder of his former servant Laughlin Murphy in August 1738. They unanimously find him guilty, but recommend him to the royal mercy. The Lord Lieutenant endorses this plea, and Santry is pardoned under the great seal on 17 June. His estates, which had been forfeited for life, will be restored in 1741.

1827 – Mary King Ward, Irish naturalist and astronomer is born in Co Offaly. Mary was a keen stargazer, like her cousin William Parsons. He built the Leviathan of Parsonstown, a reflecting telescope with a six-foot mirror which remained the world’s largest until 1917. She was killed when she fell under the wheels of an experimental steam car built by her cousins. As the event occurred in 1869, she was the world’s first person known to be killed by a motor vehicle.

1880 – The Royal University of Ireland is founded by charter.

1876 – Birth of athlete, Cornelius “Con” Leahy, born in Cregane, Co Cork, who won Olympic medals at the 1906 and 1908 Games. Leahy was born in Cregane, on the border between Co Limerick and Co Cork. In 1906, Leahy, Peter O’Connor and John Daly, were entered for the Olympic Games in Athens by the Irish Amateur Athletic Association (IAAA) and Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), representing Ireland.

1887 – Birth of Harry Boland in Phibsborough, Dublin. He was a republican politician and member of the First Dáil. He joined the IRB at the same time as his older brother Gerry in 1904. Boland later joined the Irish Volunteers along with Gerry and his younger brother Ned and took an active part in the Easter Rising of 1916. During the Irish War of Independence, Boland operated alongside Michael Collins, who was a close friend. When Michael Collins signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Boland turned against him and sided with the anti-Treaty faction. Boland was killed when his hotel room was stormed by soldiers and he was fatally wounded. His death affected Collins and may have spurred him towards peace negotiations with De Valera. Soon after, Collins was killed at an ambush at Béal na Bláth.

1891 – The first ever Irish musical comedy, The Irish Girl, written by Percy French and Dr. W. Houston Collisson, is staged at the Queen’s Theatre, Dublin.

1904 – Cecil Day-Lewis, poet, novelist, critic, and Ireland’s poet laureate from 1968 to 1972, is born in Stradbally, Co Laois.

1916 – Easter Rising Dublin – Day 4.

1920 – Georgina Frost wins a legal battle to allow her to be clerk of the petty sessions for Sixmilebridge and Newmarket-on-Fergus, Co Clare; she is thus the first woman to hold public office from central government in the UK.

1920 – IRA captured and then destroyed the RIC barracks at Ballylanders, Co Limerick. The IRA also seized arms and ammunition. In reprisal, Black and Tans went on the rampage in Limerick city.

1923 – Éamon de Valera announces end of operations against the Irish Free State, effectively ending the Irish Civil War.

1937 – The Most Rev. Robert Eames, Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, is born.

1953 – Irish revolutionary, feminist and actress Maude Gonne MacBride dies in Roebuck, Clonskeagh, and is later buried in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin. She is best remembered for her turbulent relationship with William Butler Yeats.

1966 – Farmers protest against low milk prices; 28 are arrested in Dublin.

1970 – Death of stage and film actor, Arthur Shields. Born into a Protestant family in Portobello, Dublin, he started acting in the Abbey Theatre while still a young man. He was the younger brother of Oscar-winning actor Barry Fitzgerald. An Irish nationalist, he fought in the 1916 Easter Rising. He was captured and interned in the Frongoch internment camp. He afterwards returned to the Abbey Theatre. In 1936, John Ford brought him to the United States to act in a film version of The Plough and the Stars. He later returned to the U.S. and for health reasons, decided to reside in California. He died at his home in Santa Barbara, California, aged 74.

1998 – Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, forecasts an end to the RUC in its present form. His prediction comes following a 55-minute review with Tony Blair in Downing Street of critical issues arising from the Good Friday settlement.

1999 – Legal history is made when the country’s first ever convicted gangland murderer, self-confessed drugs dealer and gang boss Joseph Delaney, is jailed for life.

2001 – Ireland’s foremost literary town officially opens a permanent home for its famous wordsmiths and their works. A 19th century Georgian house, in the heart of Listowel, has become the Kerry Literary and Cultural Centre, where life-size models and audio-visual presentations help portray the personalities and output of various writers. The £1.5 million centre is appropriately named Seanchaí after the art of storytelling and in recognition of the folklore and traditions that inspire great literature.

2013 – Death of amateur boxer, Tony Byrne ‘Socks Byrne’. Byrne won a bronze medal for Ireland at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, in the lightweight division. Born in Drogheda, a fundraising campaign under the banner of “Send Byrne to Melbourne” was created to send him on his quest for glory down under. Byrne carried the flag for Ireland at the opening ceremony and was the captain of the Irish boxing team. He beat opponents from Czechoslovakia and the USA before losing in the semifinal on a split decision to Harry Kurschat of Germany. A few months later, he showed what might have been when he beat the eventual Gold Medallist, Dick McTaggart, in an Ireland-England International at the Royal Albert Hall.

Photo: Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin

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