Today in Irish History – 14 May:

637 – Death of Saint Mo Chutu mac Fínaill, also known as Carthach or Carthach the Younger (a name Latinised as Carthagus and Anglicised as Carthage), was abbot of Rahan (Irish Rathan), Co Offaly, and subsequently, founder and first abbot of Lismore (Irish Les Mór Mo Chutu), Co Waterford. The saint’s Life has come down in several Irish and Latin recensions, which appear to derive from a Latin original written in the 11th or 12th century.

1260 – Brian O’Neill, during the assault on the Earldom of Ulster, is defeated and killed by the forces of Roger des Auters at the battle of Down (renamed by de Courcy as Downpatrick).

1660 – Charles II is proclaimed king in Dublin, six days after London, thus ending Cromwell’s reign as Lord Protector and beginning a brief and limited Catholic Restoration.

1730 – Sir Edward Newenham, popular MP for Co Dublin and strong advocate of the American colonists, is born. Newenham is introduced at the court of Louis XVI by the Marquis de Lafayette, even though Britain and France are at war.

1755 – George Barrington (real name Waldron), writer, adventurer and pickpocket is born in Maynooth, Co Kildare. A well-dressed pickpocket who “worked” in Churches and the Houses of Parliament, he is arrested and transported to Australia. Later, he becomes Australian high constable. He is known for the lines: “True patriots all; for be it understood – We left our country for our country’s good”.

1784 – Foster’s Corn Law regulates the corn trade.

1784 – The Irish Post Office, distinct from English and Scottish services, is established by statute.

1865 – The last surviving member of the Irish House of Commons, Sir Thomas Staples, who had risen in his profession to be Queen’s Advocate for Ireland, dies in Lissan, Co Tyrone 11 weeks short of his 90th birthday.

1883 – Execution of Joe Brady for murder of Lord Cavendish in Phoenix Park.

1893 – George “McIrish” McElroy is born in Donnybrook, Co Dublin. He is Ireland’s highest World War One ace, with 47 victories within 40 weeks.

1920 – 14-16: Every member of the Dáil (not in prison) received a note through the post that said “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Therefore a life for a life”.

1921 – IRA volunteers, led by Paddy Daly and Emmet Dalton seized an armoured car on the North Circular Road in Dublin, killing two British soldiers. The car was then used to gain entrance to Mountjoy Prison in an effort to free IRA prisoner Sean MacEoin. However, the plot was discovered and the IRA volunteers in the car had to shoot their way out of the prison. The car was later abandoned in Clontarf. (The 2 soldiers killed were possibly 2 gunners of the 8th Royal Marine Battalion RMA.)

1921 – IRA battles Black and Tans outside Castletownbere; no casualties on either side.

1921 – IRA volunteers in Tipperary assassinated an RIC detective Inspector named Harry Biggs and a local Loyalist, Miss Barrington, who was sitting beside him in a police car.

1921 – A brutal day in the Irish War of Independence for the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary). In County Cork, three officers are killed in Midleton, three in Cork City and one in Innishannon. More than fifty RIC officers would be killed by the IRA during the month of May.

1923 – Joint meeting of the Republican Government and IRA Army Executive instructs Aiken to end the war.

1933 – Birth of Frank Harte, a traditional Irish singer, song collector, architect and lecturer.

1960 – Birth of Ronan Tynan in Johnstown, Co Kilkenny, a singer in the classical Irish style. Tynan was a member of the Irish Tenors until he left to pursue his solo career in May 2004.

1972 – Martha Campbell, a 13-year-old Catholic girl, is shot dead by British soldiers in Springhill Crescent, Ballymurphy, Belfast.

1973 – Birth of Sinéad Maria O’Carrol in Dublin. She is a singer-songwriter, musician, dancer and actress. She is best known for being a member of the girl group B*Witched.

1974 – The Ulster Workers’ Council declares a general strike; Faulkner and the unionist members of the executive resign on 28 May; direct rule is reimposed the following day and the strike is called off. Power-sharing is dead.

1978 – Death of Máire Bean Ui Sheaghdha (née Cremin) who was known locally as ‘Mary Geo’. She played a valuable role in preserving an account of island customs and traditions.

1998 – The leaders of the five main Dáil parties join forces in urging Sinn Féin and the IRA to publicly declare that the “war is over” and that weapons are redundant.

1999 – Ballykissangel actor Edmund Birdy Sweeney is laid to rest in a tiny cemetery in Dungannon, Co Tyrone, just a hundred yards from St Patrick’s Chapel where he had worshipped.

2003 – A headless body is discovered by a Co Offaly farmer while digging a drain close to his home. The skin is still intact on the upper torso, the clothes are preserved and there is a bracelet on the upper arm. The National Museum’s head of collections, Raghnall O’Floinn, says: “it could be anywhere between 500-2000 years old.

2015 – Death of footballer and hurler, Micheál O’Brien, who played for the Meath senior team.

Photo: Ardgillan Castle near Balbriggan, Dublin, Photography by © Anna Lengowska

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