Today in Irish History – 20 May:

1311 – The war of the O’Briens of Thomond escalates as the Norman-Irish become involved on both sides: the de Burghs support Dermot O’Brien and Richard de Clare supports Donough O’Brien. There is a pitched battle at Bunratty on this date, with heavy losses on both sides; de Burgh and others are imprisoned.

1648 – Truce between the confederates and Inchiquin; its adherents are excommunicated by Giovanni Rinuccini, papal nuncio to the confederates.

1759 – Birth of Sir Eyre Coote, the younger; soldier, MP, and governor of Jamaica.

1836 – An Act amalgamates the county constabulary and Peace Preservation Force into a centralized police force – the Irish Constabulary – which will later become the Royal Irish Constabulary.

1869 – Birth of Dr. Joshua Pim in Bray, Co Wicklow. He was a medical doctor and a renowned former World No. 1 Irish amateur tennis player. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title two years in a row, in 1893 and 1894.

1877 – Birth of Pat Leahy in Cregane, Charleville, Co Limerick. He was an athlete who won Olympic medals (for Great Britain and Ireland) in the high jump and long jump at the 1900 Summer Olympics.

1920 – Dublin dock workers refused to handle war material, and were soon joined by members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. Despite hundreds of sackings the strike continued. Train drivers were brought over from England after Irish drivers refused to drive trains carrying British troops.

1921 – Ihe IRA executes two unarmed RIC constables in Longford and two suspected informers in Cork city.

1922 – De Valera and Collins agree to a pact whereby a national coalition panel of candidates will represent the pro- and anti-Treaty wings of Sinn Féin throughout Ireland in the forthcoming general election.

1927 – The opening hours of Irish public houses are restricted by the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

1932 – Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland for Ireland on the anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight; she lands near Derry and becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

1969 – Students stage a sit-in at University College in Dublin to protest conditions in Northern Ireland.

1992 – Birth of actor, Jack Gleeson in Co Cork. Best known for his portrayal of Joffrey Baratheon in the HBO television series Game of Thrones. In 2012, Gleeson indicated an intention to retire from acting to pursue an academic career once his work on Game of Thrones was finished. In 2014, Gleeson confirmed he would be permanently retiring from acting after concluding his work in Game of Thrones. In the same interview, he stated that while he had previously been interested in pursuing academia, he had since ‘gone off that idea’.

1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern assures unionists there is no hidden agenda in the Belfast Agreement and promises to stamp out dissident paramilitary groups who want to wreck the accord.

1999 – 24th Biennial Conference of Irish Historians is held at University College in Cork.

2001 – More than half a million people line the streets to watch the postponed St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin. The parade was postponed due to the fear of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease amongst the country’s livestock.

2001 – Former US president Bill Clinton begins a four-day trip to Ireland with a round of golf at Ballybunion, Co Kerry.

2003 – The Irish Government restricts alcohol adverts. The ads are banned from buses, trains, cinemas and sporting events and not permitted before 10 p.m. on television.

2003 – Thousands of Irish-based Celtic fans fly to Spain to cheer on the Glasgow club in their first European final in 33 years tomorrow.

2003 – Dundalk garden designer Paul Martin wins a silver medal at London’s Chelsea Flower Show.

2011 – Queen Elizabeth spends the last of her four days in Ireland visiting Cork where she once again was greeted warmly. Despite initial concerns concerning security, the visit proved to be a huge success for both countries. The Queen’s apology at Dublin Castle for the treatment her governments meted out to Ireland over many years was received with enormous positive, emotional response.

Photo: Corcomroe Abbey, The Burren, Co Clare

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