Today in Irish History – 20 June:

Today is the summer solstice. At approximately 3.00 am Irish time the sun reaches the most northerly point of its oscillation and the longest day in Ireland results — just over 17 hours.

1210 – King John lands at Waterford. He campaigns in Leinster – many of the de Lacys’ followers go over to his side; he then captures Carrickfergus, where the de Lacys have made a stand, after a short siege. On 28 July, he captures William de Braose and confiscates his lands.

1631 – The Sack of Baltimore took place on 20 June 1631, when the village of Baltimore, West Cork, was attacked by Algerian pirates from the North African Barbary Coast, led by a Dutch captain turned pirate, Jan Janszoon van Haarlem, also known as Murat Reis the Younger.

1715 – There is a general election. The first session of the Irish parliament of George I commences on 12 November, and will continue till 20 June 1716. There will be six sessions of this parliament.

1763 – Birth of Theobald Wolfe Tone in Dublin.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: 1798 The Battle of Foulksmills, known locally as the Battle of Hometown and also known as the Battle of Goff’s Bridge; it was a battle between advancing British forces seeking to stamp out the rebellion in Co Wexford and a rebel army assembled to oppose them.

1810 – Parliament passes Unlawful Acts Bill, extending powers against secret societies.

1849 – James Clarence Mangan, poet, dies.

1867 – Clan Na Gael, Irish revolutionary organisation and the counterpart of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, is formed by John Devoy, Daniel Cohalan and Joseph McGarrity in the USA. The objectives of the organisation are to secure an independent Ireland.

1891 – Birth of John Aloysius Costello, Ireland’s third Taoiseach.

1901 – Death of Co Down-born General Robert Nugent, who served in the U.S. Army during the American Civil War and the Indian Wars. He served with the Irish Brigade’s 69th Infantry Regiment, from its days as a National Guard unit and into its incorporation into the Union Army at the start of the war, and was one of its senior officers at the First Battle of Bull Run.

1922 – Three Catholic carters on their way to work in Belfast were shot dead by loyalists.

1924 – Audie Murphy is born in Texas to share-cropping parents of Irish descent. He would become the most decorated US soldier of World War II.

1951 – Birth of poet, Paul Muldoon in Co Armagh. He has published over thirty collections and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He held the post of Oxford Professor of Poetry from 1999 to 2004. At Princeton University he is both the Howard G. B. Clark ’21 Professor in the Humanities and chair of the Lewis Center for the Arts. He is also the president of the Poetry Society (UK) and Poetry Editor at The New Yorker.

1955 – Aonghus McAnally, RTÉ presenter and broadcaster, is born.

1968 – Austin Currie, then Nationalist Member of Parliament (MP) at Storming, and a number of other people, began a protest about discrimination in the allocation of housing by ‘squatting’ in a house in Caledon, Co Tyrone.

1992 – U2 takes part in a Greenpeace protest at the Sellafield nuclear power plant in northwest England. Wearing radiation suits, the band travels in rubber dingy with Irish dirt allegedly contaminated by the power plant, depositing the drums back on Sellafield grounds.

2011 – Death of blues singer, Ottilie Patterson. Born in Comber, Co Down, she is best known for her performances and recordings with the Chris Barber Jazz Band in the late 1950s and early 1960s. She was the youngest child of four. Her father, Joseph Patterson, was from the north of Ireland, and her mother, Jūlija Jēgers, was from Latvia. They had met in southern Russia. Ottilie’s name is an Anglicised form of the Latvian name “Ottilja”. Both sides of the family were musical, and Ottilie trained as a classical pianist from the age of eleven, but never received any formal training as a singer.

Photo: Skellig Islands, Co Kerry

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