Today in Irish History – 16 July:

1685 – Birth of Samuel Haliday in Omagh, Co Tyrone. Minister of Belfast First Presbyterian Church in 1720, he refuses to sign the Westminster Confession, which leads to split between Subscribing and Non-Subscribing adherents.

1803 – Irish Rebellion of 1803: Following an explosion at his arms depot on this date, Robert Emmet brings forward his planned rebellion in Dublin to 23 July.

1865 – James Owen Hannay (pseudonym George A. Birmingham; clergyman and writer) is born in Belfast.

1870 – Birth of priest and writer, Lambert McKenna in Clontarf, Co Dublin. He was born Andrew Joseph Lambert McKenna, and studied in Europe. He collected and edited religious and folk poetry in the Irish language. Working with the Irish Texts Society, he edited the famous Contention of the bards and many anthologies of Irish bardic poetry and historical works. He was an editor of the Irish Monthly and An Timire. He also served as principal of Belvedere College.

1920 – Glencar Volunteers (Co Kerry) wound two RIC men.

1922 – Free State troops take Frank Aiken, who was previously neutral, along with 3–400 of his men from the Fourth Northern Division of the Irish Republican Army, prisoner in Dundalk. Two of Aiken’s men are killed.

1929 – The Censorship of Publications Act is passed.

1958 – Birth of Michael Ryan Flatley in Chicago, IL, an Irish-American step dancer, actor, choreographer, musician and occasional television presenter. He became internationally known for Irish dance shows Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Feet of Flames, and Celtic Tiger.

1972 – The Irish Tourist Board pulls off a major coup getting Boxing Legend Muhammad Ali to promote Ireland. Ali fought Al “Blue” Lewis 19 July in Dublin as he rebuilt his career. He recently passed away on 3 June 2016.

2000 – The All Party Committee on the Constitution rejects total ban on abortion.

2002 – The IRA leadership issues a statement which includes an apology for the killing of ‘non-combatants.’ Northern Ireland secretary, Dr John Reid, welcomes the gesture as one of unprecedented strength. “Sunday 21 July marks the 30th anniversary of an IRA operation in Belfast in 1972 which resulted in nine people being killed and many more injured. While it was not our intention to injure or kill non-combatants, the reality is that on this and on a number of other occasions, that was the consequence of our actions. It is therefore appropriate on the anniversary of this tragic event, that we address all of the deaths and injuries of non-combatants caused by us. We offer our sincere apologies and condolences to their families. There have been fatalities amongst combatants on all sides. We also acknowledge the grief and pain of their relatives. The future will not be found in denying collective failures and mistakes or closing minds and hearts to the plight of those who have been hurt. That includes all of the victims of the conflict, combatants and non-combatants. It will not be achieved by creating a hierarchy of victims in which some are deemed more or less worthy than others. The process of conflict resolution requires the equal acknowledgement of the grief and loss of others. On this anniversary, we are endeavouring to fulfil this responsibility to those we have hurt. The IRA is committed unequivocally to the search for freedom, justice and peace in Ireland. We remain totally committed to the peace process and to dealing with the challenges and difficulties which this presents. This includes the acceptance of past mistakes and of the hurt and pain we have caused to others.” -P O’Neill, Irish Republican Publicity Bureau, Dublin

2003 – Death of James Kelly, a former Irish Army officer who was found ‘not guilty’ (along with two former Irish ministers) of attempting to illegally import arms for the Provisional Irish Republican Army in the Arms Trial in 1970. He printed and published a personal memoir in paperback format called “Orders for the Captain?” in 1971. He was elected vice-chairman of Aontacht Éireann, a republican party. Known to family and friends as Jim Kelly, he was a native of Bailieborough in Co Cavan. Irish Army intelligence files in the National Archives of Ireland suggest that Kelly’s activities were being observed in 1974, and that he was then a suspected ‘subversive’ (i.e., acting to subvert the Republic of Ireland).

Photo: Dunmore Head together with Slea Head, Co Kerry, is the westernmost point of Ireland and arguably the most western point of Europe of the European mainland plinth. Photo by JAhrensy

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