Today in Irish History – 18 July:

Nelson Mandela International Day

1561 – Battle of Red Sagums – Shane O’Neill defeats the English, destroying much of Sussex’s withdrawing army.

1579 – James Fitzmaurice lands forces in Dingle with the intention of encouraging an uprising against England.

1689 – The Mountjoy ship breaks the blockading boom and ends the Siege of Derry after 238 days.

1794 – Feargus O’Connor, a leader of the Chartist movement, is born in Connorville, Co Cork.

1822 – The Theatre Royal in Dublin opens its doors to the public for the first time.

1863 – Birth of Francis Erlington Ball, historian, in Portmarnock, Co Dublin.

1865 – Birth in Belfast of novelist, Canon James Owen Hannay.

1866 – Carlow-born, scientific-writer, Samuel Haughton developed the original equations for hanging as a humane method of execution, whereby the neck was broken at the time of drop, so that the condemned person did not slowly strangle to death. On this date in 1866, “On hanging considered from a Mechanical and Physiological point of view” was published, calling for a drop of energy of 2,240 ft-lbs. This ‘Standard Drop’ soon became the preferred method of humane execution the world over.

1870 – Michael Davitt is sentenced to 15 years penal servitude for gun-running.

1874 – Cathal Brugha (b. Charles William St. John Burgess) is born in Dublin. He was a revolutionary and politician, active in the 1916 Easter Rising, War of Independence, and Civil War and was the first Ceann Comhairle (chairman) of Dáil Éireann.

1920 – Nineteen people are killed in four days of sectarian violence in Derry.

1922 – Free State general John T. Prout arrives in Waterford with 700 troops, one artillery piece and four armoured cars to take the city. His second in command is deposed East Waterford Brigade Commandant Paddy Paul. The Anti-Treaty IRA garrison consists of 200–300 men under George Lennon, Flying Column Leader. The combined Waterford Brigade is under the overall command of Pax Whelan. Prout sets up his gun on Mount Misery (Mercy) and bombards Republican held positions along the River Suir in the city, forcing them to eventually evacuate the military barracks and the post office.

1966 – Reopening of new Abbey Theatre.

1970 – After having been in prison for unlawful assembly and breach of peace, the “anti-popery” Reverend Ian Paisley is elected to Westminster.

1973 – The mainly ceremonial post of Governor of Northern Ireland is abolished under Section 32 of the Northern Ireland Constitution Act 1973. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, a cabinet office that had been created in 1972, took over the functions of the Governor.

1988 – Nelson Mandela awarded Freedom of the City of Dublin. The Freedom of the City of Dublin is an award bestowed by the people of Dublin on a person nominated by the Lord Mayor. It is usually awarded for contributions made to the life of the city, as an honour given to certain visiting dignitaries. This award is rarely given; only 74 people have been given the Freedom of the City of Dublin. Among the notable recipients of this award are American presidents John F. Kennedy and Bill Clinton, as well as Mother Teresa. Two notable recipients who were unable to attend to receive the award were Nelson Mandela as he was still in prison and also Aung San Suu Kyi who was under house arrest and could not leave to accept the award. U2 lead singer Bono is also a holder of this award. Other notable recipients are Bob Geldof and Ronnie Delaney. Holders of this award have some ancient privileges and duties such as: Holders have the right to bring goods into Dublin through the city gates, without paying customs duties. Holders have the right to pasture sheep on common ground within the city boundaries. This includes College Green and St Stephen’s Green. (this right was exercised as a publicity stunt by Bono when he brought sheep into St. Stephens Green). The right to vote in municipal and parliamentary elections. Some of the ancient duties are that: Freemen/women must be ready to defend the city of Dublin from attack – At short notice can be called up to join a city militia – Also a law which was passed in 1454 states that freemen/women must own a bow, a coat of mail, a helmet and a sword.

2000 – U2’s official website at is opened to the public.

2000 – Finance Minister Charlie McCreevy faces heavy criticism over his handling of the economy as inflation soars.

2000 – Former Supreme Court Judge Hugh O’Flaherty sells his Dublin home for almost £3 million.

2004 – Death of Irish Studies scholar Eoin McKiernan. McKiernan founded the Irish American Cultural Center in 1962. His obituary reads: “Mr. McKiernan was credited with leading efforts to revive and preserve the Irish culture and language in the United States. He wanted people to see beyond the hoopla of St. Patrick’s Day and enjoy Irish folktales, artists, dances, and history.”

2015 – Dozens of members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) paraded in military uniforms at the funeral in Derry of Peggy O’Hara, the mother of 1981 hunger striker Patsy O’Hara. Shots were fired over her coffin.

Photo: Ballintoy Harbour, Co Antrim

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