Today in Irish History – 20 July:

1616 – Death in Rome of Aodh Mór Ó Néill (anglicised as Hugh The Great O’Neill), 3rd Baron Dungannon and 2nd Earl of Tyrone. He led an unsuccessful uprising against the English, and was eventually forced into exile as part of “the Flight of Earls.”

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Rebel camp at Timahoe surrenders.

1835 – First report of the select committee on Orangeism is presented to the House of Commons.

1888 – Birth of Irish nationalist, Sorcha MacMahon, in Co Monaghan.

1902 – Jimmy Kennedy, lyricist, is born in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

1904 – Birth of Molly Keane, an Irish novelist and playwright (born Mary Nesta Skrine in Ryston Cottage, Newbridge, Co Kildare). She grew up in Co Wexford and was educated at a boarding school in Bray, Co Wicklow. She married Bobby Keane, one of a Waterford squirearchical family in 1938 and had two daughters. She used her married name for her later novels, several of which (Good Behaviour, Time After Time) have been adapted for television. Between 1928 and 1956, she wrote 11 novels, and some of her earlier plays, under the pseudonym M.J. Farrell. Molly was a member of Aosdána. When her husband died in 1961, she didn’t write again for twenty years. In 1981 she wrote Good Behavior under her own name; the novel was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.

1908 – Birth of Vincent “Mad Dog” Coll. Born Uinseann Ó Colla in Gweedore, Co Donegal, he was an Irish American mob hitman in the 1920s and early 1930s in New York City. Coll gained notoriety for the alleged accidental killing of a young child during a mob kidnap attempt.

1922 – Fall of Waterford Captain Ned O’Brien leads 100 National Army troops in boats in an attack on the quays in Waterford, taking 12 prisoners. Free State troops then cross the river Suir into the city. General Prout brings their field gun down to the Suir Ferry bank to fire at close range into the Anti-Treaty-held Post Office, which then surrenders. The Republicans abandon Ballybricken Prison on Friday afternoon, 21 July escaping to Mt. Congreve in Kilmeadan, the Comeraghs and eventually, Dungarvan where many men of the Flying Column give up the struggle. Lennon resigns 1 August in a letter to First Division O/C Liam Deasy, citing disagreements over “tactics employed by our side”. Two Free State soldiers have been killed in the fighting in Waterford and 19 wounded. At least one Anti-Treaty fighter is fatally wounded. Five civilians are also killed.

1933 – Eoin O’Duff becomes leader of the National Guard (‘Blueshirts’).

1945 – Birth of singer and songwriter, Johnny Loughrey in Newtownstewart, Co Tyrone. With his mix of country songs, Irish ballads and easy listening music which he had a passion for, he achieved success in both England and Ireland. He passed away in 2005.

1955 – Birth of Jeremy “Jem” Finer, an English musician, artist and composer. He was one of the founding members of The Pogues.

1982 – Hyde Park and Regents Park bombings: The Provisional IRA detonates two bombs in Hyde Park and Regents Park in central London, killing eight soldiers, wounding forty-seven people, and leading to the deaths of seven horses.

1998 – Seven-year old Adele Chapman from Derry leaves hospital; 12 weeks earlier, she became Britain’s/Ireland’s first triple-organ transplant child when she underwent a pioneering liver, pancreas and small bowel transplant at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.

1998 – Thirty-three years after the roadway was first proposed, plans for the £80m by-pass of Waterford city are unveiled.

1990 – The PIRA bombed the London Stock Exchange.

1990 – A PIRA landmine attack on an RUC patrol vehicle in Armagh killed three RUC officers and a civilian.

1997 – The PIRA renewed its ceasefire.

1999 – Munster MEP Pat Cox to play a pivotal role in the new European Parliament as President.

1999 – The funeral Mass of actor Donal McCann is held at Dublin’s Terenure College Chapel.

Photo: Boyeeghter Strand, Murder Hole, Co Donegal, Peter Cox Photography

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