Today in Irish History – 13 August:

1649 – Oliver Cromwell sets sail for Ireland and the commencement of one the most vicious military campaigns inflicted on Ireland. History can be written in so many different ways. In A Compendium of Irish Biography, Alfred Webb writes “On his arrival, Carlyle tells us “he was received with all possible demonstrations of joy; the great guns echoing forth their welcome, and the acclamations of the people resounding in every street. The Lord-Lieutenant being come into the city — where the concourse of people was very great, they all flocking to see him of whom before they had heard so much — at a convenient place he made a stand, . . and with his hat in his hand, made a speech to them, . . which was entertained with great applause.” (It is right to note that Catholics were not then permitted to reside in the city.)”

1689 – The Duke of Schomberg lands at Groomsport with his 10,000 strong Williamite army.

1819 – Birth of Sir George Gabriel Stokes, mathematician and physicist, in Skreen, Co Sligo.

1846 – Birth of Otto Jaffe in Hamburg. Otto was the first non-Protestant to hold the office of Lord Mayor of Belfast — he was Jewish.

1857 – Birth of Mary Ellen “Ella” Quinlan – Mother of Eugene O’Neill. Ella married Kilkenny born actor James O’Neill in 1877. Eugene was born one year later. In O’Neill’s semi-autobiographical tome Long Day’s Journey into Night, his mother is represented by a lonely and disillusioned Mrs. Tyrone.

1881 – First issue of United Ireland, Parnellite weekly.

1887 – Special committee appointed to investigate Parnell’s ties to Phoenix Park murders.

1898 – The first issue of Workers’ Republic.

1947 – The Health Act extends the powers of county councils and provides maternity care.

1958 – Birth of Feargal Sharkey, an Irish singer, who first found fame as the lead vocalist of pop punk band The Undertones, famous for the hit single “Teenage Kicks”. Since the end of his recording career he has worked in the business side of music and held several leadership roles in the music industry.

1971 – Four days after the introduction of internment, Joe Cahill, Commanding Officer of the IRA in Belfast holds an intriguing press conference.

1974 – Kate O’Brien, Irish writer, dies.

1975 – Bayardo Bar attack: PIRA volunteers carried out a gun and bomb attack on a pub in Belfast frequented by UVF commanders. Four Protestant civilians and one UVF member were killed.

1999 – A new set of 30p stamps is issued by An Post to honour the Gaelic Football team of the Millennium. It depicts the members of the An Post-GAA official Gaelic Football Team of the Millennium as chosen by a panel of experts.

2000 – The RUC promises an increased profile at sectarian flashpoints in Belfast after a large scale attack on Catholic houses further heightens tensions.

Photo: Dysert O’Dea Castle, Co Clare

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