Today in Irish History – 16 October:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast Day of St. Gall (Gallen, or Gallus, c. 550 – c. 646). He was an Irish disciple and one of the traditionally twelve companions of Saint Columbanus on his mission from Ireland to the continent. Saint Deicolus is called an older brother of Gall. Gall and his companions established themselves with Columbanus at first at Luxeuil in Gaul. In 610, he accompanied Columbanus on his voyage up the Rhine River to Bregenz but when in 612 Columbanus traveled on to Italy from Bregenz, Gall had to remain behind due to illness and was nursed at Arbon. He remained in Swabia, where, with several companions, he led the life of a hermit in the forests southwest of Lake Constance, near the source of the river Steinach in cells. He died around 646 in Arbon, and his feast is celebrated on 16 October.

1558 – Birth of Franciscan friar and historian, Luke Wadding, in Co Waterford. Wadding founded the Pontifical Irish College for Irish secular clergy in Rome. In 1900, Wadding’s portrait and part of his library were in the Franciscan friary on Merchant’s Quay, Dublin. Through Wadding’s efforts, St Patrick’s Day became a feast day.

1678 – Proclamations against Catholic clergy and schools in Ireland are issued.

1827 – Cavan-born Thomas Baron von Brady, general in the Austrian army, dies in Vienna.

1854 – Birth of playwright, novelist, essayist, and poet, Oscar Wilde, in Dublin. After writing in different forms throughout the 1880s, he became one of the most popular playwrights in the early 1890s. He is remembered for his epigrams, his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays, as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death.

1861 – Birth of J. B. (John Bagnell) Bury in Clontibret, Co Monaghan. He was an eminent Irish historian, classical scholar, Medieval Roman historian and philologist. He objected to the label “Byzantinist” explicitly in the preface to the 1889 edition of his Later Roman Empire.

1890 – Birth of Irish Revolutionary leader, Michael Collins (The Big Fella) in Sam’s Cross, near Clonakilty, Co Cork. He was Minister for Finance in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations. Subsequently he was both Chairman of the Provisional Government and Commander-in-chief of the National Army. He was shot and killed in an ambush in Béal na mBláth in August 1922, during the Irish Civil War.

1920 – Peter O’Carroll (actor, Brendan O’Carroll’s grandfather) was shot dead in Manor Street, Dublin. The killer was identified by David Neligan as Jocelyn Lee Hardy.

1924 – Birth of actor, Gerry Parkes, in Dublin. He moved to Toronto, Canada in 1956 and is best known for playing “Doc” on the television series Fraggle Rock.

1929 – Birth in Bailieborough, Co Cavan of Captain James Kelly, Irish army intelligence officer who would later be involved in the 1970 arms trial.

1939 – Birth of composite, entertainer, recorder and singer of easy listening songs, Joe Dolan in Mullingar, Co Meath.

1961 – RTÉ reports on the closure of the West Clare Railway.

1961 – Cork International Airport opened.

1978 – Karol Wojtyla is elected Pope John Paul II after the October 1978 Papal conclave, the first non-Italian pontiff since 1523.

1981 – Ben Dunne, joint managing director of Dunnes Stores, is kidnapped by the IRA.

1994 – The broadcasting ban was lifted. During the Troubles in Northern Ireland, 1968-1994, censorship was used principally to prevent RTÉ interviews with spokespersons for Sinn Féin and for the IRA. Under Section 31 of the Broadcasting Authority Act (1960), the Minister for Posts and Telegraphs could issue a Ministerial Order to the government appointed RTÉ Authority not to broadcast material specified in the written order. In 1971 the first ever Order under the section was issued by Fianna Fáil Minister for Posts and Telegraphs Gerry Collins. It instructed RTÉ not to broadcast, any matter that could be calculated to promote the aims or activities of any organisation which engages in, promotes, encourages or advocates the attaining of any particular objectives by violent means.

1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern leads the applause for Nobel Peace Prize winners John Hume and David Trimble, describing it as a deserved tribute to two of the principal architects of the Good Friday Agreement.

Photo: Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare

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