Today in Irish History – 21 October:

1449 – Birth of George Plantagenet, 1st Duke of Clarence, in Dublin Castle at a time when his father, the Duke of York, had begun to challenge Henry VI for the crown. His godfather was James FitzGerald, 6th Earl of Desmond. He was the third of the four sons of Richard and Cecily who survived to adulthood. His father died in 1460. In 1461 his elder brother, Edward, became King of England as Edward IV. In that year George was made Duke of Clarence and invested as a Knight of the Garter, and in 1462 Clarence received the Honour of Richmond, a lifetime grant, but without the peerage title of Earl of Richmond. Despite his youth, he was appointed as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland in the same year.

1879 – The Irish National Land League is founded at the Imperial Hotel in Castlebar, Co Mayo by Michael Davitt. Charles Stewart Parnell was elected president of the league. Its primary aim was to provide basic rights for tenant farmers and allow them to purchase the land they worked on.

1803 – Execution of Thomas Paliser Russell in Downpatrick for ‘high treason’. Born in Dromahane, Co Cork, he was a co-founder and leader of the United Irishmen who was executed for his part in Robert Emmet’s rebellion in 1803.

1809 – Opening of Nelson’s Pillar: The Nelson Pillar (also known as The Pillar) was a large granite pillar topped by a statue of Horatio Nelson in the middle of O’Connell Street (formerly Sackville Street) in Dublin.

1805 – The Irish dead at the Battle of Trafalgar include Lieutenant William Ram, son of Abel Ram, MP for Co Wexford, who is killed on board the Victory.

1901 – Douglas Hyde’s Casadh an tSúgán – The Twisting of the Rope – is presented at The Gaiety Theatre in Dublin and becomes the first staged Irish-language play.

1904 – Birth of poet and novelist, Patrick Kavanagh in Iniskeen, Co Monaghan. He was regarded as one of the foremost poets of the 20th Century. His best known works include the novel Tarry Flynn and the poem On Raglan Road.

1935 – Birth of Derek Bell in Belfast. He was a harpist, pianist, oboist, musicologist, and composer, best known for his accompaniment work on various instruments with The Chieftains.

1982 – For the first time, Sinn Féin contests elections in Northern Ireland since The Troubles began, Gerry Adams was elected MP for west Belfast. Martin McGuinness won election in Derry. Sinn Féin continued its abstentionist policy in terms of parliamentary attendance and neither Adams nor McGuinness took their seats.

1999 – President Mary McAleese led mourners at the removal of former Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader, Jack Lynch, from Dublin’s Royal Hospital to the Church of St Paul of the Cross, Mount Argus.

1999 – Hundreds of striking nurses from the midlands joined a rally through the streets of Dublin.

2001 – Gas pipeline work on a hillside at Kilmacanogue in the Wicklow Mountains uncovered the remains of a house dating back to 2,000 BC. Only eight similar discoveries have been made thus far in Ireland.

2002 – The Real IRA pledged to continue their campaign of violence, ignoring a call by the prisoners in Portlaoise to disband and confirm the organisation has split.

2002 – Even on paper Keane is faster than McCarthy; on the day of its launch, just one copy of Mick McCarthy’s World Cup diary is sold at Waterstones outlet on Dawson Street in Dublin.

2003 – The last flight of the Concorde supersonic jet arrives at Belfast International Airport, Aldergrove.

2016 – Death of rugby player and head coach of Munster, Anthony Foley. Born in Limerick, he was attached to the same squad during his professional playing career. He was a member of the Munster team that won the 2002–03 Celtic League and was the winning captain during their 2005–06 Heineken Cup success. Foley played for Ireland from 1995 to 2005, and captained the squad on three separate occasions. Foley died in his sleep on 16 October 2016, while staying at a hotel in the Paris suburb of Suresnes with the Munster squad; heart disease had caused an acute pulmonary oedema. The team was preparing to face Racing 92 in its opening game of the 2016–17 European Rugby Champions Cup. The match was postponed as a result of Foley’s death. President Michael D. Higgins and Taoiseach Enda Kenny made tributes to Foley, and the Irish flag flew at half mast at government buildings in Munster.

Photo: Spiral on a standing stone at Newgrange, Co Meath, Mythical Ireland Photography

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