Today in Irish History – 24 October:

1642 – Irish Confederate rebels establish government in Kilkenny.

1789 – Work begins on the construction of the Royal Canal.

1842 – Death of Bernardo O’Higgins. He was a Chilean independence leader who, together with José de San Martín, freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. Although he was the second Supreme Director of Chile (1817–1823), he is considered one of Chile’s founding fathers, as he was the first holder of this title to head a fully independent Chilean state. O’Higgins was of Spanish and Irish ancestry.

1847 – In an irate letter published in the Cork Examiner, “A.D.F.” condemns the proselytising (soul-jobbing) of starving Catholics.

1854 – Birth of Sir Horace Plunkett, agricultural reformer and politician.

1872 – Birth of track and field athlete, Peter O’Connor. Born in, England, O’Connor grew up in Co Wicklow. He joined the GAA in 1896 and in 1899 he won All-Ireland medals in long jump, high jump and hop, step and jump (triple jump). Over the next ten years he consistently beat British athletes in international competitions. The (British) Amateur Athletic Association invited him to represent Britain in the Olympic Games in 1900, but he refused as he only wished to represent Ireland. O’Connor set a long-standing world record for the long jump and won two Olympic medals in the 1906 Games.

1880 – Fanny Parnell launches the Ladies’ Land League in New York. Known as the Patriot Poet, Fanny Parnell is the leading spokeswoman throughout the United States for the organisation.

1922 – Three Free State soldiers are killed in an ambush at Graney, Co Kildare and five wounded. Their tender is ambushed on the road to Baltinglass.

1922 – A Free State soldier is also killed in Limerick.

1940 – Pat Gallagher is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1942 – Birth of novelist, journalist and broadcaster, Frank Delaney, in Tipperary.

1969 – Birth of playwright, literary historian, novelist, and screenwriter, Emma Donoghue, in Dublin. Her 2010 novel Room was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and an international best-seller. Donoghue’s 1995 novel Hood won the Stonewall Book Award and Slammerkin (2000) won the Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction. Room was adapted into a film of the same name, for which Donoghue wrote the screenplay which was subsequently nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

1971 – Birth of television and stage actress, Dervla Kirwan, in Dublin. Kirwan has had roles in British television shows which included Ballykissangel and Goodnight Sweetheart among others. She also appeared in the Doctor Who Christmas special episode The Next Doctor, and provided the voiceovers for the “This is not just food” television advertising campaign for UK retailer Marks and Spencer.

1990 – The IRA kills 6 soldiers and a civilian in bomb attacks at Derry and Newry.

1998 – New British proposals for a European defence force which could undermine Irish neutrality are outlined at a key summit of EU heads of government in Austria.

1990 – Proxy bomb attacks – the PIRA launched three “proxy bombs” or “human bombs” at British Army checkpoints. Three men (who were or had been working with the British Army) were tied into cars loaded with explosives and ordered to drive to each checkpoint. Each bomb was detonated by remote control. The first exploded at a checkpoint in Coshquin, killing the driver and five soldiers. The second exploded at a checkpoint in Killeen; the driver narrowly escaped but one soldier was killed. The third failed to detonate.

1999 – The first state funeral ever held in Co Cork takes place for former Taoiseach Jack Lynch at St Mary and Anne’s Cathedral in Cork.

2000 – Halloween firework displays are dampened after gardaí seize rockets and bangers worth close to £1 million in a warehouse north of Omeath, Co Louth.

2002 – President Mary McAleese is named the Irish Tatler Woman of the Year. Northern Ireland Woman of the Year is awarded to blind world water-skier champion Janet Gray.

2003 – A smoking ban in all enclosed workplaces except private dwellings is signed into law. Prisons will be excluded to prevent security and conduct problems. The law will go into effect on 26 January 2004. Hoteliers and publicans consider legal action.

2015 – Death of actress and singer, Maureen O’Hara, born Maureen FitzSimons in Ranelagh, Co Dublin. The famously red-headed O’Hara was known for playing fiercely passionate but sensible heroines, and often worked with director John Ford and longtime friend John Wayne. She was one of the last surviving stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

Photo: Brú na Bóinne, Co Meath, Copter View Photography


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