Today in Irish History – 25 November:

1713 – The second Irish parliament of Queen Anne sits from this date to 24 December. The Whig Alan Brodrick is elected Speaker for the second time, in place of John Forster, after a stormy contest with the government’s Tory nominee, Sir Richard Levinge.

1764 – Birth of Dublin town head of police, Henry Sirr, in Dublin Castle. In many later Irish nationalist plays Sirr was portrayed as a generic melodramatic villain. James Joyce used him as the ‘type of the Irish turncoat’ in Dubliners. In Ivy Day in the Committee Room a character remarks: ‘There’s a lineal descendant of Major Sirr for you if you like! O, the heart’s blood of a patriot! That’s a fellow now that’d sell his country for fourpence—ay—and go down on his bended knees and thank the Almighty Christ he had a country to sell.’

1784 – Napper Tandy asks for parliamentary reform for Ireland.

1858 – John Smyth Crone, physician and editor, is born in Belfast.

1873 – Birth of Osborn Joseph Bergin. He was a scholar of the Irish language and Early Irish literature. He was born in Cork and was educated at Queen’s College Cork (now University College Cork), then went to Germany for advanced studies in Celtic languages, working with Heinrich Zimmer at the Frierich Wilhelm University of Berlin (now the Humboldt University of Berlin) and later with Rudolf Thurneysen at the University of Freiburg, where he wrote his dissertation on palatalisation in 1906. He then returned to Ireland and taught at the School of Irish Learning and at University College Dublin. He died in Dublin at the age of 76.

1906 – Birth in Belfast of Saidie Paterson, trade unionist and peace activist.

1913 – The Irish Volunteers, a militant nationalist splinter of the Irish Parliamentary Party and nationalist version of the 18th-century Ulster Volunteers, is founded by Eoin MacNeill at a mass meeting at the Rotunda, Dublin.

1920 – Sinn Féin leaders, Arthur Griffith and Eoin McNeill, were arrested by British troops in Dublin.

1921 – Michael Collins and Arthur Griffith return from London Treaty negotiations to the Dáil Cabinet where a proposal is passed that becomes the catalyst for the Irish Civil War. ‘That Ireland shall recognise the British Crown for the purposes of the Association as symbol and accepted head of the combination of Associated States’.

1922 – The Anti-Treaty IRA mount an attack on Oriel House, Dublin. Several IRA fighters are captured at nearby Harcourt Street and one Anti-Treaty fighter is shot and killed.

1947 – Birth of former Liverpool and Irish international footballer, Steve Heighway.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

1975 – A loyalist gang nicknamed the ‘Shankill Butchers’ undertook its first ‘cut-throat killing’. The gang was named for its late-night kidnapping, torture and murder (by throat slashing) of random Catholic civilians in Belfast.

1984 – Bob Geldof and Midge Ure founded ‘Band Aid’ (a charity supergroup featuring mainly British and Irish musicians and recording artists) and wrote a song, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’, to raise money for anti-famine efforts in Ethiopia by releasing it for the Christmas market. It was released four days later. The single surpassed the hopes of the producers to become the Christmas number one on that release.

1999 – Mystery surrounds the identity of two human skeletons discovered on the site of the former Carnegie school in Killorglin, Co Kerry. According to experts, the remains of a child and an adult are at least 100 years old and could date to medieval times.

2002 – JP McManus, the man who never liked school, receives a doctorate from the University of Limerick. The reluctant schoolboy is now an internationally renowned financier, racehorse owner and part-proprietor of soccer giants Manchester United.

2002 – Hundreds of Irish tourists are left stranded in France as a series of transport strikes threaten to bring chaos to roads, rail, and air traffic.

2005 – James McLoughlin the former bishop of Galway, dies at the age of 76.

2005 – Death of football player, George Best. Born in Belfast, he is best known for his years with Manchester United. He was a winger whose game combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders. In 1968, his annus mirabilis, he won the European Cup with Manchester United, and was named the European Footballer of the Year. When fit, he was an automatic choice for the Northern Ireland team, but he was unable to lead them to the World Cup qualification, despite being capped 37 times and scoring nine goals.

Photo: Mourne Wall, Mourne Mountains, Co Down

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