Today in Irish History – 28 November:

1727 – William Connolly is unanimously re-elected Speaker of the Irish House of Commons.

1848 – ‘Saturday Review’ Racist Anti-Irish Rant. As Ireland haemorrhaged population via starvation and emigration, it received little support from elements of the English press.

1856 – Birth of Cardinal Patrick O’Donnell near Glenties, Co Donegal.

1863 – Foundation of the Fenian newspaper, “Irish People”; John O’Leary is the editor.

1871 – The Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, opens with a performance of She Stoops to Conquer.

1899 – Irish units in the Boer army fight in the battle of Modder River. The Battle of Modder River (known in Afrikaans as Slag van die Twee Riviere, which translates as “Battle of the Two Rivers”) was an engagement in the Boer War, fought at Modder River. A British column under Lord Methuen, that was attempting to relieve the besieged town of Kimberley, forced Boers under General Piet Cronje to retreat to Magersfontein, but suffered heavy casualties themselves.

1905 – Irish nationalist, Arthur Griffith, founds Sinn Féin as a political party with the main aim of establishing a dual monarchy in Ireland.

1919 – Lady Astor is elected as a Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. She is the first woman to sit as a British MP, although not the first to be elected – that was Countess Markievicz.

1920 – Irish War of Independence: Kilmichael Ambush: The Irish Republican Army ambush a convoy of British Auxiliaries and kill seventeen.

1921 – After Westminster decided to hand over responsibility for local government to Stormont, Tyrone County Council pledged its allegiance to Dáil Éireann. Eight smaller public bodies followed. That same day a bill was introduced in Stormont which allowed it to dissolve any local authority. Offices of Tyrone County Council were subsequently raided by the police and their records seized on 2 December 1921.

1931 – Birth of Dervla Murphy, an Irish touring cyclist and author of adventure travel books for over 40 years.

1959 – Birth of Tour de France winner, Stephen Roche, in Dundrum, Co Dublin.

1964 – Manchester United beats Arsenal 3-2 in London, with four Irish players, including, goalkeeper, Pat Dunne and full backs Tony Dunne and Shay Brennan were all Republic of Ireland internationals. The youthful Northern Ireland genius George Best was the other player to hail from Ireland. Some of the pre-match commentary is provided by another football icon, Danny Blanchflower.

1967 – All horse racing in Britain has been cancelled indefinitely to help prevent the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.

1967 – The regular radio pulse coming from space sounded like a beacon that astrophysics student, Jocelyn Bell Burnell, from Lurgan, Co Armagh, dubbed it ‘LGM-1’ (Little Green Men) when she detected it on this date. It actually turned out to be a pulsar – a rapidly spinning and very dense star. This helped confirm part of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and has been hailed as the greatest astronomical discovery of the 20th century. Burnell achieved it with a 4 acre (1.6ha) radio telescope that she built and operated herself.

1969 – Birth of Olympic medalist Sonia O’Sullivan in Cobh, Co Cork.

1974 – The Irish government introduced legislation which would allow people to be tried for offences committed outside the jurisdiction of the Republic of Ireland. Paul Hill was arrested in Southhampton and taken to Guildford for questioning about the bombings on 5 October 1974. On 29 November 1974 Hill signed a statement admitting his involvement in the Guildford bombing. Hill became the first of the ‘Guildford Four’ to be charged with the bombing.

1993 – Death of racing driver and motor trader, Joe Kelly. Born in Dublin, by profession Kelly was a motor dealer and he used the profits from this business to indulge his interest in motorsport, later moving to England. He died in Neston, Cheshire, England.

1995 – Joint Communiqué by British and Irish Governments The British and Irish Governments issued a Joint Communiqué stating that: ‘the two governments have agreed to launch a ‘twin-track’ process to make progress in parallel on the decommissioning issue and on all-party negotiations’. The governments hoped to have all-party negotiations begin by the end of February 1996. They also invited the parties to intensive preparatory talks. The governments also undertook to: ‘establish an international body to provide an independent assessment of the decommissioning issue”. George Mitchell, a former American Senator, was asked to lead this body.

2008 – President Mary McAleese was welcomed at the hall by Orange Order County Grand Master for Cavan Henry Latimer, who she praised as a “good Orangeman” and a “good Irishman”. “Perhaps here in Brakey Orange Hall this morning it’s a good time and place to acknowledge how far we have come in the last 10 years, since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and to pledge that the journey of peace-building and peace-making will and must continue.” “We are fortunate to have been witnesses to things that seemed very unlikely just a short time ago,” said the President.

Photo: Achill Head, Co Mayo, Peter Cox Photography

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