1640 – John Atherton, Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, was executed on a charge of immorality. Atherton was accused of buggery (homosexuality) with a man, John Childe, his steward and tithe proctor. They were tried under a law that Atherton himself had helped to institute. They were both condemned to death, and Atherton was executed in Stephen’s Green, Dublin.
1700 – Birth of lawyer and politician, Anthony Malone in Co Westmeath. In 1740 he was appointed prime serjeant-at-law, but was dismissed from office in 1754 for opposing the claim of the crown to dispose of unappropriated revenue. In 1757 he was made chancellor of the exchequer, but his attitude in council in regard to the Money Bill of 1761 led to his again being removed from office.
1720 – One of the most successful pirates was a feisty red-head, called Anne Bonny. Her father moved to the Charleston, SC to make it as a merchant and Anne fell in with ‘Calico Jack’ Rackham. They married and led a successful pirate life, but when they were eventually caught after a battle, Bonny’s last words to the imprisoned Rackham were that she was ‘sorry to see him there, but if he had fought like a Man, he need not have been hang’d like Dog’. Pregnant, she was granted a stay of execution at her trial on this date. It is said that Bonny was smuggled to safety to South Carolina, and lived to be a grand old dame of 80.
1814 – The Francis and Eliza Convict Ship departed Cork bound for New South Wales. On 4th January, it had the misfortune to encounter the 21-gun privateer American Warrior. After the Americans had stripped Francis and Eliza of her guns and ammunition they allowed her to sail on. Fifty-two male prisoners and sixty-five female prisoners arrived in Port Jackson on the Francis and Eliza on 8 August 1815. Two male and four female convicts had died on the voyage.
1841 – Birth of businessman, Marcus Daly, in Ballyjamesduff, Co Cavan. Known as one of the three ‘Copper Kings’ of Butte, Montana, in the United States, Daly emigrated to the US at the age of fifteen, arriving first in New York City.
1853 – Assembly’s College, Belfast, opens for the training of Presbyterian clergy.
1904 – Death of chemist and pharmacist, Lucy Everest Boole. Born in Co Cork, she was the first female professor at the London School of Medicine for Women in the Royal Free Hospital as well as the first female Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry.
1921 – After lengthy negotiations, the British give the Irish a deadline to accept or reject the Anglo-Irish treaty. In the words of Lloyd George, rejection would mean ‘immediate and terrible war’.
1923 – Death of novelist and playwright, Edward Martyn. Born in Co Galway, he was a co-founder with Lady Gregory and Yeats of the Irish Literary Theatre in 1897. His play The Heather Field was produced by the company in 1899 at the Antient Concert Rooms in Brunswick St (now Pearse St) on the 9th May 1899. Martyn’s play Maeve was produced the company in 1900, and George Moore’s version of his play The Tale of a Town, entitled The Bending of the Bough was also produced in 1900. Martyn was a keen follower of Ibsen, and became increasingly estranged from Yeats and Gregory, and against the ‘peasant plays’ of the early Abbey repertoire. He co-founded the Irish Theatre Company in 1914 with Thomas MacDonagh and Joseph Plunkett with the intention of producing more translated work from European writers, and plays in Irish.
1947 – Birth of Tony Gregory in Ballybough in Dublin’s Northside. He was an Irish Independent politician and a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin Central constituency from 1982 to 2009. He became involved in republican politics siding with the Officials in the 1970 split within Sinn Féin. However he left the party in 1972 over the Official IRA ceasfire. He was briefly a member of Seamus Costello’s IRSP but left to focus on community activism. Gregory worked as a secondary school teacher at Coláiste Eoin, an Irish language secondary school in Booterstown, where he taught History and French, before becoming involved in politics as a member of Dublin City Council in 1979. At the February 1982 general election he was elected to Dáil Éireann as an Independent TD.
1975 – The last 46 people who had been interned without trial were released. The end of Internment was announced by Merlyn Rees, then Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, who said that those found guilty of crimes would be brought before the courts. During the period of Internment, 9 August 1971 to 5 December 1975, 1,981 people were detained; 1,874 were Catholic/Republican, while 107 were Protestant/Loyalist.
1976 – A rally of twelve to fifteen thousand Peace People from both north and south takes place at the new bridge over the Boyne at Drogheda, Co Louth.
1979 – Jack Lynch resigns as Taoiseach of Ireland. He was replaced by Charles Haughey on 7th December.
1994 – Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, held a meeting in Washington with Jean Kennedy, United States Ambassador to Ireland. The meeting was also attended by State Department officials. Adams asked for equal treatment for all parties at the Belfast investment conference on 13 December 1994.
1997 – Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, paid her first official visit to Northern Ireland. During a visit to her former school on the Falls Road, she met and shook hands with Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin. She also visited Newry and the Ardoyne area of Belfast.
1998 – The IRA Army Council and up to 60 Provisionals meet at a secret location near the border to debate arms decommissioning.
1999 – The Portmarnock Hotel in north Dublin wins the Gilbeys’ Gold medal in catering for the second year in a row.
2000 – The IRA reaffirms its commitment to putting arms beyond use in a statement issued in advance of President Bill Clinton’s visits to Dublin and Belfast.
2000 – Ruth Le Goff, from Cork, is named as winner of the 15th Annual RTÉ Radio 1 Francis MacManus Short Story Competition.
2001 – Police and custom officers on both sides of the Border smash a multi-million pound smuggling operation with links to dissident paramilitary groups.
2002 – Tesco’s Premier Cru Brut NV comes out top in a blind tasting of 24 champagnes and 11 sparkling wines by British consumer magazine Which?
2014 – Death of politician, Jackie Healy-Rae. Born in Kilgarvan, Co Kerry, he served as an independent Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry South constituency from 1997 to 2011. His sons, Danny and Michael were members of Kerry County Council for the Killarney and Killorglin electoral areas respectively before becoming TDs.
Photo: Delphi, Co Mayo, Geoff McGrath Photography
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