Today in Irish History – 19 December:

1751 – The Irish Parliament authorises application of a revenue surplus to the reduction of the national debt which causes a dispute between the House of Commons and the Government.

1813 – Thomas Andrews, scientist and research chemist, is born in Belfast.

1864 – Birth of William Plunket in Dublin. He was Governor of New Zealand from 1904-10. His parents were William, 4th Lord Plunket, the archbishop of Dublin in 1884-97, and his wife Anne, the daughter of Sir Benjamin Guinness. He served as an ambassador for Britain in Rome and then as Constantinople, and finally retired two years later.

1877 – Irish nationalist and Land League organiser, Michael Davitt, was released from Dartmoor Prison.

1907 – Birth of Jimmy McLarnin in Co Down. He was an Irish professional boxer who became two-time welterweight world champion and an International Boxing Hall of Fame inductee. BoxRec ranks McLarnin as the 11th best pound-for-pound fighter of all-time, and the greatest welterweight of all-time (ahead of the great Henry Armstrong).

1919 – The IRA attempted to assassinate British General John French in his car at Phoenix Park Dublin. French was unhurt, but one IRA Volunteer, Martin Savage was killed; IRA Dan Breen and two Dublin Metropolitan Police men and a driver were wounded. A Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) Sergeant was knocked unconscious.

1921 – Vitriolic Treaty debate starts in Dail Éireann.

1922 – Birth of radio and television presenter, Eamonn Andrews, in Dublin. From 1960 to 1964, he chaired the Radio Éireann Authority (now the RTÉ Authority), responsible for the introduction of state television to Ireland. He began his career as a clerk in an insurance office. He was a keen amateur boxer and won the Irish junior middleweight title in 1944.

1922 – Seven Republican fighters, all from Co Kildare, are executed in the Curragh. They had been captured on 13 December.

1922 – Four National Army soldiers are killed in action.

1928 – Birth of Eve Bunting in Maghera, Co Derry. She was a writer of more than 250 books. Her work covers a broad array of subjects and includes fiction and non-fiction books. Her novels are primarily aimed at children and young adults, but she has also written the text for picture books. While many of her books are set in the north of Ireland, where she grew up, her topics and settings range from Thanksgiving to riots in Los Angeles. Bunting’s first book, The Two Giants, was published in 1971. Due to the popularity of her books with children, she has been listed as one of the Educational Paperback Association’s top 100 authors.

1940 – The Irish Lights ship Isolda which was resupplying light houses off the coast of Wexford was sunk by German bombers, despite Irish neutrality. Six sailors were killed.

1945 – Birth of folk singer, songwriter, radio broadcaster, and political activist, Tommy Sands in Mayobridge, Co Down. He performs with his three siblings as The Sands Family; solo as Tommy Sands; and with his son and daughter as Tommy Sands with Moya and Fionán Sands. Tommy was the prime songwriter for The Sands Family, one of Ireland’s most influential folk groups of the 1960s and ’70s.

1956 – Irish-born physician John Bodkin Adams is arrested in connection with the suspicious deaths of more than 160 patients. Eventually he is convicted only of minor charges. John Bodkin Adams was a British general practitioner, convicted fraudster and suspected serial killer. Between 1946 and 1956, more than 160 of his patients died in suspicious circumstances. Of these, 132 left him money or items in their wills.

1956 – Birth of Fine Gael politician, Shane McEntee, in Co Meath. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Meath and later Meath East constituencies from 2005 to 2012, he also served as Minister of State for Food, Horticulture and Food Safety from 2011 to 2012.

1972 – Thin Lizzy reach no. 1 in the Irish charts with Whiskey In The Jar.

1973 – The Supreme Court in Dublin decides by a majority of four to one that a ban on contraceptives is unconstitutional.

1974 – Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh is inaugurated as the fifth president of the Irish Republic following the death of Erskine Childers.

1975 – The Red Hand Commandos exploded a no-warning car bomb in Dundalk, killing two civilians and wounding twenty. Shortly after, the same group launched a gun and bomb attack across the border in Silverbridge. Two Catholic civilians and an English civilian were killed in that attack, while six others were wounded. There is evidence that RUC officers and UDR soldiers were involved in the attacks, which have been linked to the “Glenanne gang”.

1999 – Sinn Féin says it has no knowledge that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are to be given Westminster offices without having to swear an oath of allegiance.

2001 – Experts at the National Museum of Ireland confirm that two pieces of gold jewellery discovered on a beach in Co Mayo are priceless ribbon torcs which may be up to 3,200 years old.

2002 – Unionist leader David Trimble walks out of talks aimed at restoring the North’s government and parliament after documents leaked in Dublin say the IRA is still active.

2002 – In Limerick, hundreds take part in a candlelit peace march to express their sympathy and support for families who have lost loved ones through violence.

2002 – Armed raiders get away with an estimated quarter of a million Euro after a raid on the Ulster Bank in Palmerstown in west Dublin.

2008 – ‘Phil Lynott’ is a 2008 single by the Irish band Jape, taken from their third studio album, Ritual. Released on this date, Jape fans were behind an unsuccessful online petition to establish the song as the Christmas number one in the Irish Singles Chart. ‘Phil Lynott’ was well-received, with critics generally regarding it as one of the finer songs on the Ritual album and the Irish Independent naming it the best Irish song of the year.

2012 – Death of musician and seanchaí, Pecker Dunne. Born, Patrick Dunne, in Co Clare, his family were Irish Travellers originally from Castlebar, Co Mayo, where his father was a fiddle player. In Parley-poet and Chancer, an autobiography transcribed by Micheál Ó hAodha (page 21), he stated that he later lived in the Dublin suburb of Drimnagh. He was one of Ireland’s most noted banjo players and was also proficient on the fiddle, melodeon and guitar, and was among an elite of Traveller musicians.

Photo: Loop Head Peninsula in West Clare, Captive Landscapes by Stephen Emerson

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