Today in Irish History – 20 December:

1638 – Birth of provost of Trinity College Dublin and founder of Marsh’s Library (the oldest public library in Ireland), Narcissus Marsh, in Wiltshire, England.

1645 – Edward Worcester, Earl of Glamorgan, aristocrat and inventor, is sent to Ireland to raise troops for the king; he makes two secret treaties with the confederates; one on the 25 August and the other on this date.

1769 – Birth of portrait painter and president of the Royal Academy, Sir Martin Shee, in Dublin.

1780 – Birth of politician and essayist, John Wilson Croker, in Galway.

1859 – Birth of Kuno Meyer, Irish Celtic scholar, in Hamburg, Germany.

1862 – In the report penned on this date, Brigadier General Thomas Frances Meagher wrote about the day after the terrible Battle of Fredericksburg. ‘Two hundred and eighty men only appeared under arms to represent the Irish Brigade. This little band, unswerved and undeterred, still full of heart, inspired by a bright sense of duty, sorrowful for their comrades, but prouder and still more emboldened that such men had fallen bravely as they did, awaited the word that was once again to precipitate them against the batteries and defenses of the enemy.’ Over twelve hundred men of the Irish Brigade started that battle.

1891 – Fifteen year old Annie Moore departs Queenstown (now Cobh, Co Cork), becoming the first immigrant to pass through Ellis Island.

1893 – Birth of screenwriter and film producer, James Kevin McGuinness. Born in Ireland, he immigrated to New York in 1904. Known for A Night at the Opera (1935), Rio Grande (1950) and Tarzan and His Mate (1934). Hollywood legend, John Ford, directed his screenplay Men Without Women (1930), with John Wayne appearing in the movie. He died in New York in 1950 from a heart attack.

1902 – The Dunraven land conference, representing landlords and tenants, opens at the Mansion House, Dublin.

1909 – Ireland’s first cinematographic theatre, the Volta, opens in Dublin, under the managership of James Joyce.

1915 – Birth of politician and doctor, Noël Christopher Browne. He holds the distinction of being one of only five Teachtaí Dála (TDs) to be appointed Minister on their first day in the Dáil. His controversial Mother and Child Scheme in effect brought down the First Inter-Party Government of John A. Costello in 1951.

1920 – The Kilkenny IRA unit ambushed an RIC/military patrol at Nine Mile House, Co Tipperary, eight soldiers and one RIC man were killed.

1921 – Bitter Treaty Debate continues.

1922 – Pro-Treaty politician, Séamus Dwyer, is shot dead at his shop in Rathmines, Dublin by Anti-Treaty fighters. Serving as an intelligence officer for the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army, and as a Dáil Court judge he was imprisoned by the British in 1921, he was a close friend of Michael Collins.

1922 – An anti-Treaty fighter, T Beehan, is shot dead after capture in Co Kildare by Free State troops.

1925 – Hugh O’Flaherty was ordained on this date and posted to the Vatican. Early in the war he visited POW camps and then used Radio Vatican to pass on word of prisoners to their relatives. When Germany occupied Rome in 1943, O’Flaherty and some like-minded friends hid Jews and Allied soldiers from the Nazis. They used convents, farms and even flats beside the SS headquarters. When Rome was liberated, 6,425 of O’Flaherty’s escapees were still alive. Monsigner Hugh was also amateur golf champion of Italy.

1935 – Death of Martin O’Meara. Born in Terryglass, Lorrha, Co Tipperary), he was both an Irish recipient (by birth) and an Australian recipient (by naturalisation) of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

1950 – The Industrial Development Authority is founded in the Republic.

1952 – Birth of screenwriter and director, Terry George, in Belfast. Much of his film work (e.g. The Boxer, Some Mother’s Son, and In the Name of the Father) involves ‘The Troubles’. He was nominated for two Oscars: Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium (1993; In the Name of the Father), and Best Writing, Original Screenplay (2004; Hotel Rwanda). On 26 February 2012, he received an Oscar in the live action short film category for The Shore.

1961 – Robert McGladdery was the last person to be executed in the north of Ireland. He was convicted of the murder of Pearl Gamble, aged 19, whom he had battered, strangled and stabbed to death on 28 January 1961 and whose body was discovered at Upper Damolly, near Newry, Co Down. It transpired the murderer and victim were distant cousins. He was hanged, aged 25, at Crumlin Road Gaol in Belfast by executioner Harry Allen.

1972 – Five civilians (four Catholics, one Protestant) were killed in a gun attack on the Top of the Hill Bar in Derry. It is believed the UDA was responsible.

1973 – Death of musician, Joe Cooley. Born in Co Galway, he was known for his traditional accordion music. He was one of the earliest members of the Tulla Céilí Band when, as the St Patrick’s Amateur Band, Tulla, they won the ceili band competition at Féile Luimní in 1946. He played with the Tulla on their first broadcast for Radio Éireann in 1948. He is regarded as one of the most accomplished and influential Irish button accordionists.

1976 – Death of ‘Da Mare’ of Chicago. Daley twenty-one years in office (a period only surpassed by his son Richard M. Daley). Daley was a controversial figure who regularly mangled the English Language.

1998 – There is renewed speculation that the IRA will make a token gesture on the issue of decommissioning before 1998 passes into history.

1999 – Another attempt to prevent Wicklow County Council building a controversial dual carriageway through the Glen of the Downs is rejected in the Supreme Court.

2000 – The bomb making capacity of dissident terrorists is severely dented with the seizure of almost 400 sticks of Frangex commercial plastic explosive in Co. Kilkenny.

2000 – A record 653 entries from 2,000 students is received for the Esat Young Scientist and Technology Exhibition.

2000 – The Guinness Book of World Records confirms that an eight-inch egg laid by “Queen Maeve”, a Belclare duck owned by the Costello family of Galway, is the world’s largest.

2001 – The first casualty of the proposed 250 job cuts at the Irish Times is the Chairman of the Trust, Major Thomas McDowell, who earns close to £500,000 a year.

2004 – A gang of thieves steal £26.5 million worth of currency from the Donegall Square West headquarters of Northern Bank in Belfast.

2009 – Death of actress, Joan Brosnan Walsh. Best known for her long-running role as the character Mags Kelly on the Irish soap opera Fair City, a role she had played for almost twenty years. Born in Co Wicklow, she also appeared in a number of films such as The Boxer and Fatal Inheritance.

Photo: Great Blasket Island, Co Kerry, George Karbus Photography

#irish #history #Ireland #OTD

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