Today in Irish History – 11 January:

1753 – Death of physician, naturalist, Hans Sloane, Killyleagh, Co Down. He was a collector, notable for bequeathing his collection to the nation, thus providing the foundation of the British Museum. His name was later used for streets and places such as Hans Place, Hans Crescent and Sloane Square in London, and also to Sir Hans Sloane Square in his birthplace, Killyleagh.

1775 – Birth of Luis de Lacy in Spain. He was a brigadier general in the Spanish Army who fought in the Peninsular War. He came from an Irish family that had two previous generations serving in the Spanish army: his grandfather, Patrick de Lacy Sr., had been a general in the infantry regiment of the Spanish ‘Irish Regiment’ of Ultonia, and his father, Patrick de Lacy Jr., had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel before his early death.

1836 – George Sigerson, physician, professor and writer, is born near Strabane, Co Tyrone.

1866 – Death of Gustavus Vaughan Brooke. Born in Dublin, he was a stage actor who enjoyed success in Ireland, England and Australia.

1915 – Irish rugby international and founding member of the SAS (Special Air Service) Paddy Mayne is born in Newtownards. He gained his first cap for Ireland in 1937 against Wales and went on to take part in the British and Irish Lions rugby tour of South Africa in 1938.

1921 – The British government announced that any unauthorised person found in possession of arms, ammunition or explosives is liable to be executed.

1923 – Forty Republicans burn the railway station in Sligo town, destroying it and badly damaging seven engines and forty carriages. The Great Southern and Western Railway Company releases a report detailing the damage Anti-Treaty forces have caused to their property over the previous six months; 375 lines damaged, 42 engines derailed, 51 over-bridges and 207 under-bridges destroyed, 83 signal cabins and 13 other buildings destroyed. In the same month, Republicans destroy the railway stations at Ballybunion and Listowel.

1925 – Birth of David Wylie Bleakley, writer and Northern Ireland Labour Party politician.

1939 – Irish National Teachers Organisation calls for lifting of ban preventing married women from teaching.

1967 – Birth of independent politician, Michael Healy-Rae, in Kilgarvan, Co Kerry. He was elected at the 2011 general election to the 31st Dáil Éireann as a Teachta Dála (TD) for Kerry South, and since the 2016 general election has represented Kerry. Prior to entering national politics, he was involved in local politics in Co Kerry and pursued business interests.

1970 – At Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (party conference) held in Dublin, the IRA splits between those who were in favour of ending the policy of abstentionism; Officials and Provisionals (Provos).

1972 – Death of Longford poet and playwright, Padraic Colum. poet, He was one of the leading figures of the Irish Literary Revival.

1979 – One of the greatest hurlers of all-time, Henry Shefflin, was born in Ballyhale, Co Kilkenny. He would go on to win a record 10 All-Ireland Senior medals with Kilkenny.

1988 – John Hume, then leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), met with Gerry Adams, then leader of Sinn Féin (SF). This was the first in a series of discussions between the two men; the last meeting took place on 30 August 1988. Some commentators consider these meetings to mark the beginning of the ‘Peace Process’. The two leaders held another series of meetings beginning on 10 April 1993.

1994 – Irish Government announces the end of a 15-year broadcasting ban on the IRA and its political arm Sinn Féin.

1997 – Martin McGartland, who had been an IRA informer, criticised the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) for rejecting his claim for compensation for injuries he sustained as he escaped an IRA execution squad in 1992.

1998 – The Government plays down reports of a rift between Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

1999 – The Democratic Unionist Party warns that it would mount a legal challenge if Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam moves to announce a power-sharing Executive without the Assembly approving the new government structures.

1999 – At the Special Criminal Court in Dublin four men went on trial accused of the capital murder of Jerry McCabe who was a Detective in the Garda Síochána. McCabe was shot dead during an aborted post office van robbery at Adare, Co Limerick on 7 June 1996. The accused were Pearse McCauley, Jeremiah Sheehy, Michael O’Neill, and Kevin Walsh, who were all members of the IRA.

1999 – Death of Brian Moore. He has been described as ‘one of the few genuine masters of the contemporary novel’, was a novelist and screenwriter from Belfast who emigrated to Canada and later lived in the United States. He was acclaimed for the descriptions in his novels of life in Northern Ireland after the Second World War, in particular his explorations of the inter-communal divisions of The Troubles. He was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1975 and the inaugural Sunday Express Book of the Year award in 1987, and he was shortlisted for the Booker Prize three times (in 1976, 1987 and 1990).

2000 – Furious farmers block the entrances to all the main meat processing plants in protest against the imposition of increased veterinary inspection charges.

2002 – The country’s population is set for another dramatic increase after Ireland records the highest birth rate and lowest death rate of all 15 EU member states in 2001.

Photo: Benbulben, Co Sligo, Photography by Kelvin Gillmor

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