Today in Irish History – 13 January:

1695 – Jonathan Swift was ordained as a priest in the Church of Ireland.

1702 – Birth of Thomas Arthur Lally in Romans, France. He was a French General of Irish Jacobite ancestry. Lally commanded French forces, including two battalions of his own red-coated Regiment of Lally of the Irish Brigade, in India during the Seven Years’ War. He was the son of Sir Gerald Lally, an Irish Jacobite from Tuam, Co Galway. His title is derived from the Lally’s ancestral home, Castel Tullendally in Co Galway, where the Lally’s (originally called O’Mullallys) were prominent members of the Gaelic Aristocracy who could trace their ancestry back to the second century High King of Ireland, ‘Conn of the Hundred battles.’

1800 – Daniel O’Connell makes his first public speech, opposing Union with England.

1880 – Birth of film director, Alexander Brenon, in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

1915 – Roger Casement at Limburg, Germany; again he writes to Count Georg von Wedel, telling him that after a long talk with General Exner, Commanding Officer at Limburg, that it should be possible to get “some hundreds of the men to enrol”. Casement is also putting a lot of store in the arrival of Father Nicholson to improve the situation. And also implores Wedel to get better food for the Irish at Limburg “if a little more meat could be put in their soup… it would be a wise act”.

1921 – British troops manning a checkpoint at O’Connell Bridge, Dublin, opened fire on a crowd of civilians, killing two and seriously wounding five.

1921 – Special Constable Robert Compston is the first member of the Ulster Special Constabulary (founded November 1920 to support RIC against IRA attacks) to be killed in the line of duty near Crosmaglen. Although the RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) did not morph into the Royal Ulster Constabulary until June 1922, Compston is recognized by RUC as the first fatality.

1923 – Three Republican prisoners are executed in Dundalk. A crowd gathers outside the jail to say the rosary but is dispersed when Free State troops open fire on them.

1929 – Death of Australian politician and judge, Henry Bournes Higgins. Born in Newtownards, Co Down, he was always known in his lifetime as H. B. Higgins, and was a highly influential figure in Australian politics and law.

1931 – Mary Clarke, Maryknoll nun and martyr is born of Irish parents in NYC. She worked with the poor and the refugees in Central America from 1959 until her death in 1980. She was beaten, raped, and murdered, along with fellow missionaries Ita Ford, Jean Donovan and Dorothy Kazel in El Salvador, by members of a military death squad.

1941 – James Joyce, considered by many to be one of the most important modern authors in English because of his revolutionary approach to the novel, dies in Zurich.

1964 – Professional golfer, Ronan Rafferty is born in Co Armagh.

1998 – Northern Ireland takes another giant step towards peace after the political parties at Stormont accept the British and Irish governments blueprint as the basis for negotiation.

1999 – Derek Hill (painter) awarded honorary Irish citizenship.

2000 – A record-breaking 55 people are presented with the President’s Gold Awards at a special ceremony in Áras an Uachtaráin.

2000 – It is announced that a 1,000 year old treasure trove has been discovered by a tour guide cleaning up litter from a Co Kilkenny cave. The priceless Viking age silver and bronze jewellery is unique – nothing like them have been found in Ireland or elsewhere.

2001 – One and a half copies of the most important piece of documentation of the 20th century in Ireland, the Declaration of Independence, is sold to a New York collector for £56,000.

2003 – It is announced that the Government is to undertake a major review of Gaeltacht areas amid concerns of a dramatic fall-off in Irish language use in many areas.

2008 – After almost 60 years, Aer Lingus Service between Shannon and Heathrow comes to an end following a company decision in August 2007 to transfer its valuable Heathrow slots to Belfast.

2009 – Death of Irish-American actor, writer and director, Patrick McGoohan. He was brought up in Ireland and Britain, where he established an extensive stage and film career. His highest-profile roles were in the 1960s television series Danger Man (US: Secret Agent), and The Prisoner, which he co-created. Later in his career, he moved back to the United States and subsequently appeared as a murderer in four Columbo episodes, winning two Emmy Awards. In cinema, he had prominent roles in The Three Lives of Thomasina (1964), Ice Station Zebra (1968), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Silver Streak (1976), Escape From Alcatraz (1979), Scanners (1981), A Time to Kill (1996), Treasure Planet (2002) and memorably portrayed King Edward “The Longshanks” in Mel Gibson’s Braveheart (1995).

Photo: Achill Island, Co Mayo

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