Today in Irish History – 15 January:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast of St Ita. Ida, called the ‘Brigid of Munster’, born in present-day Co Waterford. She became a nun, settling down at Cluain Credhail, a place-name that has ever since been known as Killeedy–that is, ‘Church of St. Ita’, in Co Limerick. There, she was the head of a community of women.

1754 – Birth of Colonel Richard ‘Humanity Dick’ Martin. He was an Irish politician and animal rights activist. Martin was born in Ballynahinch, Co Galway, the only son of Robert Martin Fitz Anthony of Birchall, Co Galway, and Bridget Barnwall, a daughter of Baron Trimlestown. Martin was raised at Dangan House, situated on the Corrib River, four miles upriver from the town of Galway.

1775 – Thomas Dermody, classical scholar and poet is born.

1798 – Thomas Crofton Croker, antiquarian and folklorist, is born in Cork.

1800 – Henry Grattan makes an impassioned plea in the Irish House of Commons against the Act of Union which was to see the dissolution of the Irish parliament and direct rule by England for the following 122 years. This was the final day of the Irish parliament.

1821 – Thomas Clarke Luby, Fenian, is born in Dublin.

1825 – Thomas, 2nd Viscount Newcomen, commits suicide after the failure of Newcomen’s Bank.

1835 – Birth of American Civil War soldier, Patrick Guiney in Parkstown, Co Tipperary. He was the second and eldest surviving son of James Roger Guiney, who was descended from Jacobites, and Judith Macrae.

1860 – Eleanor Hull, Irish Celtic Scholar is born in England, of a Co Down family.

1861 – Young Irelander, Terence MacManus, dies in San Francisco, CA.

1862 – Birth of Patrick Guiney in Kanturk, Co Cork. He was an Irish Nationalist politician and a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1915 – Roger Casement still in Limburg, Germany, waiting the arrival of Father Nicholson to help improve the situation.

1920 – Sinn Féin takes control of most borough and urban councils in local elections.

1920 – Proportional Representation (PR) is used in Ireland for the first time in the local elections of 1920. PR differs from the widely used first past the post voting system in that the seats won tend to be representative of total votes cast thus encouraging participation even from minority communities. In the 1921 Northern Ireland general elections, when PR was used, every seat was contested. However, after Northern Ireland reverted to first past the post system, numerous seats went uncontested by nationalists who knew they had no chance of winning seats. In the 1933 general election, fought under the British first past the post system, only 19 of 52 seats were contested. Gerrymandered voting districts plus first past the post saw Unionists gain 36 of 52 seats in the election. this can be contrasted with the 1920 local elections when Sinn Fein won control of 10 of 12 urban councils.

1921 – 15-17: British soldiers imposed a curfew in an area bounded by Capel St, Church St, North King St and the quays in Dublin’s inner city, sealing it off and allowing no one in or out. They then conducted a house-to-house search, but no significant arrests or arms finds were made.

1939 – IRA Army Council and Republican survivors of second Dáil Éireann declare war on England.

1961 – Dave MacAuley, world flyweight boxing champion, IBF, 1989-92, is born in Larne, Co Antrim.

1961 – Birth of musician, Damian O’Neill, in Belfast. He is the lead guitarist in the pop-punk band, The Undertones. He joined the band following the departure of his older brother, Vincent, in 1976, and remained with the band until their break up in 1983. O’Neill wrote several album tracks and singles during the career of The Undertones, usually writing with bassist Michael Bradley. After the Undertones split in 1983, Damian O’Neill formed That Petrol Emotion with his guitarist brother, John O’Neill. The Undertones reformed in 1999 and O’Neill continues to perform and record with them.

1973 – Ireland joins the European Investment bank.

1984 – Tomás Ó Fiaich, Catholic Primate of Ireland, sparked controversy when he criticised the visit of Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister, to the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) base in Armagh. At the time several members of the UDR in Armagh were accused of the killing of Catholics and Ó Fiaich described the visit as ‘disgusting’. The Cardinal also drew criticism when he stated that people may be morally justified in joining Sinn Féin if they joined to work on community issues. The Irish government distanced itself from the Cardinal’s remarks.

1988 – Sean MacBride, Irish patriot and human rights activist, dies.

1994 – Edward Kennedy, together with three other Irish-American Senators, appealed to Bill Clinton, President of the USA, to grant a visa to Gerry Adams, President of SF.

2007 – Dublin-born actress, Pauline Delaney, who is best known for her role in Circle of Friends and Into The West, passes away from complications caused by Parkinson’s disease.

Photo: Reflection on the Liffey, Dublin, Peter O’Doherty Dublin and Ireland Photos

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