Today in Irish History – 23 January:

1774 – Dudley Cosby (Baron Sydney), former MP for Carrick, commits suicide.

1803 – Death of brewer and the founder of the Guinness brewery, Arthur Guinness, in Dublin. He was also an entrepreneur and philanthropist.

1837 – Death of pianist, composer, and teacher, John Field. He was born in Dublin into a musical family, and received his early education there, in particular with the immigrant Tommaso Giordani. The Fields soon moved to London, where Field studied under Muzio Clementi. Under his tutelage, Field quickly became a famous and sought-after concert pianist. Together, master and pupil visited Paris, Vienna, and St. Petersburg.

1881 – William O’Brien, trade unionist and Labour politician, is born near Clonakilty, Co Cork.

1898 – The United Irish League, a nationalist electoral organisation, is founded by William O’Brien.

1900 – Death of Kildare born Abraham Boulger who won the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the Indian mutiny 1857.

1915 – Roger Casement leaves Limburg for Berlin, to meet Fr Nicholson. After this, Casement leaves recruitment to Fr Nicholson and he rarely visited Limburg again.

1923 – Three Anti-Treaty IRA men are executed in Dundalk, having been captured on 7 January.

1923 – Two Republican prisoners are executed in Waterford.

1923 – International reaction to Government executions.

1923 – Two civilian railway drivers are shot in Tralee railway station. One is killed, another is wounded. Republicans are blamed but do not claim the attack. The Railway drivers issue a statement that ‘neither murder nor intimidation would prevent them from carrying out their duties’. Free State soldier Niall Harrington later alleges the culprits were National Army officers.

1923 – An Anti-Treaty IRA column under Tom McEllistrim and John Joe Sheehy attacks the National Army barracks, containing 60 troops, in Castlemaine, Co Kerry. They use an improvised mortar, one of whose rounds makes a direct hit on the barracks. In a subsequent two hour gun battle, one Free State soldier is killed, the town’s railway station is burned and the bridge over the river Maine blown up by the Republicans. The National Army reports four Anti-Treaty fighters killed.

1923 – Two Free-State officers Lts. Kennedy and Cruise are seized while driving near Clonmel, Co Tipperary are shot and secretly buried. Their bodies are found On 3 April.

1949 – Birth of twins, Pádraig and Noel Duggan, in Gweedore, Co Donegal. They came to prominence in the 1970s with the folk group Clannad, and took a ten-year break after winning a Grammy Award for their 1998 album Landmarks. They later toured extensively with their band Norland Wind. They were identified and introduced to television by Tony MacMahon, and in 2005 released their first studio album Rubicon, which featured Moya Brennan, Finbar Furey and Orla Fallon among others. It was met with critical acclaim and sold well throughout Ireland. Pádraig died in Dublin on 9 August 2016.

1953 – Birth of theologian, priest, intellectual historian, scientist, and Christian apologist, Alister McGrath, in Belfast. He currently holds the Andreas Idreos Professorship in Science and Religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religion at the University of Oxford, and is Professor of Divinity at Gresham College. He was previously Professor of Theology, Ministry, and Education at King’s College London and Head of the Centre for Theology, Religion and Culture, Professor of Historical Theology at the University of Oxford, and was principal of Wycliffe Hall, Oxford, until 2005. He is an Anglican priest.

1980 – Guiseppe Conlon dies an innocent man in an English prison. He was arrested while travelling to London from Belfast to help his son, Gerry Conlon, who passed away in 2014: https://youtu.be/-tmEnQ5hXTY

1986 – Fifteen Westminster by-elections were held across Northern Ireland. The by-elections were caused when Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs) resigned their seats in protest of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

1993 – Van Morrison Inducted to Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Belfast Cowboy, Van Morrison is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame along with such luminaries as Cream, The Doors and Etta James. Inducting him, the Band’s Robbie Robertson said “in the tradition of the great Irish poets and the great soul singers, he is the Caruso of rock and roll.” This “Caruso of rock and roll” and magnificent songwriter is also one of the most curmudgeonly live performers in rock and roll history. The satirical Onion newspaper wrote of him ‘Morrison deserves a spot in the Rock Hall based on his record-breaking streak of 4,256 consecutive shows performed without cracking a smile’.

1998 – Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, laid a wreath at the ‘Bloody Sunday’ memorial in the Bogside during a visit to Derry. He called for a full independent inquiry into the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’. He also visited Belfast where he stated that there would be no ‘internal solution’ to the problems of Northern Ireland and that any North-South bodies would have to have executive powers.

1999 – Two blast bomb attacks target Catholic homes in the seaport town of Larne, Co Antrim.

2000 – A historic show of Christian unity takes place as the Bishop of Cork and Ross, Dr John Buckley, appeals to parishioners at Cork Masses to make contributions to a multi million pound restoration programme of a Protestant cathedral in Cork city centre.

2000 – Five grey Seals are released into the sea at Cullenstown Strand, Co Wexford. The seals had been kept in the seal sanctuary in Co. Dublin while recovering from injuries. This the largest amount of seals to be released at one time.

2001 – Irish airport charges are among the cheapest in the world, the latest independent study of the sector has found.

2001 – It is announced that the State is in negotiation with a private landowner to purchase the internationally renowned Poulnabrone dolmen in the Burren, Co Clare.

2002 – The Bloody Sunday Inquiry announced that it would temporarily move to a location in Britain in order to hear the testimony of British Army paratroopers who fired the fatal shots in Derry on Bloody Sunday (30 January 1972). The thirty-six soldiers had won court cases that supported their wish not to have to travel to Derry to give evidence. The soldiers retained their anonymity during the proceedings. Initially Lord Saville suggested that the soldiers’ evidence could be taken by a video link from Britain. However, both the soldiers and the families of those killed and injured objected to this solution.

2003 – The Irish and British governments agree to plans for an all-out push to restore the North’s power-sharing Executive.

2013 – Death of Dolours Price, the woman convicted of the 1973 IRA bombing of the Old Bailey, along with her younger sister, Marian. She was also a political activist who became a staunch critic of Gerry Adams’ leadership of Sinn Féin and was among the first to publicly accuse Gerry Adams of being responsible for the abduction of those the IRA considered informers.

Photo: Killary Harbour, on Ireland’s biggest and brightest fjord, Connemara, Co Galway

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