#OTD in Irish History – 12 February:

1722 – Thomas Burgh, MP for Naas, and Richard Stewart, MP for Strabane, receive the first £2,000 of £8,000 from the Irish parliament for operating their colliery at Ballycastle, Co Antrim.

1782 – The right of habeas corpus is introduced in Ireland.

1818 – Bernardo O’Higgins formally approves the Chilean Declaration of Independence near Concepción, Chile. Bernardo O’Higgins Riquelme was a Chilean independence leader who, together with José de San Martín, freed Chile from Spanish rule in the Chilean War of Independence. Although he was the second Supreme Director of Chile (1817-1823), he is considered one of Chile’s founding fathers, as he was the first holder of this title to head a fully independent Chilean state. O’Higgins was of Spanish and Irish ancestry.

1820 – The ships East Indian and Fanny, with about 350 Irish emigrants aboard, leave Cork for Cape Colony, carrying some of the ‘1820 settlers’.

1831 – Birth of John Morrissey, also known as Old Smoke, in Templemore, Co Tipperary. He was a bare-knuckle boxer and a gang member in New York in the 1850s and later became a Democratic State Senator and U.S. Congressman from New York, backed by Tammany Hall. Morrissey began his bare knuckle boxing career after a confrontation with a man known only as “Chroel” who was notorious for troubling his fellow townsmen. Although Morrissey was on the bitter end of his first bare knuckle bout, his display of bravery and fortitude earned himself the respect and historical acknowledgment of his peers.

1847 – Eyewitness report on The Great Hunger by James Mahoney in The Illustrated London News.

1848 – John Mitchel publishes first United Irishmen.

1920 – The Cork IRA members commanded by Tom Hales and Sean Hales attacked four RIC barracks in West Cork, but the attacks were unsuccessful.

1922 – Sectarian riots erupt in Belfast over a three-day period causing the deaths of at least 30 people. 1922 was an especially violent year in the capital of the new Northern Ireland. An estimated 200 people died in a cycle of violence between February and June. The Belfast Telegraph provides excellent photo library of 1922 riots.

1923 – Birth in Castledawson, Co Derry of James Chichester-Clark, Northern Ireland Prime Minister from 1969 to 1971.

1930 – The first Free State Censorship Board is appointed.

1930 – Birth of hurler, John Doyle, Holycross, Co Tipperary. He played as a left corner-back for the Tipperary senior team. He won eight All-Ireland medals, ten Munster medals and ten National Hurling League medals. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game and is one of only a handful of players to have won All-Ireland medals in three separate decades.

1945 – Jimmy Keaveney, Dublin Gaelic footballer, is born in Dublin.

1949 – Fergus Slattery, rugby player, is born in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

1973 – Birth of songwriter, musician, record producer, vocal artist and broadcaster, Jack Lukeman (born Seán Loughman), usually simply known as Jack L, is born in Athy, Co Kildare.

1974 – The IRA exploded a bomb at the National Defence College at Latimer, Buckinghamshire, England. The bomb (estimated at 20 lbs) injured 10 people but there were no deaths.

1976 – Frank Stagg, a member of the IRA, died after 61 days on hunger strike in Wakefield Prison, Yorkshire, England. Stagg had been on hunger strike in protest at the British government’s refusal to transfer him to a prison in Ireland.

1976 – Birth of singer/songwriter, Mundy (born Edmund Enright), in Birr, Co Offaly. He is one of a number of artists to successfully make the transition from street busking in Dublin to international stardom during the ’90s.

1981 – Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), was suspended from the House of Commons when he repeatedly called Humphrey Atkins, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, a liar.

1981 – Birth of singer, songwriter, and musician, Lisa Hannigan, in Co Meath. She began her musical career as a member of Damien Rice’s band. Since beginning her solo career in 2007 she has released three albums: Sea Sew (2008), Passenger (2011), and At Swim (2016). Hannigan’s music has received award nominations both in Ireland and the USA.

1987 – A 400,000 signature petition was delivered to Buckingham Palace by Unionist Members of Parliament (MPs). The petition was in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

1989 – Patrick Finucane is murdered by Unionist assassins. Finucane, who acted as solicitor for republican hunger striker Bobby Sands was shot dead at his north Belfast home in front of his wife and children.

1998 – The IRA insists that their ceasefire is still in place — despite ‘speculation surrounding recent killings in Belfast’.

1998 – It is confirmed that Ireland has one of Europe’s top economies and our ability to compete globally outstrips Germany and France.

1999 – President Mary McAleese says Pope John Paul has told her, in their private meeting at the Vatican, he is considering a return visit to Ireland.

1999 – Literary legend John B. Keane discloses that he is back writing again after a four-year break due to illness.

1999 – A new political storm rages after Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams predicts that the North would be moving toward a united Ireland in 15 years time.

2002 – The High Court in Belfast heard an appeal by lawyers representing the Bloody Sunday Inquiry for the court to postpone a court action brought (on 11 February 2002) by the families of those killed. The action surrounded the Inquiry’s decision to allow police witnesses to give evidence from behind screens. The action was allowed to proceed and the Inquiry’s appeal was dismissed. On Wednesday 13 February 2002 the judge announced he would make a final decision on the families’ action during the following week.

2002 – The Lawyers Committee for Human Rights, a group based in the United States, published a report into the death of Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane, killed on 12 February 1989. The report was entitled: ‘Beyond Collusion: The UK Security Forces and the Murder of Pat Finucane’. The report repeated earlier allegations of collusion between security forces and Loyalist paramilitary groups and also claimed to have found new evidence to support the claims.

2002 – Health Minister Micheál Martin vows to press ahead with further restrictions on smoking in pubs, despite opposition from publicans.

2002 – Two Dublin film companies are nominated for Oscars in the Best Animated Short Film category and Donegal singer/songwriter Enya is nominated for best song with May It Be, from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

2003 – Irish musicians in hope that their plea to stop US military aircraft refuelling at Shannon would strike the right chord with the Government. More than 50 top acts signed an open letter which was sent to the Taoiseach asking him to end the refuelling stopover at the airport.

2003 – Mystery surrounds the identity of an artist as 24 of his paintings are launched at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). Known only as ‘John the Painter’, he had been in psychiatric care in Cork city for more than 30 years.

2003 – Talks between the Taoiseach, the British Prime Minister and Northern politicians conclude in Hillsborough Castle, Co Down.

2009 – The famous Abbey Theatre turned down an early play of his under his real name of John Byrne, featuring a character named Hughie Leonard. As a joke or otherwise his next play, ‘The Big Birthday,’ was submitted by ‘Hugh Leonard.’ Thus was the name born. Just to confuse things further, he was known to his friends as ‘Jack.’ His most famous plays are ‘Da and A Life.’ Leonard was a fine raconteur but also a notoriously prickly character who took easy offense. Some of his own biting wit ranks with the best of acerbic Irish authors including labelling theater critic Michael Ross of the Sunday Times as a ‘diarrhoeal horse’s backside’!

2012 – Death of Irish actor David Kelly, who played everything from Beckett to Shakespeare but is best known for his roles in light comedy works. Kelly was known to Irish audiences for his role as Rashers Tierney in Strumpet City, to British audiences for his roles as Cousin Enda in Me Mammy and as the builder Mr. O’Reilly in Fawlty Towers, and to American audiences for his role as Grandpa Joe in the film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Another notable role was as Michael O’Sullivan in Waking Ned.

Photo: Malahide Castle, Co Dublin, Stair na hÉireann Photography

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