#OnThisDate in Irish History – 24 March:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast Day of Saint Mac Cairthinn, also Macartan, a very early generation of saints in Ireland and is recognised as the first Bishop of Clogher. He is known as Saint Patrick’s ‘Strong Man’ for his dedication and faithfulness.

1603 – James VI of Scotland comes to the throne of England, as James I, following the death of Elizabeth I on this date.

1796 – The Insurrection Act imposes curfews, arms searches, and the death penalty for oath-taking.

1829 – Catholic Emancipation: The Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, allowing Catholics to serve in Parliament.

1866 – Birth in Co Cork of light-heavyweight boxing champion, Jack McAuliffe.

1909 – Death in Dublin of John Millington Synge. The plays of Irish peasant life on which his fame rests are written in the last six years of his life. In 1904, Synge, Yeats and Lady Gregory found the famous Abbey Theatre. Two Synge comedies, The Well of the Saints (1905) and The Playboy of the Western World (1907), are presented by the Abbey players. The latter play creates a furor of resentment among Irish patriots stung by Synge’s bitter humour.

1916 – Robert Monteith tells Roger Casement their machine guns arrived on 22 March, however they could not be used until 24 March when written permission was received to use them.

1920 – Tom Crean, seaman and Antarctic explorer from Annascaul, Co Kerry, retired from the Royal Navy, after almost 27 years of service. While serving aboard the Fox, in April 1919, Crean had suffered a serious fall, causing a bad head injury, which would have lasting effects on his eyesight. Almost a year later, whilst serving on the Hecla, Tom Crean was declared medically unfit to serve, because of his defective vision, and the giant Irishman retired on medical grounds.

1921 – A bomb was thrown at a group of soldiers at Westport, Co Mayo. British reprisals took place that night throughout West Mayo.

1922 – McMahon killings: In Belfast, policemen break into the home of a Catholic family and shoot all eight males inside, killing six.

1923 – Anti-Treaty IRA executive meets in Co Tipperary to discuss the war’s future. Tom Barry proposes a motion to end the war, but it is defeated by 6 votes to 5. Éamon de Valera is allowed to attend, after some debate, but is given no voting rights.

1926 – Birth of Desmond Connell in Phibsboro, Co Dublin. He is an Irish cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church. He is a former Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland. He is one of a number of senior clergy to have been heavily criticised for inaction and for making misleading statements in connection with clerical sex abuse in Dublin.

1945 – Birth of actor Patrick Malahide; born Patrick G. Duggan, to Irish parents living in England.

1958 – Birth of architect and mountaineer, Dawson Stelfox, in Belfast. In 1993, he became the first person from Ireland to climb Mount Everest. He is past President and current Board Member of Mountaineering Ireland.

1968 – An Aer Lingus plane, the St Phelim, crashed into the sea near Tuskar Rock, Co Wexford, killing all 61 passengers and crew. Although the investigation into the crash lasted two years, a cause was never determined. There has long been popular speculation that the aircraft was shot down by a British experimental missile.

1970 – Birth of musician, Sharon Corr in Dundalk, Co Louth. Best known as a member of The Corrs, which she co-founded in 1990 with her elder brother Jim and younger sisters Caroline and Andrea.

1972 – Stormont parliament and government were suspended and direct rule from Westminster was introduced; William Whitelaw became Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

1986 – British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, wrote a letter to Unionist leaders in which she rejected a demand for a suspension of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) to allow talks on devolution to begin.

1993 – Sinn Féin member, Peter Gallagher (44), was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), at his place of work on Grosvenor Road, Belfast.

1995 – For the first time in 25 years, Britain halted all routine army patrols in Belfast.

1997 – In Long Kesh Prison, a tunnel was discovered leading from H-Block 7 which housed Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners. The lapse of security drew criticism from many quarters.

1998 – The Prison Service in Northern Ireland confirms that five Loyalist Volunteer Force prisoners are now on hunger strike at Long Kesh prison to protest a security crackdown following the savage murder of loyalist remand prisoner David Keys.

1999 – Anti-blood sports groups call on Minister Silé de Valera to refuse to renew a licence to the country’s last remaining stag hunt.

2000 – Dubliners faced traffic chaos as bus drivers’ dispute threatened to escalate into an all out strike.

2002 – Twenty-one whales were rescued after stranding themselves on a Kerry beach; with the other whales forming a circle around a female whale, rescuers were thrilled to observe her giving birth minutes after being pulled back out to safety.

2003 – Veteran actor Peter O’Toole was awarded an honorary Oscar for a career which has spanned more than 40 years.

2010 – President Mary McAleese paid tribute to fallen Irish at Gallipoli while on a state trip to Turkey in what was seen as the first official recognition of the huge loss of Irish lives in the first World War.

Image | Kilclooney Dolmen, Kilclooney, Narin, Portnoo, Donegal | Gareth Wray Photography

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