#OTD in Irish History – 5 April:

456 – St Patrick returns to Ireland as a missionary bishop.

584 – Death of St Ruadhan (Ruadán), one of the twelve ‘Apostles of Erin’. He died at the monastery of Lorrha, Co Tipperary.

1605 – Death of Adam Loftus. He was Archbishop of Armagh, and later Dublin, and Lord Chancellor of Ireland from 1581. He was also the first provost of Trinity College, Dublin.

1806 – William Dool Killen, ecclesiastical historian, is born in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

1818 – Bernardo O’Higgins defeats the Spanish at the battle of Maipo River, Chile.

1852 – Dublin and the Belfast Junction Railway was incorporated in 1845 and opened its line in stages between 1849 and 1853. The railway line from Dublin to Belfast was completed on this date.

1855 – The Dublin-Belfast railway line is completed.

1862 – Guinness formally adopts the harp as its symbol.

1869 – Birth in Dublin of Margaret Tennant, née Abraham; trade unionist and campaigner for improved working conditions.

1900 – Spencer Tracy, the son of an Irish father, is born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

1916 – Actor Gregory Peck is born in La Jolla, California. Through his Irish-born paternal grandmother Catherine Ashe, Peck was related to Thomas Ashe, who took part in the Easter Rising fewer than three weeks after Peck’s birth and died while on hunger strike in 1917.

1916 – Pádraig Pearse denies rumours of a possible rising to Volunteer Chief of Staff Eoin MacNeill.

1919 – Irish representatives establish an “embassy” in Paris under the “Ambassadorship” of future President Sean T. O’Kelly. Although, the embassy did not achieve international recognition, it was another strong signal of the intent of the Irish independence movement.

1920 – IRA prisoners starts a hunger strike in Mountjoy Jail demanding prisoner of war status.

1922 – The Northern Ireland Government formally takes over control of the special constabulary and policing in the six counties. For the next eighty years, the Royal Ulster Constabulary would be almost exclusively a non-Catholic police force, often involved in sectarian discrimination and often subject to murderous attacks by various Republican elements. Between 1969-99, the R.U.C. would lose three hundred officers to violence.

1923 – Senior Republican leaders Tom Derrig and Moss Twomey are captured by Free State troops on Raglan Road, in Ballsbridge, Dublin.

1936 – Birth of John Kelly (Seán Ó Ceallaigh), Irish republican militant and politician born in Belfast. He joined the IRA in the 1950s, and was a founder member and a leader of the Provisional Irish Republican Army in the early 1970s.

1938 – Bill Attley, trade unionist, is born in Rathcoole, Co Dublin.

1944 – As part of an ongoing cold war, the British government ceases telephone service to Ireland and ends the distribution of newspapers there. Britain was concerned about leakage of military information to the neutral Ireland which still allowed Nazi Germany an embassy in Ireland.

1948 – Birth of drummer, Les Binks in Portadown, Co Armagh. He is a heavy metal drummer, who is most notable for having been the drummer for Judas Priest.

1975 – L’escargot, ridden by Tommy Carberry, won the Aintree Grand National.

1975 – Two Catholic civilians (Kevin Kane and Michael Coyle) were killed in a bomb attack at McLaughlin’s Bar in the New Lodge area of Belfast. The attack was claimed by the Protestant Action Force (PAF) a covername used by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

1981 – During the census Sinn Féin campaigned for non completion of the census forms as a demonstration of support for the hunger strike. As a result in many Republican areas the census enumerators were unable to collect completed forms. Indeed one enumerator was shot dead in Derry by Republican paramilitaries on 7 April 1981. This led to a large under representation of Catholics in the published figures. The population of Northern Ireland was recorded as 1,481,959 with 28 per cent giving their religion as Catholic; 18.5 per cent of the population had refused to state their religion. Later estimates of the true Catholic population put the figure at 38.5 per cent.

1982 – The British government published its White Paper, ‘Northern Ireland: A Framework for Devolution‘ (Cmnd 8541). The paper set out proposals for the establishment of an elected 78 member Assembly at Stormont. The Assembly would then be asked to reach agreement on how any powers devolved to it from Westminster would be administered. The proposals indicated that it would need the agreement of 70 per cent of Assembly members before powers would be devolved.

1985 – The British government said that it would not provide the funding to save the ‘town gas’ industry in Northern Ireland.

1998 – All sides in the Northern peace talks talk up the chances of a new peace agreement as Stormont sources reveal that both Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair will fly to Belfast for the final hours of talks on Thursday.

1998 – Cannabis worth £2 million is seized during a dramatic early morning raid by members of the National Drugs Unit (NDU) in Ashbourne, Co Meath.

1999 – More than 300 Co Waterford people armed with gloves and plastic bags brave a driving mist and head for the hills for the annual Clean up the Comeraghs campaign.

1999 – The first major event of the Loyalist marching season a controversial Apprentice Boys parade along the predominantly Nationalist Ormeau Road in Belfast – passes off peacefully.

2000 – Debbie Walsh and Jennifer McCarthy are shown at the opening of ‘the father of the modern-day submarine’ exhibition in Cobh heritage centre. This year is the 100th anniversary of the commissioning of the first US submarine invented by John Phillip Holland from Liscannor, Co Clare.

2000 – Marine Minister, Frank Fahey, announces new moves to protect Irish fishing vessels from harassment outside the 12 mile limit.

2001 – Gardaí attempt to trace the origin of a herd of Friesian cattle found roaming without ear tags on a roadside at Rosadrehid in the Glen of Aherlow, Co Tipperary.

2002 – Forty-four young police graduates march their way into the North’s history books as they become the first fully-fledged members of the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI).

2003 – Attended by the entire cast of Fair City, the popular RTÉ television soap in which she starred for 11 years, the funeral of veteran actress Pat Leavy takes place at the Church of the Holy Spirit in Ballyroan, south Dublin.

2011 – Filmmaker and lecturer Barry Dignam and his partner of 17 years, Hugh Walsh become the first gay couple in Irish history to enter into a civil partnership. The event takes place at the Registry Office in Dublin city centre.

2012 – Death of Bernard Noël “Banjo Barney” McKenna. He was a musician and a much-loved founding member of The Dubliners. He played the tenor banjo, mandolin, and melodeon. He was most renowned as a banjo player.

Photo: An Trá Bhán (Silver Strand), Malin Beg, Co Donegal, Gareth Wray Photography


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