#OTD in Irish History – 9 April:

1346 – Death of Ralph de Ufford, justiciar.

1793 – The Relief Act grants Catholics parliamentary franchise and certain civil and military rights.

1807 – After resigning as Commissioner of the Treasury (UK) over the issue of Catholic relief, Maurice FitzGerald, MP for Co Kerry states on this date that their war effort alone merits concessions to Irish Catholics.

1837 – Birth of surgeon, Edward Hallaran Bennett, in Cork.

1916 – The merchant ship SS Libau left the German port of Lübeck disguised as the Norwegian ship of similar appearance, the SS Aud, for Ireland that were to be collected by Roger Casement with arms for the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Libau/Aud, laden with an estimated 20,000 rifles, 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition, 10 machine guns, and explosives (under a camouflage of a timber cargo), evaded patrols of both the British 10th Cruiser Squadron and local Auxiliary patrols.

1917 – Birth of legendary racehorse trainer, Vincent O’Brien, in Co Cork.

1921 – Death of archbishop and nationalist, Dr. William Walsh.

1921 – An abortive IRA ambush took place in Mullinglown, Co Carlow – no casualties resulted but several IRA volunteers were arrested.

1922 – The anti-Treaty IRA members reconvened to put into effect their motion from 26 March when it stated the IRA would be the legitimate army of the Irish Republic, which was in defiance of the Dáil Éireann vote.

1923 – Anti-Treaty fighters crossed the Corrib in boats from Oughterard and attacked the Free State Army barracks at Headford, Co Galway. They detonated a mine against the wall of the barracks and opened fire. The gun battle continued until Free State reinforcements arrived and the irregulars withdrew. The Free State troops had casualties and five wounded. Two republicans were killed and more wounded. More Anti-Treaty men were captured in the aftermath of the attack.

1926 – Birth of politician, Lord Gerry Fitt, in Belfast.

1949 – Birth of actress, Sorcha Cusack in Dublin. She has made many film and television appearances including The Bill, Casualty (as Staff Nurse Kate Wilson from 1994 to 1997), the 1973 BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre and the worldwide hit movie Snatch as the traveller mother of Mickey played by Brad Pitt.

1961 – A census on this date shows the population of the Republic to be 2,818,341 and that of Northern Ireland is 1,425,642.

1961 – Birth of rock keyboard musician, Mark Kelly, in Dublin.

1971 – Birth of Irish footballer and manager, Peter Canavan in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone. He played inter-county football for Tyrone, and is one of the most decorated players in the game’s history, winning two All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medals, six All Stars Awards (more than any other Ulster player, and joint third overall), four provincial titles, and two National Leagues and several under-age and club championship medals.

1981 – Bobby Sands was elected to Westminster in the Fermanagh/South Tyrone by-election, while on hunger strike in Long Kesh Prison, as MP for the constituency. After a highly polarised campaign, Sands narrowly won the seat with 30,493 votes to 29,046 for the Ulster Unionist Party candidate Harry West, incidentally also becoming the youngest MP at the time. Following Sands’ success the British Government introduced the Representation of the People Act 1981, which prevented prisoners serving jail terms of more than one year in either the UK or the Republic of Ireland from being nominated as candidates in UK elections. This law was quickly introduced so in order to prevent the other hunger strikers from being elected to the British parliament.

1984 – Death of Irish revolutionary, Leslie De Barra, (wife of General Tom Barry) in Co Cork.

1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is back in Northern Ireland to resume his bid with Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to save the peace talks.

2000 – Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela, arrived in Ireland to commence a four day private visit. During his visit, he received an honorary degree in law at Trinity.

2001 – Celebrities from the entertainment world turned out in force for the funeral mass of former lead singer with the Capital Showband, Butch Moore, at St Canice’s Church in Finglas.

Photo: Bunowen Castle, Co Galway, Stair na hÉireann

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