#OTD in Irish History – 15 April:

1642 – Irish Confederate Wars: A Confederate Irish militia was routed in the Battle of Kilrush when it attempted to halt the progress of a Parliamentarian army. Though outnumbered, Ormonde managed to defeat the rebels and marched on to Dublin by 17 April.

1642 – A Scottish army under Robert Munroe landed at Carrickfergus.

1707 – Birth of Sir Henry Cavendish, MP and incompetent Teller of the Exchequer who left chaos in his wake.

1784 – First unmanned balloon was launched by engineer, Richard Crosbie, in Dublin.

1840 – The Repeal Association was founded by Daniel O’Connell.

1848 – The tricolour national flag of Ireland was presented to the public for the first time by Thomas Francis Meagher and the Young Ireland Party, in Dublin.

1864 – The first Dublin Horse Show was held.

1882 – Birth of painter, Mary Swanzy, in Dublin. She was tutored by the artist, John Butler Yeats, the father of Nobel Prize winning writer William Butler Yeats.

1908 – Birth of poet, Denis Devlin in Greenock, Scotland. Born of Irish parents, his family returned to live in Dublin in 1918. He was, along with Samuel Beckett and Brian Coffey, one of the generation of Irish modernist poets to emerge at the end of the 1920s. He was also a career diplomat.

1912 – The Titanic sank on her maiden voyage with the loss of 1,513 souls, many of them Irish; 732 would survive.

1912 – Death of Thomas Andrews, Jr. Born in Comber, Co Down, he was a businessman, shipbuilder, managing director and head of the drafting department of the shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff in Belfast. As the naval architect in charge of the plans for the ocean liner RMS Titanic, he was travelling on board the vessel during her maiden voyage when the ship hit an iceberg, he died in the disaster.

1919 – 15-19: The ‘Limerick Soviet’, was a general strike called by the Limerick Trades and Labour Council, as a protest against the declaration of a ‘Special Military Area’ under the Defence of the Realm Act. This covered of most of Limerick city and a part of the County. Special permits were to be issued by the Royal Irish Constabulary, and would have been required to enter the city. The response was a general strike and boycott of the troops. A special Strike Committee was set up to print money, control food prices and publish newspapers. However, by 27 April 1919 the Strike Committee issued a proclamation that the strike was at an end.

1921 – Major McKinnon, an Auxiliary officer, was shot dead by the IRA at Tralee golf course, Co Kerry.

1923 – A fire-fight between an Anti-Treaty IRA column and Free State troops took place at Glenvar, Co Kerry. The Free State claimed that nine Republicans were killed in the action.

1931 – Birth of Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Northern Ireland public servant.

1936 – Aer Lingus (Aer Loingeas) was founded by the Irish government as the national airline of the Republic of Ireland.

1941 – 15/16: In the Belfast Blitz, two-hundred bombers of the German Luftwaffe attacked Belfast, killing one thousand people. Around 56,000 homes were damaged or destroyed. The Luftwaffe first targeted the city’s waterworks. Some thought that the reflection off the reservoir had fooled the pilots into thinking that they were near the docks. In fact, the waterworks had been deliberately targeted. Fire crews found that their hoses were of little use in the inferno because the water pressure was very low.

1945 – Birth of uilleann piper and Irish traditional musician, Liam O’Flynn. Born in Kill, Co Kildare, in addition to a solo career and his work with the group Planxty, O’Flynn recorded with many international musical artists, including Christy Moore, Dónal Lunny, Andy Irvine, Kate Bush, Mark Knopfler, the Everly Brothers, Emmylou Harris, Mike Oldfield, Mary Black, Enya and Sinéad O’Connor. O’Flynn died on 14 March 2018 after a long illness.

1951 – Birth of GAA footballer, John O’Keeffe in Tralee, Co Kerry. He played with the local Austin Stacks Gaelic sports club and was a member of the Kerry senior inter-county team from 1969 until 1984. He was a highly talented midfielder, and one of the most stylish and accomplished full-backs in GAA football history. He later became the Irish international rules team manager.

1968 – Birth of rock guitarist Ed O’Brien, grandson of a Tipperary emigrant. He is best known as a guitarist and backing vocalist of the alternative rock band Radiohead, with whom he has recorded eight studio albums.

1972 – Joe McCann, a prominent member of the Official IRA, was shot dead by British soldiers at Joy Street in the Markets area of Belfast close to his home. McCann was unarmed at the time. His funeral was one of the largest Republican funerals to be held in Belfast. Following McCann’s death a number of people were killed during disturbances in Belfast and Derry. The Official IRA carried out a number of attacks on the British Army and killed two soldiers in Derry. On 29 January 2013 a Historical Enquires Team report found that the British soldiers were not justified in shooting McCann.

1974 – The 78th Boston Marathon was won by Neil Cusack of Co Limerick in 2:13:39. He is the first Irishman to win this race.

1980 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Humphrey Atkins, travelled to Dublin for talks with Taoiseach Charles Haughey and members of the Irish government.

1985 – District Council elections were held across Northern Ireland. When the votes were counted and seats allocated Sinn Féin had secured 11.8 per cent of the vote and 59 seats in its first local government election in Northern Ireland.

1989 – Hillsborough disaster: A human crush occurred at Hillsborough Stadium, home of football club Sheffield, resulting in the deaths of 96 Liverpool F.C. fans.

1998 – Englishman Mark Robins was awarded £3,000 after winning the first racial abuse case to be heard in Belfast. Robins had only one eye and was repeatedly subjected to abuse by his colleagues, in relation to his disability and his native English origin.

1990 – Gerry Adams, the President of Sinn Féin, addressed an Easter Rising commemoration and stated that the ‘struggle’ in Northern Ireland would continue as long as there was a British presence in Ireland.

2000 – The generosity of two Londoners, Alice and Charles Armstrong, turned a dream into reality as a new state-of-the-art lifeboat was handed over to the RNLI. The craft was named Alice and Charles after its benefactors.

2001 – Security on the border was tightened after a third case of foot-and-mouth was confirmed in Cushendall, Co Antrim.

2001 – Hundreds of people greeted the relics of St Therese of Lisieux at Rosslare for the start of a 75 day tour of the country.

2003 – The peace process remained deadlocked as Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair continued to press the IRA for more clarity about its intentions.

Photo: Mellifont Abbey, Drogheda, Co Louth, © Stair na hÉireann

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