Beltane, Lá Bealtaine, the first day of Summer in modern Ireland was celebrated by the Celts, and is now also celebrated by Neopagans and Wiccans.
1169 – A small party of Normans arrive on the southern coast of Co Wexford and established a bridgehead for further invasions.
1171 – Diarmaid MacMurrough, king of Leinster, died in Ferns, Co Wexford. Strongbow was his (disputed) successor (MacMurrough’s remaining legitimate son, Connor, was executed while a hostage of Rory O’Connor).
1316 – Records indicate that around this date, Edward Bruce crowned himself king of Ireland near Dundalk.
1650 – Birth of theologian and Williamite, William King, archbishop, in Antrim.
1654 – Transplantable landowners were ordered to move to Connacht by this date; this deadline was then put back to 1 March 1655.
1672 – Birth of Joseph Addison, poet and dramatist; Chief Secretary to Lord Lieutenant Wharton 1708-10; MP for Cavan Borough 1709-13.
1697 – The Bishops’ Banishment Act passed on 25 September 1696, required most Catholic clergy to leave the kingdom by this date, and banned Catholic clergy from entering it – the Act would never be efficiently enforced.
1751 – Birth of Archibald Hamilton Rowan, christened Archibald Hamilton, an Irish celebrity and founding member of The Dublin Society of United Irishmen. He was the son of Gawen Hamilton (1729-1805) of Killyleagh Castle, Co Down and Lady Jane Rowan Hamilton.
1769 – Birth of Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, an Anglo-Irish soldier and statesman, and one of the leading military and political figures of the 19th century. He is often referred to as simply “The Duke of Wellington”, even after his death, when there have been subsequent Dukes of Wellington.
1780 – Birth of teacher and diarist, Amhlaoibh Ó Súilleabháin, in Killarney, Co Kerry.
1794 – Catholics were enabled by law to attend Trinity College.
1786 – The Belfast Academy is opened; it becomes the Belfast Royal Academy in 1887.
1803 – Birth of poet, James Clarence Mangan, in Dublin. A prolific and uneven writer of almost every kind of verse whose best work, inspired by love of Ireland, ranks high in Irish poetry.
1823 – Oliver Harty, Baron de Pierrebourg, of Co Limerick, Lieutenant-General in Napoleon’s army, retired.
1854 – Birth of songwriter, entertainer and painter, Percy French, in Cloonyquin, Co Roscommon. One of his many famous songs is ‘The Mountains of Mourne’.
1858 – Birth of activist, feminist, politician and businesswoman, Jennie Wyse Power, in Baltinglass.
1885 – Birth of Michael Staines in Kiltarnaght near Newport, Co Mayo. He was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and served as Quartermaster General in the GPO during the 1916 Easter Rising.
1887 – Birth of Alan Cunningham in Dublin. He was a senior officer of the British Army noted for his victories over Italian forces in the East African Campaign during the Second World War. Later he served as the seventh and last High Commissioner of Palestine.
1915 – RMS Lusitania departs New York City on her two hundred and second and final crossing of the North Atlantic. Six days later, the ship was torpedoed off the coast of Ireland with the loss of 1,198 lives, including 128 Americans, rousing American sentiment against Germany.
1916 – Easter Rising: Pádraig Pearse’s Letter to his Mother.
1919 – Birth of Dan O’Herlihy, actor; film credits include Robinson Crusoe, Fail Safe, Last Starfighter, Robocop.
1921 – An abortive IRA ambush at Islandeady, Co Mayo led to the death of two volunteers.
1923 – 12,000 Republicans had been interned by the Free State up to this point.
1923 – A major Free State sweep in Co Cork takes the last rural areas held by the republicans in the county at Ballyvourney and Ballymakeera. Historian Peter Hart puts the casualties for the civil war in the county at 180 killed and 295 wounded. Of the dead, 70 are National Army, 51 are Anti-Treaty IRA, 28 are civilians and the status of 30 is undetermined.
1943 – Birth of Fianna Fáil politician, Joseph ‘Joe’ Walsh, in Ballineen, Co Cork. He was a Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South–West and was first elected as a TD at the 1977 general election. He lost his seat in 1981 but regained it again in 1982 and served as a TD until retiring at the 2007 general election. He served as Minister for Agriculture and Food on two occasions (1992–1994 and 1997–2004).
1975 – A general election is held to a constitutional convention on Northern Ireland.
1984 – Death of Séan nos singer, Joe Heaney.
1992 – The attack on Cloghoge checkpoint was an unconventional bomb attack carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) against a British Army permanent vehicle checkpoint. The IRA’s South Armagh Brigade fitted a van with wheels that allowed it to move along a railway line. A large bomb was placed inside the van, which was then driven along the railway line to the target. The compound, just north of the village of Cloghoge in Co Armagh, was wrecked by the explosion.
1998 – Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, urged Gerry Adams, to get the IRA to accept that there would have to be arms decommissioning if progress in implementing the Good Friday agreement was to be made.
2000 – Nobel Laureate and SDLP leader John Hume was awarded the freedom of Derry at a reception in the city’s Guildhall.
2001 – Limerick was tops for pub grub after one of the city’s trendiest bars picked up the coveted Club Orange/Licensing World Pub Lunch award. In a business worth an estimated £1 million a day, the Thomas Street premises, Auburs, beat off stiff competition from 11 monthly winners to become Ireland’s leading purveyor of pub lunches.
2003 – The month of April goes into the record books as one of the warmest for the past 100 years. At Valentia Observatory and Malin Head the temperatures recorded for the month were the highest since 1893.
2011 – Pope John Paul II iss beatified by his successor, Pope Benedict XVI.
Photo: Galtymore Summit, Galtymore Mountain, on the border between counties Limerick and Tipperary.
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