#OTD in Irish History – 18 May:

1401 – John de Stanley is told that he is to be replaced as lieutenant by Thomas of Lancaster (duke of Clarence and second son of Henry IV), who is 12 or 13 years old. Lancaster’s deputy, Sir Stephen le Scrope, will effectively govern Ireland for the next few years.

1613 – James I’s Irish parliament opens in Dublin.

1798 – The 2nd Earl of Kingston is tried amid great pomp by the Irish House of Lords for the murder of Colonel Henry FitzGerald. An executioner stands beside Kingston with an immense axe, painted black except for two inches of polished steel, and held at the level of the defendant’s neck. However, no witnesses appear for the prosecution, and Kingston is acquitted. The Directory of the United Irishmen had planned to use the occasion to kill the entire government and all the lords, but one vote cast against this scheme (by the informer Francis Magan) causes it to be abandoned.

1825 – The House of Lords rejects the Catholic Emancipation Bill which would disenfranchise Irish forty-shilling free-holders and put clergy on state salaries.

1873 – Birth of actor, producer and playwright, James Fagan, in Belfast.

1896 – The City and Suburban Ground now known as Croke Park, hosts a soccer match for the first time. The teams are a combination of Irish and Scots women versus England. The combined team beats England 3-2.

1897 – Oscar Wilde is released from prison and goes to live in France, where he writes his famous poem, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”.

1897 – The first Irish Music Festival is held in Dublin.

1922 – The IRA in Belfast attacked Musgrave street RIC barracks. Two RIC men were shot, one fatally a number of IRA volunteers were also wounded. The IRA team, 20 strong under Roger McCorley, got away with some weaponry.

1922 – Loyalists boarded a tram in central Belfast and killed three workers whom they identified as Catholics.

1928 – Death of writer Standish O’Grady on the Isle of Wight. Under the influence of John O’Donovan, he studies the Old Irish myths and legends, and his works, which influence the Irish literary revival of the 1890’s, popularise the Irish sagas.

1939 – The first aircraft lands at the newly opened Rineanna Airfield which is later to become Shannon International Airport.

1947 – Former Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader, John Bruton, is born in Dunboyne, Co Meath. Bruton served as Taoiseach from 1994 to 1997. A minister under two Taoiseachs, Liam Cosgrave and Garret FitzGerald, Bruton held a number of the top posts, including Minister for Finance (1981–1982 and 1986–1987), and Minister for Industry, Trade, Commerce and Tourism (1983–1986). He became leader of Fine Gael in 1990 and served as Taoiseach from 1994 until 1997, leading the Rainbow Coalition government of Fine Gael–Labour Party–Democratic Left. Bruton receives annual pension payments of €141,849. In September 2014, on the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Home Rule Bill, Bruton said the 1916 Easter Rising was a mistake and an unjust war.

1949 – Birth in Co Mayo of Pat Rabbit, leader of the Labour Party.

1981 – Birth of stage, television and film actor, Allen Leech in Killiney, Co Dublin. Best known for his role as chauffeur-turned-son-in-law Tom Branson on Downton Abbey. Leech made his professional acting debut with a small part in a 1998 production of A Streetcar Named Desire. He made his first major film appearance as Vincent Cusack in Cowboys & Angels and earned an Irish Film and Television Awards nomination in 2004 with his performance as Mo Chara in Man About Dog. Leech came to international attention as Marcus Agrippa on the HBO historical drama Rome.

1983 – In Ireland, scene of remarkable pirate radio broadcasting during the decade, the Government launched a crackdown, with the leading Dublin pirate Radio Nova being put off the air.

1999 – The Church of Ireland’s annual synod calls on the authorities at Drumcree to conditionally withdraw a long-standing invitation to the Orangemen to use their church ahead of the order’s controversial annual march through nationalist parts of Portadown.

2000 – Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble decides to accept the IRA’s offer to put arms beyond use and backs a return to the Stormont Executive with Sinn Féin.

2001 – Gardenia St. George, an early 20th-century portrait by William Orpen, becomes the most expensive Irish painting of all time when it sells at Sothebys for the hammer price of £2.29 million.

2001 – Death of Seán Mac Stíofáin, an Irish republican and first chief of staff of the Provisional IRA.

2004 – Clare O’Leary becomes the first Irishwoman to successfully climb Mount Everest. She is accompanied by veteran mountaineer Pat Falvey who also sets a record by becoming the first Irishman to climb Everest from both sides.

2006 – Michael O’Riordan dies in Dublin. A key figure in the Irish Communist Party, Mr O’Riordan was one of just two surviving Irish veterans of the Spanish Civil War. He was shot in Spain while with the ‘Connolly Column’, named after socialist leader James Connolly, which fought against General Franco’s fascists from 1936-39.

2011 – The Aviva Stadium is located in Dublin, with a capacity for 51,700 spectators (all seated). It is built on the site of the former Lansdowne Road stadium, which was demolished in 2007, and replacing it as home to its chief tenants: the Irish rugby team and the Republic of Ireland football team. The stadium is Ireland’s first, and only, UEFA Elite Stadium and in 2011, and on this date, it hosted the Europa League Final. Both teams contesting the final came from Portugal, with Porto beating Braga 1-0 and Colombian forward Rademel Falcao scoring the winning goal.

2012 – Facebook, Inc. began selling stock to the public and trading on the NASDAQ.

Photo: “The Golden Vale”, taken from the Devils Bit, Co Tipperary, photo credit: Robert Wade

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