#OTD in Irish History – 12 June:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast day of St. Christian O’Morgair, brother of St. Malachy, and Bishop of Clogher.

1731 – The Revenue Commissioners report the robbery of the Golden Lyon’s cargo at Ballyheige. One of the robbers is caught and turns king’s evidence; the Danish Asiatic Company offers a reward of 10 per cent of the value of the cargo for its recovery. The robbery allegedly took place on 4 June.

1741 – At the Athy by-election following the death of Sir Walter Dixon Borrowes on 12 June, Lord Ophaly (later 1st Duke of Leinster) is returned. In the course of the election there has been a duel between William Paul Warren and Jack Hardy, which leads to Hardy’s right hand and arm being shattered; it is thought that it would have to be amputated.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Battle of Ballynahinch.

1889 – The Armagh Rail Disaster: A crowded Sunday school excursion train had to negotiate a steep incline, the steam locomotive was unable to complete the climb and the train stalled. The train crew decided to divide the train and take forward the front portion, leaving the rear portion on the running line. The rear portion had inadequate brake power and ran back down the gradient, colliding with a following train. At the time it was the worst rail disaster in Europe. Seventy-eight people were killed and 260 injured, most of them children.

1910 – Birth of playwright and author, Bill Naughton. Born in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo, he is best known for his play Alfie.

1916 – The Ulster Unionist Council agrees to the immediate implementation of Home Rule if six Ulster counties are temporarily excluded.

1920 – One RIC policeman was killed and one wounded in an IRA ambush at Clonee Wood, Co Cork.

1921 – Three RIC men were shot by the IRA on the Falls Road in Belfast. One of them died. Uniformed RIC/Black and Tans including DI Nixon arrested and murdered three innocent Catholic men in north Belfast. Over the following two days, loyalist gunmen killed 6 more Catholics and the IRA assassinated three Protestants in the city.

1922 – In Windsor Castle, King George V receives the colours of the six Irish regiments that are to be disbanded – the Royal Irish Regiment, the Connaught Rangers, the South Irish Horse, the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment, the Royal Munster Fusiliers and the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.

1924 – Kevin O’Kelly, journalist and broadcaster, is born.

1945 – Birth in Newry, Co Down of Pat Jennings, goalkeeper with Newry Town, Watford, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal and Northern Ireland.

1954 – The IRA makes an audacious raid on Gough military barracks in Armagh; it marks the re-awakening of IRA activity in Northern Ireland and a re-arming that leads eventually to the 1956-62 campaign.

1960 – Because of graphic sexual content and frank treatment of women’s attitudes toward sexuality, Edna O’Brien’s first novel, The Country Girls is banned in Ireland; six of her subsequent works meet the same fate.

1961 – Dublin goes mad as Princess Grace of Monaco and husband Prince Ranier visit Ireland on a state visit. As many as 30,000 people turned out to catch a glimpse of the fairytale princess.

1963 – Death of Admiral of the Fleet Andrew Browne Cunningham, 1st Viscount Cunningham of Hyndhope who was born in Rathmines, Dublin in 1883. Cunningham commanded a destroyer during WWI and was Commander-in-Chief, Mediterranean Fleet during WWII playing major roles in the invasion of Africa and Sicily. His importance to the Allied cause is evidenced by his attendance at the Yalta and Potsdam conferences with Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin.

1964 – Birth of former race car driver, Derek Higgins, in Dublin. He was a two-time winner of the Mexican Formula 3 championship in 1995 and 1997 before moving to the American Indy Lights series in 1998. After two successful seasons where he racked up four wins and finished 5th and 7th in series points, he completed his Indy Racing League rookie test at Walt Disney World Speedway with McCormack Motorsports, expecting to find a ride in the series. However, he was unable sign a deal with a team and returned to Indy Lights for a partial season in 2000 and a complete season in 2001, the series’ last.

1972 – Release of the single in the US, ‘The Luck Of The Irish’. It was one of two songs on ‘Some Time In New York City’ written in support of the republican movement in Northern Ireland, a cause which John Lennon felt affinity with in the early 1970s. It was released in the UK on 15 September 1972.

1973 – Coleraine bombings: Six Protestant pensioners (Dinah Campbell, Francis Campbell, Elizabeth Craigmile, Nan Davis, Elizabeth Palmer and Robert Scott) were killed and 33 other people wounded by a PIRA car bomb on Railway Road, Coleraine, Co Derry. The warning given before the explosion had been inadequate.

1981 – The British government published proposals to change the Representation of the People Act making it impossible for prisoners to stand as candidates for election to parliament.

1988 – At the European Cup in Stuttgart, Ireland beats England in its first ever international football final.

1991 – Mayor of New York City, David Dinkins, signed a law which would stop companies in New York City from doing business with Northern Ireland firms that did not comply with the MacBride principles. http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/links/macbride.html

1997 – The main two morning newspapers in Northern Ireland, the Newsletter which is mainly read by unionists and the Irish News which is mainly read by nationalists, joined together to publish a joint editorial on their front pages. The editorial called for an agreement on the Drumcree parade scheduled for Sunday 6 July 1997. The suggestion by the two papers was that the Garvaghy Road residents would allow the 1997 parade to proceed while the Orange Order would agree to reroute the 1998 parade away from the Garvaghy Road. This proposal was eventually rejected. A public meeting of the Parades Commission in Portadown, County Armagh, was disrupted by hecklers

1998 – Thousands of people from all over the country take over the celebrated ‘Fields of Athenry’ in Co Galway for one of the country’s premier rural events, Tomorrow’s Farm and Rural Enterprise, organised by Teagasc and sponsored by FBD; it is the biggest event ever held in the west and is geared to help farmers and rural dwellers confront the challenges of the next decade.

1999 – In the Republic of Ireland Sinn Féin made significant gains in the local elections. The party increased its vote from 2.1 per cent in the 1991 local elections to 3.5 per cent and trebled the level of its representation to 21 seats.

1999 – Tuam, Co Galway celebrates its first triple ordination since the early 1980s at the Cathedral of the Assumption.

2000 – Deputy First Minister Séamus Mallon welcomes the Prince of Wales to Armagh; Prince Charles is in the north to officially open the Armagh Theatre and Arts Centre in Market Square.

2003 – Senator Enda Kenny is chosen as Fine Gael’s first spokesman on Dublin; the appointment comes on foot of an internal party report which highlights the lack of any government figure tasked with looking after Dublin’s interests.

2003 – Legendary Oscar-winning actor, Gregory Peck, passes away at his home in Los Angeles.

2003 – Taiwanese athletes are cleared to take part in the Special Olympics despite the country’s ongoing SARS-infected status.

2009 – Blarney Stone voted ‘most unhygienic tourist attraction in the world’.

Photo: Dún an Óir Castle, Oileán Chléire (Cape Clear Island), Co Cork

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