#OTD in Irish History – 16 June:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast day of St. Colman McRoi, a sixth-century abbot in Dublin.

Bloomsday is a commemoration and celebration of the life of Irish writer James Joyce during which the events of his novel Ulysses (which is set on 16 June 1904) are relived. It is observed annually on 16 June in Dublin and elsewhere. Joyce chose the date as it was the date of his first outing with his wife-to-be, Nora Barnacle; they walked to the Dublin suburb of Ringsend. The name is derived from Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses.

1721 – The following incident is reported in the state papers: during a trial in the court of King’s Bench, Dublin, on this date, ‘a neighbouring chimney took fire, blew the smoke into the court and gave a panick to all the people who crowded to get out. Many were actually killed on the spot, and many desperately wounded. Among the first Mr John Ormsby, Member of Parliament and a wealthy man of above £1,800 p.ann., was killed. Judge Caulfeild got half in and half out of a window, but could not pass through, lost his wig and at last was forced back. Lord Chief Justice Whitshed kept his place and temper till at last the truth was known’.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: British regulars arrive in Dublin; Rebels march to Tinahely, Co Wicklow.

1864 – Galway-born Colonel Patrick Kelly of the Irish Brigade dies at the Siege of Petersburg while leading the Irish Brigade forward a Confederate position.

1871 – The ‘Westmeath Act’ allows detention without trial for agrarian offenses.

1904 – Bloomsday: On this date, James Joyce had his first date with Nora Barnacle; ultimately, it became the date on which everything takes place in his masterpiece, Ulysses.

1920 – The IRA attacked the RIC barracks at Cookstown, Co Tyrone. IRA man Patrick Loughrane was killed.

1921 – An IRA ambush was mounted at Rathcoole, near Banteer, Co Cork. Landmines were exploded under three lorries, killing two Auxiliaries and wounding four.

1921 – An RIC Constable was kidnapped and killed.

1922 – A free State soldier, William Murphy, is killed.

1922 – General election in Irish Free State: large majority to pro-Treaty Sinn Féin.

1924 – Friends send Joyce, who is in hospital, a bouquet of white and blue hydrangeas. He writes in his notebook: “Today 16 of June 1924 twenty years after. Will anybody remember this date?”

1924 – The first Irish soccer international. A team drawn from the newly formed Football Association of Ireland meets the United States in Dublin.

1929 – According to David Norris, a Dublin senator and a leading Joyce scholar, the first official celebration of Bloomsday is held on its twenty-fifth anniversary. That night, Joyce is the guest of honour at a dinner party held at Les Vaux de Cernay, a village near Versailles. After dinner, Joyce and his protege, the Nobel Prize-winning writer, Samuel Beckett, “get pretty tight,” Norris says. On the way home, frustrated by the frequency of requests, Joyce and Beckett are making for pit stops, the carriage driver decides not to wait for Joyce’s drinking buddy to return from the pissoir, and leaves Beckett “ingloriously abandoned on the outskirts of Paris”.

1935 – Birth of structural engineer, Peter Rice in Dundalk, Co Louth. He spent his childhood between the town of Dundalk, and the villages of Gyles’ Quay and Inniskeen. He originally studied Aeronautical Engineering but switched to Civil Engineering. Taken on by Ove Arup and Partners, his first job was the roof of the Sydney Opera House. Jonathan Glancey in his obituary said “Rice was, perhaps, the James Joyce of structural engineering. His poetic invention, his ability to turn accepted ideas on their head and his rigorous mathematical and philosophical logic made him one of the most sought-after engineers of our times”.

1946 – Death of Gordon Brewster. He was an editorial cartoonist for the Irish Independent group of newspapers. He was educated at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. His father, W. T. Brewster, was general manager of the Irish Independent, and Gordon joined the paper as a staff artist in 1906. He drew cartoons mainly on money matters for the daily paper, and had a regular cartoon called “This, That and the Other” for the Sunday Independent.

1950 – Birth of Garrick (Garry) Roberts, the former lead guitarist with the Irish band, The Boomtown Rats, which came into being in 1976. He and Johnnie Fingers (Moylett) had decided to put a band together and, between them, they recruited the other four members, Briquette, Cott, Crowe and Geldof.

1954 – On the 50th anniversary of the first Bloomsday, Flann O’Brien has a hand in producing a major celebration in Dublin.

1945 – Birth of Dr. Ken Egan, former president of the IMO (Irish Medical Organisation).

1950 – Birth of musician, Garry Roberts, in Dublin. He is the former lead guitarist with the band, The Boomtown Rats, which started in 1976. He and Johnnie Fingers (Moylett) had decided to put a band together and, between them, they recruited the other four members, Pete Briquette (bass), Gerry Cott (guitar), Simon Crowe (drums) and singer Bob Geldof.

1969 – Birth of comedian, actor and writer, Tommy Tiernan in Carndonagh, Co Donegal. He and Hector Ó hEochagáin presented The Tommy and Hector Show on i102-104FM. Tiernan also featured in Father Ted as Fr. Kevin.

1972 – John Johnson (59), who had been shot twice on ‘Bloody Sunday’ (30 January 1972), died.

1977 – The Fianna Fáil party won the general election with a majority of 20 seats. Jack Lynch became the new Taoiseach.

1994 – The INLA shot dead three UVF volunteers in a gun attack on Shankill Road, Belfast.

1997 – Death of Michael O’Herlihy in Dublin. He was a television producer and director who directed shows like Gunsmoke (1955), Maverick (1957), Star Trek (1965), Hawaii Five-O (1968), M*A*S*H (1972) and The A-Team (1983). Born in Dublin, O’Herlihy was the younger brother of actor Dan O’Herlihy.

2006 – The State funeral of the former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, takes place in Dublin.

2011 – Miss Universe Ireland 2011 was held at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. There was county pageants from January 29 to May 23. The winner, Aoife Hannon, from Listowel, Co Kerry, represented Ireland at Miss Universe 2011.

Photo: Doonagore Castle, Co Clare, © Stair na hÉireann

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