#OTD in Irish History – 15 July:

1865 – Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe; statesman, journalist and newspaper magnate, is born in Chapelizod, Co Dublin.

1871 – Birth of Gerald O’Donovan, priest and novelist, in Co Down.

1879 – Birth of poet, Joseph Campbell, in Belfast. He is famous for the English words he wrote to the song My Lagan Love.

1899 – Seán Lemass is born in Dublin. He was the second leader of Fianna Fáil and third Taoiseach of the Republic of Ireland from 1959 to 1966.

1907 – Seumas Murphy, sculptor and stone-carver, is born in Mallow, Co Cork.

1919 – Birth of author and philosopher, Iris Murdoch, in Dublin. Best known for her novels about good and evil, sexual relationships, morality, and the power of the unconscious. Her first published novel, Under the Net, was selected in 1998 as one of Modern Library’s 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

1922 – National Army troops assault Republican-held Strand Barracks and King John’s Castle in Limerick, with armoured cars, grenades, machine gun and mortar fire, but fail to take them. Six Free State troops are killed and five wounded. One Republican is killed and five wounded.

1922 – A skirmish takes place in Kiltimagh, Co Mayo. Anti-Treaty fighters attempt to kidnap T. Ruane, Chairman of the Swinford District Council, but a fire-fight breaks out in which Ruane, an Anti-Treaty officer and Free State officer are fatally wounded.

1922 – National Army troops surround and take Cappard House, Co Laois where the local Anti-Treaty forces were billeted. Five Republicans are reported killed.

1922 – A Free State soldier is killed in an ambush at Gort, Co Galway.

1922 – Free State troops, equipped with an 18 pounder gun, shell the republican camp at Lough Inch, Co Donegal. They surrender after two days, with 30 taken prisoner.

1927 – Death of Constance, Countess Markiewicz, politician, revolutionary nationalist and suffragette.

1930 – After de Valera abolishes the oath of allegiance and withholds land annuities from the British Government, retaliatory trade legislation begins the ‘economic war’.

1942 – Brendan ‘Paddy’ Finucane from Dublin – the RAF’s youngest ever Wing Commander at 21 years of age – is shot down and killed off the French coast.

1943 – Birth of astrophysicist, Jocelyn Bell Burnell in Lurgan, Co Armagh. As a postgraduate student, she discovered the first radio pulsars while studying and advised by her thesis supervisor Antony Hewish, for which Hewish shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Martin Ryle, while Bell Burnell was excluded, despite having been the first to observe and precisely analyse the pulsars. The fact that Bell did not receive recognition has been a point of controversy ever since. She helped build the four-acre radio telescope over two years and initially noticed the anomaly, sometimes reviewing as much as 96 feet of paper data per night. Bell later claimed that she had to be persistent in reporting the anomaly in the face of scepticism from Hewish, who was initially insisted that it was due to interference and man-made. She spoke of meetings held by Hewish and Ryle to which she was not invited.

1948 – An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, is set up.

1981 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Humphrey Atkins, announced that representatives of the International Committee of the Red Cross have been invited to carry out an investigation of prison conditions in Northern Ireland. Over the next eight days the delegation meets with the two sides to the dispute but announced on 23 July 1981 that they were unable to help resolve the hunger strike.

1985 – British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, delivered a speech to the American Bar Association in London. During her speech Thatcher referred to the role of the media during the conflict in Northern Ireland and said that it would be necessary to starve paramilitary organisations of ‘the oxygen of publicity’.

1987 – U2 plays its first-ever show in Madrid, Spain, attracting 115,000 people for one show, the largest crowd of the year.

1993 – The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) released a statement in which the organisation admitted sole responsibility for the Dublin and Monaghan bombs on 17 May 1974. The statement was issued in response to the television documentary ‘Hidden Hand – the Forgotten Massacre’ broadcast on 6 July 1993. Statement: “Following the sinister allegations of collusion mischievously constructed by presenters of the recent First Tuesday programme which supposedly investigated the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings. The UVF avails itself of this opportunity to state clearly and without reservation that the entire operation was from its conception to its successful conclusion, planned and carried out by our volunteers aided by no outside bodies. In contrast to the scenario painted by the programme, it would have been unnecessary and indeed undesirable to compromise our volunteers anonymity [sic] by using clandestine Security Force personnel, British or otherwise, to achieve [an] objective well within our capabilities. The operation whilst requiring a fair degree of preparation and not a little courage did not as was suggested by the so-called experts require a great deal of technical expertise. The comments made by some of those interviewed were at best naive if not deliberately misleading. Given the backdrop of what was taking place in Northern Ireland when the UVF [were] bombing republican targets at will, either the researchers decided to take poetic licence to the limit or the truth was being twisted by knaves to make [a] trap for the fools… The minimum of scrutiny should have revealed that the structure of the bombs placed in Dublin and Monaghan were similar if not identical to those being placed in Northern Ireland on an almost daily basis. The type of explosives, timing and detonating methods all bore the hallmark of the UVF. It is incredulous that these points were lost on the Walter Mittys who conjured up this programme. To suggest that the UVF were not, or are not, capable of operating in the manner outlined in the programme is tempting fate to a dangerous degree.” Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), Belfast, 15 July 1993.

1997 – Bernadette Martin (18), a Catholic civilian, was killed when she was shot four times in the head as she lay asleep in the home of her Protestant boyfriend’s parents at Aghalee, Co Armagh. Although no organisation admitted responsibility (‘no claim, no blame’) the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) and Nationalists were certain that the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) was responsible for the killing. The manner in which Bernadette Martin was killed caused revulsion across the north of Ireland.

1998 – The Irish Nurses Organisation warns that the shortage of qualified nurses has reached crisis levels.

1998 – The RUC carried out a search of the ‘field’ at Drumcree where the Orange Order had been holding its protests. The RUC uncovered a home-made submachinegun, spent and live ammunition, a number of explosive devices, a five-gallon drum of petrol, two crossbows with over a dozen explosive-tipped darts.

1998 – The British government introduced the Northern Ireland Bill into the House of Commons. The Bill was designed to implement the various provisions of the Good Friday Agreement.

1999 – It’s revealed that since 1998, all telephone, e-mail and fax messages between Ireland and Britain, and probably the United States, were tapped by the British Government.

1999 – The cream of Irish traditional and folk music turn out en masse for the inaugural Irish Music Magazine Awards in Dublin.

2001 – More than 340,000 provisional licence drivers miss out on the new Driver Theory Test because test centres would not be able to handle the flood of applications.

2002 – Tourism Minister John O’Donoghue, announces a new €3m marketing package for the industry.

2006 – Twitter is launched, becoming one of the largest social media platforms in the world.

2015 – Death of Fine Gael politician Alexis Fitzgerald. The former Fine Gael TD, senator and Lord Mayor of Dublin was recalled as “a kind man, who acted with integrity and loved his family and community, country, city and church.”

Photo: Dun Bristé, Downpatrick, Co Mayo, Photography by Brian Cooney

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