#OTD in Irish History – 26 August:

1725 – Five Dublin children receive the first recorded smallpox inoculations in Ireland.

1798 – General Humbert leaves Ballina bound for Castlebar. He takes an indirect route through the mountains.

1811 – Death of Thomas Fitzsimons. He was an American merchant and statesman of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress, the Constitutional Convention, and the U.S. Congress. Fitzsimons’ ancestry has not been proved, but one thought is that Fitzsimons was born at Ballikilty, Co Wexford in October, 1741. He was a member of a collection of Irish families with the name “Fitzsymons” and it variants. In the mid-1750s he immigrated to Philadelphia where his father soon died. However, Fitzsimons had enough education that he could begin work as a clerk in a mercantile house. He married Catherine Meade on 23 November 1761 and formed a business partnership with her brother George. Their firm specialised in the West Indies trade, which would successfully operate for over 41 years.

1904 – Lord Dunraven forms the Irish Reform Association to campaign for some devolution; the following December, unionists form a United Unionist Council to resist Dunraven’s plan.

1913 – Also known as “The Great Dublin Lockout”, the Dublin Transport Strike, led by Jim Larkin and James Connolly, begins.

1921 – Re-election of Éamon de Valera President of Dáil Éireann. He is proposed and seconded by Commandant Sean MacEoin and General Richard Mulcahy — both of whom later line up against him in the Civil War.

1922 – A Free State convoy of 100 troops is ambushed between Tralee and Killorglin, Co Kerry. One officer is killed. The National Army troops are caught in several more ambushes along their line of retreat, taking more casualties.

1922 – Anti-Treaty fighters ambush Free State troops at Glasson, near Athlone. National Army officer Lieutenant McCormack is killed and several more soldiers are wounded.

1922 – Fianna Éireann members Seán Cole and Alf Colley and Anti-Treaty IRA member Bernard Daly, are abducted and killed in Dublin by the Criminal Investigation Department CID, police unit based in Oriel House allegedly in revenge for Michael Collins killing, although possibly in retaliation for the death of a CID man the previous day.

1922 – Two National Army soldiers are killed in an ambush on the road between Nenagh and Limerick.

1922 – A civilian is killed in an exchange of fire at Whitefriars, Dublin city.

1940 – German aircraft bomb a creamery at Campile, Co Wexford; three women are killed.

1970 – Minister of Home Affairs, Robert Porter, resigned from the Stormont government. The official reason was given as ‘health’ but Porter later said that he had not been consulted about the Falls Road curfew. Initially, Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Chichester-Clark, took over responsibility for Home Affairs, but later appointed John Taylor who was very critical of the reform programme.

1986 – The cigarette company Gallagher announced the closure of its factory in Belfast with the loss of 700 jobs.

1987 – In a shooting in a Belfast bar two RUC officers were shot dead by the IRA. A number of bystanders were injured.

1991 – The Northern Ireland Emergency Provision Act came into force in Northern Ireland.

1993 – John Wheeler (Sir), a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister, gave an interview to the BBC in which he said that “the IRA is already defeated”.

1997 – The British and Irish governments jointly signed an agreement to set up an Independent International Commission on Decommissioning (IICD). Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, held a meeting with Ronnie Flanagan, Chief Constable of the RUC, where concerns were expressed at the state of the Loyalist ceasefire. U2, the Dublin pop group, held a concert at Botanic Gardens in Belfast before an estimated 40,000 people.

1997 – U2 plays at the Botanical Gardens in Belfast. It is the band’s first show in Belfast in 10 years.

1998 – British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, paid a visit to the site of the bomb in Omagh, Co Tyrone. Blair promised draconian legislation to deal with any paramilitary groups that refused to call a ceasefire. Sinn Féin said the new measures would amount to “internment in another guise”.

1999 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, ruled that the Irish Republican Army (IRA) ceasefire had not broken down. However, she said she was in no doubt the IRA was involved in the murder of Charles Bennett and said there was clear information about the organisation being implicated in the Florida gun-running operation. Unionists reacted with fury to the decision.

1999 – Human rights campaigners said they were concerned at the news that John Stephens was being promoted to Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Stevens was leading the inquiry into the killing of Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor killed on 12 February 1989. However, Stevens said that much of the work of the inquiry would be completed before he took up his new position.

2002 – Roy Keane’s journey from unemployed potato picker in Cork to multi-millionaire player on the world stage is related in his book “Keane – The Autobiography” which is released on this date.

2013 – Death of film, television and theatre actor, Gerard Murphy. Born in 1948 in Newry, Co Down, Murphy began his career on stage with the Glasgow Citizens Theatre. He branched out into television work with roles in Z-Cars, Doctor Who, Minder, Heartbeat, Father Ted, Dalziel and Pascoe and The Bill. He narrated the BBC Radio version of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. Murphy died at the age of 64 from prostate cancer, which he bravely battled for over two years.

Photo: Muckross Head, Killybegs, Co Donegal, Photo by Andreas F. Borchert

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