#OTD in Irish History – 12 September:

In the Liturgical calendar, it is the Feast day of St. Ailbe, Bishop of Emly, Tipperary.

Mexico – Commemoration of the mass hanging of the Saint Patrick’s Battalion.

1653 – Ireland and Scotland are represented by six and five members respectively in the ‘Barebones’ parliament which is in effect from 4 July to this date.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Rebels attack Castlebar and are repulsed.

1854 – Death of Waterford born missionary priest Edward Barron. He is sometimes referred to as America’s first Catholic missionary when he went to Liberia in 1842.

1877 – Death of the founder of Boston College, Enniskillen born Jesuit John McElroy at age of 95. McElroy had emigrated to the United States in 1803.

1907 – Birth of poet and playwright, Louis MacNeice, in Belfast.

1917 – A Cork labourer, Fred Plummer, was killed during a disturbance involving an American sailor at Queenstown (now Cobh), Co Cork. He was struck by the sailor with a closed fist, his head hitting the concrete flagged footpath of the beach. Plummer was unconscious when taken to Queenstown General Hospital, where he subsequently died from what an inquest found to have been a fracture of the skull. The incident added to tensions in Queenstown where there were a number of disturbances involving American sailors and local civilians, the latter also displaying ill-feeling towards women from Cork City who had been travelling in their hundreds to Queenstown each night to meet the sailors.

1921 – De Valera sends letter to Lloyd George and Accepts Offer of Talks with Britain. De Valera stated that his government (not recognised by England) was ready to “to enter a Conference to ascertain how the association of Ireland with the community of nations known as the British Empire can best be reconciled with Irish national aspirations.”

1922 – Republicans under Michael Kilroy take Ballina, Co Mayo, in a surprise attack while the National Army troops there are at a Mass service for a comrade killed in the fighting. Kilroy’s men capture 100 rifles, 20,000 rounds of ammunition and are reported by Free State authorities to have looted £25,000 worth of goods from local shops. Kilroy later admits to drunkenness and indiscipline on behalf of his men. Two civilians are shot dead in the fire-fight between the combatants. The Republicans leave the town when Free State reinforcements arrive. The Republican’s armoured car breaks down in the retreat and has to be abandoned.

1951 – Birth of accountant and politician, Bertie Ahern, in Drumcondra, Co Dublin. He is a former Fianna Fáil politician who served as Taoiseach of Ireland from 26 June 1997 to 7 May 2008.

1957 – Birth of Mal Donaghy, former NI and Manchester United player.

1971 – A statement on Internment, violence and the ill-treatment of detainees was released by Catholic Cardinal of Ireland, William Conway, and six Bishops. In a statement Cardinal Conway asked, ‘Who wanted to bomb one million Protestants into a United Ireland?’

1974 – Demonstrations were held in Belfast by Loyalists and Republicans in support of prisoners who were protesting about parole and food.

1977 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Roy Mason, marked the end of his first year in the region by stating that ‘the myth of British withdrawal from Northern Ireland’ was now dead.

1983 – Birth of singer/songwriter, Carly Smithson, in Dublin. Smithson was the sixth place finalist on the seventh season of American Idol. In 2001, Smithson released her first studio album for MCA Records called Ultimate High. Smithson was dropped from the record label in 2002. After being introduced to record producer Ben Moody in early 2009, plans for Smithson’s post-Idol solo album were scrapped and instead she is now the lead singer of the gothic metal band We Are the Fallen.

1989 – British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, paid a visit to Northern Ireland and described the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) as a group of “very, very, very brave men”.

1989 – Sinn Féin announced the launch of the Irish National Congress in Dublin.

1996 – President, Mary Robinson, had a number of engagements in Belfast. There were protests at one of the venues, a women’s centre on the Donegal Road, and the centre was later badly damaged in an arson attack.

1997 – Mary Robinson resigns as President of Ireland. Robinson resigned the presidency before her term of office was complete to take up a new role with the United Nations. Upon her resignation as president the role of president (acting head of state) was transferred to the Presidential Commission (which comprised the Chief Justice, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil and the Cathaoirleach of the Seanad) from 12 September to 10 November 1997, when the new president Mary McAleese was elected.

1999 – Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan, speaking on ‘Sunday With Adam Boulton’ on Sky News, said the threat from dissident Republicans was growing. Groups such as the ‘real IRA’ were regrouping and posed a threat, especially in border areas, he said. There was a sectarian attack by loyalists on the home of Danny O’Connor, Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) MLA. A group of loyalists had gathered outside his home shouting threats and causing damage to his car. It was the third sectarian attack on his home in three months.

1999 – It is announced that every household in Ireland is to receive a millennium candle to light when the sun sets on New Year’s Eve.

2001 – Irish aid agencies pull out of Afghanistan amid growing fears of a possible US retaliation on the Taliban regime and Osama bin Laden.

2001 – The Loyalist protest at the Holy Cross Girls’ Primary School followed the pattern of Monday and Tuesday. However, before going to the school the children and parents held a a prayer service and a minute’s silence for the victims of the terrorist attacks in the United States on 11 September 2001.

2001 – United States special envoy, Richard Haass, had a series of meetings with political leaders in Northern Ireland. Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, announced that Friday would be a national day of mourning for the victims of the terrorist attacks in the USA.

2001 – Families in Limerick take in American tourists grounded since 9/11 at Shannon Airport after all flights in and out of the US are cancelled.

2001 – Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan, announced that the target of 50:50 recruitment of Catholics and Protestants to the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) was being achieved. New policing legislation following recommendations in the Patten Report had laid down 50:50 recruitment rule. During the first phase of the application process 8,000 people had applied for jobs of whom 550 were deemed qualified and a minimum of 260, possibly as many as 300, would be offered places on the trainee program. The first recruits to the PSNI will begin their training in the period between 14 October and 4 November 2001. They are expected to be on duty by the spring of 2002.

2011 – The 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City opens to the public.

2014 – Death of loyalist politician and Protestant religious leader, Ian Paisley. Born in Co Armagh, Paisley saw himself primarily as an Ulsterman. However, despite his hostility towards Irish nationalism and the Republic of Ireland, he also saw himself as an Irishman and said that “you cannot be an Ulsterman without being an Irishman”.

Photo: Benbulben, Co Sligo

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