#OTD in Irish History – 29 October:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast Day of St Colman Mac Duagh. Born in Co Galway, he was the son of the Irish chieftain Duac. With King Guaire Aidne mac Colmáin of Connacht he founded the monastery of Kilmacduagh. The ‘leaning tower of Kilmacduagh’, is almost twice as old as the famous tower in Pisa. There is a legend that angels brought King Guaire to him by causing his festive Easter dinner to disappear from his table. The king and his court followed the angels to the place where Colman had kept the Lenten fast and now was without food. The path of this legendary journey is called the “road of the dishes.”

1835 – Michael William Balfe’s opera Siege of Rochelle is first performed at the Drury Lane Theatre in London.

1885 – Confederate Civil War General Joseph Finegan, from Co Monaghan, dies in Rutledge, Florida.

1892 – William Michael Hartnett was born in Clonakilty, Co Cork in 1848, one year before his family emigrated and settled in the Philadelphia area. Hartnett was known for his trompe l’oeil (literally, “fool the eye”) still life painting of everyday objects. Hartnett’s later life was ravaged by rheumatism which impacted his ability to work.

1922 – An Anti-Treaty IRA column under Michael Kilroy attacks and takes Clifden, Co Galway, capturing 80 Free State soldiers, after a ten-hour gun battle. The Irregulars burn the barracks there and take the Free State soldiers rifles before retreating. In a separate incident, a Free State soldier is killed by a landmine.

1923 – The Oriel House CID is disbanded and its members transferred to the Dublin Metropolitan Police. In April 1925 the DMP was amalgamated with the Garda Síochána. CID was responsible for a number of killings of republicans during the war.

1953 – The Health Act provides for a free mother-and-child healthcare scheme in the Republic of Ireland.

1958 – The Dáil announces a bill to introduce a system of proportional representation into the Republic.

1960 – Muhammad Ali (Cassius Clay) wins his first professional fight.

1971 – An RUC officer was killed in a bomb attack in Belfast.

1972 – Gilbert O’Sullivan reaches no. 1 in the UK charts with Clair.

1975 – The PIRA shot and killed Robert Elliman (27), a member of the OIRA, in McKenna’s Bar in the Markets area of Belfast. Between 29 October 1975 and 12 November 1975, Eleven people were to die in the continuing feud between the two wings of the IRA. Most of those killed were members of the ‘official’ republican movement.

1975 – A Catholic civilian was shot dead by Loyalists in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

1981 – Sinn Féin held its Ard Fheis in Dublin. Danny Morrison, editor of An Phoblacht, gave a speech in which he addressed the issue of the party taking part in future elections: “Who here really believes we can win the war through the ballot box? But will anyone here object if, with a ballot paper in one hand and the Armalite in the other, we take power in Ireland?” This statement was subsequently often quoted as: ‘the Armalite in one hand and the Ballot box in the other’.

1991 – Deputy Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Peter Robinson, said that Unionists were being ‘edged into a united Ireland’.

1993 – British Prime Minister, John Major, and Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, issued a joint statement from a meeting they held in Brussels. The statement contained six points and outlined the governments’ determination that there would be no secret deals with the paramilitary groups. However, the statement also made clear that if there were an end to violence then the governments would respond imaginatively. The governments stated that they would not adopt or endorse the proposals contained in the Hume-Adams Initiative.

1997 – Four employees of the Coats Viyella shirt factory in Derry wore Armistice Day poppies to work in advance of the agreed dates for the display of the emblems. They refused to remove the poppies and were sent home. Gregory Campbell, a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) councillor, criticised the company. The workers were reinstated when the agreed date was reached.

1998 – The tax on tourists row flares up again when members of the Dáil Committee on Tourism clash over a proposed £1 levy on visitors to the Aran Islands.

1998 – In tribute to emigrants who sailed to the New World on coffin ships, Coillte announces plans for the establishment of the Forest of Dunbrody on the outskirts of New Ross, Co Wexford. The public, and particularly Irish-Americans, were invited to buy a tree in the name of their loved ones.

1999 – Garfield Gilmour was sentenced for the murder, on 12 July 1998, of three Catholic children: Richard Quinn (11), Mark Quinn (10), and Jason Quinn (9). Gilmour had been part of a Loyalist gang which petrol bombed the boys’ home in Ballymoney, Co Antrim. Gilmour claimed that he had waited in a car and had not thrown the petrol bomb. He had named two other men who he alleged were responsible for throwing the device.

1999 – The Appeal Court in Belfast overturned the murder convictions that had been imposed on Paddy McKinney and Billy Gorman in 1980. McKinney and Gorman had been given life sentences for the killing of a member of the RUC, Thomas McClinton, on 2 March 1974. Both McKinney and Gorman claimed that they had been beaten while in police custody. An ESDA test carried out on their confessions and interview notes showed that these had been rewritten by police officers.

1999 – David Adams, an IRA prisoner, began an appeal against the decision of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) not to bring charges against those RUC officers who had assaulted him in Castlereagh Holding Centre. Adams had received £30,000 compensations for injuries, including a broken leg.

2001 – Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney, officially opened the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages at the University of Ulster’s Magee Campus.

2001 – Hardline unionists seek to block David Trimble’s re-election as Northern Ireland First Minister.

2001 – Over £3.5m will be spent converting Limerick’s city centre into a pedestrian area. Within five years, only buses, taxis and delivery vehicles will be able to travel up O’Connell Street.

2002 – Continuous heavy rain brings severe flooding to many parts of the country.

2002 – Thousands of homes and businesses face massive disruption to Christmas mail delivery following a vote by postmasters in favour of industrial action.

2002 – Broadcaster, Gerry Ryan, becomes the latest homegrown celebrity to feature in the Irish version of Madame Tussaud’s collection when he unveils a life-size model of himself at the Dublin museum.

Photo: Slieve Bearnagh, Mourne Mountains, Co Down, Alistair Hamill Photography

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