#OTD in Irish History – 23 November:

In the Liturgical Calendar today is the Feast Day of St Columbanus.

1074 – Donatus (or Dunan), the first Bishop of Dublin, dies and is buried in Christ Church Cathedral. Patrick, his successor, is sent to Canterbury for consecration.

1499 – Death of Perkin Warbeck, pretender to the English throne during the reign of King Henry VII of England. Traditional belief claims that he was an impostor, pretending to be Richard of Shrewsbury, 1st Duke of York, the younger son of King Edward IV of England, but was in fact a Fleming born in Tournai around 1474. In 1491, Warbeck landed in Ireland in the hope of gaining support for his claim as Lambert Simnel had four years previously. However, little support was found and he was forced to return to the European mainland.

1702 – Birth of Sir Richard Cox, politician and pamphleteer.

1719 – Birth of actor Spranger Barry in Skinner’s Row, Dublin. His first appearance on the stage was at the Theatre Royal, Smock Alley, Dublin, on the 5 February 1744, and his engagement at once increased its prosperity. His first London appearance was made in 1746 as Othello at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. Here his talents were speedily recognized, and in Hamlet and Macbeth he alternated with David Garrick, arousing the latter’s jealousy by his success as Romeo.

1810 – Birth of Margaret Aylward in Waterford. She was the of founder of the Sisters of the Holy Faith, originally for the care of Catholic orphans. It now works broadly in the areas of education and faith development, in 1857, by Margaret Aylward, under the direction of Rev. John Gowan, C.M. The foundress was called a confessor of the Faith by Pope Pius IX, because of the imprisonment of six months she endured. She was convicted of contempt of court, but acquitted of a charge of kidnapping, after having refused to produce and return an abandoned child to its mother.

1845 – Charlotte Grace O’Brien, social reformer who campaigned against conditions on emigrant ships, is born.

1865 – Birth of Herbert Trench, poet, dramatist and theatre producer, in Avonmore, Co Cork.

1867 – The ‘Manchester Martyrs’ are hanged in Manchester, England: Fenians, Michael Larkin, William Philip Allen, and Michael O’Brien.

1876 – Sir Richard Dawson Bates, unionist politician and minister in Northern Ireland is born in Belfast.

1913 – Irish Citizen Army is founded in Dublin.

1920 – Constable Michael Dennehy while out walking with a girl at Knockhall, Strokestown “Vanished” after being captured by IRA (he was executed).

1920 – The fallout from Bloody Sunday continues. IRA volunteer Thomas Whelan is arrested for his involvement in the executions of the Cairo gang. He would be hanged by British authorities 21 March 1921.

1922 – A National Army force surprises Michael Kilroy and the leader of the Mayo Anti-Treaty IRA at Carrowbeg house. In the ensuing fight, 4 Free State soldiers are killed and more are wounded but Kilroy and several of his officers are captured.

1922 – Free State troops re-take Newport, Mayo, after some resistance by republicans. The Free State troops reportedly took 35 casualties between killed and wounded before the republicans abandoned their positions and the National Army took possession of the town.

1922 – In the rest of the month of November – Free State troops under Tony Lawlor sweep south and west Co Mayo and Connemara for Republican guerrillas. Lawlor reports that 5 of his men were killed in the operation and 9 wounded. He reports the Republican losses as 9 killed, 19 wounded and 23 taken prisoner. Thirty National Army soldiers are also hospitalised as a result of influenza.

1922 – One Free State soldiers is killed and another badly injured when their truck crashes in Dalkey, Dublin, while driving too fast close to the scene of an ambush on 15 November.

1922 – A Free State soldier is killed by a shotgun blast at Lixnaw, Co Kerry.

1923 – The republican hunger strike is called off. The women prisoners are released but most of the men are detained until the following year.

1927 – Birth of journalist and BBC political editor, John Cole, in Belfast.

1941 – Birth of poet, Derek Mahon, in Belfast.

1966 – Death of Seán Thomas O’Kelly. He was the second President of Ireland (1945-1959). He was a member of Dáil Éireann from 1918 until his election as President. During this time he served as Minister for Local Government (1932-1939) and Minister for Finance (1939-1945). O’Kelly served as Vice-President of the Executive Council from 1932 until 1937 and was the first Tánaiste from 1937 until 1945.

1970 – Arthur Young resigned as Chief Constable of the RUC. He had announced his decision to resign on 23 September 1970. He returned to his former role as Commissioner of the City of London Police. He was succeeded by the deputy Chief Constable, Graham Shillington.

1974 – Death of journalist and author, Cornelius Ryan. Born in Dublin, and mainly known for his writings on popular military history, especially his World War II books: The Longest Day: June 6, 1944 D-Day (1959), The Last Battle (1966), and A Bridge Too Far (1974). He was born in Dublin and educated at Synge Street CBS, Portobello. He was an altar-boy at Harrington Street Church and studied the violin at the Irish Academy of Music in Dublin. Ryan moved to London in 1940, and became a war correspondent for the The Daily Telegraph in 1941. He died in Manhattan, while on tour promoting the book, A Bridge Too Far, only two months after publication.

1974 – St Dubhán wanted a spot of peace and quiet, however, no sooner had he founded his secluded cell on Hook Head, Co Wexford, in the 5th century, that travellers started using his fire as a beacon, and insisting he keep it lit. And so was established Hook Lighthouse, the oldest in the world. The current structure has stood for 800 Years, although it has been modernised – electric light replaced paraffin in 1972 and a radar beacon was added on this date in 1974. While schoolchildren have been throwing paper aeroplanes off the top for decades.

1979 – IRA member Thomas McMahon is sentenced to life in prison for the assassination of Lord Mountbatten in Dublin. He was released in 1998 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

1981 – Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), organised a Loyalist ‘Day of Action’ to protest at the British government’s policy on security in Northern Ireland. A series of rallies where held in Protestant areas of Northern Ireland and a number of businesses closed. The DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) held separate rallies at Belfast City Hall. The ‘Third Force’ held a rally in Newtownards, Co Down, which was attended by an estimated 15,000 men.

1985 – There was a huge Unionist rally, estimated at over 100,000 people, at Belfast City Hall to protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). The slogan in the campaign against the AIA was ‘Ulster Says NO’ and it was one that was to appear throughout the region and to remain for a considerable number of years.

1987 – An amendment bill on extradition was published. The amendment required prima-facie evidence of a case before someone could be extradited from the Republic of Ireland.

1994 – The British Army withdrew 150 soldiers who had been assigned to guard Long Kesh Prison.

1996 – Sinn Féin held a special conference in Athboy, Co Meath. The main topic of discussion was the peace process. The media were not allowed to cover the event.

1999 – It was announced that the RUC was to be awarded the George Cross, Britain’s highest civilian award for gallantry. The British government rejected suggestions that the timing of the award was designed to placate Unionists and the RUC at a time when the force was facing major change. Ronnie Flanagan, Chief Constable of the RUC, said it was a momentous day. Sinn Féin criticised the award.

2000 – The Opel Corsa is named the Semperit Irish Car of the Year 2001 by the Irish Motoring Writers Association.

2000 – Traffic in Dublin comes to a standstill as hundreds of taxi drivers protest against the decision to deregulate the industry.

2009 – Death of Pat Quinn. Born in Cloone, Co Leitrim, he was a publican, hotelier, music promoter, storyteller, former millionaire and founder of the Quinnsworth supermarket chain, which was Ireland’s first supermarket chain. He invented the term ‘yellow pack’. According to The Irish Times, he was ‘one of the country’s best-known business figures in the 1960s and 1970s’.

Photo: Mellifont Abbey, Drogheda, Co Louth, Stair na hÉireann Photography

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