#OTD in Irish History – 27 November:

784 – Fergil, the Geometer, Irish educator, dies. He originated from a noble family of Ireland, where his name was Feirgil, and was educated in the Iona monastery. It is controversial whether he is identical to Abbot Feirgil of Aghaboe Abbey in Co Laois. He is said to have been a descendant of Niall of the Nine Hostages. In the “Annals of the Four Masters” and the “Annals of Ulster” he is mentioned as Abbot of Aghaboe, in Co Laois, where he was known as “the Geometer” because of his knowledge of geography.

1612 – Dungannon, Co Tyrone, is the first of 40 new boroughs to be incorporated.

1774 – John Kyan, inventor, is born in Dublin.

1812 – Death of John Dunlap. Born in Strabane, Co Tyrone, he was the printer of the first copies of the Declaration of Independence and one of the most successful American printers of his era.

1819 – Death of Gustavus Conyngham. Born in Donegal, he was an American merchant sea-captain, an officer in the Continental Navy and a privateer. As a commissioned captain fighting the British in the American Revolutionary War, he captured 24 ships in the eastern Atlantic between May 1777 and May 1778, bringing the expenses associated with British shipping to a then all-time high. He has been called “the most successful of all Continental Navy captains”.

1857 – Birth in Clogher House, Kilmore, Co Roscommon of Surgeon-General, Thomas Heazle Parke. He was an Irish doctor, explorer, soldier and naturalist. Parke was brought up in Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim. He graduated from the College of Surgeons in Dublin and was appointed to a post in Ballybay, Co Monaghan. A bronze statue of Parke stands on Merrion Street in Dublin, outside the Natural History Museum. On the granite pedestal is a bronze plaque depicting the incident on 13 August 1887 when Parke sucked the poison from an arrow wound in the chest of Capt. William G. Stairs to save his life. He is also commemorated by a bust in the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

1876 – Henry Robinson Allen, tenor and composer, dies.

1878 – Birth of Sir William Orpen, painter, in Stillorgan, Co Dublin.

1880 – English landlords were setting extortionate rents for their Irish tenant farmers. Not even a bad harvest could convince them to show leniency. The farmers banded together into the Irish Land League, a movement that gained massive popularity. Their first target was a particularly unsympathetic land agent in Co Mayo. The local residents refused to sell him goods, work in his fields, deliver his post or indeed speak to him. The agent’s will eventually broke and he bolted for home on this date. Charles Boycott had inspired and given the world an effective new campaigning tactic.

1906 – Death of Michael Cusack, Founder of the GAA.

1920 – RIC Constable Maurice Quirk was fatally shot outside Walsh’s Hotel in Cappoquin by Waterford Column men Mick Mansfield, George Lennon and Pat Keating.

1953 – Playwright Eugene O’Neill dies.

1960 – Death of Frederick Fane. Born in Co Kildare, he played cricket for the England cricket team in 14 Test matches. He also played for Essex, Oxford University and London County. He was the first Irish-born player to score a century in a Test match for England and remained the only one for over a hundred years, until Eoin Morgan repeated the feat against Pakistan at Trent Bridge in July 2010.

1963 – The Buchanan Committee warns of future chaos as traffic in cities multiplies.

1969 – A Commissioner for Complaints, John Benn, was appointed to deal with matters related to local government and public bodies in Northern Ireland.

1974 – British Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins, introduced the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Bill into the House of Commons, Westminster. One of the provisions of the Bill provided the police with powers to arrest and detain suspected terrorists for up to 48 hours in the first instance, and for up to seven days if the police applied to the Home Secretary for additional time. The provision also allowed for exclusion orders to be made against people suspected of involvement in terrorism. Jenkins described the provisions in the Bill as “draconian measures unprecedented in peacetime”. The Bill became law on 29 November 1974.

1974 – The IRA carried out two bomb attacks near an Army museum in Tite Street, Chelsea, London. Initially a small bomb exploded in a post office pillar-box at 8.30pm. Approximately 20 minutes later a second, larger bomb, exploded behind a hedge just a short distance away from the first explosion. Twenty people were injured in the second explosion including an explosives officer, six policmen and two ambulance men. The tactic of the ‘come-on’ bomb was one which the IRA used on many occasions in Northern Ireland.

1975 – Guinness Book of Records co-founder and editor Ross McWhirter dies of wounds inflicted by IRA gunmen (Harry Duggan and Hugh Doherty); an outspoken critic of the IRA, the BBC Records Breaker presenter had recently offered a £50,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of IRA bombers. His killers were captured and charged with his and nine other murders. They were sentenced to life imprisonment but freed in 1999 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

1976 – The Peace People held a rally in London which was attended by approximately 30,000 people. Republican sympathisers held a small counter demonstration and chanted ‘troops out’.

1980 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Humphrey Atkins, told the House of Commons that there was still no consensus amongst the parties in Northern Ireland and little prospect for a devolved government in the region.

1983 – Dominic McGlinchey, believed to be chief of staff of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), admitted that his organisation had been involved in the Darkley killings on 20 November 1983.

1985 – The House of Commons approved the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) in a vote of 473 votes to 47. During her speech British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, said that the government would not give way to threats or violence.

1990 – During the Conservative Party leadership contest Margaret Thatcher failed to win outright victory and withdrew from the race. John Major was elected as the new leader of the Conservative Party and the new British Prime Minister.

1998 – British soldiers who were serving in Derry on 30 January 1972 were offered immunity from prosecution when they provide evidence to the Saville inquiry into the events of ‘Bloody Sunday’.

2014 – Death of rugby player, Jack Kyle. He played for Ireland, the British Lions and the Barbarians during the 1940s and 1950s. Kyle is best known for leading Ireland to a grand slam in the 1948 Five Nations Championship.

Photo: Aerial View Of Keem Beach, Achill Island, Co Mayo, Image by Peter Zoeller

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