#OTD in Irish History – 11 December:

722 – Death of High King of Ireland, Fergal mac Máele Dúin. Fergal belonged to the Cenél nEógain sept of the northern Uí Néill. He was the son of Máel Dúin mac Máele Fithrich, a King of Ailech, and great grandson of the high king Áed Uaridnach. Fergal became High King in 710, on the death of Congal Cendmagair of the Cenél Conaill. He ruled from 710 to 722.

1225 – Laurence O’Toole wass canonised by Pope Honorius III, he had died only 45 years earlier.

1650 – James Butler, Earl of Ormond, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was ousted from his command and left for France, leaving Ulick Burke, 1st Marquis of Clanrickard, as Lord Deputy.

1905 – Birth of Erskine Childers, Ireland’s fourth president (1973-1974), in Westminster, United Kingdom.

1920 – The Burning of Cork: A lorry of Auxiliaries was ambushed by the IRA near Dillons Cross: one Temporary Cadet was killed, and several were wounded. That night, Crown forces killed two Cork IRA volunteers (Delaney brothers killed in their home), set fire to the commercial centre of Cork city, and burned both the City Hall and the Carnegie Library.

1931 – Statute of Westminster is passed by British Parliament giving Dominion parliaments, including the Free State, equal status of the Imperial Parliament at Westminster.

1936 – In the wake of the abdication of Edward VIII, the Dáil passes legislation removing the King from the Irish Constitution and abolishing the position of Governor General.

1956 – The IRA begins what it calls ‘The Campaign of Resistance to British Occupation’. It is also known as the ‘Border Campaign’. As a result of the campaign, Internment is introduced in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. The campaign ends on 26 February 1962 because of lack of support.

1961 – Birth of Dave King in Beggars Bush, Dublin. He is an Irish vocalist, primary writer and lyricist for the Irish-American band Flogging Molly. He was previously well-known as the lead singer for the 1980s hard rock band, Fastway.

1968 – Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Terence O’Neill, sacked Home Affairs Minister, William Craig, because of differing opinions on the legality of Westminster intervention on devolved matters.

1971 – Balmoral Showroom Bombing: a bomb exploded outside a furniture showroom on the mainly-Protestant and loyalist Shankill Road, Belfast. Four civilians, including two babies, were killed and nineteen wounded. The IRA was blamed.

1974 – A debate on the reintroduction of capital punishment for acts of terrorism was held in the House of Commons, London. The specific motion came in the form of an amendment which was proposed by a Conservative MP. Following a five-hour debate the amendment was defeated by a free vote of 369 to 217. While the debate was taking place the IRA carried out a bomb attack on the Long Bar of the Naval and Military Club in Piccadilly, London. At 6.30pm IRA members threw a small bomb through the window of the bar; no one was injured. As two IRA members were leaving the scene they were followed by a taxi cab and they fired two shots at the driver; the driver was not injured. Almost at the same time a second group of IRA members carried out a gun attack on the Cavalry Club; again there were no injuries.

1979 – Charles Haughey is elected Taoiseach.

1985 – The first meeting of the new Inter-Governmental Conference established under the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) was held.

1985 – Protestant workers from a number of firms in Belfast staged walk-outs and marched to Maryfield where the Anglo-Irish Secretariat was based. There were violent clashes between the demonstrators and the RUC with 38 officers being injured.

1993 – The Irish Times reported the results of a poll on Anglo-Irish relations. Of those questioned 59 per cent were in favour of talks between British Prime Minister, John Major, and Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. The figure for Catholic respondents was 88 per cent in favour while the figure for Protestants was 37 per cent.

1995 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Patrick Mayhew, announced that £100 million would be redirected from the security budget to other areas of government expenditure over the following three years if the ceasefires held. £180 million had already been cut from the security budget.

1996 – Robert Saulters was elected as Grand Master of the Orange Order following the resignation of Martin Smyth. He repeated earlier comments he had made about Tony Blair, leader of the British Labour Party, being “disloyal” for marrying a “romanist” (Roman Catholic).

1996 – Chuck Feeney, an Irish-American businessman, confirmed that he had donated $240,000 to the establishment of Sinn Féin’s office in Washington.

1997 – Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, led a SF delegation into 10 Downing Street, London to meet Tony Blair, then British Prime Minister, and other members of the British government. These were the first talks between a British Prime Minister and leaders of SF at Downing Street in 76 years. The meeting lasted one hour and afterwards Adams said that it was a ‘good moment in history’.

1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair met in Vienna; they failed to find new ways of breaking the deadlock in the row over implementing the Good Friday Agreement.

2001 – Customs and gardaí board a container ship in Dundalk, Co Louth and seized up to 80 million smuggled cigarettes, the most in State history.

2001 – The Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday began an appeal in the Court of Appeal in London against a decision that military witnesses should not have to travel to Derry to give their evidence. Soldiers who were on duty in Derry on 30 January 1972 had claimed in the High Court that their lives would be in danger if they were forced to attend the Inquiry in the Guildhall in Derry. The High Court had ruled in their favour and against Lord Saville. The appeal lasted two days. The court’s decision was announced on 19 December 2001 when the Court upheld the decision of the High Court that the soldiers would not have to travel to Derry to give evidence.

2001 – At the Special Criminal Court in Dublin, twin brothers were sentenced to jail for having a “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA) bomb-making ‘factory’. Alan Patterson was jailed for nine years and his brother Kenneth Patterson received a sentence of seven years. Four men were arrested after police and customs officers seized a consignment of up to 80 million smuggled cigarettes. The haul, valued at IR£13 million, is thought to be the biggest haul of contraband tobacco in the Irish Republic. It was not clear at the time if there were any paramilitary connections with the smuggling.

2002 – The replica ‘famine’ (An Gorta Mór) ship, the Jeanie Johnston, arrives in Dublin after final fittings in Cork.

2007 – Death of singer-songwriter, Christie Hennessy, in Tralee, Co Kerry. Although Hennessy was unable to read or write due to severe dyslexia he still wrote his own songs such as ‘Roll back the Clouds’ and ‘All the lies that you told me’, he sung All the lies that you told me with his daughter Hermoine, but the song was made famous by Frances Black rather than Hennessy and his daughter.

2009 – Death of broadcaster and music collector, Ciarán Mac Mathúna. Born in Limerick, he was a recognised authority on Irish music and lectured extensively on the subject. He travelled around Ireland, England, Scotland and America collecting music. According to Sam Smyth in the Irish Independent, Mac Mathúna was ‘on a mission to collect songs and stories, music, poetry and dance before they were buried under the coming tsunami of pop music’.

Photo: Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin

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