#OTD in Irish History – 25 History:

Christmas Day is one of the four Irish Quarter days.

1185 – Around Christmas, a crown that Henry had sought from the papacy for John’s use as king of Ireland is delivered, but will never be used.

1351 – William Ó Ceallaigh, chief of Uí Mhaine, holds a great Christmas feast for the bards of Ireland.

1715 – Joshua Dawson sells the Mansion House with its gardens and park to Dublin Corporation for £3,500 plus 40 shillings per annum and a ‘loaf of double refined sugar of six pounds weight’ which is to be paid to the Dawsons every Christmas.

1744 – Sir John Parnell, Chancellor of the Irish Exchequer, is born in Co Laois.

1781 – John Ward, mystic and religious writer, is born in Queenstown (now Cobh), Co Cork.

1783 – Birth of author, Sydney, Lady Morgan (née Owenson) in Dublin. She is remembered more for her personality than for her many successful books. She became established and was lionized as a popular novelist with The Wild Irish Girl (1806), a paean of praise to Ireland.

1817 – Birth of John Hewitt Jellett in Cashel, Co Tipperary. He was a college head, Provost of Trinity College, Dublin. He was also a priest in the Church of Ireland during the Victorian Era.

1820 – Birth of Thomas Sweeny in Co Cork. He was a soldier who served in the Mexican-American War and then was a general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

1824 – William Lawless, United Irishmen and officer in Napoleon’s Irish Legion, dies in Paris.

1829 – Birth of bandmaster and composer, Patrick Gilmore, in Co Dublin.

1831 – Christopher Palles, judge and Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer in Ireland is born in Dublin.

1832 – Union General Thomas Alfred Smyth is born in Co Cork. Smyth was born in Ballyhooly, Co Cork. He was the last Union General to be killed in the American Civil War.

1843 – Birth of Albert Cashier in Co Louth. Born Jennie Irene Hodgers, but lived his entire life as a transgender man who served in the Union Army during the American Civil War.

1844 – Rev. William Steel Dickson, Presbyterian minister and United Irishmen supporter, is born in Co Antrim.

1860 – Patrick Dinneen (Pádraig Ó Duinnín) priest, lexicographer and editor, is born in Rathmore, Co Kerry.

1873 – Patrick Gallagher aka ‘Paddy the Cope’, cooperative society developer, is born in Templecrone, Co Donegal.

1881 – Sir John Greer Dill, Field-Marshal is born in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

1914 – World War I: Known as the Christmas truce. A truce occurs when British and German troops laid down their arms and played a game of soccer between the trenches. It is a day full of myth and legend, poorly recorded (partly due to the commanders of both sides playing down the event) and probably some exaggeration as to how large an event it was. The Dept. of the Taoiseach states that some “Some Irish soldiers took part in the Christmas Truce of 1914 when there was a spontaneous cessation in the killing for a short period.” There is little record of Irish troops being involved, but given that over 200,000 Irish fought in the British army during this conflict (over 30,000 killed), it is quite likely that many Irish were heard during one of the most poignant incidents in military history.

1916 – Irish prisoners interned at Frongoch are released.

1920 – A British patrol in Tralee, Co Kerry shot dead two men who were suspected of being IRA members and burned their homes.

1922 – Joseph MacDonagh, TD, who had been deputy Minister for Labour to Countess Markievicz, brother of Proclamation of the Irish Republic signatory and 1916 leader Thomas MacDonagh, dies on hunger strike in hospital in Eccles Street, having been hastily removed there when it became clear that his appendix had ruptured and peritonitis had resulted.

1971 – Birth of Noel Hogan in Limerick. He is the guitarist and co-songwriter with The Cranberries.

1941 – Jim Bolger, racehorse trainer, is born in Co Wexford.

1950 – The Stone of Scone (Stone of Destiny), traditional coronation stone of British monarchs, is taken from Westminster Abbey by Scottish nationalist students. It later turns up in Scotland on 11 April 1951. Some versions identify the stone brought by Fergus with the Lia Fáil used at Tara for the High King of Ireland. Other traditions contend the Lia Fáil remains at Tara. (Inis Fáil, The Island of Destiny, is one of the traditional names of Ireland.)

1953 – Death of Patsy Donovan. Born in Co Cork, he was an American right fielder and manager in Major League Baseball who played for several teams from 1890 to 1907, most notably the Pittsburg Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals. Donovan established himself as the most successful Irish-born major leaguer. He broke into organized baseball in 1886 with the Lawrence, Massachusetts team in the New England League.

1957 – Birth of musician and singer, Shane MacGowan. Best known as the original singer and songwriter of The Pogues. MacGowan was born in Pembury, Kent, to Irish parents. MacGowan spent his early childhood in Tipperary before his family moved back to England when he was six and a half. He lived in many parts of the south-east, including Brighton and London.

1971 – Birth of Noel Hogan in Moyross, Co Limerick. He is the guitarist and co-songwriter of The Cranberries.

1974 – Harry Kernoff, Irish artist in oils and woodcuts, dies.

1999 – While most parts of the country experience heavy rain and winds, the snow-capped Knockmealdown and Comeragh mountains in Co Waterford are picturesque on Christmas Day, particularly for punters who had a flutter on a White Christmas. The presence of snow in many areas costs bookmaker Paddy Power £50,000.

2000 – Swimmers around the country brave icy seas and teeth chattering winds as the annual Christmas fund-raising swims get off to a chilly start. Temperatures in coastal areas range from zero to four degrees.

2002 – Ireland experiences its mildest Christmas in over a decade.

Photo: Ballybunion Castle (Castlegreen), Co Kerry

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