#OTD in Irish History – 9 April:

1346 – Death of Ralph de Ufford, justiciar.

1793 – The Relief Act grants Catholics parliamentary franchise and certain civil and military rights.

1807 – After resigning as Commissioner of the Treasury (UK) over the issue of Catholic relief, Maurice FitzGerald, MP for Co Kerry states on this date that their war effort alone merits concessions to Irish Catholics.

1837 – Birth of surgeon, Edward Hallaran Bennett, in Cork.

1916 – The merchant ship SS Libau left the German port of Lübeck disguised as the Norwegian ship of similar appearance, the SS Aud, for Ireland that were to be collected by Roger Casement with arms for the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Libau/Aud, laden with an estimated 20,000 rifles, 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition, 10 machine guns, and explosives (under a camouflage of a timber cargo), evaded patrols of both the British 10th Cruiser Squadron and local Auxiliary patrols.

1917 – Birth of legendary racehorse trainer, Vincent O’Brien, in Co Cork.

1918 – Conscription is coming to Ireland. In a speech delivered to the House of Commons, Prime Minister Lloyd George put an end to weeks of speculation on the subject. Conscription was introduced in Britain at the beginning of 1916, but Ireland was excluded after extensive lobbying by John Redmond and his Irish Party colleagues. In the course of his speech, the Prime Minister stated that it was no longer possible to justify Ireland’s exclusion. This change of policy comes down to numbers. The government urgently needs more men to help combat German advances on the western front. The speech inflamed nationalist opinion. Mr Lloyd George was interrupted several times by Irish Party MPs and was denounced by Mr William O’Brien.

1921 – Death of archbishop and nationalist, Dr. William Walsh.

1921 – An abortive IRA ambush took place in Mullinglown, Co Carlow – no casualties resulted but several IRA volunteers were arrested.

1922 – The anti-Treaty IRA members reconvened to put into effect their motion from 26 March when it stated the IRA would be the legitimate army of the Irish Republic, which was in defiance of the Dáil Éireann vote.

1923 – Anti-Treaty fighters crossed the Corrib in boats from Oughterard and attacked the Free State Army barracks at Headford, Co Galway. They detonated a mine against the wall of the barracks and opened fire. The gun battle continued until Free State reinforcements arrived and the irregulars withdrew. The Free State troops had casualties and five wounded. Two republicans were killed and more wounded. More Anti-Treaty men were captured in the aftermath of the attack.

1926 – Birth of politician, Lord Gerry Fitt, in Belfast. He was a founder and the first leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), a social democratic and Irish Nationalist party.

1949 – Birth of actress, Sorcha Cusack, in Dublin. She has made many film and television appearances including The Bill, Casualty (as Staff Nurse Kate Wilson from 1994 to 1997), the 1973 BBC adaptation of Jane Eyre and the worldwide hit movie Snatch as the traveller mother of Mickey played by Brad Pitt.

1961 – A census on this date shows the population of the Republic to be 2,818,341 and that of Northern Ireland is 1,425,642.

1961 – Birth of rock keyboard musician, Mark Kelly, in Dublin.

1971 – Birth of Irish footballer and manager, Peter Canavan in Ballygawley, Co Tyrone. He played inter-county football for Tyrone, and is one of the most decorated players in the game’s history, winning two All-Ireland Senior Football Championship medals, six All Stars Awards (more than any other Ulster player, and joint third overall), four provincial titles, and two National Leagues and several under-age and club championship medals.

1976 – Two Catholic civilians were killed in separate Loyalist paramilitary attacks in Belfast and Armagh.

1981 – Bobby Sands was elected to Westminster in the Fermanagh/South Tyrone by-election, while on hunger strike in Long Kesh Prison, as MP for the constituency. After a highly polarised campaign, Sands narrowly won the seat with 30,493 votes to 29,046 for the Ulster Unionist Party candidate Harry West, incidentally also becoming the youngest MP at the time. Following Sands’ success the British Government introduced the Representation of the People Act 1981, which prevented prisoners serving jail terms of more than one year in either the UK or the Republic of Ireland from being nominated as candidates in UK elections. This law was quickly introduced so in order to prevent the other hunger strikers from being elected to the British parliament.

1984 – Death of Irish revolutionary, Leslie De Barra (wife of General Tom Barry), in Co Cork.

1990 – The IRA exploded a large landmine near Downpatrick, Co Down, killing four soldiers of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR).

1991 – The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference held a meeting in Belfast. Following the meeting, Irish Foreign Minister, Gerry Collins, announced that there would be a 10 week gap after its next meeting on 26 April 1991. The break in meetings was designed to allow Unionists to enter talks on the future of Northern Ireland.

1992 – A general election was held in the UK. The Conservative Party won the election with a reduced majority of 21 seats in the House of Commons. In Northern Ireland the main news in the election was that President of Sinn Féin (SF), Gerry Adams, lost his seat in west Belfast to Joe Hendron (Dr) of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). Adams was to regain the seat at the 1997 general election. Towards the end of the parliament, as the majority was further reduced, the Unionists were able to increase their influence over matters related to Northern Ireland.

1994 – The IRA carried out a number of attacks on security forces in Aughnacloy, Co Tyrone, Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh, and in Belfast. The attacks marked the end of a three-day IRA ceasefire.

1995 – One man who has helped the comic’s meteoric rise in recent years is Garth Ennis of Holywood, Co Down. Ennis’ landmark work to date is the 66-issue epic Preacher which he co-created with artist Steve Dillon,  debuted on this date. Running from 1995 to 2000, it was a tale of a preacher with supernatural powers, searching (literally) for God who has abandoned his creation. Mixing influences from western movies and religious themes, it drew plaudits for Ennis from all sections of the media; the Guardian newspaper voted one of the Preacher collections its book of the week, and film director Kevin Smith described it as ‘More fun than going to the movies.’

1997 – Taoiseach, John Bruton, called on Nationalists in Northern Ireland not to vote for Sinn Féin (SF) in the forthcoming general election. Bruton said that a vote for SF would be a ‘vote for murder’.

1998 – At the parliament building in Stormont, the multi-party talks continued all day and extended beyond the designated midnight deadline. At 6pm David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), held a meeting to brief the UUP Executive which gave him its support. At 11pm there were angry exchanges between Loyalists in favour, and those against, the talks, as Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), led a march to the buildings in protest against the negotiations. Jeffery Donaldson, a member of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) talks team left Stormont without comment amid rumours of a further split in the UUP over the proposed agreement.

1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern is back in Northern Ireland to resume his bid with Prime Minister, Tony Blair, to save the peace talks.

1999 – The Irish government announced that six IRA prisoners would be granted early release. Among the prisoners named were them members of the Balcombe Street seige gang. The move was seen as an attempt to influence Sinn Féin into accepting the Hillsborough declaration.

1999 – Sinn Féin Chairman, Mitchel McLaughlin, said that the two governments should defend the Good Friday Agreement and stated that his party would be adopting that approach in the coming week. Despite the fact that several Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Assembly members had expressed reservations about the Hillsborough Declaration the UUP Assembly team later accepted the declaration as a basis for negotiation.

2000 – Nobel Peace Prize winner, Nelson Mandela, arrived in Ireland to commence a four day private visit. During his visit, he received an honorary degree in law at Trinity.

2000 – Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan, disclosed that five military installations were to close on 9 May 2000.

2001 – Celebrities from the entertainment world turned out in force for the funeral mass of former lead singer with the Capital Showband, Butch Moore, at St Canice’s Church in Finglas.

Image | Newry, Co Down | Mac Creative Photography

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