#OTD in Irish History – 21 May:

1639 – Lord Deputy Thomas Wentworth imposes the Black Oath of loyalty to Charles I on all Ulster Scots over the age of 16.

1745 – Count Daniel O’Connell, a soldier in French and British services, is born in Derrynane, Co Kerry.

1799 – Bill of Union (later the Act of Union) introduced in Irish House of Commons.

1862 – Death of actor, John Drew. Born in Templeogue, Co Dublin, his family emigrated to the US. He played Irish and light comedy parts with success in many American cities, and was the manager of the Arch Street Theatre.

1916 – Clocks and watches go forward one hour as the Daylight Saving Act (Summer Time) is introduced.

1917 – Birth of tenor and comedian, Dennis Day, to Irish parents in New York, NY.

1918 – Seventy-three Sinn Féin prisoners are shipped to Britain, after being arrested on 17 May by police and military authorities.

1920 – Birth of novelist, James Plunkett, (pseudonym of James Plunkett Kelly), in Dublin.

1921 – IRA Ambush at Ballyvaughan of 10 members of the British 8th Royal Marine Battalion RMLI under command of a Sgt. At least 2 RMB killed and 2 RMB wounded.

1932 – Amelia Earhart became the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic when she put her red monoplane down in a pasture near Derry, after taking off from Harbor Grace, New Foundland.

1940 – Birth of businessman, Ronan O’Rahilly in Co Louth. Best known for the creation of the offshore radio station, Radio Caroline, and the man who convinced George Lazenby to give up the role of British Agent James Bond after only one film. O’Rahilly’s parents owned the private port of Greenore in Carlingford Lough, Co Louth. His grandfather Michael O’Rahilly ‘The O’Rahilly’ was an important figure in the quest for Irish independence during the 1916 Easter Rising, who died in the fighting in Dublin.

1944 – Mary Robinson, lawyer, youngest ever Professor of Law at Trinity College Dublin; President of Ireland from 1990 to 1997; and United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, is born in Ballina, Co Mayo.

1951 – Birth of Adrian Hardiman in Coolock, Co Dublin. He was a judge of the Supreme Court of Ireland from 7 February 2000 until his death on 7 March 2016. In a tribute following his death, President Michael D. Higgins said Mr. Justice Hardiman “was one of the great legal minds of his generation,” who was “always committed to the ideals of public service”.

1966 – The Ulster Volunteer Force declares war on the Irish Republican Army in the north of Ireland.

1968 – The annual conference of the Nationalist Party unanimously approved of the protest action by Austin Currie in Caledon, Co Tryone on 20 June 1968.

1969 – Northern Ireland Prime Minister, James Chichester-Clark, together with other members of the Northern Ireland government, travelled to London for a meeting with British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, and British Home Secretary, James Callaghan.

1972 – The Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) kidnapped and shot dead William Best (19) who was a member of the Royal Irish Rangers. Best was originally from Derry and was visiting friends when he was picked up by the OIRA. There was outrage among local people at the killing. The public reaction to this incident was to lead to the OIRA calling a ceasefire on 29 May 1972.

1974 – Day 7 of the UWC Strike: At Westminster, British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, attacked the strike saying that it was a ‘sectarian strike’ and was ‘being done for sectarian purposes having no relation to this century but only to the seventeenth century’. General Secretary of the Trades Union Council (TUC), Len Murray, led a ‘back-to-work’ march which turned out to be a fiasco. The march was supported by leading local Trade Union officials and attempted to lead workers back to the Belfast shipyard and factories in east Belfast. Only about 200 people joined the march. The march was flanked by members of the RUC and British troops but a hostile crowd still managed to assault some of those marching. An updated list of those services which were to be allowed through roadblocks and the opening times permitted for shops was issued by the ‘Ulster Army Council’.

1980 – Taoiseach Charles Haughey, travelled to London to attend a meeting with British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. A communiqué released after the meeting promised greater political co-operation between the two governments on the issue of Northern Ireland and referred to the “unique relationship” between the two countries.

1981 – At 2:11 am, Raymond McCreesh dies on hunger strike in the H Blocks of Long Kesh Prison. Later, the same day at 11:29 pm, he is joined in death by his friend and fellow hunger-striker, Patsy O’Hara.

1987 – James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, and Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), issued a joint general election manifesto.

1994 – Members of the IRA abducted and then shot dead Reginald McCollum (19), an off-duty member of the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR). His body was found in a field beside Mullaghcreevie housing estate, Armagh.

1994 – Death of Martin ‘Doco’ Doherty, a volunteer in the Provisional Irish Republican Army, who was shot dead while attempting to prevent a bombing by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at the Widow Scallans pub in Dublin. Doherty was the first person to be killed in the Republic of Ireland by the UVF since 1975.

1996 – Chief Constable of the RUC, Hugh Annesley, announced that he would retire later in the year.

1997 – Death of Noël Christopher Browne, an Irish politician and doctor. He holds the distinction of being one of only five Teachtaí Dála (TDs) to be appointed Minister on their first day in the Dáil. His controversial Mother and Child Scheme in effect brought down the First Inter-Party Government of John A. Costello in 1951.

1997 – Representatives of SF met with British officials at Stormont. This was the first such meeting since the ending of the IRA ceasefire on 9 February 1997. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, held meetings with Nationalist residents groups of three areas where Orange Order parades were proving controversial. The areas visited were, Dunloy village in Co Antrim, the lower Ormeau Road of Belfast, and the Garvaghy Road in Portadown, Co Antrim. Unionists criticised the meetings on the day of the local government elections. Mowlam also made a comment on the BBC programme Newsnight that, ‘the [settlement] train might leave the station without Unionists’. She was later forced to retract the comment.

1999 – Bono and Larry appear on RTÉ’s ‘The Late Late Show’ to present long-time host Gay Byrne with a black Harley Davidson as a going away present on his retirement.

1999 – The Jack Lynch Tunnel, described as the most challenging civil engineering project in the history of the state, is unveiled by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern at the entrance of the tunnel in Mahon, Co Cork.

2000 – Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams sparks a new political storm when he makes it clear he could not call on republicans and nationalists to join the North’s proposed new police service.

2000 – Demonstrators picket Drogheda Heritage Centre as the death mask of Oliver Cromwell is put on display where he is reputed to have massacred thousands of defenseless civilians.

2000 – Thousands of Christians celebrate the jubilee year by coming together in parishes throughout the country for National Pilgrimage Day.

2001 – The EU blue flag quality mark is awarded to 111 beaches around the coast for the cleanliness of the water. Ireland, at 91.7%, ranks fourth overall in the EU when it comes to blue flag beaches. The Netherlands comes first with 96%, followed by Greece with 95% and Italy, 92%.

2001 – Former US president, Bill Clinton, is rumored to have been paid £100,000 by the chairman of Independent News and Media Sir Anthony O’Reilly to talk to a select gathering at Trinity College on this date.

2002 – Bono kicks off a 10-day four-nation tour of Africa in the company of US Treasury Secretary, Paul O’Neill.

2003 – Approximately 80,000 Celtic fans, many from Ireland, travelled to watch the club compete in the UEFA Cup Final in Seville in southern Spain. Celtic lost the final on 21 May 2003 3–2 to FC Porto after extra time, despite two goals from Henrik Larsson during normal play. The exemplary conduct of the thousands of travelling Celtic supporters received widespread praise from the people of Seville and the fans were awarded prestigious Fair Play Awards from both FIFA and UEFA “for their extraordinarily loyal and sporting behaviour”.

2003 – According to a new survey published in the Wall Street Journal, the Irish remain among the most contented races on Earth. The statistics on our generally sunny disposition appear to confirm the findings of another recent study – the World Happiness Survey – which places Ireland sixth in a league of 68 countries.

Image | Uragh Stone Circle, Gleninchaquin Park, Co Kerry | Captive Landscapes by Stephen Emerson 

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