#OTD in Irish History – 20 November:

1762 – Francis Andrews is appointed first professor of history at the University of Dublin.

1800 – Richard Rothwell, painter, is born in Athlone, Co Westmeath.

1830 – Birth of Patrick Henry Jones, who attained the rank of Brigadier General in the Union army during the American Civil War is born in Co Westmeath. Jones emigrated with his family in 1840.

1840 – Birth of John Russell Young, journalist in American Civil War, from Co Tyrone.

1874 – Birth of James Michael Curley in Boston, Massachusetts. James Curley’s father emigrated from Ireland at age fourteen. Curley first won the mayoralty in 1914, succeeding his arch-rival John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald. (Fitzgerald was the maternal grandfather of John F Kennedy.) Born to an Irish immigrant and petty criminal father, Curley was no saint himself. Over a lengthy career, he served two jail terms, the latter being for corruption in 1947 while in his final term as mayor. Curley spent five months in jail before his sentence was controversially commuted by President Truman, who finally pardoned him in 1950. On his release from prison, Curley returned to the mayoral role until 1950.

1889 – Donn Byrne (real name Brian Donn-Byrne) novelist and short-story writer, is born in Brooklyn, New York of Irish parents.

1908 – Birth of Alistair Cooke who describes himself as a “Lancastrian Irishman” – his mother was from Co Sligo.

1917 – The 16th Irish Division of the British army assaults an area of the German lines known as Tunnel Trench.

1920 – The body of Fr. Michael Griffin was found in a shallow grave, in a bog near Barna, outside Galway city.

1923 – Republican prisoner Denny Barry dies on hunger strike in Newbridge camp.

1923 – Two republican prisoners are executed, one each in Athlone and Tralee.

1925 – Birth of Bobby Kennedy in Brookline, Massachusetts. The younger and devoted brother of Jack Kennedy, Bobby was the trusted aide, counselor and Attorney General to the President. Kennedy’s greatest moment may have been when he announced the assassination of Martin Luther King to an audience, news that he had only heard minutes previously. It is a beautiful, poignant speech. https://youtu.be/j6mxL2cqxrA

1925 – Eoin MacNeill resigns from the Boundary Commission.

1929 – Birth of garden writer, designer, lecturer and television presenter, Penelope Hobhouse in Castledawson, Co Derry.

1949 – Students and staff celebrate centenary of University College Galway.

1951 – Death of Thomas Burke. He was an Irish independent politician, born in Dunshallagh, Milltown Malbay, Co Clare and was well-known in his locality as a bone-setter. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann as an independent Teachta Dála (TD) at the 1937 general election for the Clare constituency. He was re-elected on four occasions and served until he was defeated at the 1951 general election.

1972 – Two British soldiers were killed in a booby trap bomb in Cullyhanna, Co Armagh.

1980 – British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, stated in the House of Commons: “The government will never concede political status to the hunger strikers, or to any others convicted of criminal offences in the province.”

1983 – Three members of the Mountain Lodge Pentecostal Church, Darkley, near Keady, Co Armagh, were shot dead in an attack that was claimed by the ‘Catholic Reaction Force’ (CRF). Seven other people were injured in the attack. The CRF was believed to be a covername used by the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA).

1985 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King, was physically attacked by Loyalist protesters as he arrived for a function at Belfast City Hall. The protests were against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). George Seawright, a Loyalist councillor, was jailed for nine months in October 1986 for his part in this protest.

1990 – John Bruton was elected as the new leader of Fine Gael.

1991 – The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference (AIIC) held a meeting in Dublin. Minister for Justice, Ray Burke, confirmed that there would be changes to the laws on extradition.

1998 – An historic union between Labour and Democratic Left is agreed. Unveiled by the two top negotiators, Labour’s deputy leader Brendan Howlin and DL Deputy Eamon Gilmore, the merger proposal will go before Labour’s General Council and DL’s Executive for ratification.

2000 – Three Galway pubs are prosecuted by the Director of Consumer Affairs for failing to display correct price lists, in the first ever such prosecutions brought under new Retail Price Display regulations.

2001 – Cash-strapped Aer Lingus auctions its collection of paintings. Most money went on “By Merrion Strand” by Jack B. Yeats, an oil on canvas, which is sold for £290,000.

2001 – ‘The Man with the Golden Flute’ took the mostly orchestral instrument and put it right in the spotlight, thanks to his own million selling albums and famous guest appearances, including Roger Waters’ The Wall – Live in Berlin concert. Galway was also a major player on ‘The Lord of the Rings’ soundtrack, released on this date.

2002 – The last surviving member of the recruits which founded the Garda Síochána is laid to rest. Galway-born Charlie Clarke, who spent most of his career in Dublin, celebrated his 100th birthday in 2001.

2012 – Death of Mike Ryan, born 1935 in Dublin. He was an Irish-American footballer and coach of the 1985 United States women’s national soccer team for its first international games in Italy in August 1985. He finished his career by coaching at Nathan Hale High School before retiring in 2012 after having coached for over 60 years.

2016 – Death of novelist, playwright, and short story writer, William Trevor. Born in Mitchelstown, Co Cork, he was one of the elder statesmen of the Irish literary world, and was widely regarded as one of the greatest contemporary writers of short stories in the English language. He won the Whitbread Prize three times and was nominated five times for the Booker Prize, the last for his novel Love and Summer (2009), which was also shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award in 2011. His name was also mentioned in relation to the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 2014, Trevor was bestowed Saoi by the Aosdána.

Image | Five Fingers Strand and Dunes of Lagg, Malin Head, Inishowen, Co Donegal | Gareth Wray Photography

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