#OTD in Irish History – 16 January:

1362 – Birth of Robert de Vere, Duke of Ireland, Marquess of Dublin, and 9th Earl of Oxford KG. He was a favourite and court companion of King Richard II of England. He was the ninth Earl of Oxford and the first and only Duke of Ireland and Marquess of Dublin.

1700 – Richard Levinge, an Irish MP and later a prominent Tory, is committed by the English House of Commons to the Tower of London until 11 April for speaking ill of his fellow Commissioners of Forfeited Estates.

1707 – Robert Allen, a future MP, elopes with the daughter of Robert Johnson MP: Johnson writes to Ormonde on 16 January that Allen ‘has stolen a marriage with my daughter; no consent or acquainting of him with me. I fancy they will find they have two very difficult fathers to persuade to part with anything to either of them.’ In 1730 Allen will be satirized viciously by Jonathan Swift.

1816 – Frances Browne, writer, is born in Stranorlar, Co Donegal. She caught smallpox at eighteen months which caused blindness and was known as The Blind Poetess of Stranorlar.

1822 – Birth of Fenian, Thomas Clarke Luby, in Dublin.

1900 – Birth of badminton player, Frank Devlin, in Dublin.

1904 – In reaction to attacks on Jews in Limerick, Michael Davitt, a leader of the Irish Land League, protests ‘as an Irishman and a Catholic against this spirit of barbarous malignity’.

1909 – Kildare-born, Ernest Shackleton’s expedition finds the magnetic South Pole. This expedition were the first to climb Mount Erebus, and they discovered the Beardmore Glacier – named after Shackleton’s patron.

1913 – Home Rule bill passed in the House of Commons. However, on 30 January, the House of Lords rejected it.

1916 – James Connolly met with the Irish Volunteer leadership regarding the rising. (Connolly, unaware that a date had been set, was concluding that the IRB, like earlier generations of Irish, was taking too long to act.) Connolly favoured an immediate insurrection and argued that the seizure of selected buildings in Dublin would ignite the whole country. He insisted that the Irish Citizen Army was prepared to rise alone. Nothing came out of that meeting.

1919 – Prohibition takes effect in the United States. Much of the logic driving prohibition and the temperance movement had latent anti-immigrant, anti-Irish foundations. The Irish and other immigrants were often seen by the movement as part of an alcohol and drunkenness problem and a threat to the well-being of the nation. The introduction of prohibition proved a boon to lawlessness and brought numerous Irish and Irish-American gangsters to the fore including Legs Diamond, Vincent ‘Mad Dog’ Coll and Dion O’Banion.

1920 – Percy French gave his last concert in Glasgow. He died in Liverpool eight days later.

1922 – Michael Collins takes over control of Dublin Castle from the British authorities on behalf of the new Irish Free state.

1923 – Two Republican fighters are killed in a skirmish in Tipperary.

1939 – The IRA begins a bombing and sabotage campaign in England (The S-Plan or Sabotage Campaign or England Campaign).

1949 – Birth of historian and academic, R. F. Foster, in Co Waterford. He is the Carroll Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford in the UK. He was awarded an M.A. and Ph.D. by Trinity College, where he was taught by T. W. Moody and F.S.L. Lyons, and was elected a scholar in History and Political Science in 1969.

1955 – Gobnait Ní Bhruadair (Albinia Brodrick), Irish republican activist, dies.

1974 – Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Executive, Brian Faulkner, travelled to Dublin for a meeting with Taoiseach, Liam Cosgrave, following a ruling in the Dublin High Court. The ruling implied that the reunification of Ireland did not require the consent of the majority of people in Northern Ireland.

1975 – The IRA announced that it would call off its ceasefire as of midnight 16 January 1975.

1978 – Catholic Primate of Ireland, Tomás Ó Fiaich, was quoted in the Irish Press as saying: “I believe the British should withdraw from Ireland. I think that it is the only thing that will get things moving.” The comments drew a lot of criticism including from Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), who called Ó Fiaich “the IRA’s bishop from Crossmaglen”.

1981 – Civil rights campaigner and former Westminster MP, Bernadette McAliskey (née Devlin) and her husband were shot and seriously injured in a gun attack in their home near Coalisland, Co Tyrone. It was believed that members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) were responsible for the attack. Bernadette was shot seven times in front of her children, but both her and her husband recovered from their injuries.

1983 – William Doyle, a County Court judge, was shot dead by members of the IRA as he left mass at a Catholic church in south Belfast.

1986 – Security forces in Holland raided a flat in Amsterdam and arrested two Republicans, Brendan McFarlane and Gerard Kelly, who had escaped from Long Kesh prison on 25 September 1983. The two men were extradited to the UK on 3 December 1986.

1987 – Peter Robinson, deputy leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), pleaded guilty in a Dublin court to unlawful assembly. Robinson paid £17,500 in fines and compensation and was freed.

1989 – The case of the ‘Guildford Four’ was referred to the Court of Appeal.

1993 – President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, gave an interview to the Irish News in which he called for “inclusive dialogue” and a new Irish-British agreement that would bring an end to partition.

1994 – The Sunday Independent contained a story about an alleged plan of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) to carry out ‘ethnic cleansing’. The plan involved the repartition of Northern Ireland followed by the forced removal of Catholics from the remaining area.

1995 – A delegation from Sinn Féin held a meeting with Northern Ireland Office (NIO) officials at Stormont. Sinn Féin accepted that the party had an “influence” on paramilitary weapons. Michael Ancram, Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), later said that the decommissioning of IRA weapons was not a precondition to Sinn Féin’s entry into substantive talks.

1997 – The case of Lee Clegg was referred to the Court of Appeal by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Patrick Mayhew. Clegg had been released from prison in 1995 having served two years of a life sentence for the murder of Karen Reilly (16) on 30 September 1990.

2000 – For his adaptations of the work of William Shakespeare, Belfast-born actor and director Kenneth Branagh becomes the youngest winner of the Gielgud award.

2001 – Hough’s Pub in Lorrha, Co Tipperary retains the title of “The Cheapest Pint” in Ireland. Earning the respect of drinkers everywhere, Pat Hough won’t be raising the price of a pint of plain above £1.50.

2002 – Postal deliveries throughout Northern Ireland were again suspended as the Communication Workers Union, together with other trade unions, continued efforts to have Ulster Defence Association (UDA) death threats lifted.

2002 – Assistant Chief Constable of PSNI, Alan McQuillan, met leaders of the Communication Workers Union in Belfast and give them an “honest assessment” of the threat issued by the Red Hand Defenders (RHD). Following the meeting the Belfast postal workers said they would return to work beginning with the first shifts on Thursday 17 January 2002.

2002 – The body of Stephen McCullough (39) was found at the bottom of Cavehill in north Belfast. It appeared that he had fallen from the top of a cliff. Initially the police said a crime was not suspected. However, on 21 January 2002, it was revealed that McCullough was a member of the UDA. It was also revealed that hours before his death McCullough had told Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) soldiers and some police officers that he had information about the killing of Daniel McColgan (12 January 2002). Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, Nuala O’Loan, began an investigation into the death of McCullough.

2002 – Richard Haass, US President George Bush’s special adviser on Northern Ireland, urges Sinn Féin to drop its objections to the new Police Board.

2002 – The High Court in Belfast ruled that David Trimble (UUP), First Minister, and Seamus Mallon (SDLP), Deputy First Minister, were wrong to withhold Executive papers, relating to free public transport, from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). The two DUP ministers had refused to serve on the Executive.

2002 – Pat Cox (49), a Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from Ireland, won the election to become the President of the European Parliament.

2002 – Joe White of Rathmire, Co Kerry becomes one of the oldest people in the country to pass the driving test. He began driving in Ireland more than 60 years ago, went to the USA and returned last year to find his Irish license had long lapsed. It took two attempts, but the sprightly 84-year-old proved age, bad roads or fast drivers need not be a barrier to passing the test.

Image | Early morning light at Murlough Bay on the Causeway Coast, Co Antrim | Steven Hanna Photography

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