#OTD in Irish History – 6 March:

1738 – The first issues of the Belfast News Letter were produced in 1737 in the form of a letter of one or two pages and it has been published non-stop ever since. It is the oldest newspaper in the entire English-speaking world. The oldest copy still in existence was issued today on Tuesday 6 March 1738, there are reports from Hungary, Germany, Denmark and France. This was no mean feat at a time when international communications were so slow and difficult.

1791 – Birth of John MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam, nationalist campaigner and writer, in Tirawley, Co Mayo.

1831 – Birth of Philip Sheridan, general on Federal side in American Civil War and Commander-in-Chief of the US army, in Albany, NY.

1836 – An estimated 200 men die at the Battle of the Alamo including Davy Crockett who was of Irish extraction. At least ten of the defenders were actually Irish-born fighters. Some of the Irish who died include Samuel E. Burns (b. 1810), Andrew Duvalt (b. 1804) who immigrated to Texas by way of Missouri and settled in Gonzales. He was a plasterer by trade. James McGee, James Rusk, Burke Tranmel (b. 1810), Sergeant William B. Ward (b. 1806). When the Mexican army appeared on 23 February 1836, Ward was seen manning the artillery position at the Alamo’s main gate, while the rest of the garrison retreated into the Alamo.

1861 – Birth of poet and songwriter, Patrick McCall, in Dublin. Known mostly as the author of lyrics for popular ballads: ‘Follow me up to Carlow’, ‘The Boys of Wexford’, ‘Boolavogue’ and ‘Kelly the Boy from Killanne’. The Wexford ballads dealing with the 1798 Rising were put to music by Arthur Warren Darley.

1918 – Chairman of the Irish Parliamentary Party, John Redmond dies of heart failure, in Co Wexford.

1921 – The Lord Mayor of Limerick, George Clancy, his predecessor, Michael O’Callaghan, and another prominent nationalist, Joseph O’Donoghue, are killed by policemen in Limerick during curfew hours.

1922 – In Belfast, four people were shot dead (three civilians and one IRA volunteer).

1923 – Five Free State soldiers, including three officers were killed by a booby trap mine while clearing a road in Knocknagoshel, Co Kerry. Another soldier is badly wounded. National Army commander Paddy Daly issued a memorandum that Republican prisoners were to be used to clear mined roads from now on.

1924 – A ‘mutiny’ in the Free State army began on this date: dissident officers demand the suspension of demobilisation, and discussions on progress towards a republic. Following the ‘unauthorised’ arrest of dissidents, two Government ministers and three senior officers resign and conservative elements take control of Cumann na nGaedheal. The ‘army mutiny’ signals the end of the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

1935 – Birth of Ronnie Delany, 1500 meter gold medallist in the 1956 Olympic Games, in Arklow, Co Wicklow.

1978 – Micheál Mac Liammóir, poet, actor and founder of the Gate Theatre, dies.

1978 – The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) refused to consider talks with Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and Ernest Baird, leader of the United Ulster Unionist Movement (UUUM).

1981 – Bobby Sands recorded his diary for the first seventeen days of his hunger strike in which he detailed his thoughts and feelings on the momentous task that lay ahead of him. In order to secure his status as Irish political prisoner he was willing to fast til death, an event that would earn him a place in the annals of Irish history and in the hearts and minds of Irish republicans world-wide. See Bobby Sands Trust for today’s entry: http://www.bobbysandstrust.com/writings/prison-diary

1981 – Second day of visit by British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to Northern Ireland.

1984 – William McConnell (35), Assistant Governor of Long Kesh Prison, was shot dead by the IRA outside his home in east Belfast.

1988 – The Gibraltar Three: three unarmed IRA members, Mairéad Farrell, Danny McCann and Sean Savage were shot dead by undercover members of the Special Air Service (SAS) in Gibraltar, referred to as Operation Flavius. The episode sparked intense controversy and began a chain of events that lead to a series of deaths in Northern Ireland on 16 March 1988 and 19 March 1988. The British government claimed that the SAS shot the IRA members because they thought a bomb was about to be detonated. Eye-witnesses claimed that those shot were given no warning.

1991 – In a court in Paris, five people were sentenced for attempting to smuggle guns from Libya to Ireland in 1987. The men had been members of the crew of the ship Eksund.

1995 – The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) published a document written by Security Spokesman of the UUP, Ken Maginnis, outlining a plan for a seven member commission to oversee the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. The document had been given to British Prime Minister, John Major, in January 1995. The plan was rejected by Sinn Féin and the Ulster Democratic Party.

1998 – The jobless trend continues downward and falls to its lowest numbers in seven years.

1998 – In the village of Poyntzpass, Co Armagh, Protestants and Catholics attended both funeral services for the victims of the double killings on 3 March 1998. Many people believed and hoped that the killings might prove a watershed in the conflict.

1998 – Ian Paisley Jr and Sammy Wilson, both members of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), attended a Loyalist rally in Portadown, Co Armagh, which was called to oppose the Peace Process. Paisley called for the IRA to be ‘exterminated’. The rally was organised by the Concerned Protestants Committee (CPC) a group which was campaigning for an inquiry into the death of Billy Wright (37), who had been leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

1998 – Hundreds of Dubliners turn out to pay their last respects to Dermot Morgan as his funeral cortege makes its way to Glasnevin Crematorium.

1998 – A report in The Irish Times confirmed that the Irish nation would be defined in terms of its people, rather than its territory, in the new wording for Article 2 of the Irish Constitution. The paper also reported that the new Article 3 would enshrine the principle of consent while ‘expressing the wish of the majority of the Irish people for a united Ireland’. The proposed amendments to the Irish Constitution was part of the political package to bring about a settlement in the North.

2000 – Flamboyant journalist Jonathan Philbin Bowman is found dead in his Dublin home. Gardaí investigate the possibility that he may have fallen down the stairs.

2000 – An Bord Pleanála upholds Clare County Council’s decision to refuse planning permissions to proposals by the Minister for the Arts and Heritage, Síle de Valera, to develop visitor facilities at Mullaghmore in the Burren National Park.

2001 – The foot and mouth virus claims another Irish sporting casualty with the announcement that the world cross-country championships is to be switched to Brussels, bringing with it some 1,000 runners from 80 countries who were due to converge in Dublin on 24-25 March.

2001 – Moves to provide nappies for Killarney’s famous jaunting car horses are dropped. Against the advice of the Town Manager, the local urban council bows to the wishes of local jarveys who strongly oppose proposals to include ‘equine sanitary apparatus’ in the jarvey bylaws.

2002 – The Northern Ireland Assembly debated a motion proposing the expulsion of Sinn Féin from the Executive for a period of one year. The motion was tabled by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and other anti-Agreement Unionist parties. David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), had described the timing of the motion as a ‘stunt’. Those requesting the debate had specifically asked for it to be held before 9 March 2002 – the date of the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) annual general meeting. Most pro-Agreement Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) did not attend the debate and the motion was defeated. Trimble told the House of Commons that he opposed any ‘amnesty’ for paramilitary fugitives (those described as being ‘on the run’). He said it would represent the ‘last straw’ for many Unionist supporters of the Agreement.

Image | Sheskinmore Bay’ | Ballinreavy Strand Dunes, Rossbeg, Co Donegal | Gareth Wray Photography

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