#OTD in Irish History – 10 May:

1318 – Richard de Clare, Lord of Thomond, a descendant of Strongbow, is killed while commanding his forces at the Battle of Dysert O’Dea. According to legend, the day before his death, Richard de Clare beheld a woman dressed in white on the river’s edge washing bloody clothing and armour. When he asked whose clothes they were, she replied, “yours,” and then vanished. This woman was believed to be a banshee foretelling his death the next day when he lay dead with his clothes caked in blood on the battlefield of Desert O’Dea.

1603 – In the revolt of the towns, or recusancy revolt, Catholic worship is re-established in Kilkenny and the main Munster towns between 11 April and this date, in the hope that James I will grant religious toleration; Mountjoy marches south and forces the towns to submit.

1642 – A Catholic confederacy (‘the Confederation of Kilkenny’) is instituted to administer Catholic-controlled parts of the country pending a final settlement.

1739 – John Thomas Troy, Catholic Archbishop of Dublin and opponent of revolution, is born in Castleknock, Co Dublin.

1804 – After resigning as Prime Minister following a disagreement with George III over Catholic Emancipation, William Pitt returns to office.

1832 – Birth of William Russell Grace in Co Laois, the first Roman Catholic mayor of New York and the founder of W. R. Grace and Company.

1838 – James Bryce, 1st Viscount Bryce of Dechmount; jurist, historian and Liberal politician, is born in Belfast.

1870 – Jem Mace defends his heavyweight crown against Irish champ Joe Coburn; it lasts 1 hr and 17 minutes; neither is struck by a punch.

1873 – Leslie Montgomery, comic writer; pseudonym Lynn C. Doyle, is born in Downpatrick, Co Down.

1886 – Richard Mulcahy, pro-Treaty nationalist and Fine Gael politician, is born in Co Waterford.

1901 – Birth of John Desmond Bernal in Nenagh, Co Tipperary. He was a scientist and a pioneer in X-ray crystallography in molecular biology. He also published extensively on the history of science. In addition, Bernal was a political supporter of Communism and wrote popular books on subjects connecting science and society.

1908 – Birth of Henry Diamond, Irish Nationalist MP.

1915 – Death of Denys Corbett Wilson. He was a pioneering Irish aviator. He is most notable for his 100-minute flight on 22 April 1912, from Goodwick in Pembrokeshire to Crane near Enniscorthy in Co Wexford – from Great Britain to Ireland. The journey time was 1 hour 40 minutes.

1916 – Sailing in the lifeboat James Caird, Ernest Shackleton arrives at South Georgia after a journey of 800 nautical miles from Elephant Island.

1918 – Birth of Desmond J. McNamara in Mount Street, Dublin. He was a sculptor, painter, stage and art designer and novelist. After graduating from University College, Dublin and the National College of Art in Dublin in the early 1940s, he found a place as stage designer and prop maker for the Abbey Theatre and at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, working with the legendary duo Michael Macliammoir and Hilton Edwards. He was an uncredited art designer on the Henry V (1944 film). MacNamara’s sculptures are on display in the National Art Gallery of Ireland and at the Dublin Writers Museum.

1920 – Birth of Lord Justice of Appeals for Northern Ireland, Basil Kelly, in Co Monaghan.

1921 – Two RIC constables Alexander Clarke and Charles Murdock disappeared near Clonmany, Co Donegal. The body of Clarke was washed up on the shore the next day. Murdock was reportedly buried in a bog.

1940 – Brendan Bracken convinced Winston Churchill that the Labour Party would indeed support him as Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain’s successor, and that Lord Halifax’s appointment would hand certain victory to Hitler. Born in Templemore, Co Tipperary, Bracken, was a businessman and a minister in the British Conservative cabinet. He is best remembered for opposing the Bank of England’s co-operation with Adolf Hitler. Bracken’s father had belonged to the IRB and was one of the seven founders of the GAA.

1943 – A mine washes up on a beach in Co Donegal and explodes; 19 men and boys, aged between 14 and 33, who lived in Ballymanus near Kincasslagh, are killed by the blast.

1950 – Charlie Nash, former European and British lightweight champion, is born in Derry.

1956 – Birth of Brendan Howlin, Labour TD and former Minister for the Environment.

1960 – Paul Hewson, better known as Bono, is born at the Rotunda Hospital in Dublin.

1969 – In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph, former Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Terence O’Neill, is reported as saying: ‘If you give Roman Catholics a good job and a good house, they will live like Protestants. They will refuse to have 18 children.’

1972 – In a referendum in the Republic, 83 per cent favour accession to the European Economic Community.

1974 – Two RUC officers were shot dead by the IRA in an attack on Finaghy Road North, Finaghy, Belfast.

1977 – A Protestant civilian, Harry Bradshaw (46), was shot dead by Loyalist paramilitaries as he drove a bus on the Crumlin Road, Belfast. He was killed because he was working during the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike. Also, a member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), John Geddis (26), was killed in a Loyalist bomb attack on a petrol station on the Crumlin Road, Belfast. Again, this attack was carried out because the petrol station had opened during the strike.

1977 – At a roadblock outside Ballymena Ian Paisley, Ernest Baird, and other members of the UUAC were arrested. Paisley was charged with obstruction of the highway and then released. In Toomebridge, Co Antrim a roadblock by farmers supporting the UUAC was attacked by local nationalists. In the disturbances that followed farm vehicles were pushed into the River Bann as the blockade was dispersed. It was reported that a number of shots were also fired during the disturbances.

1979 – In the United States, a judge ruled that a group of men, believed to be members of the IRA and also considered to be responsible for bombing the Ripon Barracks in North Yorkshire, should not be extradited to Britain.

1982 – In a Commons debate on the Northern Ireland Bill, which set out proposals for a new Assembly at Stormont, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior, said: “A policy of continuing with Direct Rule does not offer a long-term answer. We either move to a position of total integration … or we seek a gradual devolution of power.”

1982 – Taoiseach, Charles Haughey, appointed Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), Seamus Mallon, to the Irish Senate. He also appointed John Robb of the New Ireland Group to the Senate.

1983 – The Northern Ireland Assembly began what was to become an all-night sitting to discuss devolution of powers from Westminster to the Assembly. Despite lengthy talks the parties were unable to agree a common approach.

1983 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Patrick Mayhew, promised proposals for new political talks.

1988 – Death of musician, Ciarán Bourke. He was one of the original founding members of the Irish folk band The Dubliners; he played tin whistle, mouth organ and guitar, as well as singing. Ciarán was responsible for bringing a Gaelic element to The Dubliners’ music with songs such as “Peggy Lettermore” and “Sé Fáth Mo Bhuartha” being performed in the Irish language.

1995 – Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), Martin McGuinness, led a SF delegation to Stormont for a meeting with Michael Ancram, Political Development Minister at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO). This was the first official meeting between SF and the British Government in 23 years. Ancram sought movement on the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. SF pressed for the release of paramilitary prisoners, the disbandment of the RUC, and direct talks with the Secretary of State.

1996 – Following protests Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ian Paisley, was told that his name would be added to his party’s name in the forth-coming elections.

1998 – Members of Sinn Féin (SF) vote to accept the Good Friday peace agreement, effectively acknowledging the north-south border. At the party’s Ard Fheis in Dublin, SF members voted to change their constitution to allow candidates to take their places in the proposed new Northern Ireland Assembly. Out of the 350 delegates present and eligible to vote, 331 voted in favour of a motion drafted by the Ard Comhairle (the ruling executive of SF) which would allow successful SF candidates to take up their seats in the new Northern Ireland Assembly. The party was addressed by President of SF, Gerry Adams. The removal of the policy of ‘abstentionism’ was a historical move which ended 77 years of refusing to participate in institutions of government in Northern Ireland. A number of IRA prisoners were released from jails in the Republic of Ireland to attend the Ard Fheis.

1999 – Chief Constable of the RUC, John Hermon, was quoted in The Daily Telegraph as saying that Pat Finucane, a Belfast solicitor killed on 12 February 1989, was ‘associated with the IRA. Hermon’s remarks were criticised by Nationalists and human rights groups.

2000 – Arts and Culture Minister, Síle de Valera, officially opens the fully restored 1817 fountain at the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin.

2000 – Gerry Loughran was appointed as the head of the Civil Service in Northern Ireland. He was the first Catholic to serve in the post.

2013 – Death of actor and director Vincent Gerard Dowling. He was married to the late actress, Brenda Doyle (who died in a car crash in 1981). He is the father of actress Bairbre Dowling, and the former father-in-law of actor, Colm Meaney. In May 2013, the politician and TD, Richard Boyd Barrett, revealed that Dowling was his biological father, as a result of a relationship with actress Sinéad Cusack in 1967. Dowling first came to prominence in Ireland in the 1950s for his role as Christy Kennedy in the long-running radio soap opera, The Kennedys of Castleross and as a member of the Abbey Theatre company.

Image | Ring of Kerry, Killarney | Photo courtesy Jonathon Epstein

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