#OTD in Irish History – 20 May:

1311 – The war of the O’Briens of Thomond escalates as the Norman-Irish become involved on both sides: the de Burghs support Dermot O’Brien and Richard de Clare supports Donough O’Brien. There is a pitched battle at Bunratty on this date, with heavy losses on both sides; de Burgh and others are imprisoned.

1648 – Truce between the confederates and Inchiquin; its adherents are excommunicated by Giovanni Rinuccini, papal nuncio to the confederates.

1759 – Birth of Sir Eyre Coote, the younger; soldier, MP, and governor of Jamaica.

1836 – An Act amalgamates the county constabulary and Peace Preservation Force into a centralized police force – the Irish Constabulary – which will later become the Royal Irish Constabulary.

1869 – Birth of Dr. Joshua Pim in Bray, Co Wicklow. He was a medical doctor and a renowned former World No. 1 Irish amateur tennis player. He won the Wimbledon men’s singles title two years in a row, in 1893 and 1894.

1877 – Birth of Pat Leahy in Cregane, Charleville, Co Limerick. He was an athlete who won Olympic medals (for Great Britain and Ireland) in the high jump and long jump at the 1900 Summer Olympics.

1920 – Dublin dock workers refused to handle war material, and were soon joined by members of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union. Despite hundreds of sackings the strike continued. Train drivers were brought over from England after Irish drivers refused to drive trains carrying British troops.

1921 – The IRA executes two unarmed RIC constables in Longford and two suspected informers in Cork city.

1922 – De Valera and Collins agree to a pact whereby a national coalition panel of candidates will represent the pro- and anti-Treaty wings of Sinn Féin throughout Ireland in the forthcoming general election.

1927 – The opening hours of Irish public houses are restricted by the Intoxicating Liquor Act.

1932 – Amelia Earhart takes off from Newfoundland for Ireland on the anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s famous flight; she lands near Derry and becomes the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic.

1968 – Northern Ireland Prime Minister Terence O’Neill, was showered with eggs, flour and stones after a meeting of the Woodvale Unionist Association.

1969 – Students stage a sit-in at University College in Dublin to protest conditions in Northern Ireland.

1974 – Day 6 of the UWC Strike: A Catholic civilian, Michael Mallon (20), was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) a covername for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), and left by the side of the road at Shaw’s Bridge, Belfast. Many roads in Northern Ireland were closed because of barricades. Electricity generation dropped to about one-third of normal levels. People were asked only to use telephones in an emergency. Five hundred additional troops arrived in Northern Ireland.

1980 – British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, stated in the House of Commons: “The future of the constitutional affairs of Northern Ireland is a matter for the people of Northern Ireland, this government and this parliament and no one else.” This statement was made the day before Taoiseach Charles Haughey, was due to arrive in London with talks with Thatcher.

1981 – Local government elections were held in Northern Ireland against the backdrop of the continuing hunger strike. In the increased tension in the region, ‘moderate’ parties all suffered a decline in support. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) achieved 26.6 per cent of the vote compared to the 26.5 per cent recorded by the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) obtained 17.5 per cent of the first preference votes compared to 20.6 per cent in 1977.

1985 – Four RUC officers in a mobile patrol were killed when the IRA exploded a bomb in a parked trailer at Killeen, Co Down.

1986 – Nicholas Scott, a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minister, provided information in the House of Commons on the level of intimidation that RUC officers had faced from Loyalists during protests at the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). Scott said that there had been 368 cases of intimidation. Later information provided by the RUC indicated that the final number was over 500 homes attacked and 150 RUC families forced to move.

1991 – The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) announced that it was leaving the political talks (later known as the Brooke/Mayhew talks) until such time as the procedures for the main talks were agreed by the other parties.

1992 – Birth of actor, Jack Gleeson in Co Cork. Best known for his portrayal of Joffrey Baratheon in the HBO television series Game of Thrones. In 2012, Gleeson indicated an intention to retire from acting to pursue an academic career once his work on Game of Thrones was finished. In 2014, Gleeson confirmed he would be permanently retiring from acting after concluding his work in Game of Thrones. In the same interview, he stated that while he had previously been interested in pursuing academia, he had since ‘gone off that idea’.

1993 – The IRA exploded a bomb, estimated at 1,000 lbs, in Glengall St, Belfast. Thirteen people were injured in the explosion. The bomb was placed outside the Grand Opera House and close to the Headquarters of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). Later estimates put the cost of the damage at £6.5 million.

1996 – President of Sinn Féin (SF), Gerry Adams, said that SF was prepared to accept the six ‘Mitchell Principles’ if the other parties agreed to them.

1997 – John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), tabled a motion in the House of Commons calling on the British government to conduct a new inquiry into the events of ‘Bloody Sunday‘ in Derry on 30 January 1972.

1997 – British Home Secretary, Jack Straw, announced that two IRA prisoners, Danny McNamee and Liam McCotter, would be transferred to prisons in Northern Ireland.

1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern assures unionists there is no hidden agenda in the Belfast Agreement and promises to stamp out dissident paramilitary groups who want to wreck the accord.

1998 – British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, delivered a speech at the Coleraine campus of the University of Ulster in which he unveiled a hand-written set of pledges to the people of Northern Ireland in advance of the Referendum on 22 May 1998. The text of the pledges was as follows: ‘I pledge to the people of Northern Ireland:

  • No change in the status of Northern Ireland without the express consent of the people of Northern Ireland.
  • Power to take decisions returned to a Northern Ireland Assembly, with accountable North/South co-operation.
  • Fairness and equality guaranteed for all.
  • Those who use or threaten violence excluded from the Government of Northern Ireland.
  • Prisoners kept in unless violence is given up for good.

Whatever the Referendum result, as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I will continue to work for stability and prosperity for all the people of Northern Ireland’.

1998 – President of the United States Bill Clinton, sent a personal message to the people of Northern Ireland calling on them to vote ‘Yes’ in the forthcoming referendum.

1999 – 24th Biennial Conference of Irish Historians is held at University College in Cork.

2001 – More than half a million people line the streets to watch the postponed St Patrick’s Day Parade in Dublin. The parade was postponed due to the fear of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease amongst the country’s livestock.

2001 – Former US president Bill Clinton begins a four-day trip to Ireland with a round of golf at Ballybunion, Co Kerry.

2003 – The Irish Government restricts alcohol adverts. The ads are banned from buses, trains, cinemas and sporting events and not permitted before 10 p.m. on television.

2003 – Thousands of Irish-based Celtic fans fly to Spain to cheer on the Glasgow club in their first European final in 33 years the following day.

2003 – Dundalk garden designer Paul Martin wins a silver medal at London’s Chelsea Flower Show.

2011 – Queen Elizabeth spends the last of her four days in Ireland visiting Cork where she once again was greeted warmly. Despite initial concerns concerning security, the visit proved to be a huge success for both countries. The Queen’s apology at Dublin Castle for the treatment her governments meted out to Ireland over many years was received with enormous positive, emotional response.

Image | Sneem, Co Kerry | Ferd’s Photos

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