#OTD in Irish History – 24 November:

600 – Death of Saint Colman of Cloyne (also known as Saint Colman Mac Leinin). He was founder and patron of the See of Cloyne in Co Cork. Colman of Cloyne was born in Munster. His birthday is said to have been 15 October and the year is believed to have been 522. He was the son of Leinin, who according to the Book of Leinster was ninth in descent from Mogh Nuadat, King of Munster in 166. He was attached to the Cattraige, a people recorded in the earliest sources in several Irish provinces, who claimed exalted descent, but who appear as one among a group of people in a subservient role to the Kings of Cashel (Munster). Colman is associated with those resident in the area immediately north of Emly or, in the opinion of the editors of the Liturgical Calendar for Ireland 2006, it is more probable that he came from west Cork.

1713 – Birth of Lawrence Sterne in Clonmel, Co Tipperary. He was a clergyman, humorist, and author of the experimental novel Tristram Shandy.

1807 – Henry Blosse Lynch, soldier and explorer, is born in Ballinrobe, Co Mayo.

1820 – Death of Arthur French, MP for Co Roscommon. A critic of the policy of collective fines as a deterrent to the illicit distillation of poteen, he incurred the wrath of Chief Secretary of Ireland, Robert Peel, who called him ‘an Abominable fellow’. He also criticised the continuation of martial law in Ireland. One report states that he died ‘from excessive fox hunting’ on this date.

1843 – Birth of Richard Croker in Ballyva, Co Cork. He was known as ‘Boss Croker,’ an American politician and a leader of New York City’s Tammany Hall.

1865 – Two weeks after being arrested, James Stephens escapes from Richmond prison, Dublin. The Richmond General Penitentiary was a prison established in 1820 in Grangegorman, Dublin as an alternative to transportation. It was part of an experiment into a penitentiary system which also involved Millbank Penitentiary, London. Richmond and Millbank penitentiaries were the first prisons in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland (as it was at the time) to specialise in reform rather than punishment. The building was designed by the architect Francis Johnston and decorated by George Stapleton. The building ceased to be a prison in 1831, and later became part of the Richmond Asylum. The prison’s officers were accused of proselytism and cruelty, and the Irish Government ordered a commission of inquiry to investigate the accusations.

1913 – Birth of actress, Geraldine Fitzgerald, in Greystones, Co Wicklow. She was a member of the American Theatre Hall of Fame. Fitzgerald began her acting career in 1932 at Dublin’s famed Gate Theatre. She appeared frequently on television as well, in such series as Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Robert Montgomery Presents, Naked City, St. Elsewhere, The Golden Girls, and Cagney and Lacey.

1922 – Nine Irish Republican Army members are executed by a Free State firing squad. Among them is author and former Treaty negotiator Robert Erskine Childers, who had been arrested for illegally carrying a pistol which had been given to him by Michael Collins. There are attacks that night on Portobello and Wellington in Dublin, however, inflicting no casualties.

1924 – Eoin MacNeill resigned as Minister for Education.

1940 – Death of Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Sir James Craig. He was succeeded by the Minister of Finance John Andrews.

1942 – Death of Peadar Kearney, writer of the Irish National Anthem, ‘A Soldier’s Song’.

1964 – Death of William O’Dwyer. He was the 100th Mayor of New York City from 1946 to 1950. O’Dwyer was born in Bohola, Co Mayo and studied in St Nathys College, Ballaghaderreen, Co Roscommon. He emigrated to the United States in 1910, after abandoning studies for the priesthood. He worked as a laborer, then as a New York City police officer, while studying law at night at Fordham University Law School. He received his degree in 1923 and then built up a successful law practice before serving as a Kings County (Brooklyn) Court judge. He won election as the Kings County District Attorney in 1939 and his prosecution of the organised crime syndicate known as Murder, Inc. made him a national celebrity. After losing the mayoral election to Fiorello La Guardia in 1941, O’Dwyer enlisted in the US Army, achieving the rank of brigadier general.

1965 – The Government imposes an experimental 70mph speed limit on motorways.

1971 – A woman was killed when members of the IRA carried out an attack on British soldiers in Strabane, Co Tyrone.

1971 – A British Army bomb-disposal specialist was killed by a bomb in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

1972 – The RTÉ authority is replaced by the government after RTÉ broadcasts a radio interview with IRA leader Seán Mac Stiofáin. On 19 November 1972, a controversial interview with Mac Stíofáin was broadcast on the RTÉ This Week radio programme. He was arrested on the same day and the interview was later used as evidence against him on a trial of IRA membership and on 25 November, he was sentenced to six months imprisonment by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin. Political fallout arising from the interview was considerable and some days later, Fianna Fáil minister Gerry Collins sacked the entire RTÉ Authority.

1974 – British police charge six people for the murderous bombings in Birmingham on 21 November that killed twenty-one people. Hugh Callaghan, Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, Billy Power, and Johnny Walker were convicted of the bombings in 1975. It took sixteen years for the British legal system to accept that the convictions were unsafe. At a time when public fury was at its height following the bombings, an over-zealous West-Midland police force beat confessions out of the innocent men and fabricated / altered notes of the confessions. One of the six Paddy Hill stated on his release ”The police told us from the start they knew we hadn’t done it. They didn’t care who had done it.”

1982 – General election in the Republic leads to a Fine Gael-Labour coalition government.

1982 – Michael Tighe (17), a Catholic civilian, was shot dead by an undercover RUC unit at a farm in Derrymacash, near Lurgan, Co Armagh.

1983 – Don Tidey, an American supermarket executive, was kidnapped by the IRA. The kidnap took place in Rathfarnham, Co Dublin. Tidey was rescued on 16 December 1983.

1991 – Two Loyalist paramilitary prisoners were killed by an explosion inside Crumlin Road Prison in Belfast. The explosives had been smuggled into the prison, and fabricated into a bomb, by Republican paramilitary prisoners.

1993 – A consignment of arms that was being shipped to the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was intercepted by British police at Teesport, England. The arms contained 300 assault rifles, thousands of bullets, 4,400 pounds of explosives, and detonators, and had originated in Poland. Representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) held a meeting at Downing Street, London, with British Prime Minister, John Major.

1997 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, gave a press conference in Stormont, Belfast, and told journalists that she would like to see “more direct communication between Sinn Féin and the UUP.

1997 – Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), went to Downing Street, London, for a meeting with British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Paisley criticised Blair for making concessions to Sinn Féin and said that the peace process and the IRA ceasefire were both “a sham”.

1998 – The national 24-hour stoppage by train drivers costs Dublin City centre traders about £1.5m in lost sales, with Irish Rail losing substantial revenue from more than 60,000 stranded travellers.

1999 – Father Aengus Finucane, CSSp, former chief executive of Concern Worldwide, is conferred by the University of Limerick with an Honorary Doctorate of Laws in recognition of his outstanding work with the world’s disadvantaged people.

2002 – Ireland’s TDs and Senators, lose 3-2 to their Scottish counterparts in a friendly football match. The ‘Clash of the Celts’ inter-parliamentary match was held to highlight the Irish-Scottish bid to host the Euro 2008 football championships.

2006 – Michael Stone was arrested for breaking into the Stormont parliament buildings while armed. He would receive 16 years imprisonment for attempting to murder Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams.

Image | Ross Errily Friary, Headford, Co Galway

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