#OTD in Irish History – 28 December:

In the Liturgical Calendar, today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents and, in Irish folklore, it was very unlucky to start something new. It was also believed that whichever day of the week the feast fell, that day would be unlucky throughout the following year.

1673 – Birth of Marmaduke Coghill (in Dublin), lawyer, judge and MP.

1795 – The Governor of Armagh, Lord Gosford, gave his opinion of the violence in Armagh which resulted from the “battle” at a meeting of magistrates on 28 December 1795. He said, “It is no secret that a persecution is now raging in this country… the only crime is… profession of the Roman Catholic faith. Lawless banditti (Orange Order) have constituted themselves judges…”

1836 – Death of United Irishman, Lawyer and author William Sampson in New York. Born in well-to-do Protestant ascendancy, Sampson was one of many non-Catholics who were disturbed by the level of discrimination and violence against members of the Catholic faith. As a lawyer, he defended United Irishmen for anti-British actions before being arrested himself. Expelled from Ireland, he settled in American in 1806. His most lasting impact on American judicial law was when he won a judgment accepting the confidentiality of the confessional. The opening lines of Salmon’s Memoirs read: “At length, I take up my pen… to give you the history of my extraordinary persecution. From it you may form a judgment of that system of government which drove the unhappy people of Ireland to revolt. But, to judge rightly, you should also be aware, that of many thousand such cases, mine is one of- the most mild.”

1846 – Death of violinist, conductor and composer, William Henry Kearns. Born in Dublin, he was employed as a violinist in the orchestra of the Covent Garden opera house (principal first violin for the season 1818–9) and as organist at the Verulam Episcopal Chapel, Lambeth.

1880 – The trial of Parnell and others for conspiracy begins on this date.

1883 – St John Greer Ervine, playwright, author, critic and manager of the Abbey Theatre from 1915 to 1916, is born in Belfast.

1891 – Death of painter and artist, Augustus Nicholas Burke. Born in 1828 in Co Galway, he was a regular exhibitor at the Royal Academy in London and the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin. He resided in Holland and Brittany for a number of years before returning to Dublin. His portraits include a Breton Farmyard; The Feast-day of Notre Dame de Tremala, Brittany and a View in Connemara. Burke’s brother was murdered along with Lord Frederick Cavendish, Chief Secretary for Ireland in the infamous Phoenix Park Murders of 1882.

1897 – Death of Rev. William Corby, CSC. He was a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Corby is perhaps best known for his giving general absolution to the Irish Brigade on the second day of the Battle of Gettysburg, which was dramatised in the film Gettysburg. Fr. Corby also served twice as President of the University of Notre Dame. The school’s Corby Hall is named for him, and a statue of him similar to that at Gettysburg stands outside this building on the Notre Dame campus. Fr. Corby was born in Detroit, Michigan, to Daniel, an Irish native, and Elizabeth, a Canadian. Widely remembered among military chaplains and celebrated by Irish-American fraternal organisations, his statue with right hand raised in the gesture of blessing was the first statue of a non-general erected on the Gettysburg Battlefield.

1918 – Constance Markievicz while detained in Holloway prison, became the first woman to be elected MP to the British House of Commons.

1922 – Republican Francis Lawlor is abducted by Free State forces in Dublin, killed and his body dumped at Orwell Road, Rathgar.

1938 – Birth of actor, singer and writer, Frank Kelly, in Blackrock, Dublin. His career covered television, radio, theatre, music, screenwriting and film. He played Father Jack Hackett in the Channel Four sitcom Father Ted, and was also the son of the cartoonist Charles E. Kelly. Kelly died on 28 February 2016, after suffering a heart attack. He revealed he had Parkinson’s disease in October 2015, and was recovering from bowel cancer. He had previously survived skin cancer. His death came exactly 18 years after the death of his Father Ted co-star Dermot Morgan.

1969 – Split in the IRA. The breakaway group became known as the Provisional IRA and the remaining group became known as the Official IRA. The split in the IRA became public knowledge on 11 January 1970.

1972 – Two people were killed in a Loyalist bomb attack on the village of Belturbet, Co Cavan.

1990 – In an interview published in the Belfast Telegraph Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke, said he believed that there had been “real advances” during the year. Although admitting that no substantial progress, he pointed to the fact that there had at least been “new thinking about difficult issues, re-analysis of positions and goals, and re-evaluation of the validity of traditional aims in the context of the nineteen-nineties.”

1993 – Republicans held a meeting at Loughmacrory, Co Tyrone, to consider the Downing Street Declaration. It was reported that many people were critical of the Declaration.

1996 – Liam Duffy, an political activist with Sinn Féin, discovered a bomb under his car in the Waterside area of Derry.

1997 – The British government orders the deployment of the SAS in Mid-Ulster in a bid to thwart another Loyalist Volunteer Force outrage as IRA commanders in Tyrone meet in emergency session in an effort to keep the lid on the Provo ceasefire.

2000 – Heavy snow and freezing temperatures are reported throughout the country. The heaviest snowfall in 18 years brings chaos to the North.

2012 – Death of hurler, Frankie Walsh. Born in Waterford, he played as a left wing-forward for the Waterford senior team, during that time he won one All-Ireland medal, three Munster medals and one National Hurling League medal. In 1959, Walsh captained the team to the All-Ireland title. At club level Walsh enjoyed a lengthy career with Mount Sion, winning twelve county club championship. In retirement from playing Walsh became involved in team management. He trained the Waterford senior hurling team in the early 1970s before later serving as manager of the Mount Sion senior hurling team in the early 1990s

Image | Wild Horses on Achill Island, Co Mayo

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