#OTD in Irish History – 15 January:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast of St Ita (Íte of Killeedy). Ita, called the ‘Brigid of Munster’, born in present-day Co Waterford. She became a nun, settling down at Cluain Credhail, a place-name that has ever since been known as Killeedy–that is, ‘Church of St. Ita’, in Co Limerick. There, she was the head of a community of women. She was known as the ‘foster mother of the saints of Erin’.

1754 – Birth of Colonel Richard ‘Humanity Dick’ Martin. He was an Irish politician and animal rights activist. Martin was born in Ballynahinch, Co Galway, the only son of Robert Martin Fitz Anthony of Birchall, Co Galway, and Bridget Barnwall, a daughter of Baron Trimlestown. Martin was raised at Dangan House, situated on the Corrib River, four miles upriver from the town of Galway.

1759 – The British Museum opened to the public. The origins of the British Museum lie in the will of the physician, naturalist and collector, Sir Hans Sloane (1660–1753). Born in Killyleagh, Co Down, over his lifetime, Sloane collected more than 71,000 objects which he wanted to be preserved intact after his death. So he bequeathed the whole collection to King George II for the nation in return for a payment of £20,000 to his heirs. The gift was accepted and on 7 June 1753, an Act of Parliament established the British Museum.

1775 – Birth of classical scholar and poet, Thomas Dermody, in Ennis, Co Clare.

1798 – Birth of antiquarian and folklorist, Thomas Crofton Croker, in Co Cork.

1800 – Henry Grattan makes an impassioned plea in the Irish House of Commons against the Act of Union which was to see the dissolution of the Irish parliament and direct rule by England for the following 122 years. This was the final day of the Irish parliament.

1825 – Thomas, 2nd Viscount Newcomen, commits suicide after the failure of Newcomen’s Bank.

1835 – Birth of American Civil War soldier, Patrick Guiney in Parkstown, Co Tipperary. He was the second and eldest surviving son of James Roger Guiney, who was descended from Jacobites, and Judith Macrae.

1860 – Birth of Irish Celtic Scholar, Eleanor Hull, in England, of a Co Down family.

1861 – Death of Young Irelander, Terence MacManus, in San Francisco, CA.

1862 – Birth of Patrick Guiney in Kanturk, Co Cork. He was an Irish Nationalist politician and a Member of Parliament (MP) in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1915 – Roger Casement is still in Limburg, Germany, waiting the arrival of Father Nicholson to help improve the situation.

1919 – PR used for first time in Sligo municipal elections.

1920 – Sinn Féin takes control of most borough and urban councils in local elections.

1920 – Proportional Representation (PR) is used in Ireland for the first time in the local elections of 1920. PR differs from the widely used first past the post voting system in that the seats won tend to be representative of total votes cast thus encouraging participation even from minority communities. In the 1921 Northern Ireland general elections, when PR was used, every seat was contested. However, after Northern Ireland reverted to first past the post system, numerous seats went uncontested by nationalists who knew they had no chance of winning seats. In the 1933 general election, fought under the British first past the post system, only 19 of 52 seats were contested. Gerrymandered voting districts plus first past the post saw Unionists gain 36 of 52 seats in the election. this can be contrasted with the 1920 local elections when Sinn Fein won control of 10 of 12 urban councils.

1921 – 15-17: British soldiers imposed a curfew in an area bounded by Capel St, Church St, North King St and the quays in Dublin’s inner city, sealing it off and allowing no one in or out. They then conducted a house-to-house search, but no significant arrests or arms finds were made.

1939 – IRA Army Council declare war on England and the Sabotage Campaign (S-Plan) begins a day later.

1961 – Dave MacAuley, world flyweight boxing champion, IBF, 1989-92, is born in Larne, Co Antrim.

1961 – Birth of musician, Damian O’Neill, in Belfast. He is the lead guitarist in the pop-punk band, The Undertones. He joined the band following the departure of his older brother, Vincent, in 1976, and remained with the band until their break up in 1983. O’Neill wrote several album tracks and singles during the career of The Undertones, usually writing with bassist Michael Bradley. After the Undertones split in 1983, Damian O’Neill formed That Petrol Emotion with his guitarist brother, John O’Neill. The Undertones reformed in 1999 and O’Neill continues to perform and record with them.

1965 – Birth of actor, James Nesbitt, in Ballymena, Co Antrim. He played Ivan Cooper in the television film Bloody Sunday, about the 1972 shooting deaths of 14 innocent civilians by British Paramilitaries in Derry. He won a British Independent Film Award and was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor.

1969 – Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Terence O’Neill, announced the setting up of an official inquiry into the disturbances in Derry and elsewhere. The inquiry, under the chairmanship of Lord Cameron, a Scottish judge, was asked to look into the causes of the civil unrest.

1971 – Riots broke out in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.

1973 – Ireland joins the European Investment bank.

1976 – British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, held an all-party meeting at Downing Street, London, to consider the security situation in Northern Ireland.

1982 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior, announced the setting up of a Committee of Inquiry into the sexual abuse of children who lived in the Kincora Boys Home in Belfast. The Kincora Scandal first broke on 3 April 1980 when three staff members of the Kincora Boys Home, Belfast, were charged with acts of gross indecency. Allegations continued to be made that elements of the security service, civil servants and a number of Loyalists had been involved in the abuse of young boys at Kincora. One of those sentenced was William McGrath who was the leader of a Loyalist paramilitary group called Tara.

1984 – Catholic Primate of Ireland, Tomás Ó Fiaich, sparked controversy when he criticised the visit of British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, to the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) base in Armagh. At the time several members of the UDR in Armagh were accused of the killing of Catholics and Ó Fiaich described the visit as ‘disgusting’. The Cardinal also drew criticism when he stated that people may be morally justified in joining Sinn Féin if they joined to work on community issues. The Irish government distanced itself from the Cardinal’s remarks.

1988 – Death of Irish government minister, politician, Chief of Staff of the IRA and human rights activist, Sean MacBride, in Dublin.

1994 – Edward Kennedy, together with three other Irish-American Senators, appealed to Bill Clinton, President of the USA, to grant a visa to Gerry Adams, President of SF.

1995 – The British government announced that the ban on ministers engaging in contacts with Sinn Féin (SF), the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP), or the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), would end.

1996 – The British and Irish Governments and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held a first tripartite meeting. The three members of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning met with Northern Ireland Office (NIO) ministers, and representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Sinn Féin (SF) in Belfast.

1997 – The trial of Billy Wright, a leading Loyalist figure from Portadown, began at Belfast High Court. Wright was charged with threatening a witness. Wright was believed at this time to be the leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF). The LVF was considered to be composed mainly of former members of the mid-Ulster Brigade of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Wright was killed in Long Kesh Prison on 27 December 1997.

1998 – The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) accused RUC officers of physically assaulting its Vice-Chairman Martin Morgan when he went to speak to protesters in the Whitewall Road area of Belfast. Morgan sustained a broken arm and bruising in the incident. Morgan had criticised the RUC in media reports about an incident in north Belfast on 1 January 1998. The RUC later announced an inquiry into the events surrounding Morgan’s injury.

1998 – Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan, said that he did not want RUC officers to belong to the Orange Order or any of the other loyal orders. The statement was made in the Channel 4 programme ‘Dispatches’. In the same programme a group of defence lawyers claimed that there was compelling evidence that the RUC and the British Army had been involved in “numerous” illegal killings.

1998 – Sinn Féin staged a protest outside Antrim Road RUC station in Belfast. Sinn Féin called for the release of ballistic reports on the gun which was used by Loyalist paramilitaries in the killing of Eddie Traynor on 31 December 1997. Sinn Féin claimed that RUC ballistics reports were available within 24 hours whenever incidents involving Republican paramilitaries occurred.

1998 – Seven IRA prisoners who had been serving sentences in jails in Britain were transferred to Portlaoise Prison.

1998 – President Mary McAleese paid her first official visit to Britain since her election. She spoke of the prospect of the British and Irish people standing ‘on the threshold of a new and very healthy phase’ in their relationship.

2002 – It was revealed during a court case that British police investigating the Manchester bombing in 1996 agreed to a secret request from the RUC not to arrest and interview a prime suspect. As a result there was a 16 month delay in sending a file to the Crown Prosecution Service. The claim was made by a former head of Greater Manchester Police Special Branch who also said that a ‘cover story’ was invented to account for the fact that no arrest had been made.

2007 – Dublin-born actress, Pauline Delaney, who is best known for her role in Circle of Friends and Into The West, passes away from complications caused by Parkinson’s disease.

2018 – Funeral of Rosaleen Sands, mother of hunger striker Bobby Sands. Mourners gathered for Requiem Mass at St Oliver Plunkett’s Church, Blackrock, Co Louth before a private family burial in Belfast at the City Cemetery.

2018 – Death of lead singer of The Cranberries, Dolores O’Riordan, aged 46, in London.

Image | “The Mists of Time” | Grianan of Aileach Ring Fort, Burt, Inishowen, Co Donegal | Gareth Wray Photography

#irishhistory #ireland #irelandinspires

Image | “The Mists of Time” | Grianan of Aileach Ring Fort, Burt, Inishowen, Co Donegal | Gareth Wray Photography


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