#OTD in Irish History – 14 February:

St Valentine’s Day, commonly shortened to Valentine’s Day, is a holiday observed on 14 February. Many churches claim to be Valentine’s final resting place, including the Carmelite Church on Whitefriar Street in Dublin. According to the story told there, the St’s remains were given to Fr John Sprat by Pope Gregory XVI and a shrine still exists there today.

1628 – Valentine Greatrakes, or Greatorex, a physician who is known as the ‘touch doctor’, is born in Affane, Co Waterford.

1700 – A subsidy is authorised to Louis Crommellin for establishing a linen industry.

1792 – Pianist and composer John Field gives his first public performance at the Rotunda in Dublin.

1821 – Birth of Mary Lee, née Walsh in Co Monaghan. She was a notable leader in the South Australian suffrage movement and a worker for working women. She married George Lee in 1844, bore seven children, and in 1879 travelled to Adelaide when her migrant son became ill; it became her permanent home.

1853 – The Queen Victoria sinks in a storm off Howth, with the loss of over 55 souls.

1855 – Birth of editor, novelist, short story writer, journalist and publisher, Frank Harris, in Co Galway. He was friendly with many well-known figures of his day.

1878 – Daniel Corkery, writer, critic and Irish cultural enthusiast, is born in Cork. Download: free eBook ‘A Munster Twilight’ by Daniel Corkery

1895 – Birth of Revolutionary, Sean Treacy in Co Tipperary.

1920 – IRA unit commanded by Ernie O’Malley and Eoin O’Duffy captured an RIC barracks at Ballytrain, Co Monaghan.

1920 – IRA unit commanded by Diarmuid Hurley captured an RIC barracks at Castlemartyr, Co Cork.

1921 – Three IRA prisoners Ernie O’Malley, Frank Teeling and Simon Donnelly escape from Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin. They had been arrested for involvement in the Bloody Sunday killings of the infamous Cairo gang. O’Malley was a particularly interesting character who went on to fight on the Anti-treaty side during the Civil War. He was captured and imprisoned by Irish government forces in 1922 and spent almost two years in jail. He had strong literary skills. His most famous work is a well received memoir about the Irish War of Independence titled On Another Man’s Wound which he wrote while traveling in Mexico and Peru.

1921 – Two IRA Volunteers, the Coffey brothers, were assassinated in their beds by unknown gunmen in Enniskeane, Cork. Republicans blame an Auxiliary or Black and Tan unit but suspicion also falls on a local loyalist organisation known as the Loyalist Action Group.

1921 – Two British soldiers were arrested near Liscarroll, Co Cork, court-martialled by the IRA and then released four days later

1921 – Pvt A. Mason of the Manchester Regiment went missing near Ballincollig, Co Cork.

1942 – The USS Juneau is commissioned at Brooklyn Navy Yard. The ship would become horribly famous as the vessel which carried the five Sullivan brothers to their death, 13 November 1942 after it was hit by a Japanese torpedo at the Battle of Guadalcanal. Only 10 of the almost 700 crew survived. The Sullivan brothers were descendants of an Irish immigrant. Early on the morning of 13 November, during the naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Juneau was torpedoed and badly damaged. The five brothers, George Thomas, Francis Henry, Joseph Eugene, Madison Abel, and Albert Leo had expressed a desire to serve on the same ship. In 1997, the US Navy commissions The Sullivans, the second ship to be named after the five Sullivan brothers.

1948 – In rugby, Ireland defeats England 11-10 at Twickenham, London. Ireland would go on to win the Grand Slam (defeating England, Wales, Scotland and France) this year, a feat they would not repeat for another sixty-one years (2009).

1951 – Alan Shatter, Fine Gael politician, is born in Dublin.

1972 – Lord Widgery arrived in Coleraine, where the ‘Bloody Sunday’ (30 January 1972) Tribunal was to be based, and held a preliminary hearing. During this initial hearing Widgery announced that the tribunal would be ‘essentially a fact-finding exercise’ and then went on to narrow the terms of reference for the tribunal.

1979 – There was a meeting between Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Roy Mason, and Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Michael O’Kennedy, in London.

1981 – The Stardust Ballroom in Artane, Dublin goes up in flames; forty-eight young people are killed and more than 100 are injured.

1989 – Sinn Féin councillor, John Davey, was shot dead by Loyalist gunmen near Maghera, Co Derry.

1991 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke, told the House of Commons that there were still differences between the Northern Ireland political parties, the Northern Ireland Office, and Irish ministers, over the proposals for talks. Charges against Desmond Ellis, who had been extradited from the Republic of Ireland to Britain, were changed when he appeared in court. The introduction of new charges was contrary to Irish law and the incident sparked a row between the two countries. The decision was reversed on 4 June 1991 and the original charges reinstated.

1995 – A delegation from the Ulster Unionist Party had a meeting with British Prime Minister, John Major, in London. Following the meeting the UUP wrote to Major to state that the party would not take part in all-party talks based on a ‘nationalist agenda’.

1997 – Relatives of those killed on ‘Bloody Sunday’ met with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Patrick Mayhew, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, to put the case for a fresh inquiry in the events of 30 January 1972.

1999 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, was involved in controversy after making apparently contradictory statements about the decommissioning of IRA arms. In an interview with The Sunday Times, Ahern indicated that the Northern Ireland Executive could not be established without a start to decommissioning. Later, he said Sinn Féin should not be barred from the Executive in the absence of decommissioning.

1999 – President Mary McAleese, met the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr George Carey, for the first time in Rome.

1999 – The Provisional IRA calls a halt to ‘rough justice’ in a move which is being seen as a concession to the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland.

2000 – Four Irish soldiers are killed in a tragic road accident in South Lebanon.

2000 – Castlecove, Co Kerry wins two prizes in the Nations in Bloom competition, held in Hamamatsu, Japan, overcoming challenges from cities such as Lisbon and Toronto.

2000 – A joint Irish/British strategy for dealing with the difficulties left by the suspension of the Northern Ireland administration is finalised by Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and Prime Minister, Tony Blair.

2000 – Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams says politics in Northern Ireland are now in ‘the worst crisis of a crisis ridden process’.

2001 – The Ulster Defence Association, the largest of the Protestant paramilitary groups, breaks its silence to deny any involvement in the wave of sectarian pipe bomb attacks which have spread terror across the north.

2001 – At Áras an Uachtaráin, president Mary McAleese presents the prestigious Gaisce gold medal awards to 55 young high achievers from 17 different countries.

2002 The Police Association, which represents all the members of the PSNI, launched a legal action in the High Court in Belfast to attempt to quash the report by the Police Ombudsman on the Omagh bomb investigation. The Ombudsman report was critical of the handling of the investigation by the Chief Constable. The Omagh Victims’ Group said they welcomed the possibility that Ronnie Flanagan, then Chief Constable of the PSNI, may retire at the end of February 2002.

2002 – Pregnant women are advised by the Departments of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development and of Health and Children to avoid contact with sheep at lambing time. The advice is issued in the context of the potential risks of contracting an infection that can occur in some ewes.

2002 – The Bishop of Killaloe says he would welcome the ordination of women priests. Dr Willie Walsh made his comments amid a growing crisis within his own diocese. Just one priest is set to be ordained within the next seven years. In the same period, over a dozen priests are set to retire.

2003 – Hundreds of train passengers have their travel plans disrupted by a lightning industrial action by the National Bus and Rail Workers Union in Cork. All services out of the city’s Kent Station from lunchtime until 5pm are affected.

2005 – YouTube is launched by a group of college students, eventually becoming the largest video sharing website in the world and a main source for viral videos.

2018 – The State won an appeal overturning a High Court declaration that sites and buildings on and around Moore Street, Dublin are a 1916 Rising battlefield site. Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said: ‘The narrative of history, archaeology and the arts is nearly always contested and open to differing and changing interpretations, fashions and tastes’.

Image | Kilkenny Castle, Kilkenny

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