#OTD in Irish History – 29 February:

29 February known as a leap day in the Gregorian calendar, the most widely used today, is a date that typically occurs once every four years evenly divisible by 4, such as 1976, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008 etc., with exception to century years evenly divisible by 100 and not divisible by 400 (ex. 1900 does not contain a leap day; 2000 does). These are called leap years. 29 February is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of that year.

A person who is born on 29 February may be called a ‘leaping’ or a ‘leap year baby’. In non-leap years, some leaplings celebrate their birthday on either 28 February or 1 March, while others only observe birthdays on the authentic intercalary dates, such as 29 February leap days.

There is a popular tradition that a woman may propose marriage to a man on 29 February. If the man refuses, he then is obligated to give the woman money or buy her a dress. According to an old Irish legend, or possibly history, St Brigid struck a deal with St Patrick to allow women to propose to men – and not just the other way around – every four years. This is believed to have been introduced to balance the traditional roles of men and women in a similar way to how leap day balances the calendar.

1853 – William O’Malley: Ripley’s Believe It or Not! states that O’Malley, ‘according to his birth certificate on file in Clifden, Co Connemara, was born in 1853 on 31 February’.

1852 – Birth of Frank Gavan Duffy in Dublin. He was an Australian judge, the fourth Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, sitting on the bench of the High Court from 1913 to 1935. He was the son of Sir Charles Gavan Duffy, who was later to become a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly, and the eighth Premier of Victoria.

1888 – Birth of Thomas Paterson, historian and antiquarian.

1921 – In retaliation for the previous day’s executions, the IRA shot and killed six off-duty British soldiers and wounded five more in separate incidents in Cork.

1948 – Dermot Weld, racehorse trainer, is born.

2000 – The British and Irish governments come under fresh pressure from a range of political opinion in Northern Ireland to convene a meeting of the North’s parties to resurrect devolution.

2000 – Army bomb experts recover a hand-held rocket launcher in Co Tyrone just hours after it is learned that large amounts of Semtex high explosive have been stolen from Provisional IRA hides.

2000 – Hospital waiting lists soar to their highest level in more than a year.

2000 – Claire McCollum, a newsreader at Downtown Radio in Newtownards, Co Down makes headlines herself when she proposes on air to Dungannon and Ulster rugby star Alastair Clarke; he said yes.

2000 – After weeks of controversy over the level of troop cuts and the lack of consultation with military chiefs, the White Paper on Defence gains Cabinet approval.

2000 – The plan to allow solicitors be appointed as judges in the High and Supreme courts is broadly welcomed by the Law Society.

2000 – Live on Today FM, Claudette Campbell pops the question to Richard Walsh 170 feet above the city of Dublin. Together for 14 years, the childhood sweethearts are among the first to take in the spectacular view from the capital’s new observation tower. Richard accepts his sweetheart’s proposal.

Image | The Silver Strand Horseshoe Beach | Glencolumbkille, Co Donegal | Gareth Wray Photography


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