#OTD in Irish History – 20 April:

1176 – Death of Anglo-Norman lord, Richard Fitzgilbert de Clare, known as Strongbow, in Dublin. Strongbow came from England to Ireland at the urging of Diarmait Mac Murchadha.

1608 – Sir Thomas Phillipps was granted a license by James I to the Old Bushmills distillery in Co Antrim, which is thought to date from at least 1276 – the oldest distillery in the world.

1689 – The former king, James II of England, now deposed, lays siege to Derry.

1696 – The Guild of Brewers and Maltsters is founded in Dublin; Richard Forster, former MP for Swords and a Dublin brewer, was a member.

1772 – William Lawless, surgeon, United Irishman and general in Napoleon Bonaparte’s revolutionary army, was born in Dublin.

1791 – William Tone, soldier, author and son of Theobald Wolfe Tone was born in Dublin.

1812 – Maurice FitzGerald, MP for Co Kerry, presented the Irish Protestant petition for Catholic relief and called for measures against grain scarcity in Ireland.

1829 – Margaret Anna Cusack was born to an aristocratic family of English origin in Coolak, Co Dublin. She was the founder of the first Poor Clares convent in the west of Ireland and also a talented writer who published on the issues of social injustice. Her writings and actions focused on advocacy of women’s rights including equal pay, equal opportunity for education and legal reform to give women control of their own property.

1857 – Birth of surgeon, Sir Thomas Myles, in Limerick. He was the doctor who tried to save the lives of Lord Frederick Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke, who were killed in the Phoenix Park murders.

1879 – Birth of essayist and critic, Robert Lynd, in Belfast.

1896 – A demonstration of the cinématographe was held in Dublin at Dan Lowrey’s Star of Erin theatre of varieties, now the Olympia Theatre.

1912 – Death of Bram Stoker, the Dublin born writer who created Dracula.

1915 – Joseph Mary Plunkett travelled to Germany to join Roger Casement and assist him in his efforts to raise an Irish Brigade and garner German support for the planned 1916 Rising.

1916 – Death of Clare-born Henry Hogan, one of only nineteen people to win two Congressional Medals of Honor, age 76.

1922 – There was ‘intense firing’ for two hours, starting at midnight, by Anti-Treaty fighters on the Pro-Treaty troops in Dublin stationed at the Provisional Government headquarters in Merrion Square, the Bank of Ireland on College Green, the telephone exchange and City Hall, Dublin. Three people are wounded. The Four Courts Anti-Treaty garrison denies knowledge of the attack.

1922 – Pro-Treaty Brigadier General Adamson is shot dead by Republicans in Athlone in a dispute over who would occupy the military barracks there.

1923 – Frank Aiken is elected IRA Chief of Staff.

1928 – Birth of footballer, Johnny Gavin, in Limerick. He spent most of his career in England. He played for Janesboro United, Limerick, Ireland, Norwich City, Watford, Tottenham Hotspur, Crystal Palace, Cambridge City, Newmarket Town and Fulbourn. Gavin’s death was announced on 20 September 2007 – he was 79.

1945 – Alan Dukes, politician and Fine Gael leader is born in Dublin.

1954 – Michael Manning became the last man to be executed by the state in the Republic of Ireland: he was hanged at Mountjoy jail, for the murder of a nurse.

1969 – There was an explosion at Silent Valley reservoir in Co Down cutting off water supplies to Belfast. There was also a second explosion at an electricity pylon at Kilmore, Co Armagh. It was later established that the bombs were planted by Loyalists who were members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and the Ulster Protestant Volunteers (UPV).

1974 – The conflict in Northern Ireland claims its 1,000 victim, petrol station owner James Murphy of Co Fermanagh.

1976 – Birth of footballer, Shay Given, in Co Donegal. He currently plays as a goalkeeper for Premier League club Stoke City. He played in goal for the Republic of Ireland football team from 1996 to 2012, winning 125 caps making him his country’s second highest appearance maker. Given played every minute of the 2002 World Cup and also the 2012 European Championships, the only two major tournaments Ireland qualified for during his career. He gives all his international playing fees to charity. On 28 July 2016, Given announced his retirement from international football for the second and final time.

1977 – Two Catholic civilians were killed when the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) carried out a bomb attack on the funeral of an IRA member in the Ardoyne area of Belfast.

1981 – Three TDs together with Owen Carron, Bobby Sands’ election agent, paid a visit to Long Kesh Prison. Following a meeting with Sands the TDs called for urgent talks with the British government. British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, announced on 21 April 1981 that the British government would not meet the TDs.

1982 – The IRA carried out a series of attacks in Northern Ireland. Wilbert Kennedy (36) and Noel McCulloch (32), both Protestant civilians, were killed in a bomb blast at the Diamond, Magherafelt, Co Derry. An inadequate warning had been given. A further 12 people were injured in the attacks. Bombs exploded in Armagh, Ballymena, Belfast, Bessbroke, Derry, and Magherafelt, and caused an estimated £1 million pounds in damage.

1983 – There was a Northern Ireland Assembly by-election in Armagh. The by-election occurred because Seamus Mallon, Deputy Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), was removed from his seat because he had been a member of the Irish senate at the time of the election. The SDLP had called on voters to boycott the election and the turnout was 34.1 per cent. The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) candidate, Jim Speers, won the by-election beating the only challenger, Tom French, the Workers’ Party (WP) candidate.

1983 – Fungie was first spotted in Dingle harbour. Fungie has become the most famous dolphin in the world. Nowhere else has a dolphin stayed for so long in the wild while interacting with humans. At least eight boats take visitors to see Fungie in continuous runs – some dolphin botherers camp for the entire summer just to swim with Fungie. There are dolphin T-shirts, key chains, and he even gives his name to a pizza in a local restaurant. Is it really the same dolphin?

1991 – Short story writer, Sean O’Faolain, dies at 91. Best known for his short stories, collected in such volumes as Midsummer Night Madness, The Man Who Invented Sin, The Heat of the Sun, and The Talking Trees (1971). Among his novels are A Nest of Simple Folk and Come Back to Erin. He was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1986.

1993 – Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), James Molyneaux, presented a set of proposals entitled ‘Blueprint for Stability’ to British Prime Minister, John Major, while on a visit to London.

1994 – The IRA killed RUC officer, Gregory Pollock (23), and wounded two other officers, in an attack on a RUC mobile patrol in Derry. Pollock was killed when a horizontal mortar bomb struck the vehicle he was travelling in on Spencer Road, Waterside, Derry.

1996 – It was believed that British Prime Minister, John Major, and President of the United States, Bill Clinton, discussed the ‘Peace Process’ at a summit in Moscow.

1996 – A Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) report showed that poverty in Northern Ireland continued to be the highest in the United Kingdom.

1997 – President of Sinn Féin (SF), Gerry Adams, addressed the SF Ard Fheis in Monaghan and said that a vote for SF was a vote for peace. He also called for an electoral pact with the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in areas where a split Nationalist vote would allow a Unionist candidate to win the seat. The SDLP later rejected his appeal for a pact.

1998 – Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ian Paisley, said that his party aimed to secure a 40 per cent ‘no’ vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Good Friday Agreement. The actual ‘no’ vote was 28.88%.

1999 – The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) released figures that showed that the annual cost of running the Northern Ireland Assembly was £10.7 million. The US Congress called for the ending of the financing of joint initiatives by the FBI and the RUC because of allegations of intimidation and harassment of lawyers by the RUC.

2001 – Two cases of suspected foot-and-mouth rock the North’s agricultural community. Stormont Minister Bríd Rodgers admits her department is concerned about symptoms in animals at Ballintoy, near Ballycastle, and in a herd at Ardboe.

Image | Kinsale, Co Cork

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