#OTD in Irish History – 14 June:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast day of Caomhán of Inisheer, a 6th-century saint. Caomhan is the patron saint of Inisheer (Inis Oírr), the smallest of the Aran Islands. Even though he is “by far the most celebrated of all the saints of the Aran Islands”, little is known about him. He is said to have been a disciple of Saint Enda of Aran. He is also said to be the elder brother of Saint Kevin of Glendalough although no corresponding legend exists in Co Wicklow to support this claim.

1690 – William of Orange lands at Carrickfergus.

1699 – The second session of the second Irish parliament of William III is dissolved on this date.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Government reinforcements begin to march from Cork and the midlands; Rebels send small detachment to Mountpleasant, in Co Wicklow. In Ulster, the Rebels disperse.

1830 – Aeneas Coffey patented the single column still, which made spirit smoother at higher alcohol content. Soon nearly every liquor producer in Europe and the Americas had Coffey still.

1866 – Charles Wood, composer, is born in Armagh. For most of his adult life, he lives in England, but preserves a lively interest in Ireland; in 1904 he co-founds the Irish Folk Song Society in London.

1883 – Death of Edward FitzGerald, poet and translator of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

1884 – Birth of John McCormack in Athlone, a world-famous Irish tenor and recording artist, celebrated for his performances of the operatic and popular song repertoires, and renowned for his diction and breath control.

1919 – Captain John Alcock and Lt Arthur Whitten-Brown take off from Newfoundland on the first non-stop transatlantic flight to Galway, in a Vickers Vimy. Winston Churchill presented them with the Daily Mail prize for the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in “less than 72 consecutive hours” and they were knighted by King George V.

1922 – Birth of Kevin Roche in Dublin. He is a Pritzker Prize-winning architect and has been responsible for the design/master planning for over 200 built projects in both the U.S. and abroad. These projects include eight museums, 38 corporate headquarters, seven research facilities, performing arts centers, theatres, and campus buildings for six universities. In 1967 he created the master plan for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and since then has designed all of the new wings and installation of many collections including the recently reopened American and Islamic wings.

1929 – Birth of author, Eamonn McGrath, in Co Wexford. McGrath spent his childhood in a small farming community near Taghmon, Co Wexford. He was educated by the Augustinians at the Good Counsel School in New Ross and after that was offered a place at University College Galway, where he graduated in English and Irish. He was a fellow student of the poet Brendan Ó hEithir. Much of McGrath’s work is inspired by his own life experiences, and is influenced by contemporaries such as John McGahern and Patrick Kavanagh, who was a fixture in the pubs of Carrickmacross during McGrath’s tenure in the local school.

1942 – Birth of Andy Irvine, an Irish folk musician, singer, and songwriter, and a founding member of the popular band Planxty. He is an accomplished player of the mandolin, bouzouki, mandola, guitar-bouzouki harmonica and hurdy-gurdy.

1972 – John Hume and Paddy Devlin, both members of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), held a meeting with representatives of the IRA in Derry. The IRA representatives outlined their conditions for talks with the British Government. The conditions were that there should be no restriction on who represented the IRA, there should be an independent witness at the meeting, the meeting should not be held at Stormont, and ‘political status’ should be granted to republican prisoners.

1973 – Shadow Foreign Secretary, James Callaghan, speaking in the House of Commons, said that Britain might reconsider its position with regard to Northern Ireland if the Assembly was ‘sabotaged’.

1974 – The first Soviet Ambassador to Ireland, Anatoli Kaplan, presents his credentials.

1976 – Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees, gave details in the House of Commons of a committee which had been set up to see how the RUC could be more effective in enforcing law and order in Northern Ireland. This was an additional step in the policy of ‘criminalisation’.

1984 – The election to the European Parliament took place in Northern Ireland with the whole region treated as a single constituency under a system of proportional representation. When the count was completed, Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), John Taylor, of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), and John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), were elected as MEPs. A total of eight candidates had contested the election.

1985 – The IRA exploded a large bomb, estimated at 1,000 lbs in the centre of Belfast.

1990 – The Home Office in London announced that there were irregularities in the forensic evidence that led to the convictions of the Maguire family.

1995 – Untimely death of Donegal-born blues guitarist and singer/songwriter Rory Gallagher. He died at age 47 following complications after receiving a liver transplant.

1995 – The Irish Times carried a report of an interview with President of Sinn Féin (SF), Gerry Adams. He was reported as saying that the decommissioning of IRA weapons as a precondition to SF entry into political talks was never mentioned by the British government before the IRA’s ceasefire on 31 August 1994. He went on to say that if such a precondition had been raised… it is possible [that] there would have been no IRA cessation on 1 September last year.

2000 – The Orange Order’s policy making body votes overwhelmingly not to enter into dialogue with the Parades Commission.

2000 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern presents Irish troops with their official pennant just hours before their departure for United Nations duty in troubled East Timor.

2001 – The controversial pro-abortion Dutch ship, the Aurora, docks in Dublin. Although the trawler is equipped to carry out abortions, the purpose of its visit to Ireland is to fuel debate on the need for Irish legislation to provide women with choice.

2001 – The midland village of Castletown, Co Laois, is named as Ireland’s Best Kept Town in a select cross-Border competition. The village eclipses last year’s national tidy towns winner Kenmare, Co Kerry, and the north’s top tidiest large town, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh to take the title.

2003 – Living up to its costly reputation, Dublin is named in the worldwide cost of living survey for 2003 as the third most expensive capital city in the EU. Only London and Copenhagen are more expensive.

2013 – Death of violinist and teacher who was leader of the London Symphony and BBC Symphony orchestras, Hugh Maguire. Born into a musical family in Dublin, Maguire was introduced to the violin at six years old by his father, an accomplished tenor who encouraged all six of his children to play instruments. He took lessons with Michael McNamara and at 18, after winning numerous prizes in Ireland, Maguire secured a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music in London.

2013 – Death of hurler, Patrick “Pa” Dillon. Born in Freshford, Co Kilkenny, he played as a full-back for the Kilkenny senior team. Dillon made his senior debut in a 1960 tournament game. Dillon went on to play a key part for Kilkenny during a successful era for the team, and won three All-Ireland medals, six Leinster medals and one National Hurling League medal. Cited by many of his hurling peers as one of the best full-backs of his generation, Dillon won two Cú Chulainn. He was later named in the full-back position on the Kilkenny Hurling Team of the Century.

2013 – Death of renowned violinist and conductor, Hugh Maguire. Born in Dublin, he was a concertmaster and principal player of the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra (1962-1967), leader of the Melos Ensemble and the Allegri Quartet, a professor at the Royal Academy of Music, and violin tutor to the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

2016 – Death of guitarist, vocalist and songwriter, Henry McCullough. Born in Portstewart, Co Derry, he was best known for his work as a member of Spooky Tooth, Paul McCartney and Wings, The Grease Band and Sweeney’s Men. He also performed and recorded as a solo artist and session musician.

Image | Ashford Castle entrance, Co Mayo

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