#OTD in Irish History | 23 October:

1641 – The Irish Rebellion of 1641 began as an attempted coup d’état by Irish Catholic gentry, who tried to seize control of the English administration in Ireland to force concessions for Catholics. The coup failed and the rebellion developed into an ethnic conflict between native Irish Catholics on one side, and English and Scottish Protestant settlers on the other. This began a conflict known as the Irish Confederate Wars.

1662 – The Irish parliament orders the annual observance of this date as a day of thanksgiving for deliverance from the 1641 rising; for over a century, church services on this day will remind Protestants of Catholic disloyalty.

1766 – Birth of John Claudius Beresford, banker, MP, and controversial figure in 1798 rebellion, during which he was alleged to have flogged suspects at his riding house in Marlborough Street, Dublin; the slogan ‘Mangling done here gratis by Beresford and Co’ was daubed on it.

1771 – Benjamin Franklin ends his visit to Ireland.

1845 – Abolitionist Frederick Douglass speaks to a packed house in Cork on the subject of slavery.

1880 – Birth of actress, Una O’Connor. Born Agnes Teresa McGlade to a Catholic nationalist family in Belfast, she worked extensively in theatre before becoming a character actress in film and in television. She often portrayed comical wives, housekeepers and servants.

1931 – The IRA and other organisations are declared illegal in the Free State and the Catholic Church excommunicates members of all of them, including Saor Éire, which soon dissolves.

1948 – Birth of businessman, arts patron and television personality, Gerry Robinson, in Co Donegal.

1958 – The Springhill Mine bump: An underground earthquake traps 174 miners in the No. 2 colliery at Springhill, Nova Scotia, the deepest coal mine in North America at the time. By November 1, rescuers from around the world had dug out 100 of the victims, marking the death toll at 74. “The Ballad of Springhill” was composed by American folksinger Peggy Seeger and English folksinger Ewan MacColl about the 1958 disaster. The song has been performed by many, including, Irish folk singer Luke Kelly.

1969 – Dublin born (1906) Samuel Beckett wins Nobel Prize for Literature “for his writing, which – in new forms for the novel and drama – in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation.”

1970 – Government Minister Charles Haughey, Captain James Kelly, Belfast republican John Kelly and Belgian Albert Luykx were acquitted of attempting to import arms into Ireland on behalf of the IRA. The ‘Arms Trial’ had begun on 28 May 1970. Neil Blaney, a co-accused, had been found not guilty on 2 July 1970.

1971 – Two female members of the IRA, Maura Meehan (30) and Dorothy Maguire (19), were shot dead by the British Army in the Lower Falls area of Belfast. The two women had been travelling the area warning people of British Army raids on houses.

1971 – Three Catholic civilians, Sean Ruddy (28), James McLaughlin (26) and Robert Anderson (26), were shot dead by the British Army during an attempted robbery in Newry, Co Down.

1973 – The Standing Committee of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) voted by 132 to 105 to support a policy which would allow UUP members to take part in any future power-sharing executive. While Brian Faulkner, leader of the UUP expressed his public pleasure at the result, the narrowness of the victory was an indication of deep divisions within the UUP.

1975 – The IRA planted a bomb on a car outside the home of Hugh Fraser, a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP). A person passing the car was killed when the bomb exploded prematurely.

1987 – Birth of rugby player, Robin Copeland, in Co Waterford. He has played for Munster in the Pro14 and European Rugby Champions Cup. He plays primarily as a number 8, but has occasionally played as a flanker and lock.

1987 – Sinn Féin gained by-election victories in elections to Belfast City Council.

1990 – The IRA shot and killed a Protestant taxi driver, William Aitken, in Belfast.

1993 – Shankill Road bombing: Eight civilians, one UDA volunteer and one PIRA volunteer were killed when a PIRA bomb prematurely exploded at a fish shop on Shankill Road, Belfast. The PIRA’s intended target was a meeting of loyalist paramilitary leaders, which was scheduled to take place in a room above the shop. However, unbeknownst to the PIRA, the meeting had been re-scheduled. With the exception of one of the bombers who was also killed, the rest of those who died were Protestant civilians. The bombing represented the greatest loss of life in Northern Ireland in a single incident since the Enniskillen bombing on 8 November 1987.

1994 – Vice-President of Sinn Féin (SF), Martin McGuinness, who was on a visit to London, stated that the IRA could end its ceasefire if a satisfactory outcome was not produced by the peace process.

1995 – Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring, travelled to Belfast for talks with David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The two men failed to agree on the issue of the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons. Spring also held a meeting with a delegation from the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) which was led by Gusty Spence, former leader of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF).

1996 – In the Queen’s speech during the opening of a new session of the British parliament, the government announced that it would pass a bill on decommissioning. Later, British Prime Minister, John Major, stated that it would require more than a new ceasefire to allow Sinn Féin (SF) to enter the Stormont talks.

1998 – Orange Order spokesperson, Davy Jones, was suspended by Grand Master of Armagh, Dennis Watson, for “breaching Orange protocol”. The suspension was lifted the following day.

1999 – The Guinness Jazz Festival in Co Cork receives a spiritual blessing with the surprise appearance of an infamous cleric. Mother Bernadette Marie O’Connor, or the artist (formerly) known as Sinéad O’Connor, performs in Ireland for the first time in five years.

1999 – Senator George Mitchell announced his review of the Good Friday Agreement would be extended as the pro-Agreement parties met at Castle Buildings, Stormont, Belfast. Sinn Féin (SF), the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) were attempting to end the stalemate over decommissioning and the formation of an Executive. David Trimble, leader of the UUP, wrote an article for the Newsletter.

2001 – The Northern Ireland peace process reaches a historic breakthrough as the IRA announce the decommissioning of weapons. The IRA statement read in part: “In order to save the peace process we have implemented the scheme agreed with the IICD (Independent International Commission on Decommissioning) in August 2001.”

2001 – The Government announces it will sell off one-third of Aer Lingus at a knock-down price in order to fund a drastic rescue plan for the airline.

2001 – Former Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam is presented with the International Woman of the Year Award at a ceremony in Dublin. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson’s wins the Overall Award at the Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards.

2002 – Thornton’s in Stephen’s Green, Dublin, is awarded the Jameson Restaurant of the Year. It is among the national award winners announced to coincide with the launch of Georgina Campbell’s Jameson Guide Ireland 2003.

2012 – After 38 years, the world’s first teletext service (BBC’s Ceefax) ceases broadcast due to Northern Ireland completing the digital switchover.

2013 – Death of hurler, Niall Donohue. Born in Kilbeacanty, Co Galway, Donohue played at senior level for the Galway senior team. Donohue was found in his home on 23 October 2013, three days before his 23rd birthday. His death brought the topic of suicide into public consciousness. His funeral was attended by a large number of mourners from the GAA community across the country, including Donohue’s Galway teammates. A number of other figures in the GAA such as Kilkenny manager Brian Cody and association president Liam O’Neill called to the Donohue family home to pay their respects.

Image | Clogher, Co Kerry | kerryviews.com

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