#OTD in Irish History | 27 January:

1835 – The coffin of mummy, Takabuti, was opened and the unrolled in Belfast Natural History Society’s museum at College Square North. Takabuti was a married woman who reached an age of between twenty and thirty years. She lived in the Egyptian city of Thebes at the end of the Twenty-fifth dynasty of Egypt. Her mummified body and mummy case are in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. Edward Hincks, a leading Egyptologist from Ireland was present and deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs which revealed that she was mistress of a great house. Her mother’s name was Taseniric and her father was a priest of Amun. She was buried in a cemetery west of Thebes. After the Napoleonic Wars there was a brisk trade in Egyptian mummies. Takabuti was purchased in 1834 by Thomas Greg of Ballymenoch House, Holywood, Co Down.

1850 – Edward J. Smith, captain of the ill-fated Titanic is born in Stoke-on-Trent. The Titanic was built at the at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. It’s final point of departure was Queenstown (now Cobh), Co Cork, 11 April 1912.

1873 – Birth of Alexander Young in Co Galway. He was a recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

1923 – Two Republican prisoners are executed in Portlaoise. The two are Joseph Byrne and Patrick Geraghty, commanders of the IRA Offaly Brigade. The executions, ‘terrorised’ the Offaly Anti-Treatyites, who had killed 5 Free State troops up to that point, but killed only 2 after. A total of 22 people are killed in Offaly during the conflict. Eight Free State troops, 11 Republicans and 3 civilians.

1923 – The Free State executes a total of 34 Republican prisoners during this month, bringing the total number executed so far up to 53.

1923 – Anti-Treaty IRA ambush a party of five National Army soldiers at Abbeyfeale, Co Limerick. A Captain Coyle is killed and three soldiers wounded. Free State troops pursue the IRA column, killing one of them and wounding another two.

1944 – Birth of Mairead Corrigan-Maguire, founder of Northern Ireland Peace Movement, in Belfast.

1951 – Birth of drummer and a founder member of the rock band Thin Lizzy, Brian Downey, in Dublin. In his youth, he met friend, co-founder and bass guitarist Phil Lynott, who attended the same school. Along with Lynott, Downey was the only constant founder and member of the pioneering hard rock group until their break-up in 1984. Downey also co-wrote several Thin Lizzy songs. Allmusic critic Eduardo Rivadavia has argued that Downey is ‘certainly one of the most underrated rock drummers of his generation.’

1972 – Birth of Keith Wood. He is a former rugby player who played hooker for Ireland, the Lions, Garryowen, Harlequins and Munster. He was nicknamed ‘The Raging Potato’ because of his bald head. He was also known as ‘Uncle Fester’ due to his resemblance to a character in ‘The Addams Family’.

1972 – Two RUC officers, Peter Gilgun (26) and David Montgomery (20), were shot dead in an attack on their patrol car in the Creggan Road, Derry.

1972 – The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) association in Derry announced that it was going to hold a public religious rally at the same place, on the same date and at the same time, as the civil rights march planned for 30 January 1972.

1972 – The British Army and the IRA were engaged in gun battles near Forkhill, Co Armagh. British troops fired over 1,000 rounds of ammunition.

1975 – The IRA planted seven time bombs at locations across London. At 6.30pm a bomb exploded at Gieves, the military outfitters, in Old Bond Street. At 9.30pm bombs exploded at the Moreson chemical plant in Ponders End and a disused gas works in Enfield. Only minimal damage was caused by these two bombs. Two further bombs exploded in Kensington High Street and Victoria street; two people were injured. A warning was given of a bomb in Putney High Street and a British Army bomb-disposal officer was able to defuse the device. A warning was also given for a bomb in Hampstead and it was defused. The IRA also exploded a bomb in Manchester which injured 26 people.

1975 – Mother Mary Martin, founder of the Medical Missionaries of Mary, dies in Drogheda.

1976 – Two Protestant civilians were shot dead during a gun attack on Farmer’s Inn, Dunmurry, near Belfast. The attack was carried out by Republican paramilitaries.

1982 – The coalition government of Fine Gael and the Irish Labour Party collapsed when independent TDs voted against proposed tax increases on items such as petrol, alcohol, and tobacco.

1989 – Death of writer, Dónall Mac Amhlaigh. A native of County Galway, and raised in Kilkenny, he is best known for his Irish-language works about life as a labourer in the post-Second World War-era, as part of the Irish diaspora in Britain. His first book, Dialann Deoraí, is his most widely known and has been translated into English.

1991 – The IRA carried out two incendiary bomb attacks on shops in Belfast. Richard Needham, a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) Minister, later announced that £25 million would be redirected from social and economic schemes to pay compensation for the damage.

1994 – The Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) shot dead Cormac Mac Dermott (31), a Catholic civilian, and wounded his wife in a gun attack in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

1994 – The Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a pseudonym used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), shot dead John Doherty, (51), a Catholic civilian, in his home in the Ormeau Road, Belfast.

1994 – The RUC shot dead a Protestant civilian during an attempted robbery in Co Down.

1995 – Taoiseach, John Bruton, and Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring, held their first formal meeting with representatives of Sinn Féin.

1997 – Three Irish Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) paid a visit to Roisín McAliskey in Holloway prison. McAliskey, who at that time was six months pregnant and was being held prior to a decision about her possible extradition to Germany.

1997 – The IRA carried out a ‘rocket’ attack on a RUC Landrover patrol in Toomebridge, Co Antrim. There were no injuries.

1997 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Patrick Mayhew, said that representatives of the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) and Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) could remain at the Stormont talks. Mayhew also warned the IRA that ‘we will pursue you with every means open to us under the law’.

1997 – It was reported on the BBC programme Newsnight that the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) had commissioned a television advertisement which compared the situation in Northern Ireland to that in Nazi Germany. Following complaints that the comparison was misleading the advertisement was dropped.

1999 – Former IRA volunteer and supergrass Eamon Collins was found dead near Newry, Co Down. Due to his injuries it was initially thought that he had been the victim of a traffic accident, however it was later confirmed that he had been beaten and stabbed to death. Collins had acted as an informer on behalf of the security forces. He was also the author of a book entitled ‘Killing Rage’ that described his involvement with the IRA. No group admitted responsibility for the killing although Republican paramilitaries were thought to have been involved.

1999 – Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), used the protection of parliamentary privilege to name twenty people he claimed were involved in the Kingsmills killings on 5 January 1976. Paisley claimed that the people were named in internal RUC documents of the time. The RUC later denied that the information came from a police dossier.

2000 – Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams indicates that the IRA will not deliver arms ahead of the Ulster Unionists’ February deadline.

2002 – There was a petrol bomb attack on the home of a Catholic family in the Serpentine area of north Belfast. The family escaped injury. The householder claimed that there had been over 20 attacks on the house in the previous 18 months. He stated that the attacks were because the family were Catholic and also because he was a trade union representative.

2002 – There was a ceremony in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, to remember the victims of the Holocaust. The event was attended by First Minister, David Trimble (UUP), and Deputy First Minister, Mark Durkan (SDLP). The ceremony marked the 57th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz.

Image | Galley Head Lighthouse, West Cork | Kieran Hayes Photography

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