#OTD in Irish History | 15 March:

1672 – The first declaration of indulgence suspending penal laws against Catholics and dissenters is issued by Charles II.

1764 – Charles O’Conor, antiquary and historian, is born in Belanagare, Co Roscommon.

1773 – Oliver Goldsmith’s ‘She Stoops to Conquer’ is performed at Covent Garden Theatre, London.

1774 – Birth of author, Isaac Weld, in Dublin.

1813 – In the British House of Commons, Sir Eyre Coote (the younger), MP for Ballynakill and Maryborough, proposes the abolition of flogging in the army.

1852 – Lady Isabella Augusta Gregory (née Persse), playwright, folklorist and co-founder of the Abbey Theatre, is born in Roxborough, Co Galway.

1878 – Sir Robert McCarrison, medical scientist and honorary physician to King George V from 1928 to 1935 is born in Portadown, Co Armagh.

1895 – Bridget Cleary was burned to death by her husband Michael who believed her spirit had been taken by bad faeries and replaced with a changeling.

1904 – Birth of George Brent, born George Brendan Nolan in Ballinasloe, Co Galway. Brent was an became an American stage, film, and television actor. During the Irish War of Independence, Brent was part of the IRA. He fled Ireland with a bounty set on his head by the British government, although he later claimed only to have been a courier for guerrilla leader and tactician Michael Collins.

1922 – IRA shot dead two RIC constables and injured another in St Brigid’s hospital, Galway.

1923 – Anti-Treaty officer, John Kevins, killed in Beaufort, Co Kerry.

1923 – A Free State soldier is shot dead near Wellington Barracks, Dublin.

1923 – Two soldiers of the Railway protection Crops go missing in Co Louth. The body of one is found shot dead.

1923 – A Postmaster, Samuel Atkinson, is shot dead by raiders at Limalong, Co Monaghan.

1935 – Birth of politician, David Andrews, in Dublin. He is a former Fianna Fáil politician and barrister and was first elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1965 general election as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dún Laoghaire and Rathdown constituency. In May 2000, he was appointed to the non-executive position as Chairman of the Irish Red Cross Society, serving in that position until 2009.

1953 – Birth of politician, Richard Bruton, in Dublin. He is a Fine Gael politician who has been a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin North–Central constituency since 1982. He was appointed as Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation on 9 March 2011.

1972 – Two British soldiers (Christopher Cracknell and Antony Butcher) were killed when attempting to defuse a bomb in Belfast.

1976 – The IRA is linked to a bomb that explodes on a London Underground train; the driver of the train, Julius Stephen, is shot dead while chasing a gunman who is believed to have detonated the bomb. Ten other people are injured.

1981 – Bobby Sands recorded his diary for the first seventeen days of his hunger strike in which he detailed his thoughts and feelings on the momentous task that lay ahead of him. In order to secure his status as Irish political prisoner he was willing to fast til death, an event that would earn him a place in the annals of Irish history and in the hearts and minds of Irish republicans world-wide. See Bobby Sands Trust for today’s entry: http://www.bobbysandstrust.com/writings/prison-diary

1981 – Francis Hughes began his hunger strike in Long Kesh prison, two weeks after Bobby Sands.

1982 – A Protestant boy, Alan McCrum (11), was killed and 34 people injured when the IRA exploded a bomb in Bridge Street, Banbridge, Co Down. An inadequate warning had been given.

1983 – Birth of professional footballer, Daryl Murphy, in Co Wateford. He plays as a striker for Championship club Nottingham Forest and the Republic of Ireland national team.

1989 – The Elected Authorities (Northern Ireland) Act became law. One of the requirements of the Act was that candidates standing in district council elections should sign a declaration that they would not express support for illegal organisations or acts of violence.

1993 – Death of leader of the Kilfenora Céili Band, Kitty Linnane.

1994 – Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, addressed the United States Congress and called on Americans to urge the British to accept the proposals that were emerging from the New Ireland Forum. The report of the Forum was published on 2 May 1984.

1995 – The Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) announced that a delegation would be attending the St Patrick’s Day reception at the White House, Washington, DC, despite the presence of President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams.

1998 – David Keys, who had been charged with the murder of two friends at Poyntzpass, Co Armagh, was found hanged in his cell at Long Kesh Prison. Both of Keys’ wrists were also slashed. At the time the RUC said that they were treating his death as murder. It was believed that Keys had been beaten and then hung from a window to give the impression that he had committed suicide. Keys had elected to be held in the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) wing of Long Kesh Prison and it is believed that the LVF killed him either because of the intense reaction to the Poyntzpass killings on 3 March 1998 or because the LVF thought he had informed on members of the organisation.

1998 – The US Ambassador to Ireland, Jean Kennedy Smith, confirmed she would leave her post after US Independence Day celebrations in Dublin on 4 July.

1999 – A prominent Irish civil rights solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, who had represented the Garvaghy residents in the Drumcree dispute, was assassinated by a booby-trapped car bomb in Lurgan, Co Armagh. A loyalist group, Red Hand Defenders, claimed responsibility. In 2004, the Cory Collusion Inquiry recommended that the UK Government hold an inquiry into the circumstances of Nelson’s death. Nelson was posthumously awarded the Train Foundation’s Civil Courage Prize, which recognises ‘extraordinary heroes of conscience’. The resulting inquiry into her assassination opened at the Craigavon Civic Centre, Craigavon, Co Armagh, in April 2005. In September 2006 the British Security Service MI5 announced it would be represented at the inquiry. This move provoked criticism from Nelson’s family, who reportedly expressed concerns that MI5 would remove sensitive or classified information. The results of the inquiry were published on 23 May 2011. The inquiry found no evidence that state agencies (the RUC, British Army and MI5) had ‘directly facilitated’ her murder, but ‘could not exclude the possibility’ that individual members had helped the perpetrators. It found that state agencies had failed to protect her and that some RUC intelligence about her had ‘leaked’. Both of these, it said, increased the danger to her life. The report also stated that RUC officers had publicly abused and assaulted her in 1997, and made threatening remarks about her to her clients, which became publicly known. It concluded that this helped ‘legitimise her as a target in the eyes of loyalist terrorists’.

1999 – The Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation, Jim McDaid, unveils plans to commemorate the Year 2000. Commencing on St. Patrick’s Day, ‘The Party Starts Here,’ is the official title of a 21-month long series of events, which will link over 300 separate festivals.

2000 – The censor lifts a ban on more than two-thirds, or 400, of prohibited books following an appeal by the Labour Party. Only 187 books and about 270 magazines and newspapers now remain on the banned list.

2001 – John Gilligan is found not guilty of the murder of Veronica Guerin; however, he is sentenced to 28 years in prison on drug-related crimes. The sentence is twice what most people expected and six years more than the previous longest sentence handed down for a drugs offence.

2002 – Ulster Unionist peer (Lord Kilclooney), John Taylor, gave evidence for a second day to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry. He said that the decision to block the Civil Rights march on Bloody Sunday from reaching the city centre was taken at the highest political level in London. He said the Joint Security Committee (JSC) at Stormont, which he chaired at that time, had recommended the march be stopped but the decision was agreed between the Chief of the General Staff (of the British Army) and British Prime Minister, Edward Heath.

2002 – Tesco’s supermarket chain in Ireland announces that, unlike its British counterpart, it has no plans to start issuing the morning-after pill to Irish teenagers free of charge.

2014 – Death of Paddy Cronin. He was a fiddler, born in Ré Buí near Gneeveguilla, Co Kerry. He was taught fiddle by Padraig O’Keeffe. In 1949, Seamus Ennis recorded him on acetate disc for Radió Éireann. Later that year (1949), after making these recordings, he left Ireland and emigrated to Boston in the United states. In 2007, Cronin was awarded the prestigious Gradam Saoil, or Lifetime Achievement Award, by the Irish Gaelic-language television station TG4, in honour of his contribution to Irish Traditional Music over six decades.

Image | Downpatrick Head, Co Mayo | Bryan Hanna Photography

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