#OTD in Irish History | 24 March:

In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast Day of Saint Mac Cairthinn, also Macartan, a very early generation of saints in Ireland and is recognised as the first Bishop of Clogher. He is known as Saint Patrick’s ‘Strong Man’ for his dedication and faithfulness.

1603 – James VI of Scotland comes to the throne of England, as James I, following the death of Elizabeth I on this date.

1792 – Pianist, composer, and teacher, John Field, made his debut at the age of nine – a performance that was well-received, in Dublin. Field was very highly regarded by his contemporaries and his playing and compositions influenced many major composers, including Frédéric Chopin, Johannes Brahms, Robert Schumann, and Franz Liszt. Although little is known of Field in Russia, he undoubtedly contributed substantially to concerts and teaching, and to the development of the Russian piano school.

1796 – The Insurrection Act imposes curfews, arms searches, and the death penalty for oath-taking.

1829 – Catholic Emancipation: The Parliament of the United Kingdom passes the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829, allowing Catholics to serve in Parliament.

1866 – Birth in Co Cork of light-heavyweight boxing champion, Jack McAuliffe.

1909 – Death of playwright and poet, John Millington Synge, in Dublin. The plays of Irish peasant life on which his fame rests are written in the last six years of his life. In 1904, Synge, Yeats and Lady Gregory found the famous Abbey Theatre. Two Synge comedies, The Well of the Saints (1905) and The Playboy of the Western World (1907), are presented by the Abbey players. The latter play creates a furor of resentment among Irish patriots stung by Synge’s bitter humour.

1916 – Robert Monteith tells Roger Casement their machine guns arrived on 22 March, however they could not be used until 24 March when written permission was received to use them.

1920 – Seaman and Antarctic explorer, Tom Crean, from Annascaul, Co Kerry, retired from the Royal Navy, after almost 27 years of service. While serving aboard the Fox, in April 1919, Crean had suffered a serious fall, causing a bad head injury, which would have lasting effects on his eyesight. Almost a year later, whilst serving on the Hecla, Tom Crean was declared medically unfit to serve, because of his defective vision, and the giant Irishman retired on medical grounds.

1921 – A bomb was thrown at a group of soldiers at Westport, Co Mayo. British reprisals took place that night throughout West Mayo.

1922 – McMahon killings: In Belfast, policemen break into the home of a Catholic family and shoot all eight males inside, killing six.

1926 – Birth of Desmond Connell in Phibsboro, Co Dublin. He was an Irish cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church and a former Archbishop of Dublin and Primate of Ireland. He was one of a number of senior clergy to have been heavily criticised for inaction and for making misleading statements in connection with clerical sex abuse in Dublin. Connell was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI. He had been a supporter of the Holy Office’s declaration Dominus Iesus in 2000, applauding its opposition to relativism.

1945 – Birth of actor Patrick Malahide; born Patrick G. Duggan, to Irish parents living in England.

1958 – Birth of architect and mountaineer, Dawson Stelfox, in Belfast. In 1993, he became the first person from Ireland to climb Mount Everest. He is past President and current Board Member of Mountaineering Ireland.

1968 – An Aer Lingus plane, the St Phelim, crashed into the sea near Tuskar Rock, Co Wexford, killing all 61 passengers and crew. Although the investigation into the crash lasted two years, a cause was never determined. There has long been popular speculation that the aircraft was shot down by a British experimental missile.

1970 – Birth of musician, Sharon Corr in Dundalk, Co Louth. Best known as a member of The Corrs, which she co-founded in 1990 with her elder brother Jim and younger sisters Caroline and Andrea.

1972 – British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, announced that the Stormont Parliament was to be prorogued, and ‘Direct Rule’ from Westminster imposed on Northern Ireland from 30 March 1972. The announcement was greeted with outrage from Brian Faulkner and Unionist politicians. The main reason for the suspension of Stormont was the refusal of the Unionist government to accept the loss of law and order powers to Westminster. The legislation responsible for direct rule was the Northern Ireland (Temporary Provisions) Act. Under the legislation a new Northern Ireland Office (NIO) was established at Stormont which was supervised by a new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw. Whitelaw eased Internment and gave political status to prisoners because of Billy McKee’s hunger strike.

1980 – The Constitutional Conference/Atkins Talks were adjourned indefinitely at Stormont with little hope that agreement between the various parties would be possible.

1983 – The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), all refused invitations to take part in the New Ireland Forum.

1986 – British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, wrote a letter to Unionist leaders in which she rejected a demand for a suspension of the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA) to allow talks on devolution to begin.

1987 – Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), James Molyneaux, and Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ian Paisley, called for peaceful protests against the new Public Order legislation on 11 April 1987.

1992 – The IRA exploded a bomb, estimated at 500 lbs, close to the RUC station in Donegall Pass, Belfast. The bomb caused extensive damage to property in the surrounding area.

1993 – Sinn Féin member, Peter Gallagher (44), was shot dead by the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), at his place of work on Grosvenor Road, Belfast.

1994 – A Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) councillor, John Fee, was severely beaten by Republicans outside his home in Crossmaglen, south Armagh.

1994 – The Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee was constituted with 6 Conservative members, two Labour, two Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), one Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), one Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and one Ulster Popular Unionist Party (UPUP) member. James Kilfedder (Sir) was announced as the chairman.

1995 – For the first time in 25 years, Britain halted all routine army patrols in Belfast.

1997 – In Long Kesh Prison, a tunnel was discovered leading from H-Block 7 which housed Irish Republican Army (IRA) prisoners. The lapse of security drew criticism from many quarters.

1997 – A Presbyterian minister based at Trinity Church in Greyabbey, David Templeton (43), died six weeks after he had been the subject of a Loyalist ‘punishment’ attack. He died from a pulmonary embolism after his legs were broken. The Sunday Life had carried a report, 18 months prior to the attack, that customs officers had found an adult gay pornographic video in his possession. No charges had been brought against Templeton in connection with the video. During an inquest on 12 November 1997 the RUC said that it believed that the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was responsible for the attack.

1998 – The Prison Service in Northern Ireland confirms that five Loyalist Volunteer Force prisoners are now on hunger strike at Long Kesh prison to protest a security crackdown following the savage murder of loyalist remand prisoner David Keys.

1998 – Republicans carried out a mortar attack on an RUC station in south Armagh. It was thought that four mortar bombs had been fired at the police barracks in the village of Forkhill. One was believed to have exploded in the grounds of the base, and another to have landed there without exploding. No one was injured in the attack.

1999 – Anti-blood sports groups call on Minister Silé de Valera to refuse to renew a licence to the country’s last remaining stag hunt.

2000 – Dubliners faced traffic chaos as bus drivers’ dispute threatened to escalate into an all out strike.

2002 – Twenty-one whales were rescued after stranding themselves on a Kerry beach; with the other whales forming a circle around a female whale, rescuers were thrilled to observe her giving birth minutes after being pulled back out to safety.

2010 – President Mary McAleese paid tribute to fallen Irish at Gallipoli while on a state trip to Turkey in what was seen as the first official recognition of the huge loss of Irish lives in the first World War.

Image | Kilclooney Dolmen, Kilclooney, Narin, Portnoo, Donegal | Gareth Wray Photography

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