#OTD in Irish History | 26 March:

1787 – The Tumultuous Risings Act imposed penalties for rioting and for interference with the collection of tithes.

1838 – William Edward Hartpole Lecky, historian and philosopher, was born in Blackrock, Co Dublin.

1854 – Harry Furniss, caricaturist, was born in Wexford.

1856 – Birth of New Zealand statesman and Prime Minister from 1912 to 1925,  William Massey, in Limavady, Co Derry.

1917 – More than 2,000 people will be employed in the new Ford tractor plant in Cork. The workers will be paid a minimum rate of 1 shilling per day.

1917 – The British government confirmed that it is to adopt the recommendations of the Home Office Committee and the Summer Time Act will be enforced in Ireland. The clocks in Ireland will change at 2am on Sunday morning, 8 April 1917. Only an Act of Parliament can now change this plan and such an act will not be passed. The decision to proceed with Summer Time in Ireland comes in the wake of Irish objections that it will be injurious to agriculture. Opponents of the measure stress the difference between the British economy and the Irish one: In Ireland 60% of the population is rural, while a mere 8% of Britain’s population is engaged in food production.

1918 – Mr Laurence Ginnell MP was before the Dublin Police Court on various charges arising out of alleged incitement of persons to engage in cattle-driving. The court heard evidence from a number of constables who noted the occasions of the inciting speeches were made and as a result of which, it is alleged, several farms were cleared of their stock. Ginnell was ordered to enter into bail in £500 and to find two sureties of £1,000 each, or face up to six months imprisonment. His only response was: ‘Will the English power last so long in this country?’ As the defendant was being removed from the dock, his wife, Alice Ginnell, waved a republican flag and resisted efforts from a policeman to wrest it from her. Mrs Ginnell was assisted by Maud Gonne MacBride, who sat beside her. Mrs Gonne MacBride’s son also joined the affray and was vigorously treated by the police. Also in attendance was the Lord Mayor of Dublin, who, on seeing the police lay hands on Mrs Ginnell, leaped from his seat and shouted: ‘Please don’t ill-use the lady.’

1920 – Resident Magistrate Alan Bell, from Banagher was killed. He was tasked by the British to track down Sinn Féin funds; he had successfully confiscated over £71,000 from Sinn Féin’s HQ and, by investigating banks throughout the country, was set to seize much more. He was pulled from a tram in south Dublin and shot three times in the head.

1922 – An IRA anti-treaty army convention announced it would no longer accept the authority of Free State Minister for Defence Richard Mulcahy. He became commander of the pro-treaty forces in the Irish Civil War after the death of Michael Collins. The announcement signalled the beginning of a long and violent battle between the New State government and the anti-treaty IRA.

1923 – As the Civil War petered out into a de facto victory for the pro-treaty side, Éamon de Valera asked the IRA leadership to call a ceasefire, but they refused. The Anti-Treaty IRA executive meets in the Knockmealdown mountains, Co Tipperary to discuss the war’s future. Tom Barry proposes a motion to end the war, but it is defeated by 6 votes to 5. Éamon de Valera is allowed to attend, after some debate, but is given no voting rights.

1931 – Death of Tim Healy, former Home Rule politician and first Free State Governor-General.

1932 – Death of Sir Horace Plunkett.

1948 – Death of Gearóid O’Sullivan. He had the honour of raising the Tricolour over the GPO as fighting raged the streets of Dublin during the 1916 Easter Rising. O’Sullivan, then 25, was the youngest IRB officer fighting in the GPO (three months younger than his cousin Michael Collins). He had been personally chosen by leader Seán Mac Diarmada to serve as his aide-de-camp.

1963 – Basil Brooke resigns as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.

1964 – Birth of motor racing driver, Martin Donnelly, in Belfast. After competing in Formula Three and Formula 3000 where he won 3 races and was a championship contender, Donnelly raced in Formula One in 1989 and 1990, until a serious crash during qualifying at the Jerez circuit ended his Formula One career.

1968 – Birth of retired discus thrower, Nick Sweeney, in Dublin. He represented Ireland in four consecutive Summer Olympics, starting 1992 (Barcelona, Spain). He is the current Irish national record holder in the discus (67.89 m), and won a total number of ten Irish national discus titles (1987, 1991–1997, 1999 & 2000). He finished 6th at the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart.

1970 – The Police (Northern Ireland) Act became law. The act provided for the disarmament of the RUC and the establishment of an RUC reserve force. The Act established the Police Authority of Northern Ireland (PANI) which was meant to contain representatives from across the community. None of the main Nationalist parties have ever taken part in the PANI.

1972 – William Whitelaw, was appointed as the first Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

1974 – Avoca Handweavers, now mostly known simply as Avoca, is a clothing manufacturing, retail and food business in Avoca, Co Wicklow and is the oldest working woollen mill in Ireland as well as one of the world’s oldest manufacturing companies. Donald Pratt, a solicitor engaged to handle the sale of the mill which faced closure decided to buy it himself on this date. Along with his wife, Hilary, a teacher, he set about getting Avoca Handweavers back on its feet. The Pratts began exporting hand-woven rugs and throws to the UK and other countries. Avoca throws are still sold across the globe. It is also Ireland’s oldest surviving business. The mill on the banks of the fast-flowing River Avoca survives from at least 1723. Travel to and from the remote village was difficult and a barter system was used. The mill was used for grinding corn for bread and spinning and weaving wool.

1976 – The Prevention of Terrorism Act took effect in Northern Ireland.

1978 – At the IRA annual Easter Rising commemorations a number of speakers stated that the campaign in Northern Ireland would be intensified.

1980 – It was announced that as from 1 April 1980 there would be no entitlement to special category status for members of paramilitary organisations regardless of when the crimes had been committed. A policy change announced in March 1976 had ended special category status to people sentenced after that date for scheduled offences. The decision to end special category privileges for paramilitary prisoners led to a protest campaign by Republicans in prisons across Northern Ireland. The protests began on 15 September 1976 when Kieran Nugent refused to wear prison issue clothes and covered himself with a blanket – hence the ‘blanket protest’. The protest was to escalate and led eventually to two hunger strikes, one in 1980 and the most serious in 1981.

1981 – Bobby Sands was nominated as a candidate in the by-election in Fermanagh/South Tyrone on 9 April 1981.

1982 – The IRA said that it would grant an ‘amnesty’ to any informers who retracted evidence given to the security forces.

1986 – Birth of rugby player, Rob Kearney, in Dublin. He currently plays for UCD, Leinster and Ireland. As a youth he also played rugby union for Clongowes Wood College and Gaelic football for Louth in the All-Ireland Minor Football Championship.

1987 – A feud between the INLA and the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation (IPLO) ended. It had begun with two deaths on 20 January 1987 and in total claimed 11 lives.

1998 – Colin Duffy, a Republican activist based in Armagh, accused the security forces of being behind a series of posters which appeared in the town. The posters bore the photograph of Duffy and part of the caption read: ‘This is north Armagh Republican terrorist Colin Duffy. If you see him in a Loyalist area contact the security forces or a leading Loyalist immediately.’ Duffy said that he felt that he was being set up for assassination.

1998 – Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), David Trimble, travelled to London for a meeting with British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. The UUP insisted that the details of the meeting be kept private.

1991 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke, announced that the political talks (later known as the Brooke/Mayhew talks) would involve a three-strand process. This process was to include relationships within Northern Ireland and achieving a devolved government (‘strand one’ of the talks), between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland (‘strand two’), and between the British and Irish Governments (‘strand three’). In addition the three strands were to form a complete agreement – ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.

1993 – The RUC uncovered five tons of fertiliser in west Belfast. The fertiliser was of a type that was used to manufacture home made bombs.

1996 – The Police Authority published its Consultation Report. The parts of the report dealing with the RUC recommended no change to the name, uniform, or oath of allegiance to the Crown. It was suggested that letterheads used by the RUC should include the adjunct, Northern Ireland’s Police Service. David Cook, who had been sacked from the Police Authority on 8 March 1996, claimed that the report had been ‘watered down’.

1997 – The IRA planted two bombs at Windslow Railway Station in the north-west of England. The bombs caused widespread disruption to the rail network. The IRA also issued its annual Easter statement in which it confirmed its continuing objective of ending British rule, but added the IRA’s ‘willingness to facilitate … inclusive negotiations’.

1999 – SDLP leader, John Hume revealed that he intended to donate all of his £280,000 Nobel Peace Prize money to charity and victims of violence in Northern Ireland.

2000 – A German couple miraculously escaped with their lives when the light plane they were flying crashed to the ground at Galway Airport.

2001 – Violence erupted at a number of demonstrations against the ASTI teachers’ strike.

2002 – Hillary Clinton made her first official visit to Ireland as a United States Senator. The trip was to promote trade between Dublin and New York state.

2002 – The Farm and Speciality Food Market at St George’s, Belfast Ireland’s became the first group to win the top prize in the Ballygowan/Irish Food Writers’ Guild Food Awards.

2007 – DUP leader Ian Paisley and Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams committed themselves to forming a powersharing executive by 8th May after engaging directly for the first time at Stormont. Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British prime minister Tony Blair hailed this first meeting and agreement as a historic, reconciliatory and transforming moment in British-Irish history.

2012 – Death of politician, Michael Begley. He was elected as a Fine Gael Teachta Dála (TD) for the Kerry South constituency between 1969 and 1989. He also served as a Minister of State in a number of government departments. Born in Dingle, Co Kerry in 1932 to a farming family, Begley was a carpenter and secondary school teacher before entering national politics.

Image | Mellifont Abbey, Drogheda, Co Louth | Anthony Murphy Photography

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