#OTD in Irish History | 16 April:

1660 – Birth of physician and naturalist, Sir Hans Sloane, in Killyleagh, Co Down. Perhaps, the biggest impact Sloan made on Europe, was the introduction of drinking milk chocolate, which he had tasted during a visit to Jamaica.

1701 – Some MPs and gentlemen of Co Carlow petition against the return and residence of Mark Baggot, ‘a violent Papist’, in that county, of which he was ‘titular High Sheriff’ in 1689.

1752 – The first regular stage-coach service between Dublin and Belfast commenced.

1782 – The Irish Parliament declared its independence from the English Parliament.

1850 – Birth of scholar, Samuel Butcher, in Dublin.

1871 – Birth of poet and playwright, John Millington Synge, in Dublin.

1912 – The World learned about the sinking of the Titanic. Survivors picked up by the Carpathia headed for the United States.

1918 – Birth of comedian, writer and actor, Spike Milligan, in India. He was a The son of an Irish father and an English mother, his early life was spent in India. The majority of his working life was spent in the United Kingdom. Milligan’s 1960 application for British citizenship and 1961 application for a British passport were blocked by his refusal to pledge an oath of allegiance to the UK, his adopted home for most of his adult life. When the Commonwealth Immigrants Act removed his automatic right to British citizenship in 1962, he promptly became an Irish citizen, exercising a right conferred through the automatic retroactive Irish citizenship of his Irish-born father.

1938 – The Regal Cinema opened on Hawkins St, Dublin, designed by architect Michael Scott. The first film screened was the screwball comedy, True Confession, starring Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray. It operated for almost a quarter of a century until its closure in 1962.

1939 – Pop singer Dusty Springfield, whose real name is Mary O’Brien, was born to Irish parents in London.

1941 – Belfast suffered major damage on the night of 15/16 April as Nazi bombers rained death on the city.

1947 – Singer Gerry Rafferty was born in Paisley, Scotland to an Irish father and a Scottish mother.

1970 – Protestant right-winger the Reverend Ian Paisley won a seat in Northern Ireland’s parliament, formerly held by former Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Terence O’Neill. Terence O’Neill, had vacated his seat following his elevation to the peerage. A second person, William Beattie, was also elected for Protestant Unionist. These elections provided further evidence of the break-up of the unionist block and the unease among a large section of Protestants about the reform measures introduced under Northern Ireland Prime Minister, Chichester-Clark.

1972 – Birth of stand-up comedian, voice over artist and actor, Ed Byrne, in Swords, Dublin. He has presented television shows Uncut! Best Unseen Ads and Just for Laughs, and is a guest on television panel games. As an actor, he played the title character in the 2000 ITV adaptation of the pantomime Aladdin.

1972 – Two British soldiers (Gerard Bristow and Martin Robinson) were shot dead by the Official Irish Republican Army (OIRA) in separate incidents in Derry.

1976 – Two Catholic civilians (Vincent Hamilton and Harry McAleese) were killed in an IRA bomb at Servia Street, Lower Falls, Belfast.

1979 – A Prison Officer, Michael Cassidy (31), was shot dead by the IRA as he left a church in Clogher, Co Tyrone, where his sister had just gotten married.

1988 – Proinsias De Rossa replaced Tomás Mac Giolla as leader of the Workers Party.

1990 – There was further trouble at Crumlin Road Prison when Republican prisoners damaged furniture in protest at the lack of segregation. This disturbance followed incidents at the prison on 14 March 1990.

1994 – Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, addressed a Fianna Fáil conference in Dublin. He said he envisaged that, in the event of a United Ireland, the government would be comprised of 30 per cent representation from Northern Ireland.

1995 – President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, who was in Dublin said that: ‘if the British won’t listen to reasoned and reasonable argument then let them listen to the sound of marching feet and angry voices.’

1996 – The British government published draft legislation (in the form of a Command Paper, ‘Ground Rules for Substantive All-Party Negotiations’) for the proposed elections in Northern Ireland on 30 May 1996. The proposals led to a period of debate before the legislation was rushed through parliament on 18 April 1996. The number of parties entitled to stand in the elections was increased from the original 15 to 30, however, the list still excluded the Irish Republican Socialist Party.

1997 – There was an arson attack on St Coleman’s Catholic church in Annaclone, Co Armagh. The chapel was badly damaged by the fire.

1998 – An opinion poll indicated that 73 per cent of people in Northern Ireland were in favour of the Good Friday Agreement. The British government gave the go-ahead for an ‘educational village’ to be sited close to the ‘peaceline’ in Springvale, Belfast.

1998 – The new campus is to be a joint initiative of the University of Ulster and the Belfast Institute of Further and Higher Education is expected to cost £70 million.

1999 – Supreme Court Justice Hugh O’Flaherty and High Court Judge Cyril Kelly were given 72 hours to quit by the Government — or else face unprecedented impeachment proceedings.

1999 – Union officials at the centre of the scaffolders strike predicted chaos within the building industry as over 800 workers placed unofficial pickets on countrywide sites following the breakdown of crisis talks.

1999 – David Trimble admitted for the first time that he accepted it was unlikely the Provisional IRA would return to violence in the short-term.

2001 – The Government prepared to re-institute draconian restrictions in a last desperate attempt to prevent the foot and mouth plague sweeping the country. Fresh cases of the disease in Northern Ireland had stunned Department of Agriculture officials and Minister Joe Walsh admitted that it appeared that foot and mouth was rampant north of the border.

2002 – Beginning with a ‘park-up’ outside John A Woods and ReadyMix sites in Cork, Kerry and Limerick, as many as 300 truck drivers transporting sand and gravel took their trucks off the road in protest at strict weight restrictions, high insurance costs and low pay.

2003 – A spokesman for the British Government said that it was sticking with its plans for Assembly elections in Northern Ireland the following month, even if efforts to restore devolution failed.

Image | Sunday’s Well Road, Sunday’s Well, Co Cork | Photography by Silyld

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