#OTD in Irish History | 4 December:

1831 – Birth of Robert Horatio George Minty. Westport born Minty would become a Civil War Brevet Major General in the Union army. His campaigns included Chickamauga and Atlanta. Minty was in command of the Fourth Michigan Cavalry that captured fleeing Confederate President Jefferson F. Davis at Irwinsville, Georgia on 9 May 1865.

1879 – Birth of musician and composer, Sir Hamilton Harty, in Hillsborough, Co Down.

1882 – John Curran, Dublin magistrate, opens a special inquiry into the Phoenix Park murders, in which Parnell is falsely implicated.

1887 – Birth of trade unionist and revolutionary, Winifred Carney, in Bangor, Co Down.

1893 – Death of prominent 19th century physicist, John Tyndall. Born in Co Carlow, his initial scientific fame arose in the 1850s from his study of diamagnetism. Later he studied thermal radiation, and produced a number of discoveries about processes in the atmosphere. Tyndall published seventeen books, which brought state-of-the-art 19th century experimental physics to a wider audience. From 1853 to 1887 he was professor of physics at the Royal Institution of Great Britain, where he became the successor to positions held by Michael Faraday.

1914 – Roger Casement visits Limburg when only the first few hundred Irish POWs are there. The main contingent of some 1500 arrived from Sennelager on 17 December. Casement forms the impression that the men would volunteer for his proposed Irish Brigade. Quinlisk records that it was a beautiful clear, cold day. All the NCOs were marched to an empty hut, and after a wait, Roger Casement entered with two German officers, one of whom was Marshall von Biberstein. He spoke to the men for about half an hour, after which Quinlisk and a Sergeant (McMurrough, who later changed his mind) stepped forward. Quinlisk volunteered to Casement that he would open a notebook recording the names of any Irish POWs willing to join the proposed Irish Brigade.

1918 – Death of Richard Bagwell, a noted historian of the Stuart and Tudor periods in Ireland, and a political commentator with strong Unionist convictions.

1921 – Treaty Negotiations: Arthur Griffith in London writes to De Valera updating him on the difficult negotiations.

1922 – A party of sixty Republican fighters ambush a Free State convoy of two lorries on Drimoleague Road, near Dunmanway in West Cork. One National Army sergeant is killed. The National Army troops call for air support and an aeroplane bombs and machine guns the Anti-Treaty fighters before they disperse. Press reports say they suffered, ‘many casualties’.

1922 – Captured by Republicans on 9 September, Kenmare, Co Kerry is re-taken by Free State troops under General Murphy.

1928 – Death of ‘Irish Godfather’, ‘Dapper’ Dan Hogan. He was a charismatic underworld figure and boss of Saint Paul, Minnesota’s Irish Mob during Prohibition. Due to his close relationships with the officers of the deeply corrupt St. Paul Police Department, Hogan was able to act as a go between, overseeing the notorious O’Connor System. Dapper Dan got behind the wheel of his Paige coupe and turned on the ignition. A bomb located beneath the floorboards detonated and blew off his right leg. He slipped into a coma at the hospital and died nine hours after the blast.

1947 – Birth of folk musician, singer and songwriter, Terry Woods in Dublin. He is noted for playing the mandolin and cittern, but also plays acoustic and electric guitar, mandola and concertina. He is known for his membership in such folk and folk-rock groups as The Pogues, Steeleye Span, Sweeney’s Men, The Bucks and, briefly, Dr. Strangely Strange and Dublin rock band Orphanage, with Phil Lynott, as well as in a duo/band with his then wife, Gay, billed initially as The Woods Band and later as Gay and Terry Woods.

1959 – Birth of Paul McGrath in Ealing, London to an Irish mother and a Nigerian father. He is a former footballer for St Patrick’s Athletic, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Derby County, Sheffield United and the Republic of Ireland. McGrath is widely recognised as one of the greatest players to have ever come out of Ireland.

1968 – Following a civil rights march in Dungannon there was a violent clash between Loyalists and those who were taking part in the march.

1971 – McGurk’s Bar bombing: The UVF exploded a bomb at a Catholic-owned pub in Belfast, killing fifteen Catholic civilians (including two children) and wounding seventeen others. Four of those killed were women, including the owner’s wife and 14 year old daughter. Only one of the bombers (the driver of the getaway car) was ever convicted. Immediately after the bombing, and for some time later, the security forces and various official sources maintained that the bomb had gone off inside the bar, implying that it was being prepared by the IRA and thus represented an ‘own goal’. This was the highest death toll from a single incident in Belfast during the Troubles.

1973 – Francis Pym, held a meeting with Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Paisley stormed out of the meeting, having been told that Loyalists would not be invited to participate in the Sunningdale conference, however, could come to add their point of view.

1976 – Death of William Frederick McCoy (generally known by his initials). Born in Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone, he was an Ulster Unionist member of the Parliament of Northern Ireland for South Tyrone who went on to become an early supporter of Ulster nationalism, despite having an Irish surname.

1976 – The annual conference of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) debated a motion calling on Britain to declare its intention of withdrawing from Northern Ireland. The motion was defeated by 158 votes to 111.

1983 – SAS soldiers involved in an undercover operation in the north of Ireland shoot and kill two IRA gunmen and injure a third man who escapes.

1983 – It’s fair to say that snooker was a solemn sport before Alex ‘Hurricane’ Higgins roared onto the scene. Chain-smoking, often pissed, always entertaining, people came just to see what he would do next. As a young lad from Belfast, he failed in his first career as a jockey because he drank too much Guinness, but that was no impediment to life on the green baize. Flying around the table, he played shots so audacious that even other pros were speechless. Higgins became the youngest winner of the World Championship in his first attempt in 1972, and won 20 other titles, including a legendary victory from 7-0 down against Steve Davis to win the UK Championship on this date.

1991 – The IRA exploded a bomb, estimated at 1,200 lbs, in Glengall Street in Belfast. The bomb caused extensive damage to the Grand Opera House which is close to the headquarters of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

1991 – British Prime Minister, John Major, travelled to Dublin, to meet with Taoiseach Charles Haughey. This was the first visit by a British Prime Minister since 1980. The two leaders agreed to hold biannual meetings.

1992 – John May (Sir), previously a Court of Appeal judge, published a report into the wrongful convictions of the Maguire family (‘Maguire seven’). The May Report called for the establishment of a review tribunal to look into cases of alleged miscarriages of justice.

1995 – The home of a Catholic family in west Belfast, which faced a Protest housing estate, was attacked by Loyalists for the 56th time in nine years.

1996 – Two Catholic families were forced to leave their homes in the mainly Protestant Ballykeel Estate, Ballymena, after petrol bomb attacks on their houses.

1997 – President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, and Vice-President of Sinn Féin, Martin McGuinness, held a meeting with the Speaker of the House of Commons. The Speaker refused their request for office facilities because they had not taken their seats as this would have involved taking the Oath of allegiance to the Queen.

1997 – Pearse McCauley (32) was charged in a court in Dublin with the capital murder of Gerry McCabe, a Detective in the Garda Síochána, in Adare on 7 June 1996.

2000 – Ireland reluctantly agrees to a six months European Union wide ban on the feeding of meat and bone meal to all farm animals, including pigs and poultry.

2001 – A memorial was unveiled in north Belfast to mark the 30th anniversary of a Loyalist paramilitary bombing in which 15 men, women, and children, died. The bomb had been planted by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at McGurk’s Bar in North Queen Street on 4 December 1971.

2001 – Minister of Health, Bairbre de Brún (SF), announced additional funding of £250,000 to try to reduce teenage pregnancies in Northern Ireland. The region has one of the highest rates in Europe. In 1995, there were 1,434 pregnancies to teenagers in the province, but this figure rose to 1,795 in 1999. The money was to be spent on projects that support action on teenage pregnancy.

2001 – U2 frontman Bono and politician Pat Cox scoop two European of the Year awards at the first-ever such event in Brussels.

2001 – It was disclosed that Peter Mandelson, the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, had written an article for the January 2001 issue of ‘GQ’ magazine in which he stated that the British government had ‘no stomach’ to fight the IRA. He also said that Gerry Adams, President of Sinn Féin, would see a United Ireland in his lifetime.

2002 – Award-winning Cork-born author, William Trevor, receives an honorary knighthood in London in recognition of his services to literature.

2006 – Staff at an equestrian centre in Mullingar, Co Westmeath, return to the workplace prior to a planned Christmas party – and discover Gus, a newly arrived camel from Morocco, had munched through 200 mince pies and cans of Guinness.

2009 – Death of actor and folk singer, Liam Clancy, from Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary. He was the youngest and last surviving member of the influential folk group the Clancy Brothers, who are regarded as Ireland’s first pop stars.

Image | Front gates of Birr Castle, Co Offaly | Stair na hÉireann/History of Ireland

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