#OTD in Irish History | 17 February:

In the Liturgical Calendar today is the Feast Day of Fintan of Clonenagh. St Fintan was born in Leinster. He received his religious formation in Terryglass, Co Tipperary under the abbot Colum mac Crimthainn, and was deeply influenced by his penitential practices and the severity of the Rule. Fintan made his own foundation in Clonenagh, Co Laois. His disciples included St Colmán of Oughaval. Though he is sometimes confused with Saint Fintán or Munnu, abbot of Taghmon, they are distinct.

1821 – Birth of Eliza Rosanna Gilbert, Countess of Landsfeld (better known by the stage name Lola Montez). She was an Irish-born dancer and actress who became famous as a ‘Spanish dancer’, courtesan and mistress of King Ludwig I of Bavaria, who made her Countess of Landsfeld.

1846 – Daniel O’Connell speaks about The Great Hunger in The House of Commons.

1896 – In the House of Commons, Horace Plunkett and W.E.H. Lecky, Irish Unionists, support John Redmond’s plea for clemency for Irish political prisoners.

1928 – Birth of republican and first chief of staff of the Provisional IRA, Seán Mac Stíofáin in London.

1945 – Birth of actress, Brenda Fricker, in Dublin. She has appeared in more than 30 films and television roles. Fricker won the 1989 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Christy Brown’s mother in My Left Foot. The movie was a triumph for Irish film making. Daniel Day-Lewis won best actor for his portrayal of the disabled Brown while director Jim Sheridan received numerous Best Director nominations at various film festivals.

1969 – In the run-up to the election on 24 February 1969 the BBC programme ‘Panorama’ interviewed the main political figures. This programme was broadcast across the UK and was an early instance of viewers in Britain having an opportunity to see the conflict in Northern Ireland being discussed in depth.

1973 – William Craig, leader of Vanguard, addressed a rally in Ulster Hall, Belfast. In his speech Craig said: ‘Much though we wish to maintain the Union we should all be seriously thinking of an independent dominion of Ulster’.

1974 – The British Army shot three members of the Ulster Defence Association (UDA) in riots on the Newtownards Road, Belfast. One man died immediately and another died nine days later.

1978 – La Mon Restaurant Bombing: Twelve people, all Protestant civilians, were killed and 23 seriously injured when an incendiary bomb exploded at the restaurant of the La Mon House Hotel, Gransha, near Belfast. The bomb had been planted by the IRA. An inadequate warning had been given and the hotel was being cleared when the bomb exploded. Many of those killed were burnt to death. Seven of the dead were women. There were three married couples among the dead.

1978 – A British soldier was killed in a helicopter crash in Co Armagh. The IRA claimed to have shot down the helicopter. For many years the British Army denied the claim before finally acknowledging that the IRA had indeed caused the crash.

1980 – The Derrynaflan Chalice and other ancient silver and bronze pre-Christian antiquities are discovered in Co Tipperary.

1983 – The British Labour Party took the decision to oppose the Prevention of Terrorism Act in existing form. As the Act needed to be renewed on an annual basis this decision was to lead to continuing friction between Labour and the Conservative government.

1992 – Sinn Féin held their annual Ard Fheis in a community hall in Ballyfermot, Co Dublin. A document, Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland was launched at the Ard Fheis.

1994 – An RUC officer, William Beacom (30), was killed and two other officers injured when the IRA carried out a rocket attack on a police Land Rover in the Markets area of Belfast.

1995 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Patrick Mayhew, lifted the exclusion orders against ten people. The orders had been imposed to prevent people travelling from Northern Ireland to Britain.

1998 – Sinn Féin announces it will mount a legal challenge to the British Government’s attempt to have them expelled from the multi-party talks.

1998 – According to a nation-wide survey, ‘Morning Ireland’ is the nation’s favourite radio programme.

1999 – Farmers with tractors and trailers move through the centres of 28 cities and towns during a National Day of Action to protest proposed reforms in the EU Common Agricultural Policy.

1999 – EU governments gear up for an epic battle with the European Commission over the Brussels verdict to end duty-free sales.

2000 – Minister O’Donoghue unveils a raft of far-reaching proposals for a new legislative initiative at a passing out ceremony at the Garda College in Templemore. He tells the 98 graduating recruits he has received Government approval to draft and bring a new Criminal Justice Bill before the Oireachtas.

2001 – Two explosions near Newry force the closure of the rail line between Portadown and Dundalk.

2002 – The film ‘Bloody Sunday’, directed and written by Paul Greengrass, won the coveted Golden Bear award at the Berlin Film Festival. The film shared the prize with a Japanese animated feature film. ‘Bloody Sunday’ had previously won the World Cinema Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

2003 – Supermarket giant Tesco sparks a possible price war with the opening of its first petrol filling station in Killarney, Co Kerry.

2003 – The ‘An Gorta Mór’ replica ship, the Jeanie Johnston, is forced to drop anchor close to the Valentia Island, 20 hours into her 21-day voyage to Tenerife. Strong winds also lead Aer Lingus to cancel all flights to New York.

2005 – Death of film actor, Dan O’Herlihy. Born in Co Wexford, he is best known for such roles as Brigadier General Warren A. ‘Blackie’ Black in Fail Safe, Conal Cochran in Halloween III: Season of the Witch, ‘The Old Man’ in RoboCop, and Andrew Packard in Twin Peaks. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor for the 1954 film, Adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

2007 – Death of musician, producer and songwriter, Dermot O’Reilly. Born in Inichore, Co Dublin, O’Reilly emigrated to Toronto where he met future bandmates Fergus O’Byrne and Denis Ryan. He was one of the founding members of The Sons of Erin and helped form the band Sullivan’s Gypsies in 1970. In 1971, O’Reilly, O’Byrne and Ryan moved to St. John’s and began performing as Ryan’s Fancy. Ryan’s Fancy became a popular Irish group that released 12 albums and hosted a successful television program for several seasons.

2013 – Death of journalist, author and broadcaster and former footballer and hurler (for Dublin), Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin. He was born in Newcastlewest, Co Limerick, and grew up in Fairview, Co Dublin where he attended a Gaelscoil. He twice won the Feis Ceoil competition for his singing talents in the Irish language. He married Anna McDonagh in 1954. They had three children. Finín, Caitríona, and Sinéad. He lived most of his married life in Raheny, Co Dublin.

Image | Slane, Co Meath | Dáibhí Gibney Photography

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