#OTD in Irish History | 21 March:

1181 – John Cumin (or Comyn) was elected archbishop of Dublin and consecrated by the pope at Velletri on this date. He is the first Englishman to be appointed to an Irish see.

1656 – Death of Bishop James Ussher. The Dublin-born cleric deduced from biblical studies the exact date of the Creation (23rd October, 4004 BCE), and the date of the end of the world: 4th November 1996. The Bishop had a cult following until then.

1689 – Derry declares allegiance to William III.

1763 – William James McNeven, physician, United Irishman and writer, is born in Aughrim, Co Galway.

1770 – The College Historical Society (CHS) – popularly referred to as ‘The Hist’ – held its first meeting. It is one of the two debating societies at Trinity College, Dublin. It was established within the college in 1770 and can be traced back to the club formed by the philosopher Edmund Burke in Dublin in 1747. It is the oldest surviving undergraduate student society in the world. The society occupies rooms in the Graduates’ Memorial Building at Trinity College. Prominent members have included many Irish men and women of note, from the republican revolutionary Theobald Wolfe Tone and the author Bram Stoker, to founding father of the Northern Irish state Edward Carson and first President of Ireland Douglas Hyde, and in more recent times Government Ministers Mary Harney who was the first female auditor of the society and Brian Lenihan. Theobald Wolfe Tone, later leader of the United Irishmen, was elected Auditor in 1785, and Thomas Addis Emmet was a member of the committee. The society was briefly expelled from the College in 1794, but readmitted on the condition that ‘No question of modern politics shall be debated’. In 1797, the poet Thomas Moore and the nationalist Robert Emmet were elected as members. Eight members of ‘The Hist’ were expelled in 1798 in the run-up to the Rebellion, and a motion was later carried condemning the rebellion, against their former Auditor.

1881 – The Peace Preservation Act, controlling possession and importation of arms, is enacted.

1886 – Oscar Traynor, revolutionary, Fianna Fáil politician and Minister; football administrator, is born in Dublin.

1896 – Death of William Quan Judge. He was a mystic, esotericist, and occultist, and one of the founders of the original Theosophical Society. He was born in Dublin and when he was 13 years old, his family emigrated to the United States. He became a naturalised citizen of the USA at age 21 and passed the New York state bar exam, specialising in commercial law.

1904 – Death of William Russell Grace (born in Ballylinan, Co Laois). He was the first Roman Catholic mayor of New York and the founder of W. R. Grace and Company.

1921 – The Kerry IRA attacked a train at the Headford junction near Killarney. The IRA estimated twenty British soldiers were killed, as well as two IRA volunteers and three civilians. The British reported 7 soldiers killed and 12 wounded.

1921 – In an ambush at Lispole, Co Kerry, three IRA volunteers were killed.

1922 – IRA volunteers shot dead two RIC men in Trillick, Co Tyrone. In reprisal, local loyalists shot dead three Catholic civilians.

1924 – An attack on British Soldiers/Sailors and civilians at Queenstown (Cobh) was mounted by Irregulars with Armoured car and firing on HMS Scythe; 1 killed and 23 wounded.

1970 – Dana (Rosemary Brown) won the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland with ‘All Kinds of Everything’.

1974 – Birth of director, television presenter, author and public speaker, Conor Woodman, in Co Galway.  Best known as the host of ‘Scam City’ and ‘Around the World in 80 Trades’.

1978 – Death of Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, served as fifth President of Ireland, from 1974 to 1976. He resigned in 1976 after a clash with the government. He also had a notable legal career, including serving as Chief Justice of Ireland.

1981 – Catholic Primate of Ireland, Tomás Ó Fiaich, issued a statement calling upon the IRA to end its use of violence.

1982 – Birth of auto racing driver, Colin Turkington, in Portadown, Co Armagh. His most notable successes to date include becoming 2009 British Touring Car Champion driving for Team RAC and 2014 British Touring Car Champion driving for eBay Motors. He has also competed in the World Touring Car Championship and the inaugural Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. In 2013 he returned to the British Touring Car Championship with his current team, West Surrey Racing.

1983 – British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, held a brief meeting with Taoiseach Garret FitzGerald, at an European Economic Community (EEC) summit meeting. This was Thatcher’s first meeting with a Taoiseach in over 15 months.

1987 – The IPLO (Irish People’s Liberation Organisation, a breakaway group from the INLA – Irish National Liberation Army) killed INLA members Emmanuel Gargan in a Belfast bar and Kevin Barry Duffy in Armagh.

1987 – Alan Dukes was elected as leader of Fine Gael.

1994 – Loyalists set alight the car belonging to Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) MP, Joe Hendron, which was parked outside his south Belfast home. It was reported that there were angry exchanges between Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ian Paisley, and British Prime Minister, John Major,  at 10 Downing Street, London. There were also reports that Paisley together with some of his colleagues temporarily locked themselves into a toilet at No. 10.

1996 – British Prime Minister, John Major, announced details of elections to be held on 30 May 1996. The elections were designed to decide which parties would take part in all-party negotiations on 10 June 1996. The elections were also to elect delegates to the proposed Forum. The Forum was to be made up of 110 delegates, 90 elected directly and 20 ‘top-up’ seats from the 10 parties polling the most votes. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF) both criticised the proposals.

1997 – Brendan Smyth, a Catholic priest convicted of child sex abuse, was released from prison in the north of Ireland and then extradited to the south of Ireland to face further charges of abusing children.

1998 – Sonia O’Sullivan won a gold medal in the World Cross-Country championships.
2001 – Tests for foot-and-mouth disease were carried out on samples from sheep on a farm in Louth.

1998 – Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), David Trimble, delivered a key note speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council.

2001 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern strongly urged the release of the remaining Government funding to help complete the ‘famine’ ship Jeanie Johnston.

2001 – Hundreds of students gather outside Leinster House to protest the teacher’s strike.

2003 – The Government insists it is not a participant in the 50-member coalition of countries which the US says is providing support for the war on Iraq. The United States has published a list of 35 countries which make up its ‘coalition of the willing’, but says another 15 members are providing back-up support and do not wish to be named.

2006 – The social media site Twitter is founded.

2009 – Paul O’Connell and Rory Best celebrated the final whistle in Cardiff as Ireland beat Wales 17-15 in a dramatic win which gave Ireland their first Six Nations Rugby Grand since the country’s one and only triumph in 1948. https://youtu.be/MUsXNXCivgs

2010 – Pope Benedict apologizes to Ireland’s Roman Catholics in historic papal letter read at Masses throughout Ireland.

2016 – Kerry County Museum paid €10,600 for a Treasure Island-style map drawn by Sir Roger Casement to show where he had buried gold and other valuables after landing at Banna Strand on Good Friday 1916. The map appeared at auction in Chorley’s Auctioneers in Cheltenham.

2017 – Death of Martin McGuinness, a former IRA commander and Sinn Fein political leader who helped negotiate peace in Northern Ireland after decades of sectarian violence, and became a senior official in its power-sharing government.

Image | Trim Castle, Co Meath | Willie Forde Photography

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