#OTD in Irish History | 5 May:

1586 – Death of Lord Deputy of Ireland, Henry Sidney. Sidney was brought up at court as the companion of Prince Edward, afterwards King Edward VI, and he continued to enjoy the favour of the Crown, serving under Mary I of England and then particularly throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. He was instrumental in the Elizabethan conquest of Ireland, serving as Lord Deputy three times. His career was controversial both at home and in Ireland.

1795 – House of Commons rejects Grattan’s Catholic relief bill.

1864 – Birth of soldier, Sir Henry Wilson, in Edgeworthstown, Co Longford. He was chief of the Imperial General Staff from 1918 to 1922 and established the British Intelligence ‘Cairo Gang’ in Dublin.

1881 – Richard Downey (youngest ever Catholic archbishop in 1928, who reduces his weight from 18 stone to 9 stone in the 1930s) is born in Kilkenny.

1883 – Death of politician, John O’Shanassy. Born in Ballinahow, Co Tipperary, he emigrated to Australia and served as the 2nd Premier of Victoria. O’Shanassy was the son of a surveyor, and came to the Port Phillip District (later Victoria) in 1839. He went into business in Melbourne as a draper, and by 1846 he was rich enough to be elected to the Melbourne City Council and to become the founding chairman of the Colonial Bank of Australasia. By the 1850s he was a major landowner and one of the wealthiest men in the colony. He also became a recognised leader of the large Irish Catholic community.

1889 – Death of Isaac Butt. Born in Donegal, he was a barrister, politician, Member of Parliament (MP), known for his opposition to the Irish nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell’s campaign for the repeal of the Act of Union. Butt was the founder and first leader of a number of Irish nationalist parties and organisations, including the Irish Metropolitan Conservative Society in 1836, the Home Government Association in 1870 and in 1873 the Home Rule League.

1911 – Birth of Monsignor James Horan, in Partry, Co Mayo, a parish priest of Knock, Co Mayo. He is most widely known for his successful campaign to bring an airport to Knock, his work on Knock Basilica, and is also credited for inviting Pope John Paul II to visit Knock Shrine in 1979.

1916 – Irish patriot and a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, John MacBride, is executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol.

1923 – A civilian Michael Reynolds is shot dead by republicans in Leitrim, who were looking for his son, an ex RIC officer.

1923 – Republicans blow up the Grand Central Cinema in Dublin.

1938 – In a House of Commons speech, Winston Churchill rails against the agreement that returns Irish ports ‘the sentinel towers of the western approaches’ back to Ireland. Churchill appreciated the potential benefit to Britain of the ports in the event of war. The fact that Britain did not have access to the ports during WWII played a major role in Ireland’s effort to remain neutral.

1939 – Death of Mick the Miller, the greatest greyhound in the history of the sport.

1941 – Kate O’Brien’s novel The Land of Spices is banned by the Free State Board of Censors; protests will eventually lead to the setting up of an appeals procedure.

1949 – Ireland one of ten founder members of Council of Europe with HQ in Strasbourg.

1956 – Birth of jazz and folk singer and actress, Mary Coughlan, in Co Galway. She has received great acclamation in Ireland for her emotional and heartfelt jazzy musical renditions.

1965 – Birth in Belfast of Norman Whiteside, Manchester United, Everton and Northern Ireland footballer.

1973 – Birth of professional boxer, Kevin ‘The Clones Colossus’ McBride, in Clones, Co Monaghan. He is best known for defeating Mike Tyson in 2005. As an amateur, McBride competed for Ireland at the 1992 Summer Olympics.

1974 – Pro-Assembly Unionists meeting in Portstewart, Co Derry, announced the reformation of their group which was to use the name the Unionist Party.

1975 – The Fair Employment (NI) Bill was introduced to the House of Lords.

1976 – Nine members of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) escaped from Long Kesh Prison through a tunnel.

1977 – After three days of the strike the RUC released figures showing that it had dismantled some 300 roadblocks, arrested 23 people, and dealt with over 1,000 cases of alleged intimidation. In addition it also claimed that the United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) was deliberately choosing to employ women and children during confrontations with the police in order to draw support to its cause and to alienate people against the RUC.

1979 – Humphrey Atkins succeeded Roy Mason as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. The appointment prompted the Belfast Telegraph to ask ‘Humphrey Who?’

1980 – Catholic Primate of Ireland, Tomás Ó Fiaich, and Bishop of Derry, Edward Daly, held a meeting with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Humphrey Atkins, to express their concerns about conditions within Long Kesh Prison. Chairman of the Peace People, Peter McLachlan, resigned from the organisation.

1981 – Bobby Sands dies at Long Kesh prison on the 66th day of his hunger strike. The announcement of his death sparked riots in many areas all over Ireland. The IRA also stepped up its attacks on members of the security services. Following the death of Bobby Sands, the British government faced extensive international condemnation for the way in which it had handled the hunger strike. The relationship between the British and Irish government was also very strained.

1983 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior, travelled to Dublin for talks with the Irish government.

1987 – In response to speculation about the content of the Unionist Task Force report, Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), stated that the DUP would have no involvement in any power-sharing arrangement.

1992 – An inquest began into the deaths on 11 November 1982 of three IRA members shot dead by an undercover RUC unit near Craigavon, Co Armagh.

1992 – The Court of Appeal in London began hearing the appeal of Judith Ward against her conviction for involvement in a bomb attack on 4 February 1974.

1993 – President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, was refused a visitor’s visa to enter the United States.

1994 – Riverdance was first performed during the seven-minute interval of the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest at the Point Theatre in Dublin on 30 April 1994. The performance was transmitted to an estimated 300 million viewers worldwide and earned a standing ovation from the packed theatre of 4,000 people. Bill Whelan’s song ‘Riverdance’ entered the Irish singles charts at No.1 right on this date and stayed there for 18 weeks.

1996 – A coded warning in the name of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) was issued stating that two bombs had been planted in Dublin. A suspect car at Dublin Airport was blown-up in the following security operation.

1997 – The new Ministers of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) were announced. Adam Ingram – Minister for Security, and Economic Development; Paul Murphy – Political and Constitutional Affairs, and Finance and Information; Tony Worthington – Education, Training, Welfare, Health, and Employment Equality; Lord Dubs – Agriculture, Environment, and NIO representative in the House of Lords.

1998 – A group of IRA prisoners, known as the Balcombe Street gang, were transferred from England to Portlaoise Prison. To date the men had served 22 years and five months in English jails.

1998 – The United Unionist Campaign (UUC) was launched in Belfast to oppose the Good Friday Agreement in the referendum. The group was made up of representatives of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), the United Kingdom Unionist Party (UKUP), and also dissident Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Members of Parliament (MPs). The UUC used the slogan: ‘It’s Right to say No’.

1999 – Relatives of Belfast solicitor, Pat Finucane, killed on 12 February 1989, held a meeting at Stormont with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam. They pressed their case for a public inquiry into his death rather than the police investigation favoured by the British government.

1999 – The remains of celebrated British actor Oliver Reed arrive in Ireland and are taken by hearse to a funeral home in the North Cork town of Buttevant, not far from his Castle McCarthy home in nearby Churchtown.

1999 – Prince Charles visits Omagh and meets with relatives of those killed in the 1998 bombing and some of the young people who were injured.

1999 – A team of security personnel from the White House arrive in Galway to prepare the city’s National University for the visit of First Lady Hillary Clinton.

1999 – President of Sinn Féin (SF), Gerry Adams, stated in an article in The Irish Post that if the Executive proved to be successful it could make the IRA ‘irrelevant’.

1999 – Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams suggests that full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement could mean the end of the IRA.

2000 – Hopes for a breakthrough in the peace process grow as high level talks at Hillsborough Castle overrun their expected timeframe by several hours.

2003 – It is announced that almost a year after his death, two unpublished plays by John B Keane have been discovered in his study and will be staged when his widow, Mary, decides the time is right.

2015 – Death of Former IRA leader, Gerard Davison. Davison, who was shot dead in the Belfast markets, was one of the most senior republicans who supported the peace process to have been killed since the IRA ceasefire. He backed Sinn Féin’s peace strategy and was also a community worker for the Markets Development Association. He had been an IRA commanding officer in Belfast.

2015 – Death of Michael Burns. He was a footballer who played as a midfielder for the Cork senior team. Born in Castlehaven, Co Cork, Burns first excelled at football in his youth. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of seventeen when he first linked up with the Cork minor team before later joining the under-21 side. He made his senior debut during the 1981-82 league. Burns later became a regular member of the team and won one All-Ireland medal, two Munster medals and one National Football League medal as a non-playing substitute.

Image | Benbulben, Co Sligo | Gary McParland Landscape Photography

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