#OTD in Irish History | 17 May:

1650 – Oliver Cromwell’s army is defeated in the second assault on Clonmel, suffering its heaviest losses. The following day, the Mayor of Clonmel negotiates honourable terms for surrender with Cromwell, who did not realise that O’Neill and his soldiers had left the town. Annoyed at being outwitted, Cromwell nevertheless keeps to the terms.

1730 – Elizabeth, widow of William Molyneux, marries Nathaniel St Andre, a Swiss surgeon who wins an action for defamation on a charge of having killed Molyneux by administering opium to him in his last illness by her connivance.

1855 – Birth in Bantry, Co Cork of Timothy Michael Healy, one of the most brilliant and most controversial of Irish politicians. His career spans from Parnell’s leadership of the Irish Parliamentary Party in the 1880s to the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922; he becomes the Free State’s first Governor-General.

1865 – Shan Bullock, novelist, is born in Crom, Co Fermanagh.

1880 – Charles Stewart Parnell is elected Chairman of the Irish Parliamentary Party.

1889 – Twenty years before relativity, George FitzGerald answered a seemingly incomprehensible physics problem. Length contraction is the phenomenon that a moving object’s length is measured to be shorter than its proper length, which is the length as measured in the object’s own rest frame. Called Lorentz–FitzGerald contraction after Hendrik Lorentz and George FitzGerald, a professor of physics at Trinity College, Dublin is usually only noticeable at a substantial fraction of the speed of light.

1908 – Birth of Vincent Barry, organic chemist, in Cork. He is known for leading the team which developed the anti-leprosy drug clofazimine. Barry’s funeral was attended by President of Ireland Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh and future President of Ireland Mary Robinson. In 2008, The Leprosy mission held an event at the Royal Irish Academy in Dublin to honour the centenary of his death.

1911 – Birth in Roscommon of actress Maureen O’Sullivan who is remembered for her role as Jane in a series of five movies opposite Johnny Weissmuller’s Tarzan.

1918 – Almost the entire leadership of Sinn Féin are arrested. 150 were arrested on the night of 16–17 May and taken to prisons in England. The introduction of internment and conscription reflected a decision of the British cabinet to take a harder line on the Irish Question following the failure of the Irish Convention.

1919 – The first of the Republican law courts was set up at Ballinrobe, Co Mayo.

1919 – Members of Dáil Éireann sent a letter to the head of the Paris Peace Conference, repudiating Britain’s claim to speak for Ireland.

1921 – Pvt of 8th Royal Marine Battalion RMLI was kidnapped and killed.

1922 – The IRA launched a series of attacks across Northern Ireland. The RIC barracks at Martinstown, Ballycastle and Cushendall in Co Antrim, were attacked, but none were taken. IRA units in Belfast targeted commercial buildings and destroyed 80-90 buildings over the next two months.

1949 – The British Government recognises the Republic of Ireland.

1961 – Enya (Eithne Ní Bhraonáin) is born in Gweedore, Co Donegal.

1969 – Dubliner Tom McClean crosses from Newfoundland to Blacksod Bay, Co Mayo, completing the first transatlantic solo crossing in a rowboat.

1972 – The IRA opened fire on workers leaving the Mackies engineering works in west Belfast. Although the factory was sited in a Catholic area it had an almost entirely Protestant workforce.

1973 – Five British Army soldiers were killed by a PIRA booby-trap bomb in Omagh, Co Tyrone.

1974 – Birth of singer and actress, Andrea Corr, in Dundalk, Co Louth.

1974 – Three car bombs in Dublin and a fourth in Monaghan exploded without warning, injuring almost 300 people and killing 34, the greatest loss of life on a single day during the Troubles. The UVF only admitted responsibility for the attacks in 1993, but did not give any motive for them. Nobody has ever been charged with the bombings and there have been widespread allegations of collusion between loyalist paramilitaries and British security and intelligence services.

1984 – Northern Editor of the Sunday World, Jim Campbell, was shot and seriously injured by the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) at his home in north Belfast.

1989 – Local government elections were held across Northern Ireland. The percentage share of the vote was: Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) 31.4%; Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) 17.8%; Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) 21.2%; Sinn Féin (SF) 11.3%; Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) 6.8%; Workers Party (WP) 2.1%; Others 9.4%; Turnout 56.0%.

1997 – President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, held a meeting with officials representing the Irish government at an undisclosed venue in Dublin. Taoiseach, John Bruton, said afterwards that the meeting was to establish if the IRA was prepared to call a new ceasefire.

1999 – British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said there was no ‘plan B’ if the Agreement was rejected in the referendum. Blair and President of the United States, Bill Clinton, issued a joint statement urging people to recognise the opportunities offered by the Agreement and to vote ‘Yes’ and said there was no ‘plan B’ if the Agreement was rejected in the referendum.

2001 – A horse picture by Jack B Yeats makes a hammer price of £1 million sterling at Christie’s in London. It is bought by London dealer Simon Dickenson for a private client, believed to be racehorse owner John Magnier.

Image | Cliffs of Moher, Co Clare | George Karbus Photography

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