#OTD in Irish History | 23 May:

1561 – The first court of High Commission, a group of officials and Protestant clergy, is set up to enforce the Reformation in Ireland.

1754 – Birth of Dr. William Drennan in Belfast; physician, poet, educationalist political radical and one of the chief architects of the Society of United Irishmen. Drennan’s poetic output included some powerful and moving pieces. He is chiefly remembered today for “Erin” written in 1800, in which he penned the first reference in print to Ireland as “the Emerald Isle”.

1794 – As part of a crack-down on seditious activity during Britain’s war with France, the Dublin United Irishmen are suppressed.

1796 – Death of Waterford architect, John Roberts. Much of Waterford bears testimony to Roberts skills. He has the rare distinction of designing both the Catholic and Protestant Cathedrals in a city (especially given the times he lived in).

1798 – United Irish Rebellion begins in Wexford and in Leinster.

1903 – Shelah Richards, actress and producer, is born in Dublin.

1920 – Oliver Plunkett is beatified by Pope Benedict XV.

1920 – Railway workers refuse to transport troops from this date.

1921 – The IRA in Clare ambushed an RIC patrol at Glenwood, between Sixmilebridge and Broadfoot. Six RIC men were killed including a District Inspector and two were wounded. The IRA volunteers captured 10 rifles.

1921 – A British Army Officer (2nd Lt Seymour Livingston Vincent) disappeared, presumed killed, in Co Cork.

1922 – Birth of actress, Maureen Pryor, born Maureen Pook, in Co Limerick. She began acting with Manchester Repertory in 1938 and appeared in the West End in Seán O’Casey’s Red Roses for Me and in Eugene O’Neill’s one-act play Before Breakfast, directed by Bill Gilmour. She made over 500 television appearances.

1934 – Birth of former rugby international, Syd Millar.

1949 – Birth of prominent criminal, Martin ‘The General’ Cahill, in Dublin. Cahill generated a certain notoriety in the media, which referred to him by the sobriquet “The General”. The name was also used by the media to discuss Cahill’s activities while avoiding legal problems with libel. During his lifetime, Cahill took particular care to hide his face from the media—he would spread the fingers of one hand.

1950 – Birth of Martin McGuinness in Co Derry. He was an Irish republican and Sinn Féin politician who was the deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland from May 2007 to January 2017. On 9 January 2017, McGuinness resigned as deputy First Minister in a protest over the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal. He announced on 19 January that he would not be standing for re-election to the Northern Ireland Assembly in the 2 March 2017 election due to ill-health. He reportedly suffered from Amyloidosis, a condition that attacks the vital organs, and retired shortly before his death on 21 March 2017, aged 66.

1951 – Lord Henry Mount Charles, Slane Castle impresario, is born. He is an Anglo-Irish nobleman who holds titles in the Peerages of Ireland and the United Kingdom.

1954 – Former soccer international, Gerry Armstrong, is born in Fintona, Co Tyrone.

1955 – Birth of singer, Mary Black, in Dublin.

1955 – Birth of Luka Bloom in Newbridge, Co Kildare (as Kevin Barry Moore), a folk-rock singer-songwriter. He is the younger brother of folk singer Christy Moore.

1974 – Across Northern Ireland security forces removed barricades only to find that they had been replaced soon after. Workers in Derry were prevented from going to the Maydown Industrial Estate. Although many schools managed to operate during the UWC strike it was reported that some GCE examinations were affected.

1977 – Day 9 of the UWC Strike: Across Northern Ireland security forces removed barricades only to find that they had been replaced soon after. Workers in Derry were prevented from going to the Maydown Industrial Estate. Although many schools managed to operate during the strike it was reported that some GCE examinations were affected. Deputy Chief Executive, Gerry Fitt, called on the British Government to send troops to the power stations and the oil refineries. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees, informed British Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, that British Troops would have to be used to implement the ‘fuel oil plan’ being prepared by Minister of Commerce, John Hume.

1981 – Kevin Lynch begins his hunger strike in the H Blocks of Long Kesh prison. He was a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) who died on 1 August after 71 days on hunger strike.

1994 – The official opening of the Shannon–Erne Waterway took place at Corraguil Lock, Teemore, Co Fermanagh.

1998 – Britain’s Prime Minister, Tony Blair, welcomes the resounding “yes” vote in the referendum on the Good Friday Agreement on Northern Ireland, calling it “a day for joy”.

1998 – Thousands flock to Ennis for the 29th Fleadh Nua Traditional Music Festival.

1999 – Rural post offices are thrown a life-line when the Government gives its strongest commitment yet to preserving regional services.

1999 – The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) concluded its involvement in the inquiry into the death of Lurgan solicitor, Rosemary Nelson, killed on 15 March 1999, but announced it would continue to be available to assist the RUC.

1999 – The Sunday Times reported that David Trimble, Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), was suing Amazon.com for distributing the book ‘The Committee’ by Sean McPhilemy.

2001 – Bill Clinton, former President of the USA, paid another visit to Northern Ireland beginning in Derry. He said: “I came here to reaffirm my belief in the Good Friday Agreement because it is still the right path to the future for peace, reconciliation, and fairness.”

2002 – The long simmering division between Roy Keane and manager Mick McCarthy erupts into a huge row and Keane is expelled from the World Cup squad.

2015 – Irish voters make history in gay marriage referendum, becoming the first country to ask it’s electorate to legalise gay marriage.

Image | Slane Castle, Co Meath

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