#OTD in Irish History | 28 May:

1590 – Hugh O’Neill, Earl of Tyrone, agrees to abandon further attempts at extending his territory in the north, and undertakes to force his people to adopt English laws and customs.

1713 – William Molyneux, the fourteen-year old son of Sir Thomas Molyneux, a former MP, is killed when a leaden image falls on him in a garden near Dublin.

1779 – Birth of poet and songwriter, Thomas Moore, in Dublin.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: In the first Battle of Enniscorthy, the rebels take the town.

1824 – Birth of Thomas William Croke in Co Cork. Croke became the second Catholic Bishop of Auckland New Zealand before returning to Ireland as Archbishop of Cashel and Emly.

1837 – Birth of George Coppinger Ashlin, an Irish architect, particularly noted for his work on churches and cathedrals. He co-designed St Colman’s Cathedral.

1892 – Birth of revolutionary and feminist, Margaret Skinnider, in Coatbridge, Scotland. She fought during the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.

1920 – IRA volunteers attacked the RIC barracks at Kilmallock, Co Limerick. Two RIC men were killed, two were wounded, and ten more surrendered. Volunteer Liam Scully from Glencar, County Kerry was killed.

1922 – An IRA unit of 100 men occupied Pettigo, just on the Northern side of the border. A gun battle broke out between them and 100 Ulster Special Constables, in which one USC man was killed. A battalion of British troops and an artillery battery of six field guns was then mobilised to dislodge the IRA party.

1929 – Death of historian and nationalist, Alice Stopford Green.

1940 – Birth of Maeve Binchy, an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, columnist, and speaker best known for her humorous take on small-town life in Ireland, her descriptive characters, her interest in human nature and her often clever surprise endings. Her novels, which were translated into 37 languages, sold more than 40 million copies worldwide, and her death, announced by Vincent Browne on Irish television late on 30 July 2012, was mourned as the passing of Ireland’s best-loved and most recognisable writer.

1947 – Death of Gaelic scholar and editor of Duanaire Gaedhilge, Róis Ni Ógain – Rose Mabel Young.

1959 – The Howth Tram makes its last journey; not only is it the highest but it is also the last of the open top trams operating in the world.

1965 – Birth of politician, Mary Coughlan, in Donegal. She is a former Fianna Fáil politician who served as a TD for the Donegal South-West constituency from 1987 to 2011, latterly attaining the office of Tánaiste of Ireland. During her career in government, she held the Cabinet positions of Tánaiste (2008–11), Minister for Health and Children (2011), Minister for Education and Skills (2010–11), Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment (2008–10), Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (2004–08) and Minister for Social and Family Affairs (2002–04). She lost her Dáil seat in the 2011 general election.

1968 – Gerry Fitt, an MP, tabled a House of Commons motion, which was signed by 60 Labour Party backbenchers, which criticised RUC action in Dungannon on 24 August 1968 and demanded that: ‘citizens of Northern Ireland should be allowed the same rights of peaceful demonstration as those in other parts of the United Kingdom’.

1970 – Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney, both former Irish government ministers, together with two other men James Kelly (Captain), then an Irish Army Intelligence Officer, and John Kelly, a Belfast Republican, were charged in a Dublin court with conspiracy to illegally import arms for use by the IRA. It was alleged that the arms were to be smuggled to the IRA in Northern Ireland. The men denied any involvement in the affair. This was the first day of the ‘Arms Trial’. Blaney was found not guilty on 2 July 1970, Haughey and the others were found not guilty on 23 October 1970.

1970 – Birth of television and film actor, Glenn Quinn, in Dublin, best known for playing Mark Healy in the American sitcom Roseanne. Quinn spent his childhood growing up in both Ireland and America before settling in the Long Beach area of California with his mother and two sisters to pursue an acting career. In 1991, Quinn had his first major role in a movie, Shout, which starred John Travolta and in which he shared an on-screen kiss with Gwyneth Paltrow in her debut film. Quinn’s body was found on the couch of a friend he was visiting in North Hollywood, California on 3 December 2002. Police and autopsy reports revealed that the cause of his death was an accidental heroin overdose.

1973 – Birth of Ryan Tubridy in Dublin. He is a broadcaster, a presenter of live shows on radio and television in Ireland. Tubridy is the highest-earning presenter on Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ). Current host of long-running TV chat programme The Late Late Show and a weekday morning radio show called The Ryan Tubridy Show. Tubridy was a pioneering member of the Twitterati before he departed in August 2011.

1974 – General strike by Unionists brings down the Sunningdale power-sharing agreement and Northern Ireland is returned to direct rule.

1981 – Edward Martin Hurson began his hunger strike in the H Blocks of Long Kesh prison. He was a volunteer in the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who died on 13 July 1981 after 46 days on hunger strike.

1981 – Birth of Derval O’Rourke in Co Cork. O’Rourke is a former sprint hurdles athlete; she competed internationally in the 60 and 100 meters hurdles, and is the Irish national record holder in both events. She participated in two Indoor World Championships, the last five Outdoor World Championships and the 2004, 2008, and 2012 Summer Olympics.

1981 – Martin Hurson, an IRA prisoner in Long Kesh Prison, joined the hunger strike to replace Brendan McLaughlin who had been taken off the strike on 26 May 1981.

1981 – British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, paid a visit to Northern Ireland and made a statement indicating the British government’s belief that the hunger strike was the ‘last card’ of the IRA.

1981 – Charles Maguire (20) and George McBrearty (24), both members of the IRA, were shot dead as they approached a car on the Lone Moor Road in Derry. The car contained undercover members of the British Army.

1981 – A member of the RUC, Mervyn Robinson, was shot dead by the IRA near Bessbrook, Co Armagh.

1997 – The civil liberties group Human Rights Watch published a report that was highly critical of the actions of the RUC during the events surrounding Drumcree in July 1996. The report claimed that the RUC had used excessive force, been indiscriminate in its use of plastic bullets, failed to remove illegal roadblocks manned by the Orange Order and Loyalists, and had abandoned its ‘traditional policing function in some areas’.

1997 – Taoiseach, John Bruton, briefed the relatives of those killed on ‘Bloody Sunday’ on a report being prepared by the Irish government on the killings on 30 January 1972. Bruton said that a ‘grave injustice’ had been done to the families of the dead. The report contained new information on events of the day and was eventually presented to the British government.

1998 – The Pfizer Pharmaceutical plant began producing Viagra at its plant in Ringaskiddy, Co Cork – dubbed ‘Viagra Falls’ by locals.

1998 – Vice-President of Sinn Féin, Martin McGuinness, held a meeting with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam. Following the meeting McGuinness warned against ‘falling into the trap of trying to make decommissioning the most important item on the agenda’.

1999 – The body of Eamon Molloy, one of the ‘disappeared’ who had been missing since 1975, was found above ground in a new coffin in a cemetery in Co Louth. Garda Síochána went to the site following information given by the IRA to the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains (ICLVR). The IRA passed on information about the location of nine bodies at six sites in four counties in the Republic of Ireland. The discovery marked the beginning of digging at a number of locations in Counties Louth, Monaghan, Meath, and Wicklow.

2000 – A plaque to commemorate the first Irish meeting of the Orange Order is unveiled in Dublin – without a single member of the hardline Protestant group in attendance. The Dublin and Wicklow Lodge boycott the event on Dawson St in protest at its treatment over a march in the city, also planned for this date.

2000 – The decision by Ulster Unionists to return to power sharing with Sinn Féin at midnight on 29 May is given a massive boost when the IRA pledges to keep their part of the bargain.

2003 – James Plunkett, best known for his epic novel of Dublin, ‘Strumpet City’, dies at the age of 83.

2003 – William Trevor wins the €10,000 Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award at Listowel Writers’ Week for his novel The Story of Lucy Gault.

Image | Glendalough Montage, Co Wicklow

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