#OTD in Irish History | 26 June:

1110 – Birth of Diarmaid Mac Murchada, King of Leinster, best remembered for bringing the Anglo-Normans to Ireland, and one of the most execrated names in Irish history. Diarmaid eloped with Derbforgaill, wife of Tigernán Ua Ruairc [O’Rourke], taking also her substantial dowry, while her husband was on pilgrimage.

1657 – ‘Act for Convicting, Discovering and Repressing of Popish Recusants’ is passed.

1782 – The Relief Act gives Catholics rights concerning their education.

1798 – United Irishmen Rebellion: Southern column is surprised by Government forces on Kilcumney Hill. They are defeated and decide to disperse. Many men return home but some decide to try to rejoin northern column at Croghan. Northern column remains in camp at Croghan.

1798 – Death of James Dickey, an Ulster Presbyterian barrister and member of the Society of the United Irishmen. Dickey was captured by the Sutherland fencibles on the Divis Mountain where he hid out. He was court-martialled and hanged at Corn Market, Belfast. Famously; before his hanging Dickey refused to wear a black hood saying to the hangman, “Sir, don’t cover my face!” According to local legend he shouted, “Don’t think gentlemen, I am ashamed to show my face among you, I am dying for my country!” He was 22 years old. His head was placed on a spike outside the market house.

1824 – Physicist and mathematician, Sir William Thomson, first Baron Kelvin of Largs, is born in College Square East, Belfast.

1846 – England repeals the Corn Laws. The Corn Law Act had been passed in 1815 as a measure to protect the interests of landowners who looked as if they were about to lose out when highly inflated prices for corn ceased with the ending of the Napoleonic Wars. This kept the price of not only corn but also bread artificially high. Although an Anti-Corn Law League formed to oppose the legislation, it was not until the potato famine in Ireland that repeal was enacted in a belated attempt to alleviate some of the suffering.

1883 – Death of Edward Sabine. Born in Dublin, he was an astronomer, geophysicist, ornithologist, explorer, soldier and the 30th President of the Royal Society. Sabine’s gull (Larus sabine), Sabine’s puffback (Dryoscopus sabini), and Sabine’s spinetail (Rhaphidura sabini) are named after him. Sabine has a crater on the Moon named in his honour. The 30 km-diameter Sabine Crater, in the southern Mare Tranquillitatis region, lies directly adjacent to the landing site of the first manned mission to Luna by the crew of Apollo XI in July 1969. The Sabine Islands in Svalbard are named after Sabine, as is also Sabine Island in Greenland.

1887 – 33 Celsius (92 degrees Fahrenheit), the highest temperature in Ireland since records began, was recorded at Kilkenny Castle.

1916 – Roger Casement goes on trial at the Royal Courts of Justice on a charge of treason. He was stripped of his knighthood.

1920 – About 200 IRA volunteers attacked an RIC barracks at Borrisokane, north Co Tipperary. The attack was unsuccessful, but the building was so badly damaged that it was evacuated the next day.

1921 – IRA volunteers in Dublin killed Temporary Cadet William F. H. Hunt in the dining-room of the Mayfair Hotel on Baggot Street. Cadet Hunt had previously been a policeman in England, and his widow takes advantage of a loophole in British law to claim two pensions.

1963 – President John F. Kennedy begins his state visit to Ireland.

1970 – Two young girls, aged 9 years and 4 years, died in a premature explosion at their home in the Creggan area of Derry. Their father, Thomas McCool, a member of the IRA, had been making an incendiary device, presumably for use against the British Army. The explosion killed two other members of the IRA. The girls were the first females to die in ‘the Troubles’.

1970 – Bernadette Devlin, Member of Parliament (MP), was arrested and jailed for six months for riotous behaviour during the ‘Battle of the Bogside’. There was rioting between the British Army and local residents in Derry following the news of the arrest. The riots spread to Belfast.

1972 – The Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) began a ‘bi-lateral truce’ as of midnight. The move was made as a prelude to secret talks with the British Government. The ceasefire ended on 9 July 1972.

1972 – The IRA killed two British Army soldiers in separate attacks during the day.

1973 – Paddy Wilson (39), a Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) Stormont Senator, and Irene Andrews (29), his secretary, were found stabbed to death in a quarry on the Hightown Road, Belfast. They had been killed by members of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) a covername for the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). John White was later convicted for his part in these killings. White was later to become a leading spokesman for the Ulster Democratic Party (UDP) and was involved in the negotiations that led to the ‘Good Friday’ Peace Agreement on 10 April 1998.

1977 – Did an Irish monk discover America 1,000 years before Columbus? Yes, so say the supporters of 6th-century St Brendan. Brendan wrote a famous text about his seven-year voyage, and most people thought it was just one of those allegory things. But then navigation expert Tim Severin built a replica of Brendan’s currach using traditional tools and materials, and sailed it 7,200km (4,474 miles) from Ireland to Newfoundland, landing safely today in 1977.

1980 – Death of Miriam Daly, an Irish republican activist and university lecturer who was assassinated by loyalist paramilitaries in Andersonstown, west Belfast. She was born in the Curragh army camp, Kildare. Her father had been active in the Irish War of Independence alongside Michael Collins, but favoured the Anglo-Irish Treaty and then joined the Free State Army.

1981 – Garret FitzGerald succeeds Charles Haughey as Taoiseach.

1986 – After a bitter campaign, the referendum to legalise divorce is defeated, 63.1 percent to 36.3 per cent. Many Unionists in Northern Ireland saw the result as confirming their view that the Republic was intolerant of Protestants. Taoiseach, Garret FitzGerald, said that the Republic had a long way to go to create “a society that would seem welcoming to, open to and attractive to people of the Northern Unionist tradition”.

1991 – The convictions of the group of people known as the ‘Maguire Seven’ were quashed by the Court of Appeal in London. The seven had been convicted of supplying the bombs that were used in Guildford and Woolwich. This was the latest in a series of high profile cases of miscarriage of justice involving Irish people living in England.

1993 – The RUC moved to prevent an Orange Order parade close to the peace line in the Springfield area of Belfast. The action led to rioting.

1993 – British Prime Minister, John Major, began a two-day visit to Northern Ireland. Major called for a resumption of political talks between the constitutional parties.

1995 – The High Court in Belfast awarded compensation to the mother of Karen Reilly (16) who was shot dead by a British soldier on 30 September 1990. The amount of the compensation was not disclosed. Reilly had been shot dead by Lee Clegg, a paratrooper with the British Army, during a ‘joyriding’ incident. Clegg was released from prison on 3 July 1995.

1996 – Journalist, Veronica Guerin, is murdered in Dublin by drug lords.

1996 – David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), admitted bringing pressure to bear on the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the RUC over the events on the Garvaghy Road in 1995. Trimble had pressed for prosecutions against the leaders of the Garvaghy Road residents who had opposed the 1995 Drumcree Orange march. Prosecutions were dismissed.

1997 – The Fianna Fáil (FF) party appointed Ray Burke as Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs. It was also announced that David Andrews (FF) would be Minister for Defence and Liz O’Donnell (Progressive Democrats) would be Junior Minister for Foreign Affairs, and that both these ministers would assist Burke at Stormont. These appointments were part of the cabinet announced by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, following the general election in Ireland on 6 June 1997.

1998 – As counting got under way in the Northern Ireland Assembly election the relatively poor early showing of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) resulted in the bitter divisions within the party becoming public. Jeffrey Donaldson, UUP Member of Parliament (MP), who opposed the Good Friday Agreement accused his party colleague, Ken Maginnis, in a televised debate of: ‘presiding over an electoral disaster’. Maginnis replied by accusing Donaldson of ‘gloating over the difficulties that he and others like him” had created for the party’. Both nationalist parties, the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) and Sinn Féin (SF), were pleased with a strong first preference showing.

2000 – The IRA issued a statement to say that it had opened some of its arms dumps to be viewed by the independent weapons inspectors. Cyril Ramaphosa and Martti Ahtisaari, independent weapons inspectors, held a meeting with British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, in Downing Street and confirmed that the inspection had taken place.

2001 – Paintings valued at more than £3,000,000 are stolen from Russborough House in Co Wicklow.

2009 – The Miss Universe Ireland was held at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. It was won by Diana Donnelly, a student at University College Dublin.

2016 – Ireland was knocked out of Euro 2016 after 2-1 defeat to France.

2018 – An Garda Síochána appointed Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to replace Acting Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin, who will be retiring from the force in September. Mr Harris will be paid a salary of €250,000. Harris is currently the Deputy Chief Constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, nine months after the departure of former commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan from the role. Harris’ father, also an RUC officer, was killed in an IRA car bomb in 1989. His mother survived the attack with minor injuries.

Image | The Gaelic Chieftain, sculptor by Maurice Harron at the site of The Battle of Curlew Pass,  Boyle, Co Roscommon | Mac Creative Photography

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