#OTD in Irish History | 20 August:

535 – Death of Mochta of Louth; he was a disciple of St. Patrick. Also known as Maucteus, he was, like Patrick, a native of Britain. The Annals of Ulster date his death to 535, which points to him being considerably younger than Patrick, who had died in 493. He is known to have written at least one letter, apparently in Latin, the beginning of which is quoted in his obituary. However neither this nor any other compositions of his are known to have survived.

1778 – Birth of Bernardo O’Higgins, Chilean independence leader and founding father of Chile in Chillán about 250 miles south of the country’s capital, Santiago. O’Higgins was the illegitimate son of Sligo born Ambrose Bernard O’Higgins, who became governor of Chile and later viceroy of Peru. O’Higgins senior had emigrated initially to Spain before settling in Chile. O’Higgins was of Irish and Basque descent.

1860 – An expedition led by Robert O’Hara Burke, an Irish policeman, leaves Melbourne with the intention of making the first European crossing of Australia. They will make the crossing, but Burke and fellow-explorer, William Wills, will die on the return journey.

1872 – Sectarian rioting in Belfast which began on 15 August continues through this date.

1876 – The Irish Republican Brotherhood Supreme Council withdraws its support from the Home Rule movement.

1880 – Death of Ellen Kean, one of the greatest actresses of her time.

1919 – Motion passed by Dáil that an Oath of Allegiance (to the Republic) should be taken by all members and officials of Dáil Éireann, and all Irish Volunteers. O’Malley (1990) says that with this oath the Irish Volunteers became the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

1922 – A party of seven Free State troops is ambushed in a car heading from Liscarrol to Kanturk, Cork. One National Army officer is killed, two others wounded and the remainder surrendered with their arms.

1922 – A lorry of Free State soldiers is ambushed at Blessington, Wicklow. One soldier is killed and five are wounded.

1927 – The Currency Act establishes a separate currency for the Irish Free State.

1929 – Birth of Kevin Heffernan (Heffo’s Army). Regarded as one of the greatest Gaelic footballers of all-time, Heffernan made his debut during the 1948 championship and was a regular member of the starting fifteen, as a left corner-forward for the Dublin senior team, until his retirement after the 1962 championship. During that time he won one All-Ireland medal, four Leinster medals and three National League medals. An All-Ireland runner-up on one occasion, Heffernan captained the team to the All-Ireland title in 1958. In retirement from playing Heffernan became involved in coaching and team management. As Dublin manager he revived the county team and steered them to three All-Ireland titles between 1974 and 1983.

1943 – Death of Australian politician and judge, William Irvine. Born in Newry, Co Down, he was the nephew of Irish revolutionary John Mitchel and the 21st Premier of Victoria.

1949 – Birth of Thin Lizzy lead singer, Phil Lynott.

1971 – The Northern Ireland Government published a white paper entitled ‘A Record of Constructive Change‘, (Cmd. 558). The Command Paper set out the Northern Ireland Government’s reponse to criticism that it had failed to meet its commitments under the ‘Downing Street Declaration‘ of 19 August 1969.

1979 – Bob Geldof and the Boomtown Rats reach no.1 in the British charts with I Don’t Like Mondays.

1981 – Twenty-seven-year-old Michael “Mickey” Devine, from the Creggan in Derry dies on the 60th day of his hunger strike. He was the third INLA Volunteer to join the H-Block hunger strikers and he was the last of the group to give their lives in order to retain their status as political prisoners.

1981 – The family of Patrick McGeown, who had been on hunger strike for 42 days, agreed to medical intervention to save his life.

1981 – A by-election was held in Fermanagh/South Tyrone to elect a Member of Parliament (MP) to Westminster to the seat that became vacant on the death of Bobby Sands. Owen Carron, who had been Sands’ campaign manager, was proposed by Sinn Féin. Carron won the by-election with an increased number of votes over the total achieved by Sands. The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) had again decided not to contest the election.

1985 – The IRA shot and killed Seamus McAvoy (46) at his home in Dublin. McAvoy had sold portable buildings to the RUC and was the first person to be killed for providing goods or services to the security forces in Northern Ireland. This killing marked the beginning of a campaign against what the IRA termed ‘legitimate targets’.

1988 – Ballygawley Bus Bombing: Eight British Army soldiers are killed and 28 wounded when their bus is hit by a Provisional Irish Republican Army roadside bomb in Co Tyrone. https://youtu.be/MOnc54W17GM

1994 – Loyalists carried out a bomb attack on a Catholic public house in the Markets area of Belfast. Republicans held a ‘Time for Peace – Time to Go’ rally in Dublin. There was an estimated crowd of 10,000 people at the rally.

1996 – John Alderdice, leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), was awarded a life peerage to the House of Lords. His name had been sponsored by the British Liberal Democrats.

1997 – Up to 30 men who claimed to be members of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) badly damaged a public house, The Golden Hind, in Portadown, Co Armagh. The pub was allegedly a frequent meeting place for members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

1999 – There were disturbances between Nationalists and RUC officers in the Seacourt Estate in Larne, Co Antrim. During the trouble a shotgun was fired and stones thrown.

1999 – Nine men, including Gerard Rice, then spokesman for the Lower Ormeau Concerned Community, were charged with obstruction following the protest on 14 August 1999.

1999 – There was a meeting between the Bogside Residents’ Group and the Apprentice Boys of Derry to discuss the Lundy’s Day parade planned for December.

1999 – The main square in Tralee rocks to the Grand Old Man of Soul, James Brown, as the 41st International Rose Ball kicks off in the new Festival Dome.

2000 – Teenage heart-throbs, Westlife, make their first appearance in Tralee. More than ten thousand fans attend the free, open air concert.

2001 – The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) held a meeting to decide on whether or not to accept the ‘Patten Report – Updated Implementation Plan 2001’ that was issued on 17 August 2001. Following the meeting the party announced that it would nominate representatives to the proposed 19 member Policing Board which would oversee the new Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). John Hume, leader of the SDLP, said: “We will respond positively to an invitation to join the Policing Board and we will be encouraging people from all sections of the community to join the new police service.” The SDLP issued a document outlining its reasons for the change in policy. The decision represented a historic shift in SDLP policy given that the party had withheld support from the RUC since 1970. The decision was welcomed by the Irish government, the British government, the Catholic Church, and the Department of State in the United States.

2001 – The Equality Commission for Northern Ireland published an annual report on the religions composition of the workforce in the region: A Profile of the Workforce in Northern Ireland, Summary of 2000 Monitoring Returns. The report showed that the overall composition of the monitored workforce was 60.4 per cent Protestant and 39.6 per cent Catholic. Other surveys showed that the economically active population is 58 per cent Protestant and 42 per cent Catholic. The imbalance between Catholic and Protestant employment rates has narrowed over the past 10 years. However the last year saw the smallest improvement at 0.1 per cent.

2002 – Postal deliveries in small communities across the country are delayed again on the second day of industrial action by members of the Irish Postmasters Union.

Image | Silver Strand, Malinbeg, Glencolmcille, Co Donegal

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