#OTD in Irish History | 20 October:

1612 – Birth of Richard Boyle, 1st Earl of Burlington, 2nd Earl of Cork, in Youghal, Co Cork. He was an Anglo-Irish nobleman who served as Lord High Treasurer of Ireland and was a Cavalier.

1674 – Birth of James Logan, Colonial statesman and scholar in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

1775 – Two hundred passengers are lost in the shipwrecks of the brigs Trevor Totty and Nonpareil. Among the casualties are The Honourable Major Francis Caulfield, MP for Charlemont, his wife and daughters; also lost is Mr French, Member for the Co of Roscommon.

1794 – John Gustavus Crosbie, candidate in a parliamentary by-election for Co Kerry, takes offence at some real or supposed breach of neutrality on the part of Sir Barry Denny, the sitting MP. A duel follows on this date; at the first fire Denny is shot fatally through the head ‘by the haphazard aim of a man who had never before discharged a pistol in his life’.

1870 – Death of composer Michael William Balfe in Dublin. He is best known for his opera “The Bohemian Girl”.

1892 – Birth of General Eoin O’Duffy, near Castleblaney, Co Monaghan.

1910 – The hull of the RMS Olympic, sister-ship to the ill-fated RMS Titanic, is launched from the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

1917 – Fifty-two year old William Butler Yeats finally gets married, but not to Maud Gonne, the love of his life. Instead he marries 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968). Although only weeks previously, Yeats had proposed to Maud Gonne’s daughter Iseult MacBride from her marriage to John MacBride, the marriage of Yeats and Hyde-Lees was a happy one producing two children.

1922 – A Free State soldier is shot dead while trying to clear a blocked road at Duagh, Co Kerry. Another is killed the following day at Lawlor’s Cross, Co Kerry.

1922 – National Army troops raid and capture a bomb making factory at Gardiner Street, Dublin. A Free State captain, Nicholas Tobin, brother of Liam Tobin is accidentally shot dead by his own troops.

1933 – The Irish Free State government purchases the copyright of Peadar Kearney’s,’The Soldiers Song’ (Amhrán na bhFiann) which becomes the national anthem.

1949 – Birth of showjumper, Eddie Macken, in Granard, Co Longford.

1962 – Birth of hurler, Nicholas English, in Cullen, Co Tipperary.

1971 – Senator in the United States Congress, Edward Kennedy, called for a withdrawal of British troops from Northern Ireland and all-party negotiations to establish a United Ireland.

1977 – European Commission President, Roy Jenkins, paid a visit to Belfast and confirmed the European Community (EC) would open a Northern Ireland information office.

1979 – Irish and Munster rugby captain and talismanic leader Paul O’Connell is born in rugby mad Limerick.

1979 – The John F Kennedy library is opened in Boston, Massachusetts.

1982 – Elections to the new 78 seat Northern Ireland Assembly took place across Northern Ireland. This was the first election in Northern Ireland since the beginning of ‘the Troubles’ to be contested by Sinn Féin which won 10.1 per cent of the first preference votes and secured 5 of the seats. The Social Democratic and Labour Party’s (SDLP) performance was relatively poor and it obtained 18.8 per cent of the vote and 14 seats. Both the SDLP and SF had adopted a policy of abstentionism and therefore refused to take their seats. The largest vote went to the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP); 29.7 per cent and 26 seats. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) obtained 23.0 per cent and 21 seats. The Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI) obtained 9.3 per cent of the vote, which was less than SF, but got 10 seats, double that of SF. The emergence of SF as a political force in Northern Ireland was to cause almost panic in British establishment circles. Many commentators speculated that SF would replace the SDLP as the main voice of Nationalists in Northern Ireland. It was to counter the rise of SF that the British government went on to sign the Anglo-Irish Agreement on 15 November 1985.

1984 – Birth of rugby player, Andrew Trimble, in Coleraine, Co Derry. Trimble currently plays club rugby for Ulster and represents Ireland at international level.

1987 – Unionist councillors in Belfast City Council agreed to pay the fine imposed on 23 February 1987 for action taken as part of their protest against the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA).

1988 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Tom King, announced the introduction of legislation that had the effect of allowing a court to draw an inference from an accused person’s decision to remain silent when questioned by the police. The announcement caused controversy.

1992 – Robert Irvine (43), a member of the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR), was shot dead by the IRA at his home in Rasharkin, Co Antrim. Irvine was the first member of the newly formed RIR to be killed.

1993 – John Alderdice, leader of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland (APNI), said that the Hume-Adams Initiative had cast a shadow over efforts to get political talks going again. The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) published a report that advocated shared, or joint, authority as a political solution to the conflict.

1994 – Tim Smith, a Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister, resigned following a controversy surrounding payments to MPs by political lobbyists (‘payment for questions’). It was announced that Malcolm Moss would replace Smith at the NIO. The Labour Party announced that Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam would replace Kevin McNamara as the party’s spokesperson on Northern Ireland.

1997 – There were disturbances during an inquest at the Coroners Court in Derry into the killing on 12 November 1990 of Alex Patterson (31), a member of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), by members of an undercover British Army unit. It was believed that the soldiers responsible were members of the Special Air Service (SAS).

1998 – Irish dance star, Michael Flatley and his former manager John Reid settled a multi-million pound court battle. Flatley, who revolutionised Irish dancing with his Riverdance and Lord of the Dance spectaculars, had accused his manager, John Reid, of neglecting him while handling the affairs of rock legend Elton John.

1998 – Three members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) were given life sentences for the murder of Billy Wright, who had been the leader of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF), in Long Kesh Prison on 27 December 1997.

1999 – Death of former Taoiseach, Jack Lynch, in Dublin at the age of 82 following a long illness. After an early career marked by distinction in hurling and Gaelic football, he later become known as “the real Taoiseach” in his native Cork, regardless of whether or not his party was in government. He joined Fianna Fáil in 1948 and led the party from 1966 through the early days of violence in Northern Ireland, the arms crisis and entry to the EEC in 1973. He resigned from politics in 1979. Described as a modest, self-deprecating man of integrity and kindness, he was widely acclaimed as the most popular leader in the history of Fianna Fáil.

1999 – Garda Síochána arrested ten men in Herbertstown, Co Meath. The men were accused of being at a “real” Irish Republican Army (rIRA) training camp.

1999 – President of Sinn Féin (SF), Gerry Adams, left the Mitchell Review talks in London to speak at a fund-raising event for SF.

2001 – President Bill Clinton calls on all sides not to give up on the Good Friday Agreement; he also pledges to visit Northern Ireland while still in office.

2002 – The Irish vote Yes to the Nice Treaty.

Image | Doonagore Castle, Doolin, Co Clare | Amy Meehan Photography

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