#OTD in Irish History | 26 January:

1316 – At the battle of Ardscull, Co Kildare, Edward de Bruce defeats the army of Justiciar Edmund Butler. The Scottish dead are buried in the graveyard attached to the Dominican Priory in Athy which occupies the area on the east bank of the River Barrow. Among those buried are two Scottish chiefs, Lord Fergus Andressan and Lord Walter de Morrey.

1699 – The second session of William III’s second Irish parliament ends on this date.

1716 – Birth of Lord George Sackville (Germain), soldier, politician and MP for Portarlington.

1747 – Death of portrait painter, James Latham, in Dublin. Born in Thurles, Co Tipperary, and possibly related to the family of Lathams of Meldrum and Ballysheehan. After some practice of his art, Latham studied for an academic year in Antwerp (1724–25) where he became a Master of the Guild of St Luke. He returned to Dublin by 1725, and Anthony Pasquin memorably dubbed Latham “Ireland’s Van Dyck”.

1764 – United Irishman, William Sampson is born the son of a Presbyterian clergyman in Derry. A distinguished lawyer and author, he would die in New York in 1836.

1799 – Thomas Charles Wright, officer in Bolivar’s army and founder of the Ecuadorian naval school, is born in Drogheda, Co Louth.

1849 – Birth of mining engineer and inventor, Richard Sutcliffe, in Co Tipperary. He worked at coal mines in Ireland between 1857 and 1885 and moved to Barnsley, England in August 1885. In 1892, he invented the world’s first coal cutting machine. In 1905 he invented the world’s first underground conveyor belt. This invention revolutionised the mining industry by greatly reducing the amount of labour needed to transport coal.

1871 – Sir Arthur du Cros, pioneer of pneumatic tyre industry, is born in Dublin.

1876 – Roger Casement, aged 11, and his brother Thomas, aged 13, appear in court on a charge of book stealing from a news vendor in York Road, Lambeth. The boys had admitted they took the books to make money as they had none. As the Morning Post reported, ‘The prisoners’ father, a respectable-looking man, here came forward, and said he could not account for the lads taking the books unless it was to pay for the loan of them some other day. They were inveterate readers of juvenile literature… He allowed his boys money to buy books and would have paid for them. He believed that the showy covers and sensational titles attracted their attention and desire to read them. He assured his worship that they were not thieves.” Their father, described as a captain in the militia residing in South Lambeth, was ordered to enter into recognisances for their future conduct.

1885 – Chalres Stewart Parnell went to Co Clare to turn the first sod for the West Clare Railway and later the same day went to Miltown for a meeting with parish priest, Fr. Patrick White, due to his admiration for him for his involvement in the land struggle. Later, standing in front of the recently built parochial house, he addressed a crowd of over 20,000 and there were numerous bands in attendance.

1885 – Birth of Australian politician and unionist, Michael Considine, in Co Mayo. He represented the seat of Barrier in the House of Representatives from 1917 to 1922. A controversial figure, Considine was pressured to resign from the Australian Labor Party (ALP).

1904 – Birth of Seán MacBride, IRA leader, politician, head of Amnesty International, and recipient of Nobel and Lenin peace prizes. MacBride was born in Paris in 1904, the son of Major John MacBride and Maud Gonne.

1907 – J. M. Synge’s Playboy of the Western World is performed for the first time at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin; the audience riots because of the bad language and negative perspective on Irish peasant life.

1922 – Birth of Fianna Fáil politician and Gaelic footballer, Seán Flanagan, in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo. He served under Taoiseach Jack Lynch as Minister for Health (1966–1969) and Minister for Lands (1969–1973).

1923 – Three men are executed by the Free State in Birr, Co Offaly for armed robbery. Although not actually IRA members, having been denied entry on the grounds that they were too young, the three had Republican connections and claimed as ‘Republican soldiers’ in an Anti-Treaty communique.

1923 – An anti-Treaty land mine outside Terenure College, Dublin destroys a National Army tender, badly injuring three Free State soldiers and two civilians.

1940 – Birth of Roman Catholic prelate, Séamus Hegarty, in Kilcar, Co Donegal. He served as Bishop of Raphoe from 1982 to 1994, then as Bishop of Derry from 1994 to 2011.

1965 – Birth of Seán Savage (in Belfast). He was a volunteer of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) who was shot and killed by British Army Special Air Service (SAS) soldiers in Operation Flavius.

1969 – Minister of Health and Social Services, William Morgan, resigned from the Northern Ireland government.

1970 – The Police (Northern Ireland) Act became law. The act provided for the disarmament of the RUC and the establishment of an RUC reserve force. The Act established the Police Authority of Northern Ireland (PANI) which was meant to contain representatives from across the community. None of the main Nationalist parties have ever taken part in the PANI.

1980 – Death of travelling folk fiddler, John Doherty. Born in 1900 in Ardara, Co Donegal. He came from a famous clan of Irish Travellers, he was first recorded in 1945 by The Irish Folklore Commission during one of his trips to Teelin in Southwest Donegal and later by the BBC (Peter Kennedy) in Belfast in 1953.

1981 – Birth of actor and musician, Colin O’Donoghue, in Co Louth. Best known for portraying Captain Killian ‘Hook’ Jones on the TV show ‘Once Upon a Time’. He appeared in the 2011 horror thriller film ‘The Rite’ as a skeptical novice priest, Michael Kovak.

1984 – The Hennessy Report, into the mass escape of 38 Republican prisoners from Long Kesh Prison on 25 September 1983, was published. Most of the responsibility for the escape was placed on prison staff. James Prior, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, stated that there would be no ministerial resignations as a result of the report.

1988 – James Molyneaux, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) and Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) met with Tom King, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, and proposed a form of devolved administration for Northern Ireland. The system proposed involved committees with chairpersons being decided on party strength.

1989 – The report of an independent inquiry into the claims made in the Thames Television documentary ‘Death on the Rock’ vindicated the programme. British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, criticised the report.

1991 – The RUC carried out a raid on the premises of An Phoblacht in west Belfast. The RUC removed computer equipment and computer disks from the building.

1998 – Fears of a backlash heighten in the North due to the removal from the peace talks of the Ulster Democratic Party because of the recent spate of sectarian murders.

1998 – The trial of a Dublin man accused of the murder of journalist, Veronica Guerin, is adjourned until June by the Special Criminal Court.

1998 – Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Marjorie (Mo) Mowlam, revealed that she knew on 12 January 1998 of the UFF’s breach of its ceasefire. Mowlam must have been informed of this by Chief Constable of the RUC, Ronnie Flanagan. Flanagan only made the information public on 22 January 1998. Immediately after the UFF was named as being responsible it called a renewed ceasefire. During the 10 day delay in making the announcement public three Catholic civilians were killed by Loyalist paramilitaries.

1999 – Irish swimming takes its first step towards a fresh beginning following a series of child sex abuse scandals with the creation of a new identity, Swim Ireland.

2000 – Tánaiste Mary Harney announces that the new minimum pay rate of £4.40 per hour will apply from 1 April.

2000 – Amid reports that Britain is drawing up emergency legislation to re-impose direct rule on Northern Ireland, the IRA faces renewed pressure to start decommissioning its arsenal.

2000 – Supporters of ancient herbal remedies stage a wake in Dublin mourning the death of the free availability of the herb St John’s Wort, which can now only be obtained on prescription.

2001 – Motorists crossing Dublin’s East and West Links will have to pay an extra 20p following a VAT hike.

2001 – An Bord Pleanála gives the go ahead for a £35 million leisure, residential and shopping development in Limerick.

2002 – President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, said that he agreed in principle that the Omagh bombers should be brought to justice. However he stated that the real issue was how the police had dealt with the information already in its possession. Adams said that people would make their own judgement on whether information should be passed to the police and that many would see it as “a moral issue” (BBC, ‘Inside Politics’).

2003 – The first Holocaust Memorial Day is held in Ireland. Justice Minister, Michael McDowell apologised for an Irish wartime policy that was inspired by ‘a culture of muted anti-Semitism in Ireland.’ He said that ‘at an official level the Irish state was at best coldly polite and behind closed doors antipathetic, hostile and unfeeling toward the Jews’.

2011 – Micheál Martin is elected leader of Fianna Fáil. Martin beat the competition of finance minister Brian Lenihan, tourism minister Mary Hanafin, and social protection minister Éamon Ó Cuív. He replaces Brian Cowan who stepped down on 22 January. During his acceptance speech, the new leader apologises for mistakes he and the Government made in managing the economy but said the most important thing was to learn from these mistakes.

Image | Inis Tuaisceart, Co Kerry | kerryviews.com

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