#OTD in Irish History | 4 February:

1807 – Irish sailor, Patrick Watkins, was marooned on Floreana, an island of the Galápagos Islands, arriving on this date in 1807 to 1809. He was the first resident of the Galapagos. According to later accounts, Watkins managed to survive by hunting, growing vegetables, and trading with visiting whalers, before finally stealing an open boat and navigating to Guayaquil, Ecuador.

1816 – Robert Hobart, 4th Earl of Buckinghamshire and former MP for Portarlington and Armagh Borough, dies from a fall from his horse in St James’s Park, London.

1830 – Daniel O’Connell enters parliament, having taken the new oath of allegiance.

1833 – Death of writer, actor and dramatist, John O’Keeffe. Born in Dublin, he wrote a number of farces, amusing dramatic pieces and librettos for pasticcio operas, many of which had great success. Among these are Tony Lumpkin in Town (1778), Love in a Camp (1786), and Omai (1785), an account of the voyages of the Tahitian explorer Omai, and Wild Oats (1791).

1861 – The Provisional Confederate Congress convenes in Montgomery, Alabama. As many as 30,000 Irish-born would fight on the confederate side during the civil war including Chaplain John B. Bannon. A number of Irish rose to senior leadership in the Confederate army including Patrick Cleburne and Henry Strong. Strong was killed at Antietem while on the opposite Union side on that awful day, 540 members of the Irish Brigade were killed.

1868 – Birth of Irish patriot and revolutionary, Countess Constance Markievicz, née Gore-Booth in London.

1921 – Sir James Craig succeeds Lord Edward Carson as Ulster Unionist leader.

1923 – In Shorne, Rathmore, Co Kerry, Anti-Treaty IRA fighter Micheal McSweeney is shot dead by Free State troops.

1923 – Free State troops use IRA prisoners to clear a blocked road near Bandon, Cork, a booby trap mine explodes while they are clearing a road block, killing two prisoners and injuring seven.

1948 – Irish general election: The 147 newly elected members of the 13th Dáil assembled on 18 February when the First Inter-Party government in the history of the Irish state was appointed. The general election took place in 40 parliamentary constituencies throughout Ireland for 147 seats in the lower house of parliament, Dáil Éireann. For this election the membership of the Dáil was increased to 147 seats, an increase of 9 since the previous election. The 1948 general election is considered an important election in 20th-century Ireland, as it paved the way for the First Inter-Party Government. The general election of 1948 was caused by a desire by the Taoiseach Éamon de Valera, to stop the rise of a new party, Clann na Poblachta. In 1947 the rapid rise of Clann na Poblachta threatened the position of Fianna Fáil. The government of Éamon de Valera introduced the Electoral (Amendment) Act 1947 which increased the size of the Dáil from 138 to 147 and increased the number of three-seat constituencies from fifteen to twenty-two. The result was described by historian Tim Pat Coogan as “a blatant attempt at gerrymander which no Six County Unionist could have bettered.”

1951 – Birth of actor, Patrick Bergin, in Drimnagh, Co Dublin. Best known internationally for playing the menacing husband of Julia Roberts’ character in the thriller Sleeping with the Enemy and is also known for his role as Irish terrorist Kevin O’Donnell in the film adaption of Patriot Games. Bergin also appeared as Robin Hood in a 1991 TV film. In 2013 he played notorious Glasgow gangster Arthur ‘The Godfather’ Thompson in The Wee Man.

1959 – Death of actress, Una O’Connor. Born in Belfast, she worked extensively in theatre before becoming a character actress in film and in television. She often portrayed comical wives, housekeepers and servants. Among O’Connor’s most successful and best remembered roles are her comic performances in Whale’s The Invisible Man (1933) as the publican’s wife and in Bride of Frankenstein (1935) as the Baron’s housekeeper.

1962 – The first colour supplement is published by The Sunday Times.

1971 – Lieutenant-General, Vernon Erskine-Crum, became General Officer Commanding of the British Army in Northern Ireland.

1972 – Birth of comedian, and television presenter, Dara Ó Briain, in Co Wicklow. He is noted for hosting topical panel shows such as Mock the Week, The Panel, and The Apprentice: You’re Fired!. His TV work also includes starring in and writing of television comedy and documentary series. Ó Briain has also been a newspaper columnist, with pieces published in national papers in both Britain and Ireland. In 2009, the Irish Independent described Ó Briain as “Terry Wogan’s heir apparent as Britain’s ‘favourite Irishman’” and in 2010, Ó Briain was voted the 16th greatest stand-up comic on Channel 4’s 100 Greatest Stand-Ups.

1973 – A member of the IRA and three Catholic civilians were shot dead by members of the British Army in the New Lodge area of Belfast. Three other people died in separate incidents in Belfast.

1973 – British Army snipers shot dead a PIRA volunteer and three civilians at the junction of Edlingham Street and New Lodge Road, Belfast.

1974 – M62 coach bombing: The IRA planted a bomb (estimated at between 20 and 25 pounds) on a coach carrying British soldiers and their families. The bomb exploded shortly after midnight as the coach travelled along the M62 in England and 11 people were killed at the scene and one other person died a few days later. Many of the passengers were injured in the blast. This bomb was the first of many attacks in Britain during 1974. Judith Ward was later convicted of causing the explosion and given a sentence of 30 years. It wasn’t until 1992 that her convictions were quashed and she was released.

1977 – The police in England uncover an IRA ‘bomb factory’ in Liverpool.

1979 – Patrick MacKin (60), a former Prison Officer, and his wife Violet (58), were both shot dead by the IRA at their home in Oldpark Road, Belfast.

1992 – An off-duty RUC officer, Allen Moore, walked into the Falls Road office of Sinn Féin and shot dead three Catholic civilians. Moore drove away from the scene and later shot himself.

1992 – Mary Robinson becomes the first Irish President to visit Belfast.

1996 – The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) rejected calls from the Irish Government for a start to negotiations. George Mitchell, chair of the International Body on Arms Decommissioning, said that there was a danger of an IRA split if there was no movement to all-party talks.

1997 – Ken Maginnis, Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Member of Parliament (MP), called on the British government to apologise for ‘Bloody Sunday’.

1999 – Nicholas Mullen, the last of the Republican prisoners to be held at a jail in England, was released by the Court of Appeal in London.

1999 – The IRA issued a statement claiming that some of its weapons had been stolen by Republicans opposed to the peace process.

2000 – Iseult Law, great-granddaughter of poet Francis Stuart, and hundreds of mourners pay a final tribute to the legendary writer at his funeral in Fanore, Co Clare.

2000 – Actors from every genre of stage and screen show come together in the chapel at Terenure College in Dublin for the funeral service of Ballykissangel star Tony Doyle.

2002 – Postal deliveries were disrupted in Derry following a threat made against a Catholic postman who worked in the Waterside area of the city. The threat was made to the Samaritans on Sunday 3 February 2002 and the threat was made about a named individual. The police advised the man to stay away from the Waterside. The Ulster Defence Association (UDA) later issued a statement denying that it had made the threat.

2002 – The Bloody Sunday Inquiry recommenced following an adjournment for the 30th anniversary of the killings (30 January 1972). William George Hunter became the first police witness to give evidence to the inquiry. The former RUC officer, who had been a member of Special Branch, was screened from the public and the press as he gave his evidence. The afternoon session of the inquiry was adjourned when it became clear that other former RUC officers had expressed a desire to give evidence from behind screens.

2002 – Peter Robinson (DUP), Minister for Regional Development, announced plans to try to secure an additional £950 million over 10 years for spending on roads and public transport services in the region. Two thirds of the money is planned to be spent on roads and some lobby groups suggested that a greater percentage should have been allocated for public transport.

2004 – Facebook is founded by Mark Zuckerberg.

2011 – The Prince of Wales Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visit St Malachy’s Church in Belfast to view a 3.5m restoration project. First Minister Peter Robinson is quoted as saying ‘Northern Ireland has entered a new era – It is the first time in recent history that we have had a royal in a Roman Catholic Church here.’

Image | Warrenpoint, Co Down | Mac Creative Photography

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