#OTD in Irish History | 7 February:

1873 – Death of journalist, novelist, and short story writer, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, in Dublin. He is often called the father of the modern ghost story. Although Le Fanu was one of the most popular writers of the Victorian era, he is not so widely read anymore. His best-known works include Uncle Silas (1864), a suspense story, and The House by the Churchyard (1863), a murder mystery. His vampire novella ‘Carmilla,’ which influenced Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, has been filmed several times.

1873 – Birth of businessman and shipbuilder, Thomas Andrews, Jr. in Comber, Co Down. He was managing director and head of the drafting department of the shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff in Belfast. As the naval architect in charge of the plans for the ocean liner RMS Titanic, he was travelling on board that vessel during her maiden voyage when the ship hit an iceberg on 15 April 1912, and he died in the disaster.

1875 – Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, mining engineer, philanthropist, art collector and the first honorary citizen of Ireland, is born in New York.

1877 – Death of Gaelic scholar, John O’Mahony, founding member of the Fenian Brotherhood in the United States, sister organisation to the Irish Republican Brotherhood.

1899 – Creation of the Electric Boat Company by the father of the modern submarine, John Philip Holland. Born in Liscannor, Co Clare, his contributions to military history changed the course of naval warfare forever.

1922 – In Northern Ireland, the IRA kidnaps more than forty loyalists activists and ‘B’ Specials (a part-time auxiliary police force which was almost 100% protestant) in response to the arrest of some Monaghan footballers, 14 January who were travelling to play in an Ulster Championship game. At least one of this party was an IRA activist. After intense negotiations between Michael Collins and Winston Churchill, all parties on both sides were released. Following this incident, Churchill who was leading the UK effort on the transfer of power following the Treaty wrote to his wife Clementine in what might be termed an understatement, ‘Ireland is sure to bring us every form of difficulty and embarrassment.’

1923 – An anti-Treaty IRA column attack the Free State post in Ballinamore, Leitrim. The National Army garrison of 35 men surrenders and the barracks is blown up. The prisoners are taken to the Arigna mountains.

1923 – A civilian, Thomas Roche is shot dead at a roadblock near Newcastlewest, Co Limerick by Free State troops when he failed to halt his car in time.

1940 – Birth of Harold McCusker, unionist politician, in Lurgan, Co Armagh.

1940 – IRA volunteers Peter Barnes and James Richards are hanged in Winston Green Prison in Birmingham for their involvement in a bombing in Coventry the previous year which killed five people.

1959 – Birth of football manager, pundit and former player, Mick McCarthy, in Barnsley, England. McCarthy began his playing career at Barnsley in 1977, and he later had spells at Manchester City, Celtic, Lyon, and finally Millwall, retiring in 1992. He went on to manage Millwall, and then the Republic of Ireland. He guided Ireland to the knockout stage of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan. He later managed Sunderland, and then Wolverhampton Wanderers. He has also been a television pundit and commentator, most recently for the BBC.

1973 – The United Loyalist Council held a one-day strike to ‘re-establish some sort of Protestant or loyalist control over the affairs of the province’. Loyalist paramilitaries forcibly tried to stop many people going to work and to close any businesses that had opened. There were eight bombings and thirty-five arsons. Three loyalist paramilitaries and one civilian were killed.

1974 – British Prime Minister, Edward Heath, calls a general election for 28 February 1974. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Francis Pym, tried to argue for a later election date because of his worry that the Executive would not survive the outcome.

1978 – The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) was reported in the Irish Times as stating that it is ‘the British dimension which is the obstacle keeping us away from a lasting solution’.

1986 – The High Court in Belfast ordered that Belfast City Council should end the on-going adjournment of council business in protest to the Anglo-Irish Agreement (AIA). The court also instructed the council to remove the large ‘Belfast Says No’ banner from the front of the City Hall. The court action had been brought by the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland.

1987 – Incendiary devices planted in Donegal and Dublin, were believed to be the responsibility of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF).

1990 – Birth of Seán William McLoughlin, better known through his online pseudonym Jacksepticeye (or simply Jack), in Athlone. He is an Irish producer, game commentator, and internet personality, known primarily for his comedic Let’s Play series on video games and vlogs on YouTube.

1991 – The IRA launched an attack on 10 Downing Street, London, while the British Cabinet was holding a meeting. There were no injuries. The attack took the form of three home-made mortars fired from a parked van in nearby Whitehall and represented a serious breach of security in the area. One of the mortars fell in a garden at the back of Downing St and caused some damage. It was later reported that ministers dived under the cabinet table during the attack.

1991 – The Department of Public Prosecutions (DPP) announced that scientific evidence against the ‘Birmingham Six’ had been dropped. The announcement came during proceedings at their renewed appeal. In a ruling by the House of Lords the broadcasting ban on ‘proscribed’ organisations was upheld.

1995 – Garda Síochána uncovered 8,000 rounds of ammunition at Oldcastle, Co Meath.

1995 – Taoiseach, John Bruton, proposed to the Daíl that the state of emergency (declared in the Republic in 1939 and renewed in 1976) should be lifted. The proposal was accepted. Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring, called on the British government to limit or repeal its emergency legislation.

1998 – A burst of ‘Dear Old Skibbereen’ shatters the stillness as GAA star Michael McCarthy is laid to rest in his West Cork hometown.

1999 – The British Government urges David Trimble and Gerry Adams to agree to some sort of compromise in a bid to end the paramilitary disarmament deadlock.

1999 – Two Irish soldiers are hospitalised after being hit by shrapnel from a heavy 120 mm mortar explosion in crossfire between the Southern Lebanese Army and Hezbollah guerrillas.

2001 – More than 3,500 passengers are affected by the cabin crew pay strike at Shannon Airport.

2002 – The Cranberries announce that proceeds from their new single, Time is Ticking Out, will be donated to the Chernobyl Children’s Project.

2002  – The full Northern Ireland Policing Board (NIPB) met for the second time in three days to continue discussions on the investigation of the Omagh bomb (15 August 1998). The NIPB had met with Nuala O’Loan, Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland, and Ronnie Flanagan, Chief Constable of the PSNI, on 5 February 2002. The NIPB decided to appoint a senior police officer from England to oversee the investigation. It was planned that this new officer would have equal status to the current senior investigating officer. This was seen as a compromise between the recommendation of O’Loan and the position adopted by Flanagan.

2002 – One elderly woman, in line at St Patrick’s Church in Ringsend, Dublin for a €1,000 cheque for flood damage, had all her possessions with her – in just one bag. She is just one of hundreds of homeowners who benefit after the Archdiocese of Dublin donates hundreds of €1,000 cheques to victims of the recent flooding in the city.

2002 – The Saville Inquiry into the events of Bloody Sunday granted permission to police officers to give their evidence from behind screens. Many of the 20 former and serving officers had applied to be screened from the public gallery. It was also believed that two officers would ask to give their evidence in Britain.

2002 – The Prince of Wales travelled to Northern Ireland for a series of engagements during a two day visit.

2003 – Northern Ireland Secretary, Paul Murphy, says he is hopeful the Executive in the North will be up and running again by March 17 once a series of intense roundtable talks are completed.

Image | Rock of Dunamase, Co Laois | Peter Meller Photography

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