#OTD in Irish History | 21 February:

1710 – Elizabeth St. Leger, was known in her time as ‘The Lady Freemason’ and was the first recorded woman to be initiated into Regular Freemasonry.

1775 – Edward Denny, MP for Tralee, commits suicide.

1760 – François Thurot lands French forces at Carrickfergus in Belfast Lough, increasing English anxiety about an Irish-Catholic alliance with the French.

1822 – Birth in Dublin of Richard Southwell Bourke, 6th Earl of Mayo; Viceroy and Governor-General of India.

1850 – Medal of Honour awardee Edward Floyd is born in Ireland (location unknown).

1901 – Death of George Francis FitzGerald, a professor of ‘natural and experimental philosophy’ (i.e., physics and chemistry) at Trinity College in Dublin, during the latter quarter of the 19th century.

1910 – Ulster Unionists elect Sir Edward Carson as party leader.

1921 – Two IRA volunteers were killed and two wounded in a shoot-out in Friary St in Kilkenny city.

1922 – An Garda Síochána – Guardians of the Peace of Ireland – is founded.

1923 – Anti-Treaty IRA attacks income tax offices in Dublin. Attempts are also made to burn Jury’s Hotel, without success. There are also abortive attacks on Merrion Square, Dawson Street, and Lower O’Connell Street. However, tax offices are destroyed at Nassau St, Gardiner St and Beresford Pl. A total of 75 Republicans are involved in the action, of whom five are captured.

1958 – Birth of singer and guitarist, Jake Burns, in Belfast. Best known as the frontman of Stiff Little Fingers.

1972 – The first session of the Widgery Tribunal was held in Coleraine, County Derry. A total of 17 sessions were held between the 21 February 1972 and 14 March 1972 – 114 witnesses gave evidence. A further three sessions were held at the Royal Courts of Justice in London on the 16, 17 and 20 March.

1972 – Four members of the IRA died when a bomb they were transporting in a car exploded prematurely on the Knockbreda Road, Belfast.

1975 – Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland, Robert Lowry, was appointed as the Chairman of the Constitutional Convention.

1977 – Margaret Thatcher, leader of the Conservative Party, visited Belfast and Derry.

1977 – Death of poet and writer, Seán Pádraig Ó Ríordáin, in Glanmire, Co Cork. He was one of the most important Irish language poets of the twentieth century and arguably the most significant figure in introducing European themes into traditional Irish poetry.

1981 – The IRA carried out a series of fire bomb attacks on eight shops in Belfast and three in Derry which resulted in damage to all 11 stores.

1984 – Two PIRA volunteers and a British soldier were killed during a shootout in Dunloy, Co Antrim.

1990 – Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), and William McCrea, DUP Member of Parliament (MP), hand in a ‘Hands off the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR)’ petition to Downing Street.

1991 – The High Court in Belfast ruled that actions taken by Belfast City Council to try to exclude Sinn Féin from the business of the Council were illegal.

1994 – The IRA carried out a mortar attack on an RUC station in Beragh, Co Tyrone. The attack caused extensive damage to the police station and to the surrounding village.

1994 – In a BBC television programme Secretary of State, Patrick Mayhew, confirmed that two “unauthorised” meetings had taken place between representatives of the IRA and British officials in 1993. However, Mayhew stated that no official had been given permission to say that Britain intended to withdraw eventually from Northern Ireland.

1996 – An area of the centre of Belfast was evacuated because of a bomb scare. It is the first bomb scare in Northern Ireland since the IRA ceasefire.

1996 – John Hume, leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), and President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, met with members of the Irish Republican Army Council to discuss the ending of the IRA ceasefire.

1996 – The Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) published a document outlining proposals for a 90 member elected body to be based in Stormont, Belfast.

1999 – Seven men, including senior figures in the Real IRA are arrested in connection with the Omagh bombing – five in the Republic and two by the RUC in the North, in a simultaneous operation. Another man was later charged on 24 February with offences related to the bombing but most of those arrested were released without charge by 25 February 1999.

2000 – A new survey reveals that Dubliners have more disposable income than people living in other parts of Ireland.

2001 – The country’s multi billion pound livestock industry is on full alert for signs of foot and mouth disease after the first outbreak in Britain for twenty years is confirmed in pigs.

2001 – Ronnie Drew became one of the first non-sportsmen to receive a Posthouse Legend in Life award.

2001 – The British and Irish Governments are considering proposals for round table talks involving the Northern Ireland parties amid growing pessimism about the peace process.

2001 – Desmond O’Connell becomes the first Archbishop of Dublin in over 100 years to be installed as a Cardinal. A large Irish contingent from Church and State, along with family and friends of the Cardinal attend the installation which for the first time takes place at the front of the entrance to St Peter’s Basilica.

2002 – Lawyers representing relatives of the victims of Bloody Sunday began an action at the Court of Appeal to challenge a decision by the High Court in Belfast (on Tuesday 19 February 2002) not to prevent police witnesses being screened when giving evidence at the Inquiry. The families said that they were challenging the ruling because they believed it could be followed by applications by soldiers to also give evidence from behind screens.

2002 – Two Irishmen appeared at the Old Bailey in London charged in relation to ‘real’ rIRA bomb attacks in London and Birmingham during 2001. The men were remanded in custody to reappear in court on 20 May. Two other men are in custody charged in connection with the bombs.

2003 – A rare political letter written by Michael Collins to Kitty Kiernan in 1922, fetches a record price of €28,000 at an auction in James Adam showrooms on Dublin’s Stephen’s Green. Despite fierce bidding by the National Library, the letter was purchased by singer Enya’s manager Mickey Ryan who says he wants the letter to remain in Ireland.

2009 – Up to 120,000 people march in Dublin in protest at how the Government is handling the economic crisis.

2011 – Well-known artist Paul Funge dies after a short illness. A native of Gorey, Co Wexford, he taught art in many schools including Clongowes Wood College and Newbridge College. He also lectured at the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), the University of California, and Kunsthistorisch Instituut in Amsterdam. As a portrait artist, among his works are paintings of U2’s Adam Clayton, Frank McGuinness and Colm Tóibín as well as many ministers and academics.

2013 – Sinn Féin proposed legislation which would make the Easter Rising anniversary a new national bank holiday.

Image | Fanad Head Lighthouse, Co Donegal | Breaking Light Pictures

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