Eve of Bealtaine/Beltane (Celtic Druidic holiday).
1428 – Sir John Sutton, Lord Dudley, is appointed lieutenant for two years from this date; he has some success against the various rebels.
1795 – Reverend William Jackson of the United Irishmen returns from France, unaware that his travelling companion, John Cockayne, is a spy; Jackson is arrested and found guilty of high treason; he commits suicide in the dock by taking poison.
1909 – Birth of surrealist sculptor, F. E. McWilliam, in Banbridge, Co Down. He worked chiefly in stone, wood and bronze. In September 2009 Banbridge District Council opened a Gallery and Studio dedicated to the work of and named after McWilliam.
1916 – The Easter Rising ended in military defeat for the Republican forces. All organised resistance ended, the Tricolour was pulled from the top of the remains of the GPO, the dream of the republic seemingly pulled down with it.
1919 – Death of classicist and polymathic scholar, Sir John Pentland Mahaff. Born near Vevey in Switzerland to Irish parents, he was educated in Ireland. Mahaffy held a chair in Ancient History at Trinity from 1871, and eventually became Provost in 1914, at the age of 75. He was High Sheriff of Co Monaghan for 1900 and a Justice of the Peace for Co Dublin. He was president of the Royal Irish Academy from 1911 to 1916.
1921 – Major Geoffrey Lee Compton-Smith (DSO) of the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers was captured and executed by the IRA.
1923 – Frank Aiken, new Anti-Treaty IRA Commander, called a ceasefire.
1942 – Because of petrol rationing, all private motoring in Ireland was banned, and bicycle thefts soared overnight.
1951 – The first demonstration of television in Ireland was held at the Spring Show in the RDS, Dublin.
1959 – Birth of Arthur Mathews in Co Meath. He is a comedy writer and actor who, often with writing partner Graham Linehan, has either written or contributed to a number of popular television comedies, most notably Father Ted.
1970 – The ‘B-Specials’ (Ulster Special Constabulary) were officially disbanded. The USC had been replaced by the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) on 1 April 1970.
1971 – Birth of author, John Boyne, in Dublin. He is the author of nine novels for adults and five novels for younger readers. His novels are published in 48 languages. His first short story was published by the Sunday Tribune and in 1993 was shortlisted for a Hennessy Literary Award. In 2015, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of East Anglia. He chaired the jury for the 2015 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
1977 – Leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ian Paisley, said that if the forthcoming United Unionist Action Council (UUAC) strike was not a success then he would quit political life in Northern Ireland. Most political and media commentators viewed the UUAC strike as a failure, however, on the 13 May 1977, Paisley declared that the strike had been a success. It was alleged by sources ‘close’ to the UUAC that plans had been made to establish a loyalist provisional government in Northern Ireland. There were reports of panic buying of food, bottled gas, and other provisions in the face of the threats to supplies posed by the forthcoming UUAC strike.
1979 – Death of singer and pianist, Peggy Dell. Born in Dublin, Margaret Tisdall, she became a popular music hall entertainer. Dell made her first public appearance as a pianist at the age of nine at the Olympia Theatre, where her father played flute with the pit orchestra.
1980 – Marion Price, who had been serving a sentence along with her sister, Dolours, for a car bombing in London on 8 March 1973, was released from Armagh women’s prison on humanitarian grounds. Marion Price had been suffering from anorexia nervosa.
1981 – Birth of footballer, John Francis O’Shea, in Waterford. He plays as a defender for Sunderland and the Republic of Ireland national team, where he serves as captain and vice-captain respectively. He is known for his versatility in playing several positions on either side of the pitch or the centre.
1991 – The preliminary round of political talks (later known as the Brooke/Mayhew talks), involving the four main political parties, on the political future of Northern Ireland began. Initially there were a series of bilateral meetings between Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Peter Brooke, and representatives of the parties. Problems soon arise, however, concerning Strand One of the talks over details such as where the discussions should be held and who should subsequently chair the later stages of these negotiations.
1994 – The 39th Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Point Theatre in Dublin. The interval act was the first ever performance of the dancing spectacular Riverdance, featuring Michael Flatley and Jean Butler.
1996 – In response to Dick Spring’s suggestion of 29 April 1996, unionist politicians accused the Irish Government of trying to ‘appease’ the IRA.
1996 – Republican paramilitaries were blamed for planting a car bomb (estimated at 600 lbs) in the centre of Lisburn, Co Antrim. The British Army defused the device after a series of telephone warnings were received.
1996 – The IRA issued a statement on the Good Friday Agreement and the issue of decommissioning. The IRA stated that the Agreement ‘falls short of presenting a solid basis for a lasting settlement’ and went on to say: ‘Let us make it clear that there will be no decommissioning by the IRA’.
1999 – Lord Killanin, the man credited with saving the Moscow Olympics in 1980, is laid to rest. Many of the leading lights of the world of sport, business and politics in Ireland are present as the remains are buried in the family vault at the New Cemetery in the Bohermore area of Galway city.
1999 – Johnny Adair, a leader of the Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF), a cover name (pseudonym) used by the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), received a slight wound to his head during a pop concert in Belfast. Adair had been on weekend leave from prison when the incident happened. Adair claimed that he had been shot in a gun attack by Republicans. Most commentators expressed the view that other Loyalists were responsible. There was a pipe-bomb attack on Adair on 15 August 2000 and Adair again blamed Republicans even though only Loyalists had previously used pipe-bombs.
2001 – According to Dr. Vincent Maher, consultant cardiologist at Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, has the highest rate of heart disease in the EU – claiming up to 14,000 victims each year. Lower income households are particularly at risk because of their diet, he says.
2002 – Hopes that 325 workers at the Ardagh glass plant in Ringsend, Dublin, could keep their jobs are dashed with a surprise closure announcement by management.
2003 – The Russell family decide to sell Dunkathel House, situated on 150 acres on Cork city fringes. The 220-year-old Georgian-style mansion has been open to the public, and is one of the most prominently-sited period homes in the greater city area, overlooking the Jack Lynch tunnel and River Lee at Glanmire. It carries a €15 million price guide.
2010 – Death of Gerard “Gerry” Ryan, an Irish presenter of radio and television employed by RTÉ. He presented The Gerry Ryan Show on radio station RTÉ 2fm each weekday morning from 1988 until his death.
Image | Glencolumbkille, Co Donegal | Fiachra Mangan Photography
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