#OTD in Irish History | 12 May:

563 – St Columcille establishes a community on Iona.

1641 – Thomas Wentworth, English viceroy of Ireland and Earl of Stafford is beheaded. From 1632–39 he was Lord Deputy of Ireland, where he established a strong authoritarian rule. Recalled to England, he became a leading advisor to the king, attempting to strengthen the royal position against Parliament. When Parliament condemned him to death, Charles signed the death warrant and Wentworth was executed.

1784 – J.S. Knowles, dramatist and Baptist preacher, is born in Cork.

1806 – Brigadier General James Shields, US army, and the only person to be elected a senator by three states, is born in Artmore, Co Tyrone.

1823 – Daniel O’Connell founds the Catholic Association, an organisation dedicated to obtaining the franchise for Catholics.

1862 – Fondly known as the Grand Dame of Bedford Street, Belfast’s Ulster Hall is one of the oldest purpose-built concert halls and opened on this date. The hall has weathered political upheaval, the Belfast Blitz and threats of demolition. Its walls have resounded to voices varied as the voices of Charles Dickens, Mick Jagger, AC/DC, Debbie Harry and Ian Paisley. The hall is where Led Zeppelin first performed their legendary tune ‘Stairway to Heaven’.

1916 – Irish Patriots, Seán MacDiarmada and James Connolly are executed at Kilmainham Gaol.

1921 – A group of Black and Tans traveling from Listowel towards Athea arrested four young men (Paddy Dalton, Paddy Walsh, Jerry Lyons, Con Dee) in Gortaglanna. One of the men, Con Dee, attempted to free himself from captivity and escaped, though injured by a bullet. Three of the other men are shot dead on the spot.

1944 – Cork-born Venerable Edel Quinn, one of the outstanding missionary figures of the 20th century, dies of TB in Nairobi, Kenya.

1950 – Birth in Dublin of internationally acclaimed actor, film director, film producer, writer, cultural ambassador and audiobook narrator, Gabriel Byrne.

1952 – Birth of former long-distance runner, Patrick “Pat” Hooper in Dublin. He represented Ireland twice and his personal best is 2:17:46. He is the older brother of marathoner and three-time Olympian Dick Hooper.

1963 – Death of athlete, Robert Kerr in Hamilton, Canada. He won the gold medal in the 200 metres and the bronze medal in the 100 metres at the 1908 Summer Olympics. Kerr was born in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, but his family immigrated to Canada when he was five, eventually settling in Hamilton. While working as a fireman, Kerr also enjoyed running in his spare time. He soon became the best regional sprinter, and in 1904 he used his savings to travel to Saint Louis, United States and compete in the 1904 Summer Olympics. At the 1908 Summer Olympics, held in London, Kerr crossed the line first with a time of 22.6 seconds. News of his victory set off celebrations in his home town Hamilton.

1972 – A Catholic civilian, Patrick McVeigh (44), was shot dead by a member of an undercover British Army unit at Riverdale Park South, Andersonstown, Belfast. Four other men were shot and injured during this incident. On 1 December 2015 the PSNI listed this shooting as one of nine incidents it was investigating in relation to the activities of the British Army’s Military Reaction Force (MRF).

1977 – UUAC Strike: The port of Larne, Co Antrim, was reopened and ferry sailings were resumed. In an incident on the Donegall Road in Belfast the driver of a petrol tanker was shot when he was forced to stop by a large crowd of loyalist protestors.

1977 – During a debate at Westminster, Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office (NIO), Don Concannon, defended the British government’s security policy in Northern Ireland and pointed to figures which he claimed showed a fall in incidents over the past year. He also claimed that the UUAC strike was simply diverting the security forces from concentrating on the activity of paramilitary groups. On the political front Concannon also held out the possibility that the government hoped to launch a new initiative after the local council elections scheduled for 18 May 1977.

1981 – Francis Hughes, Irish political prisoner, dies on hunger strike in Long Kesh Prison. His death comes a week after the death of Bobby Sands on 5 May, the first to die in a republican campaign for political status to be granted to IRA prisoners. In Dublin a group of 2,000 people tried to break into the British Embassy.

1983 – Birth of actor, Domhnall Gleeson, son of actor, Brendan Gleeson. He is best known for his portrayal of Bill Weasley in the Harry Potter film franchise, General Hux in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Caleb in Ex Machina and Tim Lake in About Time. He has acted on both stage and screen, earning a Tony Award nomination in 2006 for his role in the Broadway production The Lieutenant of Inishmore.

1992 – British soldiers of the Parachute Regiment entered two public houses in Coalisland, Co Tyrone, and caused considerable damage to both properties. This incident followed an earlier IRA attack during which a Paratrooper lost both legs in an explosion. The commanding officer of the regiment was later removed from his post. There was a further incident involving British soldiers in the town on 17 May 1992.

1997 – A Catholic civilian, Sean Brown (61), was abducted by members of the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) as he locked the gates of the Bellaghy GAA club. Brown was beaten before being shot dead and his body was found the next day beside his burnt-out car at Randalstown, Co Antrim. Brown who left a wife and six children was a GAA official and was often the last person to leave the Bellaghy GAA club. On 19 January 2004, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland published a report that was highly critical of the police investigation into Brown’s killing.

1998 – British Chancellor Gordon Brown hands the Yes campaign in the North a monster financial boost when he unveils a bumper £315 million plan — over twice what was expected.

1998 – The continuing divisions between Unionists in favour of the Good Friday Agreement and those against were evident in personal exchanges between leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Ian Paisley, and leader of the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP), David Trimble. Trimble accused Paisley of ‘running away again’ after Paisley pulled out of a scheduled television debate between the two men.

1998 – The British government announced that Northern Ireland Security Minister, Adam Ingram, would be given the extra responsibility of ‘minister for victims’. This decision followed the report of the Victims Commissioner on 29 April 1998.

1998 – The British government announced a £315 million economic package for Northern Ireland. Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, travelled to Northern Ireland to make the announcement at a gathering of business people and politicians. Brown denied that the package was a bribe to entice voters to support the Good Friday Agreement.

1999 – US First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman to be granted the Freedom of Galway city, following in the footsteps of her country’s former presidents, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

1999 – The Loyalist picket at the Catholic church in Harryville, Ballymena, Co Antrim, was called off ‘until further notice’. The picket had resumed on 10 April 1999. Threats from Loyalist paramilitaries forced the Catholic owners of a public house in Dunmurray, close to Belfast, to close.

2003 – Dublin City Council votes by an overwhelming majority to call for the preservation of a house in Moore Street where the leaders of the 1916 Rising have their last meeting and decide to surrender to British forces.

Image | Trim Castle, Co Meath | Fiachra Mangan Photography

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