#OTD in 1689 – Siege of Derry began.

In 1685, the Roman Catholic James II came to the throne of England. His agent Richard Talbot, earl of Tyrconnell, started to dismiss Protestant officers from the army in Ireland, replacing them with Roman Catholics. For English Protestants, the last straw came when the birth of a son to his second wife meant that his […]

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#OTD in 1939 – Birth of poet, Seamus Heaney, near Castledawson, Co Derry.

“Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained.” –Seamus Heaney Seamus Heaney published his first poetry book in 1966, Death of a Naturalist, creating vivid portraits of rural life. Later work looked at his homeland’s civil war, and he won the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature for his […]

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#OTD in 1613 – A charter incorporates Derry as the city of ‘Londonderry’ and creates the new county of ‘Londonderry’.

Despite the official name, the city is more usually known as simply Derry, which is an anglicisation of the old Irish Daire, which in modern Irish is spelt Doire, and translates as ‘oak-grove/oak-wood’. The name derives from the settlement’s earliest references, Daire Calgaich (‘oak-grove of Calgach’). The name was changed from Derry in 1613 during […]

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#OTD in 1981 – Bobby Sands begins his hunger strike at Long Kesh prison. 

The choice of the start date was significant because it marked the fifth anniversary of the ending of special category status (1 March 1976). The main aim of the new strike was to achieve the reintroduction of political status for Republican prisoners. Edward Daly, Catholic Bishop of Derry, criticised the decision to begin another hunger […]

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#OTD in 1922 – The IRA kidnaps more than forty Loyalists Activists and ‘B’ Specials.

In mid-January 1922 the Monaghan football team was arrested in the North on their way to play Derry in the final of the Ulster Championship. On 7 February the IRA responded by kidnapping forty-two prominent loyalists in Fermanagh and Tyrone and held them as hostages. A party of eighteen armed B-Specials, when travelling by train […]

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#OTD in 1972 – As eleven victims of Bloody Sunday are buried, the British Embassy in Dublin is burned to the ground by furious demonstrators.

In Dublin, over 30,000 – 100,000 marched to the British Embassy, carrying thirteen replica coffins and black flags. They attacked the Embassy with stones and bottles, then petrol bombs. The building was eventually burnt to the ground. The three days after the Derry massacre were marked by work stoppages and demonstrations in villages, towns and […]

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#OTD in 1972 – Bloody Sunday Aftermath.

The day after Bloody Sunday, British Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling announces a tribunal of inquiry ‘into the circumstances of the march and the incidents leading up to the casualties which resulted’. After being denied the right to provide an eye-witness account of what happened, an emotional Bernadette Devlin, the 24-year-old MP for Mid-Ulster who had […]

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#OTD in 1972 – In what is to become known as Bloody Sunday, the British Army kills 13 civil rights demonstrators in the Bogside district of Derry. A 14th marcher later dies of his injuries.

Thirteen people were shot and killed when British paratroopers opened fire on a crowd of civilians in Derry. Fourteen others were wounded, one later died. The marchers had been campaigning for equal rights such as one man, one vote. Despite initial attempts by British authorities to justify the shootings including a rushed report by Lord […]

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#OTD in 1967 – The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) is formed.

The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (Cumann Chearta Sibhialta Thuaisceart Éireann) was an organisation which campaigned for civil rights for the Roman Catholic minority in Northern Ireland during the late 1960s and early 1970s. According to Joseph Ruane and Jennifer Todd, the ethos of the Northern state was unashamedly and unambiguously sectarian, although Senia Paseta […]

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#OTD in 1764 – United Irishman, William Sampson is born the son of a Presbyterian clergyman in Derry.

William Sampson was one of many non-Catholics who were disturbed by the level of discrimination and violence against members of the Catholic faith. Anticipating an insurrection in March 1798, as a lawyer, Sampson defended United Irishmen for anti-British actions and was imprisoned, disbarred, and banished from Ireland without trial for his courtroom and literary activities. After eight […]

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