#OTD in 1754 – Birth of Dr. William Drennan in Belfast; physician, poet, educationalist political radical and one of the chief architects of the Society of United Irishmen.

William Drennan’s poetic output included some powerful and moving pieces. He is chiefly remembered today for “Erin” written in 1800, in which he penned the first reference in print to Ireland as “The Emerald Isle”: “Nor one feeling of vengeance presume to defile The cause, or the men, of the Emerald Isle.” Drennan came to […]

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#OTD in 1918 – Seventy-three Sinn Féin prisoners are shipped to Britain, after being arrested on 17 May by police and military authorities.

The arrests caused a public sensation; newspapers were snapped up by those eager for details of what happened. It is understood that twenty-four of the arrests took place in Dublin, the most recent of them involving Maud Gonne MacBride, who was seized while returning from a visit to George Russell. Also in Dublin, the Sinn […]

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#OTD in 1981 – At 2:11 am, Raymond McCreesh dies on hunger strike in the H Blocks of Long Kesh Prison. Later, the same day at 11:29 pm, he is joined in death by his friend and fellow hunger-striker, Patsy O’Hara.

The third of the resolutely determined IRA Volunteers to join the H-Block hunger strike for political status was twenty-four-year-old Raymond McCreesh, from Camlough in South Armagh: a quiet, shy and good-humoured republican, who although captured at the early age of nineteen, along with two other Volunteers in a British army ambush, had already almost three […]

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#OTD in 1922 – De Valera and Collins agree to a pact whereby a national coalition panel of candidates will represent the pro- and anti-Treaty wings of Sinn Féin throughout Ireland in the forthcoming general election.

As in the Irish elections, 1921 in the south, Sinn Féin stood one candidate for every seat, except those for the University of Dublin and one other; the treaty had divided the party between 65 pro-treaty candidates, 57 anti-treaty and 1 nominally on both sides. Unlike the elections a year earlier, other parties stood in […]

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#OTD in 1897 – Oscar Wilde is released from prison and goes to live in France, where he writes his famous poem, “The Ballad of Reading Gaol”.

The Ballad of Reading Gaol is a poem by Oscar Wilde, written in exile either in Bernevas-Le-Grand or in Dieppe, France, after his release from Reading Gaol. Wilde had been incarcerated in Reading, after being convicted of homosexual offences in 1895 and sentenced to two years’ hard labour in prison. During his imprisonment, on Saturday […]

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#OTD in 1918 – Almost the entire leadership of Sinn Féin are arrested. 150 were arrested on the night of 16–17 May and taken to prisons in England.

During the last year of the First World War, on the night of 17/18 May, over 70 leading members of Sinn Fein were arrested under the terms of the Defence of the Realm Act. The arrests had been made following the discovery of a supposed plot on the part of Sinn Féin to help Germany […]

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#OTD in 1945 – Éamon de Valera responds to Winston Churchill’s victory speech during which Churchill took one last jab at Irish neutrality.

Few outside of Ireland could understand the neutral stance of the Irish Free State during the war. Churchill most certainly did not when he said: “Owing to the action of Mr de Valera, so much at variance with the temper and instinct of thousands of Southern Irishmen who hastened to the battle-front to prove their […]

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#OTD in 1945 – In a radio broadcast, Churchill accuses De Valera’s government of frolicking with the Germans and Japanese.

In his Victory in Europe speech, Winston Churchill slams Éamon de Valera and his war-time policy. (To add fuel to an already bitter relationship, de Valera had not distinguished himself or Ireland’s reputation when he offered condolences to Germany on the death of Hitler.) “(By the dawn of 1941), The sense of envelopment, which might […]

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#OTD in 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.

Fuair siad bás ar son Saoirse na hÉireann! A troop of Black and Tans were travelling out from Listowel towards Athea when they arrested four young unarmed men in Gortaglanna. Prior to this the barracks in Listowel had been burnt out and the troops, heavy with drink and bent on revenge decided to execute the […]

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

The last executions of 1916 rebels are carried out. Ninety rebels were condemned to death. All but 15 were commuted to lengthy prison terms (most of whom were released in 1917). The executions were a watershed in Irish attitude to English rule. The vast majority of the Irish population begrudgingly accepted English rule and believed […]

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