On this day

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, General, Issue 3 (May/June 2011), On this Day, Volume 19

May

 

11 1971

Seán Lemass, revolutionary, founding member of Fianna Fáil (1926) and taoiseach (1959–66), died.

 

13 198

Peadar O’Donnell (93), revolutionary, agitator and novelist, died.

 

15 1910

The Association of United Irishwomen, renamed the Irish Countrywomen’s Association (ICA) in 1934, which sought to provide rural women with a social outlet and educational opportunities, was founded by Anita Lett in Ballindara, Co. Wexford.

 

22 1971

Following a train trip to Belfast, members of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement brandished contraceptives they had bought there on their return to Connolly Station, as a protest against the law banning their importation.

 

24 1921

Elections to the two Irish states (Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland) set up under the terms of the Government of Ireland Act (December 1920) were held. In Northern Ireland all 52 seats were contested. Forty Unionists, six Sinn Féin and six Nationalists were returned. In the South, 124 Sinn Féin candidates and four Unionists (for Trinity College) were elected unopposed.

 

25 1921

The Custom House in Dublin, headquarters of the Local Government Board, was attacked and torched by the Dublin Brigade of the IRA. Crown forces, who surrounded the building before they could escape, killed five Volunteers and took a further 70 prisoner. It was the last major incident in the Anglo-Irish War.

 

27 1911

The first edition of the Irish Worker, organ of the ITGWU and edited by James Larkin, was issued. Averaging 20,000 copies per issue, it was suppressed in December 1914 but was revived in 1930–2 under the editorship of James Larkin Jr.

 

31 1941

Over a 37-minute period in the early hours of the morning four German bombs were dropped on Dublin, hitting the Phoenix Park, North Circular Road, Summerhill and the North Strand. The latter—a 500lb bomb—killed 29, injured a further 90 and left at least 500 people homeless.

 

June

 

7 1861

Patrick Bronte, clergyman and poet, died, having outlived his seven children, including the literary sisters Charlotte, Emily and Anne.

 

14 1811

Harriet Beecher Stowe, American abolitionist and author of the highly influential Uncle Tom’s cabin (1852), born in Litchfield, Connecticut.

 

15 1861

Fred Allan, leading figure in the IRB during the Parnell era, founder member of Cumann na nGaedhael and civil servant with the Department of Industry and Commerce, who played a significant role in the setting up of the Shannon Electricity Supply Scheme, born in Dublin.

 

17 1981

Nora Connolly-O’Brien, daughter of James Connolly and former senator, died.

 

22 1921

King George V formally opened the new Northern Ireland parliament sitting in Belfast City Hall. The following day the IRA blew up the train carrying his cavalry escort from Belfast back to Dublin, killing four men and 80 horses.

 

22 1941

Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the USSR, began with the deployment of three million troops equipped with nearly 10,000 tanks and 3,000 aircraft.

 

26 1981

The 22nd Dáil Éireann assembled. Garret Fitzgerald was elected taoiseach in a Fine Gael–Labour coalition government.

 

27 1951

Mary McAleese, barrister, journalist, academic and current president of Ireland (since 1997), born in Ardoyne, Belfast, the eldest of nine children.

 

28 1963

J.F. Kennedy, president of the United States, addressed Dáil Éireann. In his speech, Kennedy had planned to quote Lord Edward Fitzgerald’s observation that his family home, Leinster House, ‘does not inspire the brightest of ideas’. The comment was suppressed by an unimpressed Eamon de Valera.

 

29 1911

Norah Fahie, linguist, administrator, founder member of An Óige and vice-chairman of the Huguenot Society of Great Britain and Ireland, who played a leading role in the restoration of the Huguenot cemetery in Merrion Row, Dublin, born in Dublin.

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