April 15

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1972 Joe McCann (25), a prominent figure within the ranks of the Official IRA, was shot dead in disputed circumstances by members of the Parachute Regiment close to his home in the Markets area of Belfast.
  • 1972 Joe McCann (24), legendary Official IRA leader, was shot dead by British paratroopers in Belfast.
  • 1941 A week after their first raid on the city, in which the industrial heartland around the docks was attacked with the loss of thirteen lives, a squadron of 180 German bombers returned to Belfast. The congested housing areas of the New Lodge, Lower Shankill and Antrim Road in the north of the city bore the brunt of the attack. At least 900 lives were lost.
  • 1912 The White Star liner Titanic, on her maiden voyage, sank at 2.20am, having struck an iceberg at 11.40pm the previous evening off the Grand Banks, Newfoundland, with the loss of 1,517 lives. There were 706 survivors.
  • 1840 Thomas Drummond (42), inventor and administrator, died. Drummond, who was under-secretary for Ireland (1835–40) in Lord Melbourne’s government, would be remembered for his dedication to Irish interests. In 1824 he joined the Ordnance Survey of Ireland and during his time there he came into daily contact with ordinary Irish people, particularly small tenant farmers, and learned much about their grievances. Also during that time he was acclaimed both within and outside the scientific world for his invention of the heliostat, an instrument for throwing rays of light in a given direction and thereby facilitating trigonometrical surveys in murky weather. As under-secretary he tackled a range of issues: he remodelled the police force through the Constabulary (Ireland) Act (1836), which encouraged Catholics to join the Irish Constabulary; appointed more Catholics to administrative positions; and converted the despised tithes into a fixed rent that was no longer to be collected by British soldiers, a measure which led to a decrease in rural unrest. Never popular with landlords, he responded to their call for more coercive measures to curb agrarian crime by reminding them that property had its duties as well as its rights and that they generally neglected their tenants. Worn out by his efforts and always in poor health, he expressed his wish to be buried in Ireland, ‘the land of my adoption; I have loved her well and served her faithfully and lost my life in her service’. He was buried in Mount Jerome cemetery and three years later a statue in his honour by John Hogan was unveiled in City Hall, Dublin.

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