On this day

Published in Issue 1 (January/February 2014), News, Volume 22


1 1974
The power-sharing Northern Ireland executive, under Chief Executive Brian Faulkner, took up office. Three days later Faulkner was forced to resign as leader of the Official Unionist Party when the Ulster Unionist Council rejected the establishment of a Council of Ireland under the terms of the Sunningdale Agreement.

3 1864
John Hughes, County Tyrone-born first archbishop of the archdiocese of New York from 1850, died. Hughes laid the foundation stone of St Patrick’s Cathedral, New York (1858).

5 1989
John A. Costello (84), taoiseach in the first two interparty governments, mainly remembered for the declaration of the Republic of Ireland (1948) and the Mother and Child Scheme controversies, died.

6 1964
Pope Paul VI completed a three-day visit to the Holy Land, the first pope to visit there since Christianity began and the first to leave Italy in over 150 years.

7 1914
Patrick Weston Joyce, historian and musicologist, notably author of Origin and history of Irish names of places, died. He was the older brother of Robert Dwyer Joyce (1830–83), physician and songwriter, whose verses included ‘The boys of Wexford’.

10 1984
Seán MacEntee (95), Belfast-born founder member of Fianna Fáil (1926), eleven times minister for finance in various Fianna Fáil governments and tánaiste (1959–65), died. He was the last surviving member of the first Dáil Éireann.

14 1864
Fr Nicholas Callan, pioneer in the development of electrical science, died.

21 1924
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin (53), communist revolutionary and premier of the Soviet Union since 1922, died of a stroke.

22 1924
James Ramsey McDonald became Britain’s first Labour prime minister.

30 1864
The National Gallery of Ireland in Merrion Square, Dublin, financed by William Dargan from a testimonial of £5,000 he received in acknowledgement of his services to the Dublin Exhibition (1853), was formally opened.

31 1984
Ann Lovett (15) died while giving birth near a Marian grotto in Granard, Co. Longford.


1 1814
Belfast Academical Institution, locally known as ‘Inst’, was formally opened. In his inaugural address, the poet and former United Irishman Dr William Drennan announced that the aim of the school was to ‘diffuse useful knowledge, particularly among the middling orders of society, as a necessity, not a luxury of life’.

6 1564
Christopher Marlowe, poet and dramatist, notably author of Doctor Faustus, born in Canterbury, Kent.

13 1864
Stephen Gwynn, nationalist and writer and grandson of William Smith O’Brien, born in Dublin. His son, Denis Gwynn (1893–1971), was Professor of Modern History at UCC (1946–63).

15 1564
Galileo, Italian astronomer and physicist, born in Pisa.

The last Soviet troops left Afghanistan after a nine-year conflict, often referred to as the Soviet Union’s ‘Vietnam’, in which 14,453 of its troops were killed, along with c. 18,000 of their Afghan allies and c. 90,000 Mujahideen.

18 1564
Michelangelo (88), archetypal Renaissance man, died in Rome.

20 1954
Henry Harrison, County Down-born nationalist whose life’s work was devoted to the cause of rehabilitating Charles Stewart Parnell, died. He published two books in defence of Parnell and, two years before his death, secured amendments to the account of the Pigott forgeries as recorded in the History of the Times newspaper.

25 1964
Cassius Clay—later Muhammad Ali—won the world heavyweight boxing title for the first time, knocking out Sonny Liston in round seven in Miami.

26 1914
The Britannic, the third and largest ocean liner of the White Star Line and sister ship to RMS Olympic and RMS Titanic, was launched in Belfast. She was sunk by an underwater mine in the Aegean Sea in November 1916—the biggest ship lost during the First World War.

28 1974
In the Westminster general election, the Labour Party, under Harold Wilson, was returned to lead a minority government. In Northern Ireland, where the election was in effect a referendum on the Sunningdale Agreement, anti-agreement unionists won eleven of the twelve seats.


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