December 31

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1961 Radio Teilifís Éireann, the national television service, was launched with an address by President Eamon de Valera.
  • 1869 Henri Matisse (84), leading figure in modern art, born in Le Cateau-Cambrésis in the Nord department in northern France.
  • 1961 Telefís Éireann was launched by President Eamon de Valera.
  • 1964 Daniel Corkery (86), teacher and author, notably of The hidden Ireland (1924), died.
  • 1930 Mayo County Council was dissolved for refusing to appoint Miss Letitia Dunbar-Harrison, a Protestant and Trinity College graduate, who was the recommended candidate of the Local Appointments Commission for the position of County Librarian. The council claimed that her grasp of Irish was inadequate.
  • 1909 Harry Ferguson flew 130 yards in force nine winds in a monoplane at Hillsborough Forest Park, Co. Down, thus becoming the first Irishman to build and fly his own aeroplane.
  • 1759 Arthur Guinness secured a 9,000-year lease on four acres of ground at St James’s Gate, Dublin, for an annual rent of £45, including water rights.
  • 1975 Five people were killed and 30 injured in Iarnród Éireann’s worst disaster at Clogh Bridge, Tubberneering, Co. Wexford.
  • 1602 Dónal Cam O’Sullivan Beare, lord of the Beare peninsula in south-west Munster, set out with a thousand followers—600 fighting men and 400 men, women and children—to continue his struggle against English rule from Ulster. His march, a distance of over 500km in the depths of winter, was in many ways an act of desperation. A wanted man following his participation in the Battle of Kinsale and the interception by the English of a letter in which he declared his allegiance to Philip II of Spain, he had hoped to continue the struggle from his castle at Dunboy, near Castletownbere, but it fell to Crown forces in June 1602, as did his stronghold on Dursey Island, where c. 300 occupants, including women and children, were massacred by Crown forces under the infamous George Carew. Throughout the march he was continually harassed by Crown forces and their Irish allies, which led to two pitched battles. Crossing the Shannon in a boat made of animal skins and hazel rods, which took two days to make and carried 28 at a time over the 0.5km of the river, he arrived at Brian O’Rourke’s castle in Breifne fifteen days later with a mere 35, including just one woman. All the rest had died in battle or from hunger and exposure. O’Sullivan Beare eventually made it to Spain, where he was welcomed by Philip III and his princely status recognised with a commission as an imperial general. He was murdered in 1618 as he was leaving Mass in the Plaza de Santo Domingo in Madrid. The Beara–Breifne Way long-distance walking trail follows closely the line of his historical march.
  • 1973 Alan Daughtery (23), married with two children and a member of the 2nd Scots Guards, was shot dead by an IRA sniper off the Falls Road, Belfast. He was the last of 59 British soldiers killed by the IRA that year, the second-highest year for army casualties during the Troubles.
  • 1973 As a result of industrial action by miners which curtailed the production of electricity, the British government announced the implementation of a three-day working week.

Copyright © 2024 History Publications Ltd, Unit 9, 78 Furze Road, Sandyford, Dublin 18, Ireland | Tel. +353-1-293 3568