February 20

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1921 Twelve Volunteers were shot dead and a further eight taken prisoner when Crown forces surrounded them in a disused farmhouse overlooking the village of Clonmult, near Midleton, Co. Cork. It marked the IRA’s greatest loss of Volunteers in a single action during the War of Independence.
  • 1920 Robert Peary (63), explorer and US Navy officer who, in 1909, became the first man to reach the North Pole, died.
  • 1979 Eleven members of the UVF ‘Shankill Butchers’ gang were convicted of 112 offences, including nineteen murders, mainly of Catholics, along with attempted murders, kidnappings and bomb explosions.
  • 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.
  • 1921 The East Cork IRA flying column was almost entirely wiped out when Crown forces surrounded a cottage at Clonmult, seven miles north of Middletown, which they were using as training and living quarters. Twelve were shot dead and a further two were later executed.
  • 1973 A bus driver was killed and over a dozen others were injured when a bomb, most likely planted by the UVF, exploded without warning at Sackville Place, near O’Connell Street, Dublin.
  • 1914 The Fethard-on-Sea, Co. Wexford, lifeboat Helen Blake capsized while assisting the schooner Mexico off the Keeragh Islands. Nine of the fourteen-man crew were drowned.
  • 1954 Henry Harrison (86), politician and writer, notably of Parnell vindicated: the lifting of the veil (1931), and the last surviving member of the party led by C.S. Parnell, died.

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