June 05

Published in On this Day listing

  • 2002 Alex Maskey (50) became the first Sinn Féin lord mayor of Belfast.
  • 1981 It was reported that five men in California were suffering from a rare form of pneumonia that was found in patients with weakened immune systems—the first recognised cases of AIDS, which was to kill over 30 million worldwide.
  • 1920 Cornelius Ryan, war correspondent and author, notably of the best-seller The longest day (1959), which became a film that set box-office records, born in Dublin.
  • 2002 Former US President Bill Clinton opened a new £3 million peace centre named after him on the site of the 1987 Remembrance Sunday bombing in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh.
  • 1988 Robert Dudley Edwards, professor of modern Irish history at UCD (1945–79) and writer, notably of Church and state in Tudor Ireland (1935), died.
  • 1968 Robert Kennedy (42), leading candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for the presidency, was mortally wounded by Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles. He died the following day.
  • 1967 The Six-Day War began, in which Israel heavily defeated Egypt and her Arab allies, capturing the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt, the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria.
  • 1916 Kerry-born Horatio Herbert Kitchener, Lord Kitchener of Khartoum, secretary of state for war, lost his life, along with over 600 others, when HMS Hampshire struck a German mine and sank west of the Orkney Islands, Scotland.
  • 1916 Lord Kitchener, Kerry-born field marshal, was lost at sea when HMS Edinburgh was struck by a mine off the Orkneys. Winston Churchill would have accompanied him in what was a war-boost trip to Russia had he not been dropped from the coalition cabinet the previous January owing to pressure from the Conservatives.
  • 1868 James Connolly, socialist and revolutionary, born in Cowgate, Edinburgh, to Irish immigrant parents.
  • 1646 Battle of Benburb, Co. Tyrone.
  • 1880 W.T.—William Thomas—Cosgrave, first president of the Executive Council of the Irish Free State (1922–32), born at 174 James’s Street, Dublin, the son of a grocer. Popular history, the history of the people and not the historians, invariably remembers the dramatic iconic image. Charles Stewart Parnell, for instance, was a complex individual. Since he wrote so little, and never took a fixed position on any issue, the unanswered question is still debated: what was his real attitude to Irish independence and the use of force to achieve it? On the other hand, popular history remembers his affair with Mrs O’Shea, his overthrow, his premature death, the lost leader etc. Similarly with Michael Collins, again a complex character—visionary, brilliant organiser, spectacular fund-raiser, natural leader and motivator. Popular history, however, focuses on the dashing Corkman in military uniform and the ambush at Béal na Blath. Cosgrave—who, after the deaths of Griffith and Collins in 1922, found himself in charge of a fledgling independent Irish state—never made it in popular history because he presented no iconic image. He was, in fact, a small, quiet man with little personality. Historians, however, rate him and his government highly in that his Cumann na nGaedheal government, in which, aged 42, he was the oldest member when he took office, succeeded in establishing, from scratch, a functioning Irish government, parliament and civil service, and did so in the face of civil war and at a time when the rest of Europe was moving away from democracy. And then, in 1932, he peacefully handed over power to his arch-rival, Eamon de Valera, securing the state as a democracy. Even de Valera himself had to praise him. He summed up Cosgrave and his government in one word—‘magnificent’.
  • 1984 On the third day of his trip to Ireland, President Ronald Reagan visited his ancestral home, Ballyporeen, Co. Tipperary, from where his great-grandfather Michael Regan had emigrated early in the nineteenth century.

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