May 13

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1919 Two RIC officers, Sgt Peter Wallace and Constable Michael Enright, were killed during the rescue of Seán Hogan by Dan Breen and Seán Treacy, both of whom were wounded, at Knocklong station, Co. Limerick. (See 100 Years Ago, p. 70.)
  • 1914 Joe Louis, American heavyweight world boxing champion known as ‘the Brown Bomber’, born in Alabama.
  • 1917 The first of the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children near the village of Fatima, Portugal (to 13/10/17).
  • 1986 Peadar O’Donnell (93), revolutionary, agitator and novelist, died.
  • 1968 The 58-acre island Ireland’s Eye and 220 acres of the Hill of Howth, Dublin, were presented to the Irish state by Christopher Gaisford-St Lawrence.
  • 1986 Peadar O’Donnell (93), militant socialist, died. Born in the Irish-speaking Rosses of north-west Donegal, the youngest of nine children of a musician and migrant worker, O’Donnell was amongst the most influential left-wing republicans during the early years of the twentieth century. His entire life was devoted to the cause of a 32-county socialist republic. Abandoning his position as a teacher on Arranmore Island, he joined the IRA during the latter stages of the War of Independence to lead a flying column in his native county. Thereafter he opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty (he was amongst the anti-Treaty garrison that occupied the Four Courts), was imprisoned and took part in the mass hunger strike by anti-Treaty prisoners in late 1923, which lasted for 41 days. Afterwards, as editor of An Phoblacht (1926–9), he tried unsuccessfully to wean republicans from militarism to socialist agitation and during the inter-war years was a key figure in the short-lived Republican Congress (1934–5), which sought to establish a workers’ republic on the lines advocated by James Connolly. His solitary success was in organising small farmers against payment of land annuities to the British government in the late 1920s and early 1930s, a policy that was adopted by Fianna Fáil and contributed to that party’s electoral success in 1932. Better remembered today, perhaps, as a prolific writer, journalist and editor over a 40-year period until the 1960s, he was editor for a time of The Bell (1940), founded by Seán Ó Faoláin. Two of his six novels, Islanders (1928) and The big windows (1955), are regarded today as classic depictions of rural life.
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