November 13

Published in On this Day listing

  • Above: Patricia Curran (centre) in March 1952.

    1952 The body of Patricia Curran (19), daughter of former Unionist MP for Carrickfergus and high court judge Lancelot Curran, was found in the grounds of the family home in Whiteabbey, overlooking Belfast Lough. She had been stabbed 37 times in a frenzied attack. The investigation and prosecution of ‘the judge’s daughter’ case was irregular, to say the least. Firstly, the judge refused to allow the police to search his home and declared that he, and the other members of his family, his wife Doris and son Desmond, would not make statements to the police but only to their own solicitor. The RUC complied with both demands. Then there was the prosecution of Scottish soldier Iain Hay Gordon (20), whom Desmond, a devout Christian, had befriended in an apparent attempt at religious conversion. After a trial where both prosecuting and defence councils were colleagues—and, indeed, golf partners—of the victim’s father and brother, Gordon was found guilty but insane. In a further irregularity—he surely should have been disbarred—Judge Curran in 1961 presided over the trial of Robert McGladdery, who was convicted and hanged for the murder of another nineteen-year-old girl, Pearl Gamble. By that stage Ian Hay Gordon was a free man, having been released after seven years in a mental institution, where he was treated for a ‘personality disorder’, and in December 2000 his conviction was squashed in the court of appeal. Desmond Curran, the last surviving member of the Curran family, passed away in 2015. Not only had he converted to Catholicism but also he had been ordained a priest in 1964, carrying out ministry in a township in South Africa. The case remains unsolved.

  • 1921 During the Treaty negotiations, Arthur Griffith signed a document for Lloyd George agreeing that Northern Ireland could stay outside a united Ireland if she agreed to a Boundary Commission. Lloyd George would later confront him with this (5 December).
  • 1911 Andrew Bonar Law, son of a Presbyterian minister from Coleraine, Co. Derry, and staunch opponent of Home Rule, became leader of the Conservative Party following the resignation of Arthur Balfour.
  • 1817 John Keogh (77), leader of the radical wing of the Catholic Committee in the 1790s, died.
  • 1712 Sir William Robinson, architect of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham (1680–4), Marsh’s Library and James and Charles Forts in Kinsale Harbour, died.
  • 1983 Gerry Adams was elected president of Sinn Féin in succession to Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, a position he held for almost 35 years until succeeded by Mary Lou McDonald in February 2018.

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