October 28

Published in On this Day listing

  • 2001 Martin O’Hagan (51), an investigative journalist with the Sunday World who specialised in exposing paramilitary drug-dealing gangs, was shot dead by the Loyalist Volunteer Force in Lurgan, Co. Armagh.
  • 1588

    Above: A cannon recovered from the wreck of La Girona of the Spanish Armada on display in the Ulster Museum, Belfast. (Alamy)

    La Girona, a 700-ton galleass of the Spanish Armada, foundered and sank off Lacada Point, just east of Dunluce Castle in north Antrim. Some weeks earlier, Alonso Martinez de Leiva, commander-in-chief designate of the Armada, having at that stage been twice shipwrecked and suffering from a broken leg, had made his way along with his 1,000 men to Killybegs, Co. Donegal, where he joined some 600 others—the largest Spanish force ever assembled in Ireland. There he set about repairing the Girona, one of three Spanish vessels that had washed up there but the only one afloat. Having crammed on board some 1,300 men, ‘the best of the Spaniards’, including three ship’s captains and hundreds of wealthy nobles, he set sail for Scotland, but disaster lay ahead. Having successfully negotiated the turbulent waters off Bloody Foreland and Inishowen, the ship lost her rudder in a northerly gale and was blown onto the Antrim coast, where she struck a reef and literally split apart. There were only nine survivors, making it a disaster just a few hundred less than the Titanic (1912). Some 200 bodies were washed ashore and buried under the supervision of local chieftain Sorley Boy MacDonnell in a common grave in the local graveyard. In 1968 the Belgian archaeologist Robert Sténuit discovered the wreck and brought some 12,000 artefacts to the surface. These included personal possessions of her aristocratic victims, including 1,276 gold, silver and copper coins, 35 items of jewel-encrusted gold, twelve gold rings, eight gold chains and two silver crucifixes. The collection is on permanent display at the Ulster Museum.

  • 1927 In what became known as the Cleggan Disaster, 45 County Mayo fishermen, including nine from Inishbofin and sixteen from the village of Rossadilisk, lost their lives in a storm.
  • 1868 Margaret Noble, ‘Sister Nivedita’, social worker, teacher and writer in India and advocate of Indian Home Rule, born in Dungannon, Co. Tyrone.
  • 2012 Savita Halappananavar (31), who was miscarrying her seventeen-week pregnancy, died from septicemia in University College Hospital, Galway, having been refused an abortion due to a foetal heartbeat.
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