On this day

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 5 (Sept/Oct 2012), On this Day, Volume 20



3 1972

Mary Peters of Belfast took the gold medal in the women’s pentathlon at the Olympic Games in Munich with a world record of 4,801 points.


5 1972

Eleven Israeli athletes were killed when the Arab terrorist group Black September struck at the Olympic Games in Munich, two as they slept in their dormitory and the remainder, as hostages, in a failed rescue operation at Munich airport.


7 1812

The Battle of Borodino, the largest and bloodiest single-day action of Napoleon’s disastrous Russian campaign, involving over 250,000 troops and resulting in at least 70,000 casualties.


8 1812

‘Honest John’ Martin, Young Irelander and Home Rule MP, born in Loughorne, Newry, Co. Down.


9 1922

The third Dáil Éireann assembled (until 9 August 1923). W.T. Cosgrave was elected president. Anti-Treaty deputies implemented a policy of abstentionism.


10 1922

Wilfred Scawen Blunt, poet, writer and anti-imperialist who was active in the Irish land agitation of the 1880s, died.


11 1922

The Local Government Act (NI) abolished PR for local elections and required a declaration of allegiance from persons elected to or working for local authorities.


12 1912

Father Matthew Russell (78), founder-editor of Catholic Ireland (later Irish Monthly) from 1873, died.


14 1982

Princess Grace of Monaco (52), formerly the American film actress Grace Kelly, died after a car crash the previous day.


16 1982

The New Ireland Group was founded by Senator John Robb.


17 1862

The battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg, western Maryland, the bloodiest single day in the American Civil War and in all of American history—22,000 killed or wounded, including 540 from the Union Army’s Irish Brigade.


28 1912

Ulster Day—led by Sir Edward Carson, 237,368 men signed Ulster’s Solemn League and Covenant at locations throughout Ulster; 234,046 women signed a parallel declaration.




3 1932

In Belfast some 60,000 workers from across the sectarian divide, on strike for higher outdoor relief payments, marched from the Frederick Street labour exchange to a torch-lit rally at the Custom House, led by bands playing the neutral tune Yes, we have no bananas.


4 2002

After a police raid on the Sinn Féin offices in Stormont, three men, including Sinn Féin’s Assembly group administrator Denis Donaldson, were arrested for intelligence-gathering. Ten days later devolution was suspended and direct rule for Northern Ireland was restored.


6 1962

Sylvia Beach, publisher of James Joyce’s Ulysses, died.


10 1922

The Catholic hierarchy issued a joint pastoral condemning Republican resistance to the Free State—‘A republic without popular recognition behind it is a contradiction in terms’.


11 1962

The Second Vatican Council (until 8 December 1965) opened under Pope John XXIII.


14 1962

The Cuban Missile Crisis—a thirteen-day confrontation between the Soviet Union and Cuba on one side and the United States on the other—began when a US plane captured photographic proof of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba.


15 1922

Army Emergency Powers came into effect, empowering military courts to impose the death penalty; 77 Republicans were executed in the Free State between 17 November 1922 and 2 May 1923.


19 1982

The US car-manufacturer John De Lorean was arrested in Los Angeles on drugs charges, just hours after the British government announced that it was closing the Northern Ireland plant that produced his luxury sports car. The government had provided £80m in aid for the project.


25 2002

Richard Harris (72), actor and Oscar nominee for This sporting life (1963) and The field (1990), died.


30 1987

The Eksund, carrying 150 tons of armaments believed to be for the IRA, was seized by French customs authorities.


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