On this day

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, General, Issue 1(Jan/Feb 2013), On this Day, Volume 21

January

1 1973
Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC) along with Denmark and the United Kingdom.
5 1953
Twenty-seven people were killed when a BEA Viking aircraft crash-landed just short of the runway at Nutt’s Corner (Belfast) airport.
5 1973
Gerald Boland (87), revolutionary and founder member of Fianna Fáil who served in a number of cabinet positions, notably as the country’s longest-serving minister for justice (1939–48, 1951–4), died.
5 1863
Mary Burns (39), Irish-born mill-hand, social radical and common-law wife of the socialist Friedrich Engels, in whom she encouraged an interest in Irish affairs, died. Her sister, Lizzie Burns (1827–78), described by Engels as ‘a real child of the Irish proletariat’, subsequently became his wife.
9 1913
Richard Milhous Nixon, 37th president of the United States (1969–74), who resigned in disgrace in the wake of the Watergate scandal, born in California. His ancestor, James Nixon, was born in Ireland c. 1705, probably in Timahoe, Co. Laois, and emigrated to America c. 1730. Nixon visited Timahoe in October 1970.
15 1988
Seán MacBride (83), lawyer, government minister and international politician, died.
16 1913
The Home Rule bill was carried in the House of Commons (367–257) but was defeated in the House of Lords (326–69) a fortnight later.
21 1933
George Moore (80), author, notably of Esther Waters (1894), and leading light in the Irish Literary Revival, died.
31 1913
Having pledged to use ‘all means which may be found necessary’ to stop Home Rule, the Ulster Unionist Council formally inaugurated the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF). Up to 100,000 enlisted.
31 1953
The Princess Victoria, an early roll-on–roll-off ferry, en route from Stranraer to Larne, sank in hurricane-force conditions off Belfast Lough, with the loss of 133 lives. It was Ireland’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.
February
1 1963
Cardinal John Francis D’Alton, archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland since 1946, died.
2 1943
The Battle of Stalingrad, perhaps the bloodiest engagement in the history of human warfare (up to two million were killed), ended with a German surrender.
3 1963
Brinsley MacNamara (real name John Weldon), writer, notably of The valley of the squinting windows (1918), a study of a rural community and the power of gossip, died.
8 1933
The eighth Dáil Éireann assembled: Eamon de Valera formed his second government, with a one-seat majority.
9 1563
Manus O’Donnell, lord of Tír Chonaill who was deposed and taken prisoner by his son, Calvagh, in 1555, died. A life of Colmcille, at present in Oxford’s Bodleian Library, was written under his direction.
10 1923
Dr T.F. O’Higgins, father of Minister for Home Affairs Kevin O’Higgins, was shot dead by the anti-Treaty IRA at his home in Stradbally, Co. Laois.
22 1933
Taoiseach Eamon de Valera dismissed Eoin O’Duffy, commissioner of the Garda Síochána since 1922, on the grounds that ‘he was likely to be biased in his attitude because of past political affiliations’. O’Duffy was elected leader of the Army Comrades’ Association (known as the Blueshirts), which was renamed the National Guard, in July that year.
22 1973
Elizabeth Bowen (73), essayist, short-story writer and novelist, notably author of the best-selling The heat of the day (1949), died.
23 1943
Thirty-six orphan girls in the care of the nuns of the Poor Clare Order died in a fire at St Joseph’s Orphanage in Cavan town. None of the nuns lost their lives. A subsequent tribunal blamed inadequate fire drill, too many locked doors and the ill-equipped and disorganised fire-fighting services in the town.
28 1973
In the general election Fianna Fáil were voted out of power after sixteen years in government. A Fine Gael/Labour coalition under Liam Cosgrave subsequently took office.
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