On this Day

Published in Editorial, Issue 5 (September/October 2013), Volume 21


Was it for this the wild geese spread
The grey wing upon every tide;
For this that all the blood was shed,
For this Edward Fitzgerald died,
And Robert Emmet and Wolfe Tone,
All that delirium of the brave?
Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone,
It’s with O’Leary in the grave.
—W.B. Yeats, September 1913

3 1513
Gerald (Gearóid Mór) Fitzgerald, eighth earl of Kildare, the dominant figure in the English lordship of Ireland from 1478, died.

3 1963
Louis MacNeice (55), producer and writer with the BBC (1941–61) and one of the most prolific and influential Irish poets of the twentieth century, died.

6 1813
Isaac Butt, barrister who founded the Home Rule movement (1870), born in Glenfin, Co. Donegal.

8 1933
Cumann na nGaedheal, the National Centre Party and the National Guard (Blueshirts) merged to form the United Ireland Party-Fine Gael, with Eoin O’Duffy as leader.

9 1513
James IV’s 42,000-strong Scottish army was heavily defeated by a 20,000-strong English army at the Battle of Flodden Field. James himself was killed, the last British king to die on the battlefield.

10 1763
The first edition of the Freeman’s Journal, the oldest nationalist newspaper in Ireland, which merged with the Irish Independent in 1924.

10 1963
William Conway was appointed archbishop of Armagh in succession to Cardinal John D’Alton.

17 1973
Edward Heath became the first British prime minister to visit the Republic of Ireland when he met with Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave at Baldonnell to discuss the setting up of a Council of Ireland.

23 1913
Five hundred delegates to the Ulster Unionist Council approved the establishment of a ‘Provisional Government’ of Ulster, to be chaired by Sir Edward Carson.

25 1983
Thirty-eight IRA prisoners escaped from the Maze Prison—the biggest prison escape in British history.



5 1913
Canon Patrick Sheehan (61), whose Glenanaar (1905) contained a graphic account of the Doneraile Conspiracy (1829), died.

6 1998
RUC Constable Frank O’Reilly (30), a Catholic, died of injuries sustained in a loyalist blast bomb attack in Portadown, Co. Armagh, a month earlier. He was the last of over 300 members of the RUC to die in the Troubles.

10 1813
Giuseppe Verdi, Italian opera composer, born in Le Roncole, the son of a tavern-keeper.

11 1963
Edith Piaf (47), French national diva and legendary international cabaret star, died.

14 1913
Britain’s worst pit disaster, at the Universal Colliery, Senghenydd, Glamorgan, in which 439 miners were killed.

15 1763
Lord Edward Fitzgerald, revolutionary, born at Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare, the fifth son of the 1st duke of Leinster and Lady Emily Lennox.

18 1963
British prime minister Harold Macmillan, in office since January 1957, resigned and was succeeded by Sir Alec Douglas-Home.

21 1913
Archbishop of Dublin William Walsh denounced James Larkin’s plans for sending hungry children of locked-out workers to the homes of English trade unionists for the duration of the struggle.

24 1913
Some 400 Protestants attended a pro-Home Rule meeting in Ballymoney town hall organised by the Presbyterian minister, J.B. Armour, and Captain Jack White. It was there that Sir Roger Casement made his first public speech.

29 1863
The International Red Cross was founded by Henri Dunant as a result of his witnessing of the tending of the wounded at the Battle of Solferino, in northern Italy.

30 1963
Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty (65), a senior official in the Vatican who saved over 6,000 Allied soldiers and Jews during World War II, died.


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