On This Day

Published in Editorial, Issue 5 (September/October 2015), Volume 23


Louis XIV of France, known as the ‘Sun King’, died in Versailles, after reigning for just over 72 years—the longest reign in European history.

The IRA killed five Orangemen and wounded a further twelve in an attack on Tullyvallen Orange Hall, Newtownhamilton, south Armagh.

Sir William Rowan Hamilton, Ireland’s most distinguished scientist, best remembered for his discovery of quaternions (1843), died.

The state funeral of Éamon de Valera took place.

David Trimble was elected leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, in succession to James Molyneaux.

William Joyce (39), ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, Nazi propagandist, was convicted of high treason after a three-day trial at the Old Bailey, London (hanged on 3 January 1946).

The Battle of Loos, the largest British offensive mounted that year on the Western Front, began, marking the first mass engagement of Kitchener’s ‘New’ Army and the first time the British used poison gas during the war.

Sir Henry Tudor, self-styled ‘chief-of-police’ of the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Dublin Metropolitan Police during the war of Independence, died in St John’s, Newfoundland, where he had lived for 40 years.

Keir Hardie (59), socialist, lay preacher and co-founder of the British Labour Party (1900), died.

Colonel James Fitzmaurice, Dublin-born aviation pioneer who co-piloted the 300-horsepower Junkers monoplane Bremen on the first east-to-west transatlantic flight—Baldonnel aerodrome to Greenly Lake, Labrador—in 36 hours (1928), died.

General John de Chastelain, head of the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, announced that he was satisfied that the IRA had completed the decommissioning of its entire arsenal of weapons.


Twelve people, including four bombers, were killed in an almost unprecedented wave of UVF shootings and bombings across Northern Ireland.

Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

‘… a compound of folly and wickedness wearing a mask of patriotism to make dupes of the unwary … the work of a few fanatics and knaves, wicked enough to jeopardize others in order to promote their own sordid views’—from Cardinal Paul Cullen’s pastoral letter on Fenianism.

William Wallace, Waterford-born composer (best remembered for his works in opera) and conductor, died.

Blessed Oliver Plunkett became the first Irish saint to be canonised since St Laurence O’Toole in 1226.

Cardinal Joseph MacRory, archbishop of Armagh and primate of all Ireland since 1928, died.

Eoin MacNeill, scholar and patriot, died.

16/ 1915
Standish Hayes O’Grady, antiquarian, whose works included Silva Gadelica (1892), a compilation of tales from ancient Irish manuscripts with trans-lations and notes, died.

The United Nations formally came into existence.
Vidkun Quisling (58), Norwegian fascist who seized power in a Nazi-backed coup d’état in 1940, was executed by firing squad in Oslo.

The Battle of Agincourt, one of the last major battles of the Hundred Years War, in which Henry V, with a c. 12,000-strong force, won a spectacular victory over a c. 60,000-strong French army.

Darrell Figgis, nationalist politician and writer who accompanied Erskine Childers on his arms-buying expedition to Germany in 1914 and who later played a key role in drafting the constitution of the Irish Free State (1922), took his own life in London.

Prince William (44), Duke of Cumberland, youngest son of George II, notorious for suppressing the Jacobite Rebellion, died.


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