On this Day

Published in Editorial, Issue 1 (January/February 2016), News, Volume 24


William Joyce (39), Nazi propagandist known as ‘Lord Haw-Haw’, was hanged for treason in Wandsworth Jail.

John A. Costello (84), barrister, attorney general of Ireland (1926–32) and taoiseach (1948–51, 1954–7), died.

Harold II (Godwinson) was crowned king of England in succession to Edward the Confessor. He was the last Anglo-Saxon king of England.

The disastrous Allied Gallipoli campaign ended after eight months with joint Allied/Ottoman Empire casualties of c. 500,000, including c. 4,000 Irish.

John O’Mahoney, founder of American Fenianism and scholar who translated Geoffrey Keating’s Foras feasa ar Éirinn, born in Kilbeheny, Co. Limerick.

Frances Browne, known as ‘the blind poetess of Donegal’, whose fairy-tale Granny’s wonderful chair and its tales of fairy times (1856) won international acclaim, born in Stranorlar, Co. Donegal.

George Petrie, antiquarian, scholar and collector of traditional music, died.

Rudyard Kipling (70), short-story writer, poet and novelist, who also wrote an acclaimed two-volume history of the Irish Guards (1923), died. His only son, John (18), was killed whilst serving with the Guards at the Battle of Loos in September 1915.

In Westminster by-elections forced by their resignations in protest at the Anglo-Irish Agreement, fourteen of the fifteen Unionist MPs regained their seats. Seamus Mallon won a seat for the SDLP.

Indira Ghandi, daughter of India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlai Nehru, took office as prime minister.

The British Military Service Act introduced conscription, initially for single men aged 18–41, with various exemptions. An attempt over two years later to extend it to Ireland was dropped in the face of massive nationalist opposition.


Buster Keaton (70), comedian and one of Hollywood’s all-time greatest actor-directors, notably of The General (1926), died.

The Plough and the Stars by Seán O’Casey opened in the Abbey Theatre. During the fourth performance there was a full-scale riot when the audience protested at what they perceived to be a slanderous distortion of historical events.

Garret Fitzgerald, leader of Fine Gael (1977–87) and twice taoiseach (07/1981–02/1982, 12/1982–03/1987), born in Dublin, the son of the then minister for external affairs, Desmond Fitzgerald. His mother, Mabel McConnell, was from a Northern Protestant family.

The IRA detonated a bomb in Canary Wharf, one of London’s two main financial districts, killing two, injuring almost 40 and causing an estimated £100 million worth of damage. The bombing marked the end of their seventeen-month ceasefire.

The Statutes of Kilkenny, a series of 35 acts designed to curb the decline of the Anglo-Norman lordship of Ireland through cultural assimilation with the native Irish, were passed by parliament.

Mary Tudor, queen of England and Ireland (1553–8), who was responsible for the first of the English plantations in Ireland (in counties Laois and Offaly), born, the only child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon.

The Battle of Verdun, in north-eastern France, between the French and the Germans began.

Samuel Wesley, organist and composer known as ‘the English Mozart’, born in Bristol.

In a four-hour ‘secret speech’ at a closed session of the 20th Party Congress, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev systematically demolished the reputation of his predecessor, Joseph Stalin.

Henry James (72), American-born author, notably of A portrait of a lady (1881), and three times Nobel Prize for Literature nominee, died.


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