ON THIS DAY

Published in Issue 4 (July/August 2019), News, Volume 27

BY AODHÁN CREALEY

JULY

Above: Thomas Farrell’s sculpture of William Dargan outside the National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square.

02/1900

Thomas Farrell (73), sculptor, died. A forgotten man nowadays, Farrell’s works include statues of Archbishops Murray and Cullen in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral, Archbishop Richard Whately and coastguard hero John McNeill Boyd in St Patrick’s Cathedral, William Dargan outside the National Gallery, and no less than two statues on O’Connell Street—Sir John Gray, owner/editor of the Freeman’s Journal, carved entirely of white Sicilian marble and unveiled in 1879, and another of the rebel leader and later nationalist elder statesman William Smith O’Brien, unveiled in 1870. And he might have had a third: he was favourite amongst the applicants for a memorial to Daniel O’Connell, but that commission went instead to John Henry Foley. He was subsequently honoured by his peers and the State. Elected president of the RHA (Royal Hibernian Academy), the first sculptor to hold that office, he was conferred with a knighthood the following year. Yet Farrell studiously avoided the limelight. An extremely shy man, he seldom attended public events, and on one occasion actually fled from an unveiling ceremony. Living in his later years in Redesdale House, Kilmacud, once the residence of the aforementioned Archbishop Whately, along with two brothers and a sister (all, like himself, unmarried), his later years were overshadowed by poverty; his income was always modest and he won fewer commissions as he grew older. His funeral to Glasnevin was a private affair in compliance with his wish that his passing would not be made public until three days after it occurred, so as to avoid ‘a public display’. A year after his death, a fund was set up to support his surviving siblings.

08/1819

Sir Francis Leopold McClintock, explorer who confirmed the deaths of Sir John Franklin and his crew of 129 in an attempt to chart and navigate the Northwest Passage (1845), born in Seatown Terrace, Dundalk.

09/1669

Oliver Plunkett appointed archbishop of Armagh.

12/1949

Douglas Hyde (89), scholar and first president of Ireland (1938–45), died.

12/1989

Fianna Fáil entered its first coalition when Charles J. Haughey was elected taoiseach with the support of the Progressive Democrats.

14/1819

Ellen Hanley (15), the celebrated ‘Colleen Bawn’, was murdered on the River Shannon by Stephen Sullivan, servant of her alleged husband, John Scanlan.

18/1969

Senator Edward Kennedy, returning from a party, drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, Massachusetts, causing the death of his companion, Mary Jo Kopechne. His conviction for leaving the scene of an accident was to dog his subsequent political career.

20/1969

Neil Armstrong became the first man to walk on the moon when he emerged along with Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin from Apollo 11’s lunar module, Eagle.

26/1869

The Irish Church Act disestablished the Church of Ireland, a pivotal moment in the dismantling of Protestant Ascendancy.

27/1939

Michael Longley, poet, notable for ‘Gorse Fires’ (1991), ‘The Weather in Japan’ (2000) and ‘The Stairwell’ (2014), born in Belfast of English parents.

29/1929

The Ardnacrusha hydroelectric station in County Clare, constructed over a period of four years by the German firm Siemens-Schuckert and employing several thousand local men and a thousand Germans, was officially opened.

30/1919

Detective Sergeant Pat ‘the Dog’ Smyth of G Division was assassinated in Drumcondra, Dublin, the first DMP G Division detective to die in the War of Independence. (See pp 40–3.)

AUGUST

Above: The KLM Super Constellation Hugo de Groot, which crashed 160km off the coast of Galway on 14 August 1958.

14/1958

The KLM Super Constellation Hugo de Groot, en route from Amsterdam to New York, crashed at dawn some 160km off the Galway coast just half an hour after refuelling at Shannon—one of the worst air disasters ever off these islands. There were no survivors. All 91 passengers (Dutch, British, US, Polish and Israeli nationals), along with a United Arab Republic fencing team and the crew of eight, lost their lives. A subsequent inquest agreed verdicts of death from multiple injuries, haemorrhages and fractures owing to violent impact but failed to produce any evidence as to the cause. Only 34 bodies were recovered, including that of a fourteen-month-old baby. Just twelve, including the baby, were identified, of whom eleven were repatriated. In the search-and-rescue mission, the RAF was assisted by the Irish naval service, the Aran Islands ferry Naomh Éanna, lifeboats from the Aran Islands and Fenit, and several fishing vessels. It was a traumatic event for the people of the West, and of Galway in particular, with the sombre transfer of the bodies ashore at Galway docks, the round-the-clock post-mortems at the Regional Hospital, the religious services for six denominations and, five days later, the funeral of the remaining 23 to Bohermore cemetery, the largest the city had ever seen. On the 50th anniversary of the disaster in 2008 a KLM representative paid tribute to the people of Galway for their outstanding assistance at that time. Wreaths were laid on the mass grave of the unidentified victims and on a separate grave nearby—that of baby Bernadette de Kock Van Leeuwen.

01/1819

Herman Melville, novelist, short-story writer and poet, author notably of Moby Dick (1851), born in New York.

02/1969

Alfred O’Rahilly (84), Professor of Mathematical Physics and president of UCC (1943–54), founder of Cork University Press and ordained priest (1955), died.

08/1969

Bulmer Hobson, leading member of the Irish Volunteers and IRB prior to the Easter Rising, died.

11/1919

Andrew Carnegie, Scottish-American industrialist, business magnate and philanthropist who donated c. $350 million to charities, foundations and universities over the last eighteen years of his life, died.

12/1969

The Apprentice Boys’ march in Derry triggered three days of rioting in what became known as ‘the Battle of the Bogside’. It ended two days later with the deployment of British troops.

15/1769

Napoleon Bonaparte, statesman and military leader, born in Ajaccio, Corsica, the son of a lawyer.

15/1969

After three days of intense violence in Belfast, during which seven lives were lost and c. 1,800 families were forced to leave their homes, British troops were deployed.

15/1969

The Woodstock music festival, featuring over 30 acts, including Janis Joplin, Joan Baez and Jimi Hendrix, opened before an audience of over 400,000 in Bethal Woods, New York.

16/1819

In the Peterloo Massacre, St Peter’s Fields, Manchester, eighteen were killed when cavalry charged into a crowd of 60,000–80,000 who had gathered to demand parliamentary reform.

20/1919

In Dáil Éireann, a motion proposed by Cathal Brugha that its members, its officials and the Irish Volunteers swear allegiance to the Dáil and the Irish Republic was passed. The Irish Volunteers thereby became the standing army of the Irish Republic—the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

25/1819

Alan Pinkerton, emigrant to the United States who founded the national detective agency that bears his name, born in the Gorbals, Glasgow.

31/1994

The IRA announced a ‘complete cessation of military operations’.

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