On this day

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, Issue 2(March/April 2011), On this day, Volume 19


14 1991

The Birmingham Six—John Walker, Paddy Hill, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny, Gerry Hunter and Billy Power—were released after serving sixteen years in prison on fabricated evidence for the bombing of two public houses in Birmingham by the IRA in November 1974.

19 1921

The Crossbarry ambush in south-west Cork, one of the biggest engagements of the War of Independence, in which over 100 IRA Volunteers escaped an attempt by over 1,300 British forces to encircle them. At least ten British soldiers and three IRA Volunteers were killed.

21 1961

Joseph Holloway, architect and theatrical enthusiast, born in Lower Camden Street, Dublin. Over a 50-year period Holloway attended every theatre performance in the city and kept a journal in which he wrote some 28 million words on Dublin’s theatre world.

24 1968

An Aer Lingus Viscount, St Phelim, with 57 passengers and a crew of four, en route from Cork to London, crashed into the sea off Tuscar Rock, Co. Wexford. There were no survivors.

25 1864

Charlotte Milligan Fox, folk music collector who founded the Irish Folk Song Society (1904) and elder sister of the writer and Gaelic League organiser Alice Milligan, died.

26 1931

T.M. (Timothy) Healy, barrister, parliamentary correspondent of The Nation, Irish Party MP and governor-general of the Irish Free State (1922–8), died.

29 1793

Charlotte Brooke (c. 52), poet and translator, notably of Reliques of Irish poetry (1789), a collection of Ulster songs and poems in their original Irish forms along with her own translations, died. A daughter of the writer Henry Brooke (c. 1703–83), she was an ancestor of Lord Brookeborough, prime minister of Northern Ireland (1943–63).

31 1711

Eight women from nearby Island Magee were charged in Carrickfergus, Co. Antrim, with witchcraft. All were found guilty and sentenced to twelve months in prison and ordered to stand four times in the pillory in Carrickfergus. It was the last trial for witchcraft held in Ireland.


7 1861

The census, the first to inquire into religious denominations in Ireland, showed that out of a population of 5,800,000 (a decrease of 11.5% since 1851) Catholics accounted for 4.5 million and Anglicans for just under 700,000, almost two thirds of whom lived in Ulster.

8 1861

The Derryveagh evictions. Over a three-day period, John George Adair, landlord of the Gartan, Glenveagh and Derryveagh estates, evicted 244 tenants from 46 households and levelled 28 homes. The evictions became international news and were debated three times in Westminster.

9 1981

In the Fermanagh–South Tyrone by-election (87% poll), IRA prisoner Bobby Sands, on the 40th day of his hunger strike, defeated the Official Unionist candidate, Harry West, by 30,493 votes to 29,046.

15 1941

A week after their first raid on the city, in which the industrial heartland around the docks was attacked with the loss of thirteen lives, a squadron of 180 German bombers returned to Belfast. The congested housing areas of the New Lodge, Lower Shankill and Antrim Road in the north of the city bore the brunt of the attack. At least 900 lives were lost.

12 1861

The American Civil War began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter in South Carolina by the Confederate Army under General Pierre Beauregard. An estimated 160,000 Irishmen fought in the Union Army during the war and 20,000 in the Confederate Army.

17 1961

The Bay of Pigs Invasion. An attempt by a CIA-trained force of c. 1,300 Cuban exiles to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro was repelled by Cuban forces.

23 1971

C.B. (Cyril Bentham) Falls, military correspondent of The Times (1939–53), historian and author notably of The history of the 36th (Ulster) Division (1922), based on his own experiences, died.

29 1901

James Stephens, chief founder of the Fenian Brotherhood, died.


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