ON THIS DAY

Published in Issue 6 (November/December 2018), News, Volume 26

BY AODHÁN CREALEY

NOVEMBER

Above: Richard Harris as ‘the Bull’ McCabe in the 1990 film version of J.B. Keane’s 1965 play The Field, which was inspired by the murder of Moss Moore in Kerry in 1958.

11/1958
The disappearance of Moss Moore (46), a bachelor farmer from Reamore, north of Tralee, Co. Kerry. During the summer of that year, Moss Moore’s neighbour, Dan Foley, erected a fence on what he considered to be the natural boundary of his land on a bleak Kerry mountainside. Moore, however, was not happy. He accused Foley of encroaching on almost an acre of his ground and demanded that the fence be removed at once. Foley stood firm and they became bitter enemies. The pair proceeded to take legal action against one another and a date to hear the case was set for December at the district court in Tralee. But Moore was troubled. He told the Gardaí that Foley, a burly former IRA man in his sixties, known to have a violent temper, was stalking him and begged them to warn him off. The Gardaí declined. They told him that his row with Foley was a civil matter. After an extensive search, Moore’s body was recovered nine days later from a nearby riverbank, his hands up and his fists clenched to fight off his attacker and his face severely battered. The Garda investigation went nowhere. Foley’s wife declared that her husband had not left their house on the evening of the murder; no forensic evidence was uncovered; and, above all, the locals, though convinced of Foley’s guilt, remained silent. A file was sent to the DPP but no charges were laid against Dan Foley. Moss Moore remains the victim of an unsolved murder, a sordid story that inspired J.B. Keane’s classic The Field, first staged at the Olympia Theatre in November 1965.

03/1918
A week after being ordered by the imperial naval command to sail out and make a last stand in the North Sea against the British, crews of the German fleet at Kiel, on the Baltic coast, mutinied.

05/1968
At a meeting in London with Prime Minister Captain Terence O’Neill, William Craig and Brian Faulkner, Prime Minister Harold Wilson demanded reforms in Northern Ireland (see 22/11).

04/1918
Wilfred Owen (25), war poet, notably of ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ and ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, was killed during the crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal in France.

07/1968
Senator Margaret Pearse (90), sister of Patrick and Willie Pearse, died. She was accorded a state funeral.

09/1918
Kaiser William II abdicated and fled to neutral Holland. Germany became a republic.

09/1938
Kristallnacht—‘the night of broken glass’. Gangs of SA storm troopers, SS men and Nazi supporters attacked Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues across Germany.

11/1918
The First World War ended when representatives of the new Republic of Germany signed an armistice in the presence of Marshal Foch, commander-in-chief of the Allied armies, in a railway carriage at Compiègne in northern France.

14/1918
Séamas O’Kelly (43), playwright, novelist and journalist, died from a brain haemorrhage following an incursion into his office by an anti-Sinn Féin mob celebrating the armistice.

19/1918
Brendan Corish, leader of the Labour Party (1960–77) and Minister for Health and Minister for Social Welfare in the National Coalition (1973–7), born in Wexford.

21/1918
The Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act allowed women over 21 years to sit in the House of Commons. Countess Markievicz (Sinn Féin) was the first woman elected.

22/1968
Captain Terence O’Neill, prime minister of Northern Ireland, announced a series of reforms, including the abolition of the business vote in local government, fair allocation of local authority housing and reform of local government within three years.

 

DECEMBER

Above: Robert Boyle, chemist and religious philosopher.

30/1691
Robert Boyle (64), chemist and religious philosopher, died. Born in Lismore Castle, Co. Waterford, the seventh son of Richard Boyle, first earl of Cork (1566–1643), Boyle was packed off to Eton at the tender age of seven and thereafter travelled extensively on the Continent. In Florence he visited Galileo Galilei and was present when that great man passed away, an experience that may well have triggered his lifetime preoccupation with all matters scientific. Reared at a time when people still believed in magic and on an educational diet of an earth-centred universe, he was in every sense a pioneer, writing extensively in lucid prose on physics, medicine, philosophy and theology. Best remembered for Boyle’s Law, a gas law linking pressure and volume and a cornerstone of physics, he also predicted many of our modern ideas and inventions. His ‘prophetic wish list’ included ‘potent druggs [sic] to alter or Exalt Imagination, Waking, Memory and other functions and appease pain, procure innocent sleep, harmless dreams etc.’—in other words, those sleeping tablets, artificial stimulants and antidepressants in your medicine cupboard. He might himself have benefited from some of the same. A committed celibate—his closest emotional support was his older sister, Katherine, with whom he lived in London over the last two decades of his life—he was a pious Anglican who would pause every time he mentioned the name of God. Contemporaries described him as a delicate, almost effeminate individual, ‘tall, slender and emaciated, brilliant in conversation, benevolent and tolerant but excessively abstemious and often oppressed with low spirits’. He died less than a week after his sister’s passing.

09/1968
Captain Terence O’Neill, prime minister of Northern Ireland, appealed for calm in his ‘Ulster at the Crossroads’ television address.

10/1948
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly meeting in Paris.

10/1998
John Hume, leader of the SDLP, and David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

11/1918
Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Russian novelist, historian and short-story writer—notably of The Gulag Archipelago (1973)—and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1970), born.

13/1868
Revd Henry Cooke (80), theologian and popular preacher who played a leading role in changing the character and direction of Ulster Presbyterianism, died.

14/1918
General election (to 28/12). Lloyd George returned as head of a coalition government. Sinn Féin secured 73 of Ireland’s 105 seats.

20/1968
John Steinbeck (66), American author—notably of The Grapes of Wrath (1939)—and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature (1962), died.

21/1948
The Republic of Ireland Act repealed the External Relations Act (1936), providing for the declaration of an Irish Republic.

23/1968
The 83 crew members of the USS Pueblo, held in captivity for eleven months after she was seized by the North Korean navy, were released when the US government agreed in writing that the vessel had been spying and offered an apology. The US then retracted the statement.

24/1818

‘Silent Night’, written by Josef Mohr to a melody by Franz Gruber, was sung for the first time at midnight Mass in the town of Oberndorf, north of Salzburg.

29/1948
Peter Robinson, founding member of the DUP (1972), leader of the DUP (2008–15) and first minister of Northern Ireland (2008–16), born in Belfast.

29/1968
Captain Terence O’Neill, prime minister of Northern Ireland, was named ‘Man of the Year’ by the Sunday Independent.

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