December 2006

December 22
1691 – Patrick Sarsfield and The Wild Geese sail out of Cork harbour for France
1919 – “The Better Government of Ireland Bill” proposes two home rule parliaments, for the six north-eastern counties and the remaining 26, to come into effect in May 1920
1943 – The government announces that from now on bus-queuing is compulsory throughout Ireland if more than five people are waiting at a bus-stop
1974 – The London home of the Conservative leader and former Prime Minister Edward Heath is damaged from the impact of a bomb planted by the IRA. The attack comes just hours before a Christmas truce is due to come into effect
1997 – Northern Ireland Secretary Mo Mowlam battles to save the Stormont talks from total collapse as four Ulster Unionist MPs withdraw their support for their party’s continuing participation in the negotiations
2002 – The Minister for the Marine, Dermot Ahern, warns about the possibility of a “war on the seas” as a result of the failure by the European Union to agree on a policy on the Irish Box fishing area.

December 23
1688 – James II is deposed and flees to France
1770 – The Steelboys or Hearts of Steel, a Protestant agrarian protest movement, is involved in conflict in Ulster – 500 Steelboys release a prisoner in Belfast on 23 December
1864 – Death of James Bronterre O’Brien, Longford-born leader of the British Chartist movement
1920 – The Government of Ireland Act enforces the secession of the six Northern Irish counties from the rest of Ireland

December 24
1601 – The Battle of Kinsale. Hugh O’Neill and Red Hugh O’Donnell are heavily defeated by Mountjoy
1810 – John O’Connell, politician, is born in Dublin
1889 – Captain William O’Shea files for divorce, citing Parnell as his wife Kitty’s lover, thus causing moral outrage and the next loss of Parnell’s political power

December 25
1185 – Around Christmas, a crown that Henry had sought from the papacy for John’s use as king of Ireland is delivered, but will never be used
1351 – William Ó Ceallaigh, chief of Uí Mhaine, holds a great Christmas feast for the bards of Ireland
1824 – William Lawless, United Irishmen and officer in Napoleon’s Irish Legion, dies in Paris
1829 – Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, bandmaster and composer, is born in Co. Dublin
1844 – Rev. William Steel Dickson, Presbyterian minister and United Irishmen supporter, is born in Co. Antrim
1860 – Patrick Dinneen (Pádraig Ó Duinnín) priest, lexicographer and editor, is born in Rathmore, Co. Kerry

December 26
1998 – Former IRA Chief of Staff, Cathal Goulding, dies in a Dublin hospital
1999 – Hundreds of people walk through the Glen of the Downs in a show of solidarity with eco warriors, despite a Government order closing off the nature reserve to the public
December 27
1601 – Red Hugh O’Donnell leaves Ireland for Spain; Hugh O’Neill withdraws to Ulster
1791 – 68 conservative members secede from the Catholic Committee, which thereby becomes more militant
1849 – James Fintan Lalor, Young Irelander, dies
1904 – The Abbey Theatre opens with productions of Yeat’s “On Baile’s Strand” and “Cathleen ni Houlihan”, as well as Lady Gregory’s “Spreading the News”
1904 – George Bernard Shaw’s John Bull’s Other Island is performed in London
1960 – Death of Elizabeth Crotty, Irish traditional musician and activist for Comhaltas Ceoltóiri Éireann
1969 – Dan Breen, IRA leader during War of Independence dies
1997 – A leading protestant paramilitary, Billy Wright, is shot dead at the maximum security Maze prison in Northern Ireland
2002 – A young man is “executed” in north Belfast as the simmering feud among loyalist paramilitaries erupts

December 28
1795 – Lord Gosford, Governor of Armagh declares the Orange Order a “lawless banditti”
1880 – The trial of Parnell and others for conspiracy begins on this date
1997 – The British government orders the deployment of the SAS in Mid-Ulster in a bid to thwart another Loyalist Volunteer Force outrage as IRA commanders in Tyrone meet in emergency session in an effort to keep the lid on the Provo ceasefire

December 29
1864 – The National Association of Ireland is founded in Dublin, backed by the Catholic hierarchy and intended to foster cooperation with English radicals to promote disestablishment of the Church of Ireland
1876 – The Society for the Preservation of the Irish Language is formed in Dublin
1997 – Secretary of State Mo Mowlam holds day-long crisis talks with security chiefs and prison officials amid renewed calls for her resignation and fears that breakaway loyalist and republican terror bosses will ruthlessly exploit any political vacuum

December 30
1997 – Key files from the Department of Defence, the Department of Justice and the Office of the Attorney General relating to the Arms Crisis of 1970 are discovered to be missing from the State archives
1997 – Thousands of loyalists pack the streets of Portadown for the funeral of LVF commander Billy Wright
December 31
1930 – The appointment of Letitia Dunbar-Harrison as Mayo County Librarian leads to controversy, for reasons related to her lack of Irish-language skill, her disregard of local patronage, and the fact that she’s a Protestant; Mayo County Council is dissolved by ministerial order on this date
1975 – The Anti-Discrimination (Pay) Act establishes the right to equal pay for equal or like work and provides a system whereby this right may be attained and enforced.

December 15
1760 – John MacNaghten, a gambler, duellist and criminal, is hanged at Strabane jail for his involvement in the killing of Mary Anne Knox, daughter of Andrew Knox MP. At the first attempt to hang him, the rope breaks but, ignoring offers from the crowd to help him make his escape, he declares that he does not wish to be known for ever as ‘half-hung McNaghten’ and asks the hangman to proceed
1899 – Irish units of the Boer army face the Dublin Fusiliers, Connaught Rangers and the Inniskillings in the battle of Colenso
1971 – Death of General Richard Mulcahy, Irish Volunteer and TD
1993 – Albert Reynolds and John Major sign the Downing Street Declaration: if the IRA stops its campaign for three months, Sinn Féin will be allowed to join all-party talks.


December 16
1653 – Oliver Cromwell becomes Lord Protector of Ireland
1922 – Arthur Griffith and his ministers assume seat of government at Dublin Castle
1939 – Barney McKenna of the Dubliners is born
1987 – Fairytale of New York by the Pogues and Kirsty McColl reaches no. 2 in the British charts
1999 – Padraic Wilson, a senior republican tipped to represent the IRA in disarmament talks, is given an early release from Northern Ireland’s top security Maze Prison

December 17
1803 – Rebel leader Michael Dwyer, whose guerrilla attacks had maddened British colonial authorities since 1798, surrenders
1885 – The results of newspaper reports of Gladstone’s conversion to Home Rule, following the general election, gives Parnellites the balance of power
1971 – Soldier and politician General Richard Mulcahy dies in Dublin
1983 – An IRA car bomb kills 3 police officers and 3 shoppers outside Harrods in London’s Knightsbridge; scores are injured
1997 – New regulations are unveiled which confer sweeping discretionary powers on Departmental officials responsible for processing asylum applications, including the authority to summarily deport foreigners
1997 – British Prime Minister Tony Blair makes a fleeting visit to Belfast in a bid to boost the faltering peace process
1998 – Danny McNamee’s12-year campaign to clear his name of a terrorist conviction ends in triumph
1999 – The State announces the purchase of the 550 acre Battle of the Boyne site for about £9 million. The seller is an unidentified businessman.


December 18
1781 – Barry Yelverton introduces the bill that will become Yelverton’s Act; the bill is an amendment of Poyning’s Act and states that only bills passed by both Irish houses of Parliament would be forwarded to England for assent (see entry for July 27, 1782)
1980 – Prisoners in Armagh and Long Kesh end their hunger strike on promises of political status. The promises are not kept
1998 – The Loyalist Volunteer Force becomes the first terrorist group in Northern Ireland to decommission some of its weapons
2000 – A boating accident in Mexico claims the life of singer Kirsty MacColl. She was best known for her vocals alongside The Pogues’ Shane McGowan on the 1987 Christmas No 1, Fairytale of New York
2001 – The Conservative Party ends more than three decades of co-operation over Northern Ireland in protest at the British government’s plans to allow Sinn Féin MPs to use offices at Westminster
2002 – According to the latest census figures, the prospect of a Catholic majority in Northern Ireland is fast becoming a reality
2002 – The Irish and British governments issue firm assurances about the temporary nature of arrangements in operation during the current suspension of the elected Northern Ireland Assembly

December 19
1877 – Land League organizer, Michael Davitt, is released from Dartmoor Prison
1972 – Thin Lizzy reach no. 1 in the Irish charts with Whiskey In The Jar
1973 – The Supreme Court in Dublin decides by a majority of four to one that a ban on contraceptives is unconstitutional
1974 – Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh is inaugurated as the fifth president of the Irish Republic following the death of Erskine Childers
1999 – Sinn Féin says it has no knowledge that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are to be given Westminster offices without having to swear an oath of allegiance
2002 – Unionist leader David Trimble walks out of talks aimed at restoring the North’s government and parliament after documents leaked in Dublin say the IRA is still active
2002 – In Limerick, hundreds take part part in a candlelit peace march to express their sympathy and support for families who have lost loved ones through violence

December 20
1865 – Birth in Dublin of Maud Gonne McBride, revolutionary and patriot, who dedicates her life to the attainment of an independent Irish nation
1961 – Robert McGladdery is hanged in Belfast for murder: his is the last judicial execution in Ireland
1998 – There is renewed speculation that the IRA will make a token gesture on the issue of decommissioning before 1998 passes into history
2000 – The bomb making capacity of dissident terrorists is severely dented with the seizure of almost 400 sticks of Frangex commercial plastic explosive in Co. Kilkenny

December 21
1796 – A French fleet under General Hoche with Wolfe Tone, 43 vessels and 14,500 men sails from Brest in December and is scattered by storms; 36 ships arrive at Bantry Bay but do not attempt a landing and return to France, thus preventing what might have been an Irish/French victory over the English
1919 – Dáil Éireann meets for the first time and elects Eamon de Valera as President of Ireland
1948 – Republic of Ireland Act passed by Dáil
1985 – Progressive Democrats founded by Dan O’Malley, Mary Harney, and other former members of Fianna Fáil, following split within party

In the Celtic Calendar, today is the Winter Solstice – the shortest day of the year. In Dublin, on this date, the sun will rise at 8:39 am and set at 4:09pm, giving just seven hours and 30 minutes of daylight. In Belfast, the day is even shorter. The sun will rise at 8:43 and set at 3:59.

December 8
1896 – Death of Isabella Maria Susan Tod, Irish women’s rights activist
1922 – Liam Mellows, Rory O’Connor, Joseph McKelvey and Richard Barrett, Irish patriots – one from each of the four provinces – are executed by the Free State forces

1980 – Haughey and Thatcher meet in Dublin and agree to consider ‘the totality of relationships within these islands’

2002 – Hundreds of anti-war demonstrators march on Shannon airport in protest at the continued use of the airport by the US Air Force in preparation for possible war in the Gulf

December 9

1973 – At Sunningdale, Berkshire, British Prime Minister Edward Heath, Irish premier Liam Cosgrave, and representatives of the Ulster Unionist Party, the Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, sign an historic agreement to set up a Council of Ireland

2000 – Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern arrives for the third day of the European Summit in Nice. Leaders of the 15 EU states have convened in this heavily guarded city to tackle a tough agenda which centers on the future structure of the European Union and the integration of new member states

2005 – Nearly 150,000 people take to the streets as the Irish Ferries protest mushroomed into the largest public demonstration the country has seen for two decades.
2005 – President Mary McAleese and Queen Elizabeth II meet in Northern Ireland. According to President McAleese, this historic event could clear the way for an unprecedented State visit. No British monarch has made such a trip since George V visited Dublin in 1911, a decade before partition.

December 10
1479 – Garret More Fitzgerald of Kildare, the ‘Great Earl’, holds a parliament in Dublin from 10 December; it will run, with adjournments, into 1481
1920 – Martial law is imposed in Cork, Kerry, Limerick and Tipperary
1977 – Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams receive the Nobel Peace Prize
1998 – The Irish and British governments launch a fresh search for a breakthrough in the Northern Ireland peace process in the wake of the joint award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Ulster’s political leaders David Trimble and John Hume
1999 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern says that a lasting end to the Northern Ireland conflict is now well in sight
2000 – Following four days of marathon talks in Nice, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern defeats European Union efforts to directly influence Ireland’s taxation policy


December 11
1905 – Birth of Erskine Childers, Ireland’s fourth president (1973-1974)
1920 – Martial law is declared in Ireland. Black and Tans and Auxiliaries go on a rampage of burning, rape and looting in Cork
1931 – Statute of Westminster is passed by British Parliament giving Dominion parliaments, including the Free State, equal status of the Imperial Parliament at Westminster
1936 – In the wake of the abdication of Edward VIII, the Dáil passes legislation removing the King from the Irish Constitution and abolishing the position of Governor General
1956 – The Irish Republican Army (IRA) begins what it calls “The Campaign of Resistance to British Occupation”; it is also known as the ‘Border Campaign’. As a result of the campaign, Internment is introduced in both Northern Ireland and the Republic. The campaign ends on 26 February 1962 because of lack of support
1998 – Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and British Prime Minister Tony Blair meet in Vienna; they fail to find new ways of breaking the deadlock in the row over implementing the Good Friday Agreement
2002 – The replica famine ship, the Jeanie Johnston, arrives in Dublin after final fittings in Cork.

December 12
1883 – Birth in Dublin of Peadar Kearney, songwriter, revolutionary and house-painter; he is famous for writing the words of the Irish national anthem
1920 – Birth of Christy Ring in Cloyne, Co. Cork. His 24-year career record earned him a reputation as the greatest hurler of all time
1920 – Black & Tans continue their attacks in Cork
1957 – The IRA begins a violent four-year campaign in Northern Ireland
1975 – A six-day siege on Balcombe Street in London ends peacefully after four IRA gunmen free their two hostages and give themselves up to police
1997 – The Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister Tony Blair invite the key players in the talks into a 12-week negotiating blitz beginning in the New Year
2000 – At a farewell reception in Dundalk, US President Bill Clinton makes an emotional plea to the people of Ireland: “redouble your efforts for peace”
2001 – Intelligence agent William Stobie is gunned down in Belfast by former associates


December 13
1779 – British goods are boycotted in Ireland; armed Volunteers parade in College Green, Dublin in November and demand ‘a free trade or else’ (i.e. the removal of restrictions on Irish trade with the colonies). This demand is granted on this date
1867 – An explosion at Clerkenwell gaol in London, intended to aid in the escape of two Fenians, causes several deaths and injuries
1955 – Grace Gifford Plunkett, Irish patriot, dies
1997 – Over a thousand people take to the streets of Dublin in a theatrical spectacle called “Féile Fáilte” to protest racism, particularly against refugees
2000 – Crowds roaring their approval greet Bill and Hillary Clinton on stage at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, confirming the first couple’s enduring popularity in Northern Ireland
2001 – Queen’s University honours Manchester United legend, George Best, with an honorary doctorate in recognition of his services to football

December 14

1822 – A ‘bottle riot’ takes place on this date. Missiles are thrown at the vice-regal box during a performance in a Dublin theatre as a result of Wellesley banning celebrations in memory of William III
1831 – A process server and 12 policemen are killed by tithe protesters at Carrickshock, Co. Kilkenny
1900 – Maud Gonne and Paul Kruger (former president of the Transvaal) are offered the freedom of Limerick by the city council
1918 – Sinn Féin, pledged to an Irish Republic, wins 73 of 105 Irish MP seats. Winners include Constance Markievicz who becomes the first woman elected to the Parliament of England
1921 – Dáil Éireann begins Anglo-Irish treaty debate
1955 – The Republic of Ireland becomes a member of the United Nations
1965 – An Anglo-Irish free trade agreement is signed; the UK and Ireland undertake to establish a free trade area by the mid-1970s
1985 – Jack Charlton quits as Ireland manager
2001 – Garda technical experts examine 180 rounds of ammunition found on the outskirts of Cork city which they believe may be connected to the Real IRA.

December 1
1494 – Poynings Law enacted. This forbids the Irish parliament to convene without the King’s prior permission, and all intended legislation has to be approved by him
1848 – The paddle steamer The Londonderry, with immigrants fleeing the famine, takes shelter in Derry harbour. When the covers are removed from the hold it is discovered that 72 men, women and children have suffocated
1890 – Six days of Irish Parliamentary Party debates begin, only to end in a split, with the majority opposing Parnell
1901 – Fenian Thomas Clarke Luby dies in New York. Luby was born in Dublin in 1821. He was the son of a Church of Ireland minister and graduate of Trinity College. His first political experience was in the Young Ireland movement
1998 – President Bill Clinton contacts First Minister, David Trimble, and his deputy, Seamus Mallon, in a bid to save the stalled Northern Ireland peace process
1999 – The British Prime Minister, Tony Blair hails the transfer of powers to Stormont as “one giant step forward”

December 2
1791 – Death in Kilkenny of Henry Flood, founder of the movement which forces Britain to grant legislative independence to Ireland
1811 – The Kildare Place Society is formed to maintain non-denominational schools and to promote the education of the poor
1865 – The Fenian senate deposes founder John O’Mahoney as president, replacing him with William Roberts
1998 – In an effort to break the deadlock in the stalled Northern Ireland political process, British Premier Tony Blair holds intensive discussions with David Trimble and Seamus Mallon at Stormont
1999 – The Good Friday Agreement comes into operation as the British and Irish governments formally notify each other that all the necessary arrangements are in place.The notification ceremony takes place at Iveagh House, St Stephen’s Green, headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs, at a joint signing by Foreign Affairs Minister, David Andrews, and the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Peter Mandelson
1999 – The IRA appoints an unnamed representative to enter into talks with General John de Chastelain on decommissioning

December 3
1792 – Beginning on this date and continuing through December 8, a Catholic Convention is held in Tailors’ Hall, Dublin to demand abolition of the remaining penal laws; a petition is presented to the king in London
1993 – Two bombs explode in the center of Manchester, injuring 65 people; the IRA claims responsibility the following day
1996 – Six officers are hurt as loyalists attack police with fireworks, bottles and stones in Portadown, Co Armagh
2002 – Ulster Unionist leader, David Trimble, says there is little point in proceeding with multi-party talks in the North if the IRA refuses to address the need to give up all paramilitary activity.

December 4
1882 – John Curran, Dublin magistrate, opens a special inquiry into the Phoenix Park murders, in which Parnell is falsely implicated
1887 – Winifred Carney, trade unionist and revolutionary, is born in Bangor, Co. Down
1971 – The UVF claims responsibility for a bomb blast which kills 17 people in a Belfast pub
1983 – SAS soldiers involved in an undercover operation in Northern Ireland shoot and kill two IRA gunmen and injure a third man who escapes

December 5
1921 – After lengthy negotiations, the British give the Irish a deadline to accept or reject the Anglo-Irish treaty. In the words of Lloyd George, rejection would mean “immediate and terrible war”
1976 – A rally of twelve to fifteen thousand Peace People from both north and south takes place at the new bridge over the Boyne at Drogheda
1998 – The IRA Army Council and up to 60 Provisionals meet at a secret location near the border to debate arms decommissioning
2000 – The IRA reaffirms its commitment to putting arms beyond use in a statement issued in advance of President Bill Clinton’s visits to Dublin and Belfast
2001 – Police and custom officers on both sides of the Border smash a multi-million pound smuggling operation with links to dissident paramilitary groups

December 6
1679 – St. Oliver Plunkett, Archbishop of Armagh, is accused of instigating the “Irish Popish” Plot and arrested
1921 – Representatives of the Irish government appointed by President Eamon de Valera, and those negotiating for the Crown sign the Anglo-Irish Treaty, ending the Irish War of Independence against England. Michael Collins declares: “I have signed my own death warrant”
1922 – The Irish Free State, Saorstát Éireann, comes into being

December 7
1688 – Thirteen ‘Apprentice Boys’ refuse to let a Catholic army into Derry/Londonderry (7 December); Tyrconnell backs down and allows the city to keep its Protestant garrison. Enniskillen also defies James II
1879 – Birth in Tralee, Co. Kerry of Austin Stack, anti-Treaty nationalist
1922 – The six counties of Northern Ireland opt out of the Free State
1972 – “Special position” of the Catholic Church is removed by referendum from Irish constitution

1998 – The IRA makes an historic decision to start decommissioning following an IRA Army Convention meeting in Donegal