1761 – Robert Simms, a founder of the United Irishmen and proprietor of the Northern Star, is born.
1780 – Miles Byrne, United Irishman and officer in Napoleon’s Irish Legion, is born in Monaseed, Co Wexford.
1856 – Birth of Sir John Lavery, an Irish painter best known for his portraits, in Belfast.
1875 – Death of John Mitchel, Irish nationalist activist, solicitor and political journalist. Born in Camnish, near Dungiven, Co Derry.
1884/1920 – Tomás MacCurtain (born in Cork City), revolutionary and Lord Mayor of Cork is both born and assassinated on this date.
1914 – After 60 cavalry officers at the Curragh resign their commissions – an incident known as ‘the Curragh mutiny’ – the War Secretary stated that the army wi not be used to coerce Ulster into Home Rule.
1919 – The birth of Cairbre, the MGM lion, in Dublin Zoo. He wasn’t African or even Californian, he was a genuine Dub and was named after Cú Chulainn’s charioteer, or a High King of Ireland.
1922 – IRA volunteers crossed into Northern territory and attacked the USC barracks in Aughnacloy.
1923 – Birth of footballer, Con Martin in Rush, Co Dublin. Martin initially played football with Dublin before switching codes and embarking on a successful soccer career, playing for, among others, Drumcondra, Glentoran, Leeds United and Aston Villa. Martin was also a dual international and played and captained both Ireland teams – the FAI XI and the IFA XI. In 1949 he was a member of the FAI XI that defeated England 2–0 at Goodison Park, becoming the first non-UK team to beat England at home.
1928 – Birth of Methodist clergyman, William Sydney Callaghan, in Dublin.
1964 – Death of Brendan Behan, an Irish poet, short story writer, novelist, and playwright who wrote in both Irish and English. He was also a committed Irish Republican and a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army. He died in Meath hospital after reportedly telling a nun looking after him: ‘Ah, bless you, Sister, may all your sons be bishops’.
1961 – Birth of Michael O’Leary, Chief Executive Officer of the Irish airline Ryanair. He is one of Ireland’s wealthiest businessmen.
1971 – Brian Faulkner succeeds James Chichester-Clark as Prime Minister of Northern Ireland.
1972 – Donegall Street Bombing: the PIRA detonated its first car bomb, on Donegall Street in Belfast. Allegedly due to inadequate warnings, four civilians, two RUC officers and a UDR soldier were killed while 148 people were wounded.
1973 – A government White Paper entitled ‘Northern Ireland Constitutional Proposals‘ was published which proposed a devolved power-sharing 78 member assembly in Northern Ireland and a Council of Ireland. The election would take place under Proportional Representation (PR) and Westminster would retain the powers relating to law and order matters. These proposals followed on from a discussion paper that had been issued on 30 October 1972 entitled ‘The Future of Northern Ireland’.
1974 – Two British soldiers were shot dead by mistake by the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) at Mowhan, near Markethill, Co Armagh. The soldiers were believed to be part of an undercover operation but this was denied by Secretary of Sate for Northern Ireland, Merlyn Rees.
1981 – A Catholic civilian, Patrick McNally (20), was shot dead by the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), while he was ‘joy riding’ in a stolen car on the Ross Road in the Lower Falls Road area of Belfast.
1989 – Senior RUC men, Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan, negotiating cross-border security co-operation in south Armagh, are ambushed and shot dead by the IRA.
1992 – Leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party, John Hume, and President of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, took part in a debate on BBC radio.
1993 – Ireland beat England 17-3 in the final game of the Five Nations Championships at Lansdowne Road, Dublin.
1993 – Warrington Bomb Attacks: after a telephoned warning, the PIRA exploded two bombs in Warrington, Cheshire, England. Two children were killed and fifty-six people were wounded. There were widespread protests in Britain and Ireland following the deaths.
1994 – The IRA fired a mortar at a British Army base in Crossmaglen, south Armagh, causing an army helicopter to crash.
1996 – Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dick Spring, had a briefing with Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Patrick Mayhew, on plans for elections in Northern Ireland. Dick Spring refused to publicly support the plans.
1997 – It was announced on behalf of Roisín McAliskey, then being held in prison awaiting a decision about extradition, that she would stand as a ‘unity candidate’ in Mid-Ulster in the general election. On 23 March 1997 McAliskey’s name was withdrawn as neither Sinn Féin nor the Social Democratic and Labour Party were prepared to stand down.
1998 – The centre of Derry was cleared for four hours while the British Army defused a bomb. It was claimed that a Republican challenged two Continuity Irish Republican Army (CIRA) members as they planted the bomb in the Northern Bank in Guildhall Square, Derry. It was also claimed that one of the CIRA men pulled out a gun to stop anyone interfering with them. The centre of Derry was cleared for four hours while the British Army defused a bomb.
1998 – The film Resurrection Man went on general release in Northern Ireland. The film was based on the killings carried out by of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) ‘Shankill Butchers’ gang. There was a mixed response to the film, some people accused the film-makers of dredging up painful memories for the relatives of those killed while others felt that the events were a legitimate subject for the cinema. https://youtu.be/h-iKzpGR0Uo
1999 – A 13 year-old boy was badly injured in a Loyalist paramilitary ‘punishment’ attack by a gang of masked men in Newtownards, Co Down. The boy who received a broken arm and broken fingers was ordered to leave the area by the gang. The boy was one of the youngest people to be the subject of a ‘punishment’ attack.
1999 – In a speech to the Annual General Meeting of the Ulster Unionist Council, David Trimble, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, assured delegates that there would be IRA decommissioning. Trimble was heckled during his speech.
2001 – Thousands of second level students across the country take to the picket lines to protest the nationwide strike by teachers.
2003 – Hundreds of anti-war protesters gather outside the Dáil to protest the use of Shannon Airport by the US military.
2006 – Eczema gene identified in study led by Irish doctors. The findings are regarded as tremendously significant as the first steps towards finding a cure. The study was led by Dr Alan Irvine, a consultant paediatric dermatologist at Our Lady’s Hospital for Sick Children in Crumlin, Dublin, and Prof Irwin McLean, a geneticist at the University of Dundee in Scotland. Dr Irvine is from Enniskillen and Prof McLean is originally from Ballymoney, Co Antrim.
2010 – Triple Crown dream dies. Ireland saw their dream of a fifth Triple Crown in seven years dashed following a woeful performance which saw them slump to a 23-20 defeat to Scotland.
2015 – A Solar eclipse, equinox, and a Supermoon all occur on the same day.
via #OTD in Irish History – 20 March: