1600 Charles Blount, 8th Baron Mountjoy was named as Lord Deputy of Ireland by Queen Elizabeth I on this day in 1600. Blount was an English nobleman and a soldier. He was a favourite of the queen due to his youthful good looks.
In 1600 Mountjoy went to Ireland as Lord Deputy and brought the Nine Years War to a ruthless end. His tactics were harsh on the Irish population. The Nine Years’ War, from 1594 to 1603, was fought between the forces of Gaelic Irish chieftains (Hugh O’Neill and Hugh Roe O’Donnell) against English rule in Ireland. At the height of the Nine Years’ War, more than 18,000 soldiers were fighting in the English army in Ireland.
The English ‘scorched earth’ policy involved destroying anything of use to the Irish fighters, including all food sources and even people. This resulted in many Irish peasants dying from direct targeting and from the resulting famine. The chieftains were defeated and were exiled (The Flight of the Earls).
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1876 On this day, 21 January 1876, Irish trade union leader James Larkin was born . He was seen as a working class hero who fought for the rights of the downtrodden and suppressed.
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1919 The act of violence that sparked the Irish War of Independence took place on this day in 1919. Two members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) were killed by Irish Volunteers in Tipperary. A brutal battle with the Irish Volunteers (who later became known as the IRA) fighting against the British army, the RIC and the Black and Tans (former British soldiers) followed for the next two years resulting in over 2,000 dead.
For the full background and history of the Irish War of Independence – series of BITESIZE articles
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1923 Hanging in the Balance! On this day, 21 January 1923, this ballast train careered towards the Ballvoyle Viaduct in Waterford. The bridge had had been blown up by Republicans. The locomotive crashed into the valley, leaving the ballast carriages hanging perilously over the edge.
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1979 Happy birthday to Irish rugby legend Brian O’Driscoll, born on this day in 1979. O’Driscoll was an inspiration for the Republic national side for more than a decade.
He won more than 100 caps for his country and was the captain for the victorious 2009 Six Nations campaign, in which Ireland won every game they played awarding them the Grand Slam as well.
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1989 Happy birthday to Laura Reynolds, born on this day in 1989. Reynolds is an athlete who represented the Republic of Ireland at the 2012 London Olympic Games. She competed in the 20km walking event, finishing in 20th position out of more than 60 contestants.
Although she missed out on a medal, Reynolds did set a personal best in the race. Her time of one hour, 31 minutes and 2 seconds, was exactly six minutes short of gold medal winner, Russian Elena Lashmanova.