Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

May 20

May

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1311 There was a pitched battle between different septs of the O’Brien clan at Bunratty Septs on this date in 1311. The O’Briens continued to fight amongst themselves as they try to gain control of the territory around Thomond (now known as Co Clare, Co Limerick, and Co Kerry).

Norman-Irish clans are recruited by both sides to assist with the battle. Dermot O’Brien gained the support of the de Burgh clan, and Richard de Clare agreed to help Donough O’Brien.

The battle at Bunratty saw both sides suffer heavy losses, although Donough O’Brien gained the upper hand. Norman leader de Burgh and several of his men were kidnapped and imprisoned by Donough O’Brien, to be used as political leverage in negotiations.

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 Dr. Joshua Pim1869 Dr. Joshua Pim was born in Co Wicklow on this day in 1869. He studied medicine in London and was the Medical Officer at St. Columcille’s Hospital in Dublin for more than 40 years.

However, Pim is more noteworthy because of his sporting achievements. He was a top amateur tennis player and ranked as the world number one for a time in 1890.

Pim won two Wimbledon singles titles and two Wimbledon doubles titles.

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de Valera and Collins1922 Éamon De Valera and Michael Collins made an uneasy truce on this day in 1922. After Collins had signed the Anglo-Irish Treaty a year previously, the IRA was split in two. The pro-treaty faction led by Collins and the anti-treaty faction led by Rory O’Connor, and supported by de Valera.

On this day de Valera and Collins agreed to a pact whereby both sides of the IRA would be represented by Sinn Féin in the upcoming general election. The agreement was unworkable with the two sides too far opposed in their views of the best way to achieve independence for Ireland.

The Irish Civil War broke out with the two factions of the IRA fighting against each other. Collins was killed after his vehicle was ambushed by anti-treaty republicans.

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Earhart and 'Old Bessie'1932 American Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland, Canada on this day in 1932. She was attempting to fly non-stop across the Atlantic with the plan to land in Paris.

However, she encountered fierce winds and mechanical difficulties on her journey.

Still, after 14 hours and 56 minutes she touched down in Culmore, Northern Ireland, making her the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. There is now a small museum on the site where Earhart landed.

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1957 Happy birthday to Dermot Gallagher, born in Dublin on this day in 1957. He was a professional football referee and worked in the English Premier League from 1992-2007. Gallagher was respected for his ‘firm but fair’ style in the middle, and he was popular because he spoke to the players as equals rather than telling them off in a ‘schoolteacher manner’.

Gallagher refereed great players such as David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Cristiano Ronaldo throughout his career that spanned nearly 400 matches. He now works doing expert referee analysis on television and radio, and also works to support young players and referees.

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St Patrick's Day celebration 20112001 More than half a million people lined the streets of Dublin on this day to enjoy the world-famous St Patrick’s Day Parade. The parade was postponed in 2001, due to fear of an outbreak of foot and mouth disease amongst the country’s livestock.

The parade did, however, go ahead. People from all around the world got together in Dublin to take part in the parade and celebrate their Irish roots.

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The St Patrick’s Day parade in Dublin has become a major tourist attraction over the last 20 years, with people coming from all around the world to take part. It has even been compared to the Rio Carnival in Brazil, which sees up to two million people lining the streets on any given day.

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Click here to read about Pat Kehoe’s experience of a St Patrick Day parade in Dublin

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