1881 Anna Parnell younger sister of Irish Nationalist leader Charles Stewart Parnell, founded the Committee of the Ladies’ Land League in Dublin on this day, 31 January 1881.
It was set up to take over from the work of the ‘Land League’ men when they were arrested. They raised money for the Land League prisoners and their dependants. They encouraged women to resist eviction from their cottages. If families were evicted, the Ladies’ Land League provided wooden huts to the evicted families.
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1920 , Tomás Mac Curtain was elected Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Cork. He began a process of political reform within the city. Two months after the election, he was shot dead on 20 March 1920 (his 36th birthday) in front of his wife and son by a group of men with blackened faces. Members of the Royal Irish Constabulary were responsible.
The killing caused widespread public outrage. Michael Collins ordered his personal assassination squad to hunt down and kill the police officers involved in the attack.
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1950 Jimmy Faulkner was born on this day in 1950 in Dublin. He was a guitarist and had a career in music that lasted more than 40 years. Faulkner was skilled in playing any number of styles, but was most often seen performing with folk and jazz musicians. He shared the stage with Irish music brothers Christy Moore and Luka Bloom on several occasions.
Click here to read more about Christy Moore
Click here to read more about Luka Bloom
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1971 Happy birthday to Patrick Kielty, born in County Down, Northern Ireland on this day in 1971. He is a television presenter and comedian, and was a regular on British and Irish television throughout the 2000s.
He has presented reality TV shows such as Fame Academy and Love Island and has also appeared on comedy programmes Have I Got News For You, Mock the Week. Here he is Live at the Apollo.
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1972 The day after Bloody Sunday, British Home Secretary, Reginald Maudling announced he would set up an independent inquiry into the circumstances of the march and the incidents leading up to the casualties.
Bernadette Devlin (MP for Mid-Ulster) was an eye-witness – she had been on the speakers’ platform in Derry the previous day. She was not allowed to give her account of what happened to the Commons. She called Maudling a “murdering hypocrite.”
“On a point of order. I am the only person in this House who was present yesterday when, whatever the facts of the situation might be said – [Interruption.] Shut up! I have a right, as the only representative in this House who was an eye witness, to ask a question of that murdering hypocrite.”
She walked across the floor of the House of Commons and hit him across the face.
Devlin later says “I’m just sorry I didn’t get him by the throat.”
See the full House of Commons debate here;
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1973 Jack MacGowran died on this day in New York in 1973. He was an actor from Dublin and worked with the top directors including Samuel Beckett, John Ford and Roman Polanski. MacGowan made his film debut in John Ford’s The Quiet Man in 1952, appearing with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. He played Ignatius Feeney. He played the alcoholic film director in the 1973 horror, The Exorcist.
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2008 On this day in 2008, Seatruck ferry the MS Riverdance ship was struck by a giant wave off the coast of Blackpool. The cargo was pushed to one side leaving the ship dangerously overbalanced and at risk of toppling sideways. The Captain gave the Mayday call to the coastguard.
One of the rescue workers described the weather as “some of the worst we’ve ever seen”. Thankfully there were no casualties but the ship had sustained heavy damage and it was scrapped.
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2010 Irish pop twins Jedward (real names John and Edward Grimes) released Under Pressure (Ice Ice Baby) on this day in 2010. The duo found fame on the British version of the X Factor in 2009. They have since represented Ireland at the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest, finishing in 19th place.
They have performed for President Obama and the First Lady Michelle Obama they sang their Eurovision song Lipstick on College Green in Dublin.
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2011 Doc Williams, the veteran country singer died on this day in 2011. Williams performed with his wife Chickie Williams, and their band for more than five decades, but surprisingly never had a national hit. Doc Williams also covered Abdul Abulbul Amir, which is a comical song by Percy French, one of Ireland’s greatest ever songwriters.
Click here to read more about Percy French