General Eoin O’Duffy. William Butler Yeats. Death of Jack Lynch. Today in Irish History

October 20: TODAY in Irish History:

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Curated by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks

Conor is a Chicago based Motivational Humorous Business Speaker, Author and History buff.

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 1892: General Eoin O’Duffy

Birth of Eoin O’Duffy, IRA man, Michael Collins protégé, Commissioner of the Garda Síochána and General Franco supporter near Lough Egish, Co Monaghan.  O’Duffy first came to fame when he led an IRA group which captured the first R.I.C. barracks during the War of Independence.

Following the signing of the Treaty, he was active with pro-government forces during the Civil War. He was appointed Commissioner of the newly formed Garda Siochana in September 1922. He is credited with building a professional, impartial police force before being fired by de Valera in 1933.

Garda Commissioner Eoin O'Duffy

Eoin O’Duffy – Garda Commissioner 1922-1933


As he grew older, O’Duffy became more obviously authoritarian and fascist in outlook. He joined the Army Comrades Association which ultimately exhibited mannerisms reminiscent of Hitler’s SA. He was often greeted with “Hail O’Duffy” and Nazi like salutes by blue shirt clad supporters. The term “Blue shirt” is often used by anti-Fine Gael critics as a less than complimentary term.


Garda Commissioner Eoin O'Duffy, blueshirt

“Hail O’Duffy”


O’Duffy was  a founding member of Fine Gael, but that party soon got tired of his politics and forced him to resign the presidency of the party.

O’Duffy (with encouragement from the Catholic Church) recruited Irish volunteers to fight for Franco’s troops in Spain. O’Duffy returned to Ireland in 1937, where he lived in relative anonymity until his death in 1944.


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1917: William Butler Yeats

Fifty-two year old William Butler Yeats finally gets married, but not to Maud Gonne, the love of his life. Instead he  marries 25-year-old Georgie Hyde-Lees (1892–1968). Although only weeks previously, Yeats had proposed to Maud Gonne’s daughter Iseult MacBride from her marriage to John MacBride, the marriage of Yeats and Hyde-Lees was a happy one producing two children.




1979: Rugby Player Paul O’Connell

Irish and Munster rugby captain and talismanic leader Paul O’Connell is born in rugby mad Limerick

READ: Paul O’Connell biography at Irish Rugby Football Union



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1999: Death of Jack Lynch

Death of former Taoiseach and Charlie Haughey nemesis (and vice-versa) Jack Lynch.



Lynch was Taoiseach during a particularly difficult time in 20th Century Irish history 1966-1973 when the Troubles in Northern Ireland erupted and a Southern government was riven by actions that should be taken. He sacked two ministers Charles Haughey and Neil Blaney for their alleged involvement in diverting government funds to support IRA gun-running. In criminal proceedings, both were found not guilty of gun running although Haughey – probably the most corrupt politician in  Republic of Ireland history –  probably perjured himself during the trial.

Despite some mis-steps, Lynch’s even hand maintained relationships with  Britain during an explosive period including the Bloody Sunday shootings and the burning of the British Embassy in Dublin .

Lynch’s second tenure in power between 1977-1979 was riven by internal Fianna Fail disquiet as Charles Haughey engineered his successful efforts to gain leadership of the party and thus Taoiseach. Although a likeable man, Lynch was not above blatant manoevering for political benefit. Fianna Fail’s return to power in 1977 was on the back of a promise to abolish rates on private houses – an action that was totally unjustified and one that the Irish economy still suffers from today, supported as it is by a very narrow tax base.

In his younger days, Jack Lynch was a superb hurler and footballer winning one All Ireland football medal and five All Ireland hurling medals for the rebel county.

Funeral of Jack Lynch (1917-1999)


Want to learn more about Ireland? See these images and more in the acclaimed For the Love of Being Irish

Irish gift ideas. Best selling Irish booksRonnie Drew and Luke Kelly - Musical Irish Gifts to the worldJoyce Image in For the Love of Being IrishMichael Collins: Image from For the Love of Being Irish



This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humorist IrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment button.

Visit Conor’s YouTube channel IrishmanSpeaks to Laugh and Learn.

Tags: Best Irish Gift, Creative Irish Gift, Unique Irish Gifts, Irish Books, Irish Authors, Today in Irish History TODAY IN IRISH HISTORY (published by IrishmanSpeaks)

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