Frederick Douglass in Cork. Arms Trial Acquital. Beckett Nobel Prize on this day in Irish History

October 23: TODAY in Irish History:

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Snippets of Irish history by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks

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

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1845: Frederick Douglass in Cork

Abolitionist Frederick Douglass speaks to a packed house in Cork on the subject of slavery.

“In the name of Christianity, I demand that people of these countries be interested in the question of slavery! In vain may the slaveowner tell you it is no concern of yours. Mr. President, it belongs to the whole nation of America; and to the Irishmen, not because they are Irish, but because they are MEN. Slavery is so gigantic that it cannot be coped with by one nation.—Hence I would have the intelligence and humanity of the entire people of Ireland against that infamous system.”


frederick douglass mural belfast ireland

Douglass Mural Belfast where he spent some time on his Irish visit


READ: Frederick Douglass Speech in Cork

Two days previously Douglass had spoken to another Cork audience on Slavery and Temperance

READ: Frederick Douglass Cork Speech on Slavery and Temperance


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1969: Samuel Beckett wins Nobel Prize

Dublin born (1906) Samuel Beckett  is awarded Nobel Prize for Literature  “for his writing, which – in new forms for the novel and drama – in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation.”


samuel beckett irish nobel prize winner

Samuel Beckett 1906-1989


At the presentation speech, some weeks later, Karl Ragnar Gierow, of the Nobel Prize Academy said “Mix a powerful imagination with a logic in absurdum, and the result will be either a paradox or an Irishman. If it is an Irishman, you will get the paradox into the bargain.”

READ: Samuel Beckett bio


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1970: Charles Haughey Acquited

Government Minister Charles Haughey, Captain James Kelly, Belfast republican John Kelly and Belgian Albert Luykx were acquited of attempting to import arms into Ireland on behalf of the IRA.


Neil Blaney and Charles Haughey arms trial

Neil Blaney and Charles Haughey


Haughey spent a number of years in the political wilderness before becoming Taoiseach in December 1979. He would prove to be the most divisive and most corrupt politician to take office in post-civil war Ireland. Columnist Bruce Arnold summed up the charismatic Haughey “Skilful, adroit, ambitious, but also fearful and feared, devious and dishonest, by the time his end came his reputation, once very high indeed, was in tatters.”

READ: Charles Haughey and the Arms Crisis


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2001: IRA Decommissions Arms

 The Northern Ireland peace process reaches an historic breakthrough as the IRA announce the the decommissioning of weapons. The IRA statement read in part: “In order to save the peace process we have implemented the scheme agreed with the IICD [Independent International Commission on Decommissioning] in August 2001.”

“The IRA is committed to our republican objectives and to the establishment of a united Ireland based on justice, equality and freedom.

In August l994, against a background of lengthy and intensive discussions involving the two governments and others, the leadership of the IRA called a complete cessation of military operations in order to create the dynamic for a peace process.

Decommissioning’ was no part of that. There was no ambiguity about this. Unfortunately there are those within the British establishment and the leadership of unionism who are fundamentally opposed to change. At every opportunity they have used the issue of arms as an excuse to undermine and frustrate progress.

It is for this reason that decommissioning was introduced to the process by the British Government. It has been used since to prevent the changes that a lasting peace requires.

In order to overcome this and to encourage the changes necessary for a lasting peace, the leadership of Oglaigh nah Eireann (IRA) has taken a number of substantial initiatives.

These include our engagement with the IICD (Independent International Commission on Decommissioning) and the inspection of a number of arms dumps by the two international inspectors, Cyril Ramaphosa and Martti Ahtisaari.

No one should doubt the difficulties these initiatives cause for us, our volunteers and our supporters.

The political process is now on the point of collapse. Such a collapse would certainly, and eventually, put the overall peace process in jeopardy.

There is a responsibility upon everyone seriously committed to a just peace to do our best to avoid this.

Therefore, in order to save the peace process, we have implemented the scheme agreed with the IICD in August.

Our motivation is clear. This unprecedented move is to save the peace process and to persuade others of our genuine intentions.

“Signed: P O’Neill.”

“P O’Neill” is the standard signature used in all public announcements by the Provisional IRA


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

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