Around 10 years ago, I used to have a ‘Chronology of Ireland’ website, which listed events, births and deaths connected in some way to Ireland, from prehistory up to the present (obviously more information was available on more recent events). I had compiled the chronology in my spare time, from reference books and other sources. The idea was to give a snapshot of life in Ireland in any given year; obscure and colourful snippets appeared alongside the unfolding of what we think of as Irish history.
The site contained over 100,000 words – the equivalent of a good-sized book. It was the largest resource of its kind in the world, and was strictly objective. But I didn’t have time to develop it as I would have wished, and took it offline.
In 2007, due to a computer mishap and my stupidity in not having a back-up, I lost the files. All that remains is the information from three years (1742, 1761 and 1766), which I had extracted and recycled as a sample for a newspaper column that I had in mind.
It’s a pity so much work has been wasted, especially as I think the chronology would make a good website now – perhaps on WordPress, with a facility for people to leave comments. Anyway, it’s water under the bridge.
Here is 1766, then – 1742 and 1761 will follow.
• Pope Clement XIII refuses to recognize the Stuart succession, hence freeing Catholics from loyalty to an exiled monarch.
• Four pirates are found guilty in Dublin of murdering Captain Cochrane, Captain Glass and others on the high seas, and of plundering and scuttling the Lord Sandwich; they are executed in St Stephen’s Green (3 March) and later hanged in chains near the Liffey; complaints from the public lead to the removal of the corpses to Dalkey Island on 1 April.
• Fr Nicholas Sheehy, convicted on dubious evidence of inciting Whiteboys to murder, is executed at Clonmel (15 March).
• The Tumultuous Risings Act, against the Whiteboys, is passed (7 June).
• Thomas Lally (Comte de Tollendal; Irish Brigade leader and son of an Irish Jacobite) is executed as a scapegoat for the French military failure in India; he will be exonerated in 1778.
• The bank of Wilcox & Dawson of Dublin, established in 1747, closes with debts thought to amount to £192,000 (the ‘Dawson’ being Richard Dawson, MP for Monaghan Borough, who will die on 29 December). Most 18th-century Dublin banks (the exception being La Touche’s) traded for a relatively short time.
• John Bligh, former MP for Athboy, who suffers from the delusion that he is a teapot, marries suddenly and unexpectedly at nearly 50 years of age (11 September). Between now and his death in 1781 he will father at least seven children, ‘in spite of his initial alarm that his spout would come off in the night’.
• Oliver Goldsmith’s novel The Vicar of Wakefield is published.
• Births in 1766 include the journalist Peter Finnerty, the radical William Orr, the naturalist John Templeton, and Thomas ‘Buck’ Whaley (an MP and gambler who walked to and from Jerusalem for a bet).