Tag Archives: Irish history

A year in Ireland – 1761


  • There is a general election. In Co. Tipperary, Sir Thomas Maude declares himself a candidate and threatens to petition against another candidate, Thomas Mathew, on the grounds that Mathew is Catholic in all but name. Daniel Gahan, agent for Maude, subsequently kills Thomas Prendergast, Mathew’s agent, in a duel. Mathew is elected but is declared not duly elected after a petition from Maude, who thus gains the seat
  • In the climate of sectarian tension created partly by the Mathew–Maude controversy, the Whiteboys, a violent agrarian protest movement, begins in Tipperary and spreads through Munster and West Leinster (October–December).
  • John MacNaghten, a gambler, duellist and criminal born in Ballymoney, Co. Antrim, who had been involved in the killing of Mary Anne Knox, daughter of Andrew Knox MP, is hanged for murder at Strabane jail on 15 December. At the first attempt to hang him the rope breaks but, eschewing offers from the crowd to help him make his escape, he declares that he does not wish to be known for ever as ‘half-hung McNaghten’ and asks the hangman to proceed. (He is nevertheless known as ‘half-hung McNaghten’.)
  • Richard Nugent (Lord Delvin), MP for Fore and still a teenager, fights a duel with a Mr Reilly on 30 July and dies of his wounds on 6 August. Duelling will reach a peak in Ireland in the 1770s and 1780s.
  • Those born in Ireland in 1761 include two giants: Charles Byrne, who will be eight feet tall at 19 years of age, and Patrick Cotter (born in Kinsale, Co. Cork), who will be 97 inches tall according to his coffin plate. Other births include political radicals such as Edward Hay, James Coigley and the deportee Samuel Neilson. Dorothy Jordan, a famous Drury Lane actress and the mother of ten children by the future William IV, is born near Waterford.

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A year in Ireland – 1742


  • On 8 March, William Crotty, highwayman and outlaw of the Comeragh mountains in Co. Waterford, is tried at Waterford and later hanged, drawn and quartered, having apparently been betrayed by an associate named David Norris. According to legend, Crotty’s wife later commits suicide by leaping from a great height while being pursued by soldiers.
  • Others who die in 1742 include Hugh Boulter, Church of Ireland archbishop of Armagh and political power-broker, and John Waller, member of parliament for Doneraile, of whom the lines were written: ‘Who is this hell-featured brawler? Is it Satan? No! ’tis Waller.’
  • On 13 April Handel’s Messiah has its first public performance (conducted by the composer), at Neal’s Music Hall, Fishamble Street, Dublin, before an audience of 700.
  • In August, Jonathan Swift is found to be ‘a person of unsound mind and memory and not capable of taking care of his person and fortune’ by a commission of lunacy composed of twelve Dublin tradesmen.
  • Russborough House (Co. Wicklow), designed by Richard Castle, is built. The inland section of the Newry navigation, on which work had commenced in 1731, is completed: this is the first commercial canal in Britain or Ireland, and is originally intended to bring coal from the Tyrone coalfield to Dublin. Castle has also been involved in its design.
  • Another famous architect, James Gandon, is born on 20 February. He will design some of Dublin’s most famous buildings, such as the Custom House and the Four Courts. Clotworthy Skeffington (2nd Earl of Massereene), who is born on 28 January, will spend nearly 20 years in debtors’ prisons in France until liberated by a mob in July 1789. The lawyer, orator and politician Walter Hussey Burgh is born on 23 August.




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Losing my website, and a year in Ireland (1766)

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. Continue reading


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