NINETY YEARS ago, Ireland was in the grips of the very bloody Civil War which would impact on the political and social environment for decades to come. The Anglo-Irish Treaty fall-out and ensuing assassinations are just some of the historical events commemorated in 2012. Other memorable anniversaries include the Titanic disaster of 1912 and the Cuban Missile Crisis of the early 1960s.
Here’s TheJournal.ie‘s month-by-month guide to the big anniversaries marked in 2012:
President de Valera officially launched Ireland’s national television service on New Year’s Eve 1961. Throughout 2012, RTÉ has been airing a series of broadcasts to mark 50 years of Irish television, including programme highlights from those five decades:
It’s been a big year for birthdays in North Korea: what would have been Kim Jong Il’s 70th birthday was celebrated with mass military parades in February while his father Kim Il Sung’s 100th birthday was commemorated by two weeks of celebrations in April.
The Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day celebrated its 25th annual fundraising day on 23 March 2012. Since the fundraiser first launched in the late 1980s dozens of Irish celebrities and politicians have participated in the event; here are Taoiseach Charlie Haughey and Miss Ireland Niamh Redmond at the photoshoot for the 1997 Daffodil Day:
(Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland)
Shortly before midnight on 14 April, 1912, the Titanic luxury liner struck an iceberg while sailing from Liverpool to New York. Within just a few hours, it sank with the loss of more than 1,500 lives – just 700 of the 2,208 passengers and crew survived. Centenary memorial services were held this year at the site of the liner’s loss as well as at the ports the Titanic called to en route to New York and the home towns of the victims. Here is news reel footage shot in the aftermath of the disaster in 1912:
UK head of state Queen Elizabeth celebrated her diamond jubilee – 60 years on the throne – with a range of events culminating in a colorful pageant along the Thames and a huge concert outside Buckingham Palace in early June.
Dublin Fire Brigade turned 150 years old in June 2012.
The victims of the Munich Olympics attacks of 1972 were remembered with a minute’s silence led by International Olympics Committee president Jacques Rogge in the days after the London 2012 Games opened in late July. Eleven Israeli athletes were killed in the attack on the Olympic Village by Palestinian militants in September 1972.
One of the kidnappers appears on the balcony of the Olympic Village building where members of the Israeli Olympic team were held hostage before being killed. (AP Photo/Kurt Strumpf/PA)
The Euro currency turned ten this year. In July, the Central Bank announced a commemorative set of coins priced at €70 to mark the single currency’s first decade in physical form.
Irish revolutionary leader, minister and Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiator Michael Collins was assassinated in an ambush at Béal na mBláth on 22 August, 1922 during the Civil War. Despite the enormous rifts which arose in Ireland as a result of that Treaty and led to the Civil War, around half a million people attended his funeral in Dublin, including many from the opposing side of the conflict:
The centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant was marked by commemorative parades in Belfast in September 2012. The Covenant was an oath signed by almost half a million Unionists in Ulster pledging their opposition to Home Rule.
September 1942 saw the first deportation of Jews from Nazi-occupied Belgium to death camps. Only 1,200 of the 25,000 Jews deported to the camps during WWII survived. Belgium’s Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo apologised for the deportations at a commemorative event this year, saying that by assisting in the Nazi’s extermination programme, the Belgian state and its authorities “failed in their duties” and “were complicit in the most abominable crime”.
Fifty years ago, the world held its breath as the US and Soviet Union played chicken over the Cuban Missile Crisis amid the Cold War nuclear arms race. In the footage below, JFK addresses the US public on the escalating crisis in which the US sought to blockade Cuba and prevent the USSR from supplying it with nuclear missiles. The provision of missiles had been proposed by Cuban ally Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev in response to abortive US efforts to overthrow Castro in 1961. Early in 2012, the opening of the JFK Digital Archive made masses of material available to the public, including State Department cables from the crisis period.
Pope Benedict XVI led this year’s celebrations of 50 years of Vatican II. The Second Vatican Council meetings marked a seismic movement of the Catholic Church into modernity, although decisions made in 1962 are still debated today.
Where’s Wally illustrator Martin Handford has created a special poster featuring members of England’s soccer team to mark the 25th anniversary of the illusive character.
On 1 November, the Sistine Chapel marked 500 years since Michelangelo finished his elaborate masterpiece.
The 40th anniversary of the Sackville Bombings in Dublin were commemorated on 4 December. Three bus employees were killed in the two attacks. On 1 December, 1972, Tommy Duffy, 23, and George Bradshaw, 30, were killed as they evacuated the CIE canteen on foot of a bomb warning received by the Belfast Newsletter. Little over a month later, Tommy Douglas, 21, was killed in another car bomb explosion at Sackville Place. To date, no one has been prosecuted over the bombings., and the victims’ families continue to call for justice over their deaths.
The Irish Free State (Saorstát Éireann) officially came into existence on 6 December 1922. That year opened with the ratification of the highly controversial and divisive Anglo-Irish Treaty by the second Dáil. Before 1922 was out, Civil War had erupted in response to the Treaty and Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins (pictured at that ratification below) were among the dead:
(PA Archive photo dated January 1922 showing the scene inside Dublin’s Mansion House during the formal ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Arthur Griffiths is seated in the left-of-centre of the image wearing glasses, while Michael Collins sits facing the speaker.)