1823 – Alexander Pearce kills and eats Thomas Cox

Thomas Cox was probably foolish to try escaping alone with Alexander Pearce. While the authorities might not have believed that he was a cannibal who’d eaten the last group of men whom he escaped with, it seems likely that the other convicts did. But perhaps Cox thought it was just the extremity of the situation that drove Pearce to it.

He must have been surprised when Pearce assaulted and killed him, although he would have been too dead to be surprised that Pearce then cooked and ate him. And he would no doubt have been astonished at Pearce’s deliberate surrender to the authorities and instant confession of what he had done to Cox. This time, the authorities believed Pearce – and when he faced trial again, this time he was sentenced to hang. The saga of Tasmania’s cannibal convict was at an end.

Referenced in:
A Tale They Won’t Believe — Weddings, Parties, Anything

1974 – The Birmingham Pub bombing takes place

On November 21, 1974, two pubs in central Birmingham, the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town were bombed just before 8:30pm in the evening. Ten people were killed at the Mulberry Bush and another eleven at the Tavern in the Town. Another 162 people were injured, and a third device at another location failed to detonate.

Within days, six men were arrested on suspicion of the bombings, which were widely blamed on the IRA. The men – Hugh Callaghan, Patrick Joseph Hill, Gerard Hunter, Richard McIlkenny, William Power and John Walker – were charged with the bombings, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. All the convictions were later over-turned, amid charges being laid against police officers and prison guards for their conduct regarding the men. The Birmingham Six were innocent.

Referenced in:

Streets of Sorrow/Birmingham Six — The Pogues

1920 – Bloody Sunday takes place in Dublin

One of the more infamous incidents in the long Irish struggle for independence, the day that would become known as Bloody Sunday. There were actually three separate incidents over the course of the day.

The first was an operation by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) led by Michael Collins, that killed twelve British agents/informers and two Auxiliaries. In response, that afternoon, British military forces opened fire on the crowd at a football match in Croke Park, killing fourteen civilians (all Irish, of course). Finally, that evening, three IRA prisoners in Dublin Castle were beaten and killed by their British captors – allegedly while trying to escape.

The day became something of a rallying cry for both sides – both of whom would go on to further atrocities in the course of their long struggle with each other, a struggle that still goes on.

Referenced in:

Sunday Bloody Sunday — U2