The year that was: 1986 at home and abroad

Hurricane Charlie, Knock airport, Chernobyl and Maradona’s ‘Hand of God’

– Phil Lynott, lead singer with Irish rock band Thin Lizzy (below), died on January 4th. He was 35 years old.–Jennifer Guinness, wife of Guinness Mahon bank chairman John Guinness, was kidnapped from her home in Howth on April 8th. She was rescued eight days later.

– While in Beirut, Brian Keenan was kidnapped by Islamic Jihad on April 11th. He shared a cell with British journalist John McCarthy. Keenan was released in August 1990; McCarthy was released a year later.

– Martin “The General” Cahill led a robbery at Russborough House on May 21st, and 18 Old Masters from the Beit collection are stolen. All but two are recovered.

– Knock Airport, Co Mayo, founded by Monsignor James Horan, was officially opened on May 30th.


– Deputy Chief Constable John Stalker was removed as head of the "shoot to kill" inquiry on June 6th, after reporting serious allegations against police in Northern Ireland.

– The country’s first divorce referendum was held on June 26th. Two-thirds of voters said no.

– Hurricane Charlie hit Ireland on August 25th and the Dodder and Dargle rivers overflow. Millions of pounds worth of damage was caused to homes, businesses and farms.

– Dublin schoolboy Philip Cairns disappeared on October 23rd. The 13-year-old was returning to school after lunch at his home in Ballyroan. He has not been found.

– Actor Siobhan McKenna died of lung cancer on November 16th, aged 63.

– Bishop of Galway Eamonn Casey is found guilty of drink-driving in a London court on December 8th. He is fined and banned from driving for a year.

And internationally...

– Nasa space shuttle Challenger broke up over the Atlantic on January 28th, minutes into its 10th ever flight, killing all seven crew aboard.

– President Jean-Claude Duvalier, known as Baby Doc, fled Haiti on February 7th, after a rebellion ended his rule.

– Out of Africa won Best Picture at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles on March 25th.

– A nuclear plant exploded at Chernobyl in Ukraine, on April 26th. Fallout was widespread and the exact number of deaths caused by the after-effects of radiation is still unknown.

– The "Hand of God", attached to the body of Argentinian footballer Diego Maradona, resulted in a goal on June 22nd that ensured England went out of the World Cup in Mexico. Argentina went on to beat Germany in the final.

– A royal wedding in London saw Prince Andrew, the Duke of York , marry Sarah Ferguson at Westminster Abbey on July 23rd.

– At Karachi International Airport, on September 5th, New York-bound Pan Am flight 73 was hijacked by Palestinian militants with 358 people on board. Security forces laid siege and 22 people were killed and about 150 others injured.

– A violent earthquake in San Salvador, the capital of central American country of El Salvador, killed up to 1,500 people.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist