Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

April 12


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1837 Patrick Ford was born in Galway on this day in 1837. He moved to America while he was still a child and was raised in Boston. He became a successful journalist and rose to the position of editor on various newspapers.

In 1870, he founded the newspaper, Irish World, which became the main publication for Irish Americans. From leaving Ireland as a child, Ford never returned.
Patrick Ford - Editor of Irish World Image copyright Ireland Calling
He wrote an interesting article in the paper himself, about his feelings towards the country of his birth. Here is an extract:

“I might as well have been born in Boston. I know nothing of England. I brought nothing with me from Ireland—nothing tangible to make me what I am. I had consciously at least, only what I found and grew up with in here.”

Despite Ford feeling and thinking like he was American, he still worked to raise funds for Irish causes, and realised that there were many more people in America with Irish heritage. Now, there are millions of people around the world have roots back to Ireland at some point in their family tree.
Click here to read some of the stories people with Irish heritage have sent us

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1861  The American Civil War began on this day in 1861, with nearly 200,000 Irishmen signing up to fight. The majority – about 150,000 – fought for the Union Forces, but there were still about 40,000 Irishmen fighting with the Confederate States.

The War lasted for four years, before the leaders of the Confederacy were forced to surrender, but not before more than half a million men had been killed in battle.

American-Civil-War - nearly 200,000 Irishmen sign up to fight. Image Ireland Calling

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1914  George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion opened in London on this day in 1914. Mrs Patrick Campbell (real name Beatrice Stella Tanner) played the lead role of Eliza Doolittle. The leading lady and writer had a brief relationship in the weeks of preparation for the opening night, but it was ended by Campbell, although the two remained close friends.

Click here to read about more great Irish writers  
Click here to read more about George Bernard Shaw  
Click here to read some of the best George Bernard Shaw quotes


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1980  Happy birthday to Brian McFadden, born in Dublin on this day in 1980. He was a member of the boyband, Westlife, who dominated the British and Irish charts in the late 1990 and early 2000s.

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Saoirse Ronan_150_gdcgraphics_cc21994  Happy birthday to Saoirse Ronan, born in New York on this day in 1994. She moved to Ireland while she was still very young and was raised in Co Carlow. Her father is the actor Paul Ronan, who has appeared in various films such as The Boxer and Veronica Guerin.

Saoirse has followed in her father’s footsteps and become a film star. She has had lead roles in Atonement and The Lovely Bones, and is now one of the most sought after actors in Hollywood.

Click here to read more about Saoirse Ronan
Click here to read about more Irish actors

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2005  Joseph Rafferty was viciously murdered in Dublin on this day in 2005. He was shot twice with a sawn off shotgun from close range as he left his home in the morning.

Rafferty had been involved in an altercation with another man at a party a few months previously. The man had told Rafferty he had links with the IRA and could get him killed. Rafferty continued to receive threats that he would be killed by the IRA.

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His sister, Ester Uzell, personally visited Daithí Doolan, the local Sinn Féin representative, to request the threat be lifted. However, Rafferty was murdered outside his home on this day in 2005. After the murder, Uzell accused Doolan of knowing the identity of the man who killed her brother.

Doolan denied any knowledge, and urged the public to co-operate with the Garda investigation. Uzell later stood as an independent candidate for Dublin in the 2007 Irish general election, stating “The murderer is still walking the street. Sinn Fein have done absolutely nothing at all.”

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