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1784 On this day in 1784, Irish engineer Richard Crosbie launched his first unmanned hot air balloon in Dublin.
He was convinced air travel could be achieved using balloons, but was unsure of the safety of the lightweight crafts. So he sent up several animals to test drive his balloons first. One cat needed to be rescued after getting blown across the North Channel to Scotland.
Crosbie did eventually gather enough confidence to go up in one of his balloons himself, and was the first Irishman to do so.
Click here to read about more great Irish scientists
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1882 On this day in 1882, Mary Swanzy was born in Dublin. She was an artist and was personally tutored by the respected artist John Butler Yeats, the father of Nobel Prize winning writer William Butler Yeats.
Swanzy studied art in Paris and developed her own her style. She returned to Ireland but struggled to make an impact, as her cubism style was not to the taste of the conservative Dublin art world. Swanzy moved to Italy and received better reviews for her work.She had brief stays in California and Czechoslovakia before eventually settling in London, where she stayed for the rest of her life.
Click here to read about art through the ages in Ireland
Click here to read about the Nobel Prize winning writer, WB Yeats
Click here to view the Celtic artwork in the Ireland Calling store
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1912 In the early hours of this morning, in the year 1912, the Titanic finally succumbed to the freezing Atlantic Ocean and sank.
The ship was built by Belfast firm, Harland and Wolff, and had been branded as ‘unsinkable’. More than 1,500 people died in the disaster.
Molly Brown is a famous Irish-American woman of the early 20th century, most notably as one of the surviving passengers on the ill-fated ship, the Titanic. She is famous for trying to persuade her fellow passengers on board Lifeboat Number 6 to return to the sinking ship to rescue any survivors from the freezing water.
Read the amazing story of Molly Brown
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1945 Happy birthday to Liam O’Flynn, born in Co Kildare on this day in 1945. He was one of the founding members of Irish folk band, Planxty, with Christy Moore and Andy Irvine.O’Flynn is considered to be one of the most talented musicians ever to have come from Ireland. O’Flynn plays the Uilleann pipes, similar to the Scottish bagpipes, and his playing was a key factor in Planxty’s early success.
The band split up in 1975, and since then O’Flynn has worked with countless big names in the Irish music business, such as Enya, Mary Black and Sinéad O’Connor.
Click here to read about more top Irish musicians
Click here to read more about Planxty
Click here to read about the top Irish singers named above, plus many more
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1974 On this day in 1974, Limerick man Neil Cusack became the first Irishman to win the Boston Marathon. He won the race with a time of 2 hours 13 minutes and 39 seconds. He also represented Ireland at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich and the 1976 Olympic Games in Montréal, and won the Dublin Marathon in 1981. Cusack remains the only Irish man to have won the Boston Marathon.
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1998 On this day in 1998, Englishman Mark Robins was awarded £3,000 by an Industrial Tribunal in Belfast, for racist discrimination he had suffered at work. Robins had only one eye, after an accident had caused irreparable damage to his other one. He was repeatedly subjected to hurtful comments and abuse by his colleagues, in relation to his disability and his English origin.
Robins said the behaviour began as ‘reasonably good humoured banter’ but quickly escalated into offensive remarks. One comment written on a report card in the workplace was a clearly offensive reference to Robins’ disability and race. It read: “Too many one eyed English bastards don’t know what they’re doing.” Robins repeatedly reported the incidents to his superior but nothing was ever done to stop the abuse.
The victory was the first race discrimination case in Belfast, under the Race Relations Order (NI) Act of 1997.