1874 Walter Wilson was born in Dublin on this day in 1874. He was a mechanical engineer, and served the British Navy during the First World War. Wilson was put in charge of a design team with the brief to develop an armoured vehicle that could be used in combat.
With the help of agricultural engineer William Tritton, they designed and created the world’s first tank, which they nicknamed ‘Little Willie’. The second design, which was eventually known as ‘Mother’, was the tank that the British mass produced to fight the Germans in World War One.
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1875 Charles Parnell was first elected to British parliament on this day in 1875. He was voted in as MP for Co Meath, and kept his seat for five years before moving on to represent Cork. Parnell was a master politician. He fought for the rights of the Irish and was well respected by all, even his opposition in the House of Commons.
Parnell is considered to be one of the greatest politicians Ireland has ever had, and the work he did to help the country gain independence has made him a national hero. He is honoured in Dublin, with Parnell Street and Parnell Square named after him, and a giant statue stands at the bottom of O’Connell Street.
Unfortunately, his political career was left in tatters, after he had an affair with the wife of one of his colleagues.
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1916 On this day in 1916, the Aud arrived at Co Kerry, loaded with weapons and ammunition for the Irish Republican Brotherhood to use in their planned rebellion. The timing of the meeting was not communicated properly though, and the delivery was never completed.
Roger Casement, the man who had arranged to smuggle the arms into Ireland, was caught and arrested. He was charged with treason and hanged. The planned rebellion still went ahead, even though the rebels were not sufficiently armed to take on the British military. The event became known as the Easter Rising and is one of the key events in Irish history.
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1948 Clare Boylan was born in Dublin on this day in 1948. She was an author and journalist who had a long and distinguished career. She wrote for the Irish Press newspaper for several years and also had several novels published.
The Oscar nominated 1988 film, Making Waves, was based on Boylan’s book, Some Ladies on a Tour.
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1970 Happy birthday to Glenn Hansard, born in Dublin on this day in 1970. He appeared in the 1991 film The Commitments, based on the book by Roddy Doyle. Hansard is a founding member of the Irish rock band, The Frames, who have been a popular band in the Irish music scene for more than 20 years.
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1995 Father Ted was broadcast for the first time on this day in 1995. It appeared on Britain’s Channel 4, and instantly developed a cult following. 25 episodes were made in total before Dermot Morgan, who played Ted, tragically died of a heart attack in 1998.
The classic with the spoof in the department store – Father Ted – A Christmassy Ted