Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

April 4


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1774 On this day in 1774, Irish writer and novelist, Oliver Goldsmith died. He is a literary giant in Irish history, with works The Deserted Village, The Good-Natur’d Man and She Stoops to Conquer still being studied and performed around the world today.

He was also a great wit and throughout his life he offered great quotes that are still relevant. Here are a couple of Goldsmith’s quotes:

“Our greatest glory consists not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.”

“The first time I read an excellent book, it is to me just as if I had gained a new friend. When I read a book over I have perused before, it resembles the meeting with an old one.”

Click here to read more Oliver Goldsmith quotes
Click here to read about more great Irish writers

Oliver_Goldsmith-600-I-love-everything-that's-old--old-friends-old-times-old-manners-old-books-old-wine Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Ronnie_masterson_Larry-D1926 Ronnie Masterson was born in Dublin on this day in 1926. She was a stage and television actress, who worked in Ireland, Britain, and America on numerous productions in her career. She married Irish actor Ray McAnally and they had four children.

Masterson’s most famous role was possibly as Grandma Sheehan in the film adaptation of Frank McCourt’s book Angela’s Ashes, about the hardships of growing up in working class Ireland in the 1930s and 40s.

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1934 Mary Kenny was born in Dublin on this day in 1934. She is a writer and journalist and has worked for most of the major newspapers in the UK.

Kenny is a feminist and in the 1970s she was part of the formation of the Irish Women’s Liberation Movement. She wrote a letter to the Irish Times in 1971, agreeing with Ian Paisley’s comment that ‘Home Rule was Rome Rule’, after hearing the Archbishop of Dublin say that ‘any contraceptive act is always wrong‘.

She called it ‘Church dictatorship‘ and travelled from Dublin to Belfast to buy condoms, then illegal within the Republic of Ireland, to publicly flout the law. Kenny wrote the play Allegiance about the negotiations for the Anglo-Irish Treaty between Winston Churchill and Michael Collins, with Mel Smith and Michael Fassbender playing the two men.

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Gary-Moore_Tibban99_CC31952 Gary Moore was born on this day in 1952 in Northern Ireland. He was the lead guitarist of rock band Thin Lizzy, who were massive stars in the 1970s with hits including The Boys are Back in Town.

After Thin Lizzy split up, he worked on several projects with major music talents. Moore died in 2011 in Spain after a heart attack.
Click here to read about more great musicians from Ireland

Here’s Gary Moore with Parisienne Walkways.

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Graham_Norton_Phil-Guest_CC21963 Happy birthday to Graham Norton, born in Dublin on this day in 1962. He grew up in Cork before moving to London to study drama. Norton made his first steps into show business in the late 1990s, when he was a massive hit as a guest presenter on a Channel 5 chat show, as a stand in for the regular host.

He has since become a firm favourite among British and Irish viewers, with his comical and interactive hosting style. He took over the BBC’s prime Friday night slot, after Jonathan Ross was fired for his part in a sordid joke on veteran actor Andrew Sachs.

Norton also hosts the Eurovision Song Contest now in Britain, and has made that show his own as well, after the long standing host Terry Wogan stepped down in 2009.

Norton is one of the most popular characters on British television. All the biggest stars appear on his chat show when they are in the UK. A-listers Will Smith, Lady Gaga, Matt Damon, Thierry Henry and Robert De Niro are just a few to have sat on Norton’s couch in recent years.

Here’s an excerpt from his chat show with guests Hollywood star Will Smith, Take That’s Gary Barlow, and music legend Sir Tom Jones.

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2007 On this day in 2007, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and Democratic Unionist Party leader Ian Paisley publicly shake hands for the first time. The DUP are a Northern Irish party that had always been vehemently opposed to any association with the Republic of Ireland. The public display of respect was a landmark in Irish political history.


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