1874 Michael Mallin was born in Dublin on this day in 1874. He was an Irish nationalist and was one of the rebels who declared Ireland an independent republic in the Easter Rising. Mallin had been a member of the British Army as a young man and served for several years in India.
During the Easter Rising, Mallin fought under James Connolly and was the commanding officer of the troop of rebels at St Stephen’s Green with Countess Markievicz alongside him. He surrendered his position to the British after being ordered to do so by Connolly.
Mallin was arrested and tried to defend himself in court by claiming he was not a leading rebel, but merely a soldier. He claimed he didn’t know that the rebels were going out to try and seize Dublin on that day, but thought they were simply going on a regular training exercise.
Mallin’s defence was understandable as he tried to save his life so that he could take care of his pregnant wife and four small children. However, his pleas were ignored by the court and he was sentenced to death by firing squad.
Mallin had fought for both the British Army and the Irish Citizen Army in his life. His experiences left him philosophical about war and the acts soldiers carry out under the orders of their superiors. In his last letter to his wife, Mallin wrote:
“I find no fault with the soldiers or the police (who were going to carry out his execution). Please pray for all the souls who fell in this fight, Irish and English.”
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1888 Maureen Delany was born in Kilkenny on this day in 1888. She was one of the leading actresses of the early 20th century. Delany had a fine singing voice and was a skilled comic actress. She gained a reputation as one of the stars of the stage and had great success in productions of Juno and the Peacock and The Plough and the Stars at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.
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1946 Happy birthday to Gilbert O’Sullivan, born on this day in Waterford in 1946. He was one of the stars on the music industry in Ireland and Britain in the 1970s.
His most famous hits included Alone Again (Naturally), Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Day, Clair and Get Down. Many of his songs are still played today and will be remembered fondly by music fans of a certain age.
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1955 Happy birthday to Pat Spillane, born in Kerry on this day in 1955. He is a retired Gaelic footballer and now works as an expert pundit on the game. Spillane is widely regarded to be the greatest ever Gaelic footballer. In his career, he won numerous titles, both for his team and individually.
Spillane played his entire career for Templenoe, his hometown team. He won eight All Ireland Senior Championships and was named in the annual All Star team nine times, a record in the sport.
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1968 Happy birthday to Daire Nolan, born in Limerick on this day in 1968. He is a dancer and choreographer who found fame as the Dark Lord in the smash Irish dance show Lord of the Dance.
He has performed on stage to well over a million people throughout his career, and has also been a guest on big TV chat shows in America, Ireland and Britain. Nolan was a judge on the American dance show Superstars of Dance in 2009. He has now retired from stage dancing but still works as a choreographer for Ceol Chiarrai, the production company behind numerous dance shows such as Dance to the Moon and Dance of Desire.
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1986 The share prices of Guinness plummeted by 40p on this day in 1986, after the British government announced they investigating the conduct of several senior company employees.
There were suspicions of insider dealing, with some employees buying shares in the company based on privileged information about a forthcoming takeover of a Scottish whiskey firm. The employees then sold the shares at a profit once the takeover was complete.
Several Guinness employees were jailed for fraud and false accounting offences, including former Chief Executive Ernest Saunders. The share price fall equated to more than £300m following the public scandal.
Guinness recovered from the setback and remain one of the biggest alcohol companies in the world. The Guinness storehouse is a popular tourist attraction for visitors to Dublin.
The company also caused controversy in 2009 by promoting the invented public holiday Arthur’s Day to celebrate the life of Arthur Guinness. Critics accused the company of creating the holiday as a cheap way of selling more of their products.
In September 2013, a campaign called ‘Boycott Arthur’s Day’ began on Social Media – many people called it and Alcoholiday, and just an advertising campaign to sell more Guinness. There was a 30% increase in ambulance callouts in Dublin on Arthur’s Day night in 2012. This led to a live studio debate on Prime Time on RTÉ One on 24 September. Guinness has now scrapped Arthur’s Day.