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1688 William of Orange allowed James II to escape from imprisonment so that he could flee for France. William had married James’ daughter Mary, and they had overthrown him as monarch of Britain and Ireland. James was supported by much of the Irish population because of his Catholic religion. However, his army was not a match for William, and William and Mary took control of Britain and Ireland.
Although William had overthrown James, he didn’t want to make a martyr of him as that would likely invite an attack from his cousin King Louis XIV of France. William let James go on the condition that he would remain in France.
James was denounced as King of England for abdicating his throne. However, the Irish still considered him to be King of Ireland and he returned a year later to try and regain his throne.
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1878 Francis Skeffington was born in County Down on this day in 1878. He worked as a journalist and writer and was heavily involved in numerous societies of Irish rights and women’s rights. During the Dublin Lockout in 1913, Skeffy tried to mediate a peaceful end to the stand-off between the dock workers and the factory owners.
He was murdered during the Easter Rising.
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1900 Noel Purcell was born in Dublin on this day in 1900. He was an actor who starred in numerous films from the 1920s right up to the 70s. One of his notable films was Captain Boycott, which told the story of the Land War between the Irish farmers and the British landowners in the 19th century.
Purcell was also a talented a singer and after the Second World War he recorded a song called The Dublin Saunter. It wasn’t well received initially, and Purcell once admitted that he didn’t think “one person in the world bought it”.
It did become a popular Irish song in time, although Purcell never received any royalties for it, as he had just recorded it as a favour for a friend and had no contract. In 1981, Purcell recorded a spoken version of the Pete St John Irish ballad Rare Ould Times. Watch the YouTube video below.
The Dublin Saunter, Noel Purcell
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1916 Dr. James Little died on this day in 1916. He was a doctor who was one of the leading figures in Irish medicine in the late 19th and early 20th century.
Little was born in Newry, Northern Ireland in 1837. He studied medicine and worked in numerous hospitals across Ireland before taking a job on a British ship travelling to and from India. In 1858, the ship Little was on collided with some rocks off the coast of Pigeon Island off the coast of what is now known as Sri Lanka.
Little managed to survive the shipwreck and returned to Ireland. He worked as a local practitioner and was popular with his patients and respected by his colleagues. He then took a job as a lecturer and tutor at Adelaide Hospital physician to the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin.
Little stayed in that role for more than 40 years, and also held various prestigious medical positions aswell, such as chairman at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.
He died aged 79 in 1916, after struggling with ill health for the previous year. Little was described by his good friend Dr Walter Smith as the “beloved physician”.
Little’s motto for his patients was the Latin phrase:
“Aegroto dum anima est, spes est.”
The English translation is:
“For a sick man as long as there is soul, there is hope.”
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1950 Dickie Lloyd died in Belfast on this day in 1950. He was a remarkable sportsman from County Tyrone. Lloyd represented Ireland in both first-class cricket and international rugby.
He scored 202 runs and took five catches in six cricket matches for his country. Lloyd then turned his attention to rugby union. He played for Ireland in each Five Nations tournaments from 1910 to 1914, and then returned after the war to play again in 1920. He scored a total of 72 points in 19 games according to the points system used today.
Lloyd went on to become an international rugby referee when his playing days came to an end. He is considered to be one of the most famous people to have attended Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, just behind Samuel Beckett and Oscar Wilde.
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2002 On this day in 2002, the second 55 foot section on the Spire was put in place.
The Spire is a 121 metre tall spike that stands in the centre of Dublin.
It can be seen from miles and is an iconic part of the city’s skyline. Construction on the Spire took just over a month, at a cost of €4m.