The late 19th century was a time of great Irish nationalism, as people felt resentful to the British in the years that followed the ‘Great Famine’. More than a million Irish people had died from disease and starvation, and a further million had been forced to leave for places like America and Australia.
There was a feeling that the British had not done enough to help the Irish people suffering, and the national pride in Ireland had reached an all-time high.
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1959 Happy birthday to Keith Crossan, born in Belfast on this day in 1959. He was a professional rugby player, and played for Ireland 41 times between 1982 and 1992, including at the World Cups in 1987 and 1991.
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1978 Happy birthday to Gillian Norris, born in County Waterford on this day in 1978. She was a star of the Lord of the Dance in the late 1990s.
Norris danced with Michael Flatley in her role of Morrighan, The Temptress, and performed all around the world.
She left the show in 2000, and pursued a career in singing and then modelling. Norris later took a course in beauty therapy, and now runs her own beauticians in her home town of Waterford.
See Gillian Norris’ high-energy performance in the Lord of the dance Irish dance “gypsy” solo.
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1991 Brian Reilly died on this day in 1991. He was an Irish chess master, who represented Ireland in nine Chess Olympiads. Reilly won the Irish Championship in 1959 and 1960. In the sixth Chess Olympiad, Reilly beat reigning U.S. champion Reuben Fine. When asked how he felt after beating the world’s best player, Reilly said that he felt “extremely chuffed”.
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1993 Marie Kean died on this day in 1993. She was an actress who enjoyed a career lasting more than 40 years on both the stage and the screen.
Kean grew up in Dublin and became a famous name in Ireland after playing the role of Mrs Kennedy in the Radio Éireann drama the Kennedys of Castleross. She went on to win a Jacob’s Award for her role in Samuel Beckett’s play Happy Days, and also starred in numerous other plays by famous Irish writers including John Millington Synge and Seán O’Casey.