521 St Columba was born in County Donegal on this day in 521. He is the man credited with spreading Christianity across Scotland. He was a high ranking abbot in Ireland, before moving to Scotland to spread the word of the bible.
Columba was an influential figure with the native tribes in Scotland, many of whom had descended from Irish settlers of previous migrations. As an educated man, Columba was called upon as a mediator and judge for various conflicts between clan leaders.
He is also reportedly the man who ordered a giant beast into the depths of the River Ness.
The legend goes that Columba encountered a group of locals burying a man on the banks of the River Ness. He asked them what had happened and was told the man had been attacked and killed by a ‘water beast’.
Columba then ordered one of his followers to swim across the river. The beast could be seen breaking the surface and approaching the man. Columba made a sign of the cross and said:
“Go no further. Do not touch the man. Go back at once.”
The beast immediately stopped and retreated underwater in terror. Columba’s follower returned to the bank safely.
There have only been a handful of modern-day sightings of the Loch Ness Monster, all of which have been dismissed and explained away by experts. So far there is no solid evidence to satisfy scientists of its existence.
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1879 Austin Stack was born in Kerry on this day in 1879. He was an Irish nationalist that took part in the 1916 Easter Rising. He made the arrangements for a delivery of arms to Ireland, for the Irish Volunteers to use against the British Army.
Stack heard that Roger Casement had been arrested upon receiving the weapons. He considered a rescue mission for Casement but was ordered to wait until the uprising began. He was captured by the British officials and put in prison.
Once the Rising had been stifled by the British Army, Stack was sentenced to death. This sentence was later reduced to life imprisonment, after public uproar at the executions of the rebel leaders.
Stack was released from prison as part of the amnesty in 1917. He joined Sínn Féin and was a supporter of the anti-treaty IRA during the Irish Civil War.
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1941 Noel Carroll was born in County Louth on this day in 1941. He was an international runner who represented Ireland at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Carroll spent much of his early career in America after joining the Villanova Wildcats University track and field team.
Carroll returned to Ireland and worked as a spokesman and ambassador for Dublin City Council. He was a major supporter of the Irish charity Goal, which helps underprivileged children in Kolkata, India. Their headquarters are in the Noel Carroll Building, named in honour for his work.
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1973 Happy birthday to Damien Rice, born in Dublin on this day in 1973. He is a singer songwriter who has had a top-ten album in the UK charts and is well respected by his peers in the music industry.
Rice has worked extensively with talented County Meath singer Lisa Hannigan, and the two have been on several tours together.
Here’s Damien Rice with I Don’t Want To Change You
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1987 Happy birthday to Rua, born in Dublin on this day in 1987. He is a well-known magician and illusionist in Ireland, who has appeared on several television shows.
Rua, real name Paul Gleeson, developed his interest in magic after spending time in hospital aged 18. He had suffered severe burns after an accident performing a fire stunt. He was given a book about card tricks by a friend to fend off the boredom.
Rua has since stunned crowds by escaping from seemingly impossible situations. He has avoided being killed by various objects such as a falling piano and a car crusher.
2000 Blackrock Castle went up for auction on this day in 2000 with a starting price of £850,000. No-one was willing to match the asking price and the 16th century castle went unsold. It has since been developed by Cork Council and a private investor to be transformed into the Cosmos at the Castle, Ireland’s first interactive astronomy centre.