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1874 Irish sculptor Jerome Connor was born on this day in 1874 in Coumduff, County Kerry. Connor’s most famous work, the Nuns of the Battlefield, is a tribute to the nuns that nursed soldiers from both sides during the American Civil War.
It is one of the 18 statues that make up the collection of Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.
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1943 On this day in 1943, 35 children and one adult died in a fire at St Joseph’s Orphanage in County Cavan. An electrical fault caused the fire, and the nuns running the orphanage were not aware of it until late in the night. The children ranged in age from 4 to 18 years old. The cook aged 80 years also lost her life.
More details of the rescue attempts and video of the aftermath of the fire here. Also a list of all who lost their lives.
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1964 Happy birthday to Joseph O’Neill, born in Cork on this day in 1964. O’Neill was awarded the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 2009 for his novel Netherland, which was described by the New York Times as “the wittiest, angriest, most exacting and most desolate work of fiction we’ve yet had about life in New York and London after the World Trade Center fell.”
Here’s how he described Irish immigrants to America.
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1965 On this day in 1965, the body of Roger Casement was returned to Ireland to be re-interred at Glasnevin Cemetery. Casement had previously been buried at Pentonville Prison in London where he his execution took place.
He was found guilty for treason for his part in the Easter Rising of 1916, when he attempted gain arms for the Irish nationalists.
Glasnevin Cemetery is the resting place for numerous people from Irish history, and is a major tourist attraction in Dublin.
Click here to read more about the Easter Rising
Click here to read more about Glasnevin Cemetery
The Wolfe Tones Banna Strand. The last verse was written by Derek Warfield of the Wolfe Tones in 1965 when Roger Casement’s remains were finally returned to Ireland. See the lyrics and another version of the song here
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2003 On this day, 23 February 2003, Daniel Day-Lewis is named Best Actor for his role (Bill “the Butcher” Cutting) in Gangs of New York, the Martin Scorsese’s epic film set in 19th century New York. He holds both British and Irish citizenship.