Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

January 4


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1925 Nellie [Ellen] Cashman died on this day, 4 January 1925. Five year old Nellie Cashman and her sister and mother immigrated to America in the 1850s because of the Great Famine. She became a nurse, businesswoman, Catholic philanthropist and gold prospector well-known in America and Canada.

She was known as the ‘Angel of the Cassiar’ , ‘Angel of the Yukon’ and the ‘Angel of the Mining Camp’ after her heroic rescue of stranded miners.

During the Klondike Gold Rush, in the Klondike region of the Yukon in north-western Canada, she opened a boarding house for the miners. She asked for donations to the Sisters of St. Anne Convent in return for their board.

Nellie Cashman Image copyright Ireland Calling

‘Angel of the Cassiar’

While she was travelling to the Sisters of St. Anne to give a donation, she heard there were 26 stranded miners in a snow-storm in the Cassiar Mountains. Cashman led a six-man search party, against advice from the Canadian Army who said the conditions were too dangerous.

After 77 days of severe weather, Cashman found the men, many of whom had scurvy and were injured. She treated their injuries and gave them good food, including vitamin C to alleviate their scurvy. Some reports say there were 75 stranded men, not 26 as first thought. After the rescue, Cashman became known as ‘Angel of the Cassiar’.

In 1880, Cashman moved to Tombstone, Arizona, where she worked as a nurse. She continued her charity work for the Sisters of St. Joseph, and also raised money to build the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
When her sister died, she raised her five children as her own.

Successful business woman

Cashman went on to own successful restaurants and boarding houses in Nogales, Jerome, Prescott, Yuma, and Harquahala. Though, one local story says, a client in here restaurant complained about Cashman’s cooking, John Henry “Doc” Holliday drew his pistol, asking the customer to repeat what he had said. The man said, “Best I ever ate.”

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1969 On this day in 1969, the People’s Democracy, a civil rights group in favour of a socialist republic Ireland, attempted a peaceful march from Belfast to Derry. They were attacked with missiles and iron bars by Northern Irish loyalists, in what was one of the first flashpoints in the ‘Troubles’ that followed in Northern Ireland.

Troubles-in-Northern-Ireland-Image copyright Ireland Calling

Respected academic of Queen’s University Belfast, Lord Paul Bew, described the attack as “the spark that lit the prairie fire”.

The People’s Democracy was founded in 1968, it was dissolved in 1996.
Below is a 1970 newsreel about the background of the conflict.

Overview of The Troubles in Northern Ireland

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1977  Happy birthday to Tim Wheeler, the Northern Irish musician, born on this day on 1977.

Wheeler is the frontman and lead vocalist and guitarist for indie rock band Ash. The band enjoyed great success with their 1996 album, named 1977, featuring hits such as Girl from Mars, Oh Yeah and Kung-Fu.

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1986 Phil Lynott died on 4 January 1986. He was an Irish musician and founding member (with Brian Downey), of the Irish rock band Thin Lizzy.

Philip Parris Lynott was the main songwriter and frontman of the band, Thin Lizzy had 13 successful albums.  In 2005, a life-size bronze statue of Lynott was erected Harry Street, off Grafton Street, Dublin.

Here’s Thin Lizzy with Whiskey In The Jar.

Read the meaning of Whiskey in the Jar – an Irish tale of deceit here

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1998 It is believed that, the Loyalist Volunteer Force elected Mark Fulton as their leader on this day in 1998, after the execution of their previous leader Billy Wright in Maze prison, County Down.

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2002 A report published by the European Union on this day in 2002 revealed that the people worst hit by the rise in unemployment throughout Europe are young Irish males.

These findings proved to be true as thousands of young adults were forced to leave Ireland throughout the 00s, in order to find work and set up home abroad.

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 2003 A group of women began an anti-war protest at Shannon Airport on this day in 2003, in response to the US Air Force using the airport as a base for actions in Europe.

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2008 On 4 January 2008, John O’Donohue died. He was a native Irish poet and philosopher. He popularised Celtic spirituality through his book Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom. Anam Cara, Gaelic for “soul friend”.

John O'Donohue poem from Anam Cara
See more of John O’Donohue’s inspirational quotes here.


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