July 19

Frank McCourt quote Image copyright Ireland Calling
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1735 Garret Wesley, 1st Earl of Mornington was born in Dublin. He was a composer, and played the violin and keyboards. In 1758, he founded the Academy of Music, an amateur society, which gave concerts to raise money for charitable causes.
Garret-Wesley-1st-Earl-of-Mornington Image Ireland Calling

In 1760, in acknowledgement of his musical and charitable work, he was created Viscount Wellesley, of Dangan Castle in Co Meath, and Earl of Mornington. He was a politician for a short period, and represented Trim in the Irish House of Commons from 1757 until 1758, before he became 2nd Baron Mornington when his father died.

However, he is most noteworthy as being the father of the Duke of Wellington, who led the British Army to victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

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1785 Richard Crosbie made his third attempt to cross the Irish Sea in a hot air balloon on this day in 1785. He was a science enthusiast from Co Wicklow. He studied at Trinity College Dublin and became obsessed with aviation.

Crosbie hot air balloon flight across the Irish Sea-Image-Ireland-Calling

Crosbie was convinced that he could fly over the Irish Sea in a balloon, and after two unsuccessful efforts he tried again. This was despite the fact that the Mayor of Dublin had issued a ban on flying balloons as when they were floating over the city, work levels and production dramatically fell as the locals stared up in wonder at the flying crafts.

Crosbie ignored the ban and set off from Dublin, only to be beaten by severe weather condition that caused his balloon to descend into the Irish Sea, about halfway between Ireland and Wales. Fortunately he was rescued by a ship that had been following his progress from below.

Crosbie hot air balloon flight across the Irish Sea-Image-Ireland-Calling

Despite failing to achieve his goal, Crosbie returned to Ireland as a hero, and a statue of him was erected in Ranelagh Gardens, Dublin to honour his heroics.

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1851 William Edward Wilson was born in Co Antrim on this day in 1851. He was a keen astronomer and spent his life studying space. He worked for much of his career in partnership with PL Gray, and the two developed an instrument to measure the temperature of the sun. In the late 19th century, Wilson and Gary calculated the sun’s surface temperature to be around 6,590°C. Scientists today believe it to be 5,500°C.

Click here to read about more great Irish scientists

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1980 Happy birthday to Louise Carey, born in Limerick on this day in 1980. She is a graphic artist who has created wall art and home decorations for customers all over the world. Many of her products can be found in some of America’s biggest department stores.

Carey first showed her creative streak in music, as the lead singer of various bands before her artistic qualities came to the fore. She would design and print her own CD covers and flyers to promote the bands, and received praise on her unique style. Soon, art had become her main focus and she has since worked as a graphic designer in various films and music videos.

Click here to read about traditional Irish art and how it has evolved throughout the years

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1972 Muhammad Ali had a non-title fight with Alvin “Blue” Lewis at Croke Park in Dublin. Ali won in the 11 th round with a TKO (technical knockout).

Muhammad_Ali in Croke Park Dublin Image Ireland Calling

Ali’s maternal great-grandfather, Abe Grady, was born in County Clare, Ireland, and emigrated to America in the 1860s.

Ali interview in Ireland (July 1972). He was interviewed by Cathal O’Shannon. This is said that it was Cathal O’Shannon’s best remembered journalistic coups.

See video of the world’s most marketable sports star promoting Ireland tourism for Irish Tourist Board –  a great coup for them.

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1994 Eilís Dillon died on this day in 1994. She was a prolific writer and had more than 50 books published, many being translated into several language for sale around the world.

Dillon was born and raised in Co Galway. She showed a flair for writing from a young age, and was interested in the Irish language, culture and tradition. She was the niece of Easter Rising leader Joseph Mary Plunkett, but never met him as he was executed before she was born.

Dillon wrote about life in Ireland in her early career with novels aimed at teenage readers with themes of adventure and self-discovery. Her style developed over the years and she began writing about life in Ireland in the years following the Second World War. Some of her most famous work includes The Bitter Glass and The Wild Geese.

Click here to read about more Irish writers

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2009 Frank McCourt died in New York on this day in 2009. He was an Irish-American teacher and writer, made famous by his novel Angela’s Ashes, which was based on his own childhood experiences.

McCourt was born in New York but his family soon moved to Limerick, Ireland after failing to secure regular employment in America. They lived in poverty, with McCourt’s father wasting the family’s much-needed money on alcohol. Eventually he moved to England leaving McCourt’s mother to raise four children on her own with no source of income.

This tale of hardship was McCourt’s experience of growing up in rural Ireland in the 1950s. He moved to America as soon as he could afford it and got a job in a hotel. He sent a third of his income back to his mother in Limerick, until she and his siblings could afford to move back to America too.

McCourt gained a first class education in America, and worked as a teacher for many years. In 1996, he wrote his childhood memoirs, named Angela’s Ashes. The book became a bestseller and made him a millionaire.

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