Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

July 4


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1653 Six Irishmen took their seats in London on this day as the ‘Barebones Parliament’ gathered for the first time. It was formed from under the order of Oliver Cromwell from a representative of each Church congregation in the country, which at the time included Ireland.

Barebones Parliament began Image copyright Ireland Calling

However, the parliament was made up of wealthy landowners and merchants, who didn’t have the necessary experience to run the country. A period of six months of in-fighting and unprofessionalism followed until Cromwell lost patience. He ordered those loyal to him to vote for the dissolution of the parliament and took up the position of Lord Protector to rule Britain for the next five years.

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1845 Thomas John Barnardo, founder of the British children’s charity Barnardos, was born on this day in Dublin in 1845. He studied medicine at London, Paris and Edinburgh and planned to move to China and work as a missionary. Discover the story of Barnardo’s

Thomas John Barnardo - Irish founder of Barnardo's charity

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1987 Happy birthday to Jason Smyth, born in Derry on this day in 1987. He is a back-to-back double Paralympic sprint champion, with a record that is comparable to that of the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt.

Smyth competes in the T13 classification sprint events. That means athletes with visual impairment who “can recognise contours between 2 and 6 metres away”. Smyth dominates his given field and has held the world number one ranking for several years.

Like the Jamaican superstar Bolt, Smyth won both the 100m and 200m sprints in Beijing 2008. He defended his titles four years later in London, this time setting a new world record for both events.

Smyth is seriously fast, and made history in 2010 when he became the first Paralympian to compete in the open European Athletics Championships. He hoped to run alongside able-bodied athletes at London 2012, but missed out on the necessary qualifying time by four one-hundredths of a second.

Watch a YouTube video of Smyth competing in the 2012 Paralympic Games 100m final. He is the one about ten metres clear of the field.

Click here to read about more top Irish sports stars

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1999 David Beckham and Victoria Adams got married on this day in 1999 at Luttrellstown Castle on the outskirt of Dublin. Posh and Becks – as they became known in the press – were the biggest celebrity couple in Britain at the time, with Beckham being a star footballer for Manchester United and England, and Adams being a member of the biggest girl group in the world, the Spice Girls. Their fame and profile only got bigger over the next decade.

Luttrellstown Castle is one of the most beautiful buildings in Ireland. It has been owned by the wealthiest people in the country including the Guinness family. It is a popular tourist attraction for visitors to Ireland.

The wedding reportedly cost around £500,000. David Beckham has since spoken about his love for Ireland, and how the country will always be special to him because of his happy memories there.

Click here to read about David Beckham’s love for Ireland
Click here to read about more beautiful castles in Ireland 
Click here to read about more tourist attractions in Dublin

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2013 Bernie Nolan died on this day in 2013. She was part of the all sister band The Nolans who were very popular in the 1970s and 80s and are fondly remembered for hits such as I’m in the Mood for Dancing. Nolan was born in Dublin but moved to Blackpool, England when she was still very young.

After the Nolans split up to well as her success in music, Nolan went into acting and had long-term roles in British soaps Brookside and then The Bill.

She became ill with breast cancer in 2010. After a two year course of treatment she announced that she was cancer free in 2012. However, cruelly the cancer returned and Nolan died on 4 July 2013.

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