Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

July 5


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1581 The Wexford Martyrs were hanged, drawn and quartered on this day in 1581. They were a small group of Catholic rebels who refused to take the Oath of Supremacy which declared Elizabeth I of England to be the head of the Church. Discover more about the Wexford Martys


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1812 Frederick Edward Maning was born in Dublin on this day in 1812 and was taken to Australia as a child when his father moved to Van Diemen’s Land to take up farming. He rose to prominence as one of the early settlers in New Zealand. He won the trust of the native Maori people and helped them negotiate with the British who were colonising the country in the mid-19th century. Discover more about Frederick Edward Maning



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1958 Veronica Guerin was born in Dublin on this day in 1958. She was an investigative journalist, who bravely exposed some of the worst drug lords and criminals in Dublin.

Guerin was threatened with death on several occasions by the criminals and their associates, but refused to be intimidated and continued to search out and then reveal the truth about these men.

In 1994, shots were fired into her home after she had published details about the life of murdered criminal boss Martin Cahill. She was then shot in the leg after answering her front door to a gun man pointing a revolver at her.

Martin Gilligan allegedly threatened to kill Guerin and her family if she continued to investigate him, after she had publicly confronted him about his luxury lifestyle given that he had no documented source of income.

photo-Flickr-CC2-Veronica_Guerin investigative journalist

She was given 24-hour Garda surveillance but called it off, saying it interfered with her work. Tragically, Guerin’s determination was her downfall, as she was murdered when she stopped her car at some red lights in Dublin in 1996.

In 2002, Martin Gilligan was charged and tried for her murder, but was acquitted. As yet no one has been successfully convicted of her killing.

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1973 Happy birthday to Róisín Murphy, born in Wicklow on this day in 1973. She was one half of the 1990s electro house duo Moloko. Murphy sang and her partner at the time Mark Brydon produced the music.

The pair had a massive global hit in 1999 with the dance track Sing It Back, which got into the top 20 of numerous countries including Australia, Spain, Canada and the UK. It also reached number one in the US Hot Dance Club Billboard charts.

Here is the video, see if you remember busting out your best moves to this one.

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1979 Happy birthday to Shane Filan, born in Sligo on this day in 1979. He was a member of the Irish boyband Westlife, who enjoyed huge success during the late 1990s and 2000s selling more than 40 million records worldwide.

Filan showed flair for music from an early age. He formed a band with his school friends and his mother spent six months trying to get hold of music producer Louis Walsh, who had already out together Boyzone. Eventually Filan’s mother got hold of Walsh and persuaded him to listen to her boy’s band.

Walsh was impressed enough with Filan, and Kian Egan and Mark Feehily, to take them on. Auditions added Nicky Byrne and Bryan McFadden and Westlife was born.

Click here to read about more Irish bands
Click here to read about more Irish singers

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2001 A huge resource for Irish historians was made available on this day in 2001. The transcripts of historic Dáil debates were published online by

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Students could now read the speeches of significant Irish figures such as Michael Collins, Éamon de Valera, Constance Markievicz and Kevin O’Higgins as they discussed the future of Ireland and the correct courses of action.

The Dáil debate following the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, and de Valera’s 1940 speech on Ireland maintaining a neutral position during World War II are some of the most interesting transcripts available.

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