1868 Samuel Lover died on this day in 1968. He was from Dublin and was one of Ireland’s great songwriters of the 19th century. Unfortunately, many of Lover’s songs are no longer performed and for some reason are overlooked by modern-day performers.
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1907 On this day in 1907, Arthur Vicars opened the safe in his office of Dublin Castle to find that the Irish Crown Jewels that he was employed to guard, had been stolen.
The jewels were worth more than £30,000 and were due to be displayed at the Irish International Exhibition by King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. Vicars had last seen the jewels a month previously, when he was showing them off to a visitor to his office. Discover more about Arthur Vicars and the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels.
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1937 One of Ireland’s funniest ever men was born on this day in 1937. David Tynan O’Mahony was born in Dublin to parents Cully Tynan O’Mahony and Jean Archer. He will be known to all as Dave Allen, the man who gave us such gems as:
“I’m an atheist, thank God” and
“Lord, if I can’t be skinny, please let all my friends be fat.”
Allen was one of Ireland’s most popular comedians for nearly 50 years. His act was written on his own personal experiences and beliefs. He was an atheist and would often query the customs of both the Catholic and Protestant Churches. Allen didn’t mock the belief structures, but questioned the necessity of some of the ancient rituals that were still in place.
As he got older he also used his age for inspiration for his material, often being baffled or outraged by the behaviour of teenagers.
Allen had one of his fingers missing after an accident in a factory when he was a child. However, he used his missing digit as a source of comedy, making up various stories as to how he lost it.
One was that he cut it off to avoid National Service. Another that it had been eroded away because he kept resting it in his glass of whiskey. Allen told a story about when he was a child and went to see a cowboys and indians movie with his friends. They would all run out after the film ready to play and he would take aim and point his missing finger explaining that he had a sawn-off shotgun.
Allen produced countless fantastic one-liners but was equally skilled at storytelling. He would often rant and rave about some irritant and lure his listeners in until they were hanging on his every word. Then Allen would deliver a killer punchline to have the audience in hysterics.
He was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the British Comedy Awards in 1996. Allen died in his sleep at his London home in 2005. He had previously said he would like the following to be engraved on his tombstone:
“Don’t mourn for me now,
Don’t mourn for me never.
I’m going to do nothing,
For ever and ever.”
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1940 Mary Peters was born in Lancashire on this day in 1940. She moved to Belfast with her family when she was still a child and was raised there. She went on to become an Olympic gold medal winner.
She won a gold medal in the pentathlon in the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Peters set a world record high score of 4801 points.
When she returned to Northern Ireland Peters was greeted by thousands of proud supporters. However, there were some Irish republican extremists unhappy that as a Northern Ireland resident she had represented Great Britain at the Olympic Games.
Threats were made on her life, but Peters refused to be intimidated. She had the opportunity to move to America or to join her father who lived in Australia, but was determined not to be scared out of her home town.
Peters still lives in Northern Ireland, just outside Belfast. She was made a Dame by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000.
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1962 The Late Late Show was first broadcast in Ireland on this day in 1962. It is still being aired on Irish television today making it the world’s longest running talk show. The show has made household names of Gay Byrne, Pat Kenny and current host Ryan Tubridy.
The show has had countless global icons as guests over the years. The star-studded list includes Elton John, U2, Colin Farrell, Peter Sellers, Bob Geldof, Jack Charlton, President Mary McAleese, Mother Teresa, Jerry Springer, Graham Norton, Cliff Richard, Sonia O’Sullivan, Rod Stewart and Roy Keane. And that is just to name a few.
The Late Late Show remains one of the most popular entertainment shows in Ireland. It consistently comes top of the charts in terms of viewers, with an average of more than half a million people tuning in every week.
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2001 On this day in 2001, it was announced that the average price of a new house in Ireland was £144,000. That figure was more than double than the same figure in 1996. This dramatic rise was a warning of the economic crash that the country suffered in the mid-2000s, which resulted in thousands of skilled workers being forced to emigrate in order to find better paid jobs.