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1798 The Battle of Ballynahinch began on the evening of 12th June 1798. Thousands of United Irishmen rebels were based in the town of Ballynahinch in County Down. British soldiers armed with muskets and cannons approached in two groups down hills on either side of the town.
The British rained down cannon fire on the town from their higher position, leaving the Irish rebels with little chance of repelling the attack. However, the British attack stopped as nightfall came.
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1910 Bill Naughton was born on this day in 1910 in County Mayo. He was a prolific writer of plays, short stories and children’s books. His most famous work was a play about a charming womanizer named Alfie, and the lessons he learns as all the people he cares for leave him because of his selfish behaviour. The play was adapted into a film in 1966 starring Michael Caine, and then a remake followed in 2004 with Jude Law in the title role.
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1945 Happy birthday to Pat Jennings, born in Newry on this day in 1945. He was a professional footballer who played as a goalkeeper for Arsenal and Tottenham in his 20+ year career.
Jennings lifted the FA Cup for both teams, and also played for Northern Ireland 119 times. He is widely regarded as one of the best goalkeepers ever to play in the English top flight.
Click here to read about more top Irish sports stars
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1960 Edna O’Brien’s debut novel The Country Girls was banned from publication in Ireland on this day in 1960. The book tells the story of two Irish girls making their way in life in 1950s Ireland. However, the ‘graphic sexual content’ was deemed too much for the Irish public by the censoring bodies, and the book was banned.
This brought shame on to O’Brien’s family. The local parish priest publicly condemned the book, burning copies outside his church.
These strict censorship laws in Ireland are still in place to a degree in Ireland today. In fact, in 2013 several major Irish writers backed a campaign to end the censorship for good.
Click here to read about more Irish writers
Click here to read about the 2013 campaign to end strict censorship in Ireland
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1988 Ireland beat England 1-0 on this day in 1988 in what was their first ever game in a major finals of an international football tournament. Ray Houghton scored the goal in the European Championships group stage match, played in Stuttgart, Germany.
Ireland could only manage one more point from their final two group games against The Soviet Union and the eventual winners, Holland and were eliminated from the tournament. However, this tournament appearance was the start of the most successful period in the country’s history, with appearances at the finals of the next two World Cups.
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1998 On this day in 1998, people flocked from all over Ireland to Galway to the Fields of Athenry for the Farm and Rural Enterprise Festival. The event was organised by the Irish government to help farmers prepare for the challenges that lay ahead over the next decade.
The Fields of Athenry is of course, an unofficial anthem of Ireland, with the song describing the struggle people faced during the ‘Great Famine’ in the mid-1800s. It is now sang by supporters of the national team at major sporting occasions.
It was written by Pete St John and has also been recorded by numerous Irish bands, such as the Dubliners and the Dropkick Murphys.
Click here to read more about the song, The Fields of Athenry
Click here to watch videos of famous bands and the Irish football fans singing The Fields of Athenry
Click here to get the lyrics and chords for The Fields of Athenry
Click here to read more about Pete St John
Click here to read more about the Dubliners
Click here to read more about the Dropkick Murphys