Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

June 16

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1904 On this day in 1904, James Joyce went on his first date with his future wife Norah Barnacle. It was the inspiration for his masterpiece Ulysses which has sold million copies around the world and been adapted for both the stage and the screen countless times.

June 16th is known as Bloomsday, as a celebration and tribute to James Joyce who was one of Ireland’s greatest ever writers.

According to David Norris, who is a leading scholar on the life of James Joyce, the very first Bloomsday celebrations took place on this day in 1929.

James Joyce When I die Dublin will be written in my heart Image copyright Ireland Calling


Joyce was in Paris as the guest of honour at a dinner party and spent much of the evening enjoying the fine selection of wines and cognac on offer with his friend and fellow writer Samuel Beckett.

As they left the party they boarded a waiting carriage to take them home. The carriage driver grew so impatient of the two scholars repeated ‘pit-stops’ as they requested a moment to relieve themselves after an evening of fine wines. In the end, the driver lost his patience and rode away with Joyce chuckling away in the carriage as the Nobel Prize winner Beckett, was left leaning forward onto an alleyway wall, as Norris put it: “ingloriously abandoned on the outskirts of Paris”.

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Here’s Beckett talking about his friend, James Joyce.

Beckett talking about James Joyce. Image Copyright Ireland Calling

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1935 Peter Rice was born in Dundalk on this day in 1935. He studied engineering in Belfast and then London, before leaving to join architect and building firm Ove Arup & Partners. The first project that Rice was involved with was the design and construction for the roof of the world famous Sydney Opera House. The iconic roof that is so recognisable today, started out as a vision in Rice’s mind and grew from a pencil sketch on a piece of paper.

The design and construction of the roof of the Sydney Opera House was Peter Rice’s first major project

This spectacular feat in his first real job made him a sought after designer, and Rice continued to create beautiful buildings around the world for the rest of his career. The Louvre Pyramid in Paris, Kansai International Airport in Japan and Centres Pompidou in Paris are all iconic buildings of which Rice has been part of the design team.

After his death, his long-time friend John Glancey said in his obituary:

“Rice was, perhaps, the James Joyce of structural engineering. His poetic invention, his ability to turn accepted ideas on their head and his rigorous mathematical and philosophical logic made him one of the most sought-after engineers of our times.”

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1954 Happy birthday to Garry Roberts, born in Dublin on this day in 1954. He is one of the founding members of the Irish rock band, The Boomtown Rats. They had some massive hits in the late 1970s and early 80s, with songs such as I Don’t Like Mondays and Rat Trap. When the Boomtown Rats broke up in the mid-80s, Roberts began working as a financial advisor before deciding to work as a heating engineer. He is now touring once again with the Boomtown Rats, playing all their old classics.

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Here is ‘I don’t like Mondays’ by The Boomtown Rats.

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1973 Happy birthday to Amanda Byram, born on this day in 1973. The Dubliner has presented television programmes in Ireland, the UK since the early 2000s. She has worked on beauty shows such as The Swan and Supersize vs Superskinny. Byram has also presented several light entertainment shows on British TV, as well as appearing a guest on various chat shows and quizzes.

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1997 Michael O’Herlihy died on this day in 1997. He was born in Dublin and was a successful television director throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s. O’Herlihy made several shows, popular on both sides of the Atlantic. He worked on classic American entertainment programmes including Hawaii 5-0, Magnum P.I., Miami Vice and The A-Team. During his career, O’Herlihy received plaudits for his ability to engage an audience with the tension of his scenes, and received nominations for both an Emmy Award and a Gemini Award.

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2011 The Miss Universe Ireland beauty pageant was held at Abbey Theatre, Dublin on this day in 2011. The title of Miss Ireland 2011 was won by the County Kerry representative, Aoife Hannon. The 19-year-old also won the chance to represent her country at the Miss Universe contest in Brazil later in the year.

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