Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

June 21


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1798 The Battle of Vinegar Hill took place on this day in 1798. It was one of many battles fought between the British army and the United Irishmen, a group of nationalists fighting for independence.  There had been numerous conflicts between the two parties in the surrounding area over the previous few weeks.


There were an estimated 20,000 rebels gathered, though most were armed only with pikes. Within that 20,000 was also a great number of women and children who had joined the gathering for protection from the rampaging British army.
See our BITESIZE articles on the history of the 1798 Rebellion

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1866 Lena Rice was born on this day in County Tipperary in 1886. She is to date, the only Irish woman to have won the Wimbledon tennis championship which she did in 1890, beating May Jacks 6-4, 6-2 to win the 20 guineas prize.


There is no record of Rice ever playing in a tennis tournament after her Wimbledon win. Her mother died in 1891, it is thought that caring for her mother prevented her from competing in tennis again.

In 1907, Rice died of tuberculosis on her 41st birthday.

Click here to read about more top Irish sports stars

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Herbert Brenon, film director in the early 20th century1958 Herbert Brenon died in Los Angeles on this day in 1958. He was born in Dublin before moving to London to gain his education.

Brenon became a film director in the early 20th century, and was one of the industry’s leading figures of the silent movie era.

He directed classics such as Peter Pan and Beau Geste. Brenon was nominated for an Academy Award at the first ever ceremony in 1928 for his movie Sorrell and Son, but was beaten to the prize by Frank Borzage.

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Niall Quinn scored equaliser in the 71st minute against a Holland in the World Cup finals in 19901990 On this day in 1990, the Irish national football team fought for a 1-1 draw against Holland in the World Cup finals. The Dutch were one of the pre-tournament favourites, having won the European Championships two years earlier. They boasted world class stars such as Ruud Gullit, Frank Rijkaard, Marco van Basten and Ronald Koeman.

The Irish came back from a goal down to gain a point that saw them progress to the knockout phase at their first ever appearance at a World Cup finals. National icon Niall Quinn scored the crucial equaliser in the 71st minute.

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2003 The Special Olympics opening ceremony took place on this day in 2003. Croke Park was the venue as an array of stars and global icons were in attendance for the event. Nelson Mandela officially opened the ceremony as Mohammed Ali, Arnold Schwarzenegger and thousands more people enjoyed musical performances from U2 and the Corrs amongst others.

The Games lasted for one week with approximately 7,000 athletes from 150 countries competing across 18 different sports. More than 30,000 Irish people volunteered to help out at the Games in one way or another.

Here is a compilation video of the Games produced by RTÉ.

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2006 Denis Faul died on this day in 2006. He was a Catholic priest, and was notable because he played a key role in ending the IRA prisoner’s hunger strike in 1981. Faul persuaded the families of the strikers that the hunger strike was not going to do anything to change the mind of  Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister, in regards to the political status of the prisoners.

Therefore the deaths were unnecessary and the strikes should be called off to save the lives of the strikers. Faul’s action was not welcomed by the hierarchy of the IRA, who labelled him ‘Dennis the Menace’. However, some of the people that Faul spoke to, did persuade their family members to come off the strike and save their lives.

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