Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

June 23


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Mary O'Connell, wife to Daniel1802 Daniel O’Connell married his third cousin, Mary, on this day in 1802, much to the dismay of his uncle. Mary had no fortune to contribute to the marriage, so O’Connell’s uncle was concerned she was just marrying for the money.

However, Daniel and Mary had a happy married life. They had eight children, seven of which survived into adulthood. When his wife died in 1837, many said that O’Connell wasn’t the same and he never really recovered.

O’Connell is of course one of the major figures in Irish history. He is sometimes referred to as the ‘Liberator’ or ‘Emancipator’ for his lifetime’s work to help improve the rights of Catholics living in Ireland.
Daniel O'Connell. Image Copyright Ireland Calling

Discover more of the young lawyer, Daniel O’Connell, who fought a successful campaign for Catholic rights.

Discover how O’Connell outwitted British and became known as the Uncrowned king of Ireland.

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1825 Annie French Hector was born in Dublin on this day in 1825. She moved to England with her parents, when her father had to restart his life having lost all his money.

Annie grew up to marry the famous explorer, Alexander Hector. They had four children together, and Annie spent much of her time writing novels.

However, her husband was not supportive and disapproved of her writing. For this reason, she never published any of her work, until after her husband died in 1875.


Then she became a prolific writer, under the pseudonym, Mrs Alexander, after her husband. The books proved to be very popular, and some are still the source of studies in schools today.

Click here to read about more Irish writers

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1957 Happy birthday to Peter Dickson, born in Belfast on this day in 1957. He has featured on countless major primetime entertainment show on British television including the X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent, Family Fortunes and Soapstar Superstar.

Dickson is the booming announcer who introduces the show, the hosts, the judges, the prizes, the contestants and anything else that requires a round of applause from the audience.

He has also done the narration for hundreds of documentaries for the Discovery Channel, as well as being the voice of several video game characters, including the host of Kinect Sports. His voice is now available to download for your Satnav if you want a more dramatic navigator for longer journeys.

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1959 Seán Lemass was elected Taoiseach on this day in 1959. He was an Irish nationalist and had fought in the Easter Rising in 1916, but was spared execution by the British because of his young age, 16.

6_23_Sean Lemass-elected-Image-Ireland-Calling

Discover how this former Easter Rising rebel helped transform Ireland from depression to a prosperity.

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Maureen O'Sullivan in Tarzan1998 Maureen O’Sullivan died on this day in 1998.

She was known as ‘Ireland’s first movie star’ and is remembered for classic films such as Tarzan and Pride and Prejudice.

O’Sullivan was born in County Roscommon and studied in Dublin before a successful screen test audition saw her sent to America to become a Hollywood legend.

Click here to read about more Irish actors

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2005 Unplayed Piano entered the Irish charts on this day in 2005. It was a duet between Irish musicians Damian Rice and Lisa Hannigan. The song was a tribute to Burmese politician, Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been kept under house arrest by the military-led government for much of the past 15 years. She had won a general election in 1990, but rather than hand over power, the military nullified the vote and placed her under house arrest

This caused a national outcry in Burma, and soon spread around the world. However, under Burmese law, a prisoner could be held for up to five years without a trial, so she was held and released only to be arrested and held again.

Damian Rice wrote Unplayed Piano as a reference to Suu Kyi’s imprisonment, as she reportedly passed her time playing the piano during her time under house arrest. The song stayed in the Irish charts for twelve weeks, peaking at number four. Rice and Hannigan have previously collaborated on numerous music projects, and are both recognised talents in Irish music.

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Watch the YouTube video of Unplayed Piano below.

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