Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

June 26


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1110 Diarmait Mac Murchada was born in Leinster on this day in 1110. He was a descendent of Brian Boru, once the High King of Ireland.


Find out about the interactions of Diarmait Mac Murchada with Strongbow and King Henry II which led to a series of events which began the English invasion of Ireland, and the rule that existed up until the 20th century.

Norman Invasion of Ireland – overview of the Norman invasion and rule over Ireland.

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1846 On this day in 1846, the Corn Laws were repealed by the British government after heavy pressure from the Anti-Corn Law League.

The price of corn, and therefore bread, had been pushed up to a high price during the British war with Napoleon.

When the war ended, the Corn Law was in place to protect the landowners and keep the prices artificially high.


After a series of failed potato crops throughout the mid-1800s, thousands of Irish people were starving to death, because they were unable to pay the high prices for bread. This led to many emigrating to America and Australia in order to survive.

The British repealed the Corn Laws to return the price of bread to its natural level, but the move was seen as ‘too little too late’ by many historians.

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1887 People in Ireland would have been well advised to get in the shade on this day in 1887, with temperatures soaring to a massive 33°C at Kilkenny Castle.

It is the hottest day in Irish history since records began, although as a result of global warming, it is not completely unheard of now for temperatures to reach around 30°C in the height of summer. Not ideal for those with the natural fairer Irish skin.

Click here to read about how scientists have suggested surprising origins of Irish fair skin

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1963 President Kennedy delivered a speech in Berlin on this day in 1963. He was speaking to the West Germans and offering them American support in their plight, as the city had been divided by the Berlin Wall built by the Soviet Union as a mark of their control over East Germany. Thousands of people were separated from their families with no-one allowed to pass the military guarded wall.

Berlin speech US President John F. Kennedy-Image-copyright--Ireland-Calling

Kennedy personally visited one of the checkpoints in the Berlin Wall, before addressing a crowd of more than 100,000 people. He offered the West Germans the support of America, and said that West Berlin was a symbol of freedom for people around the world. Here is an extract from Kennedy’s speech:

“All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’. Two thousand years ago, “the proudest boast in the world was ‘civis Romanus sum’. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.'”

 “Freedom has many difficulties and democracy is not perfect. But we never had to put up a wall to keep our people in. All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.'”

Civis Romanus sum is Latin and meant: “I am a citizen of Rome”. It meant that people who were part of the Roman Empire were part of the civilised world, and would be granted support from the Romans.

Kennedy’s speech was met with rapturous applause by the thousands of West Germans. The wall wasn’t destroyed until 1989, twenty six years after Present Kennedy had been assassinated. Just hours after his Berlin speech, President Kennedy was on his way to Ireland, to start his four-day visit of the land of his heritage.

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1996 Veronica Guerin was murdered in Dublin on this day in 1996. She was an investigative journalist and had bravely delved into the underworld drug culture in Ireland. Guerin received death threats after publishing details of various high ranking members of criminal organisations. She was shot six times by a man riding passenger on a motorcycle when she stopped her car for a red light on the outskirts of Dublin. Several underground drug lords were suspected of her murder, but none were ever successfully convicted of the crime. Guerin’s story was made into a film in 2003, with Cate Blanchett playing the journalist.

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2009 The Miss Universe Ireland beauty pageant took place on this day at the Abbey Theatre Dublin in 2009. It was won by Diana Donnelly, a student of commerce at University College Dublin. Donnelly got to travel to the Bahamas for the Miss World competition later in the year, where she unfortunately failed to gain a podium finish.

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