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1768 Laurence Sterne died on this day in London in 1768.
He was a popular novelist and clergyman from Tipperary and was one of the first notable writers to campaign for the abolition of slavery. A letter he wrote to a black butler working in England became a powerful tool in the campaign for the abolition of slavery.
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1821 The IRA executed Royal Irish Constabulary Sergeant Michael Hickey in Waterford on this day in 1921. They set light to the vehicle Hickey and his men were travelling in and captured them. Hickey was shot dead with the words ‘police spy’ written on his chest. The attack became known as the Burgery Ambush.
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1940 Roderic O’Conor died in France on this day in 1940. He was born in Roscommon and studied art in Dublin and Antwerp before moving to Paris and becoming a painter.
He was influenced by the post-Impressionists, especially Van Gogh.. He used textured strokes of contrasting colours.
His oil painting, Landscape, Cassis, which he painted in 1913, sold at Sotheby’s auction in London in 2011 for €383,993.
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1949 On this day in Belfast in 1949, Alex “Hurricane” Higgins was born. Higgins was a world champion winning snooker player. He gained his nickname, the Hurricane, because the transformed the sport when he became a professional.
Most snooker players had a very cautious and defensive style of play, only attempting a pot if they were sure to get it, otherwise preferring to play a safety shot to guarantee their opponent couldn’t score any points on his next visit. This led to a very slow, unexciting contests for spectators, with almost all the risks removed from the game.
Higgins completely turned the game on its head, with his aggressive, risk taking style. He would attempt pots that other players wouldn’t consider, and more often than not he would get them.
He became a hugely popular figure amongst fans because of his attacking style and superb talent. Higgins won the World Championship at his first attempt in 1972, and lifted the trophy for a second time ten years later.
Higgins’ success led to a flamboyant lifestyle away from the table and he drank and smoked heavily throughout his life. He died in 2010 as a result of cancer, malnutrition and pneumonia after losing his teeth from radiotherapy to combat throat cancer in the 1990s.
Alex Higgins “Hurricane” – Documentary – The People’s Champion.
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1952 Happy birthday to Pat Eddery, born in County Kildare on this day in 1952. He is a former professional flat jockey, and won almost every major race in the world throughout his career.
He won the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe four times, and the Japan Cup and the Breeders Cup once each. He also won the flat race triple of the Oaks, the Derby and the St Leger in both England and Ireland.
Eddery was named Flat Jockey of the Year on two occasions and won so many Grade 1 races in his career that the list goes on.
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1998 Adi Roche was honoured on this day in 1998 with the prestigious Belarussian award, the Frantsysk Skrayna. She is the first non-Belarussian to receive the award.
Roche, from Clonmel, set up the Chernobyl Children’s Project in 1991. The charity raises money and helps families affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster that took place in 1986.