Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

March 23


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1846 On 23 March 1846 Henry George Grey, 3rd Earl Grey speaks in the House of Lords;
“For nearly fifty years, now, Ireland has been under the immediate control of the Imperial Parliament… Reports says that the agricultural labourers are still suffering the greatest privations and hardships, and still depend upon casual and precarious employment for their subsistence; that they are badly fed, badly clothed, badly housed, and badly paid for their labour.”

“The Commissioners of the Report say,  ‘We cannot forbear expressing our strong sense of the patient endurance which the labouring classes have generally exhibited under sufferings greater, we believe, than the people of any other country have ever endured.’ ”

Grey goes on to say, “It is alarming the general alienation of the whole mass of the nation from the institutions under which they live, and the existence in their minds of a strong deep feeling of hostility to the form of government under which they are placed. This feeling, which is the worst feature in the case, seems to be rather gaining strength than to be diminishing.”

Henry-George-Grey speaking of Irish famine Image copyright Ireland Calling

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1847  a native American tribe, the Choctaw, raised the equivalent of thousands of dollars to help the starving during the Famine. They’re still celebrated in Ireland. Discover the story of the Choctaw’s generosity to the Irish.

_Irish-famine-Louisiana_Indians_Walking_The-Trail-of-Tears Image Ireland Calling

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Oscar statue1893 Cedric Gibbons was born in Dublin on this day in 1893. He is the man credited with designing the Oscar statue that film stars hope to be awarded with at each annual Academy Awards.

Gibbons moved to America and was a successful art director in several films. He was nominated 39 times for an Oscar, and actually won 11 Academy Awards for various films including Pride and Prejudice, Little Women and An American in Paris.

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1917 Josef Locke was born on this day in Derry in 1917. He was a singer in the pubs and clubs in England and Ireland before he met with super-agent, Jack Hylton.

Hylton catapulted Locke’s career, and he became a regular on TV and radio in the 1940s and 50s.

Josef-Locke sang the title song in The Quiet Man Image Ireland Calling

Locke sang the theme song for the 1952 Oscar winning film, The Quiet Man, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne opposite Maureen O’Hara.

Josef Locke sings The isle of Innisfree recorded in 1952.

The Quiet Man film

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1926  Fianna Fáil (Fianna Fáil) was founded by Eamon de Valera on 23 March 1926, after a split in Sinn Féin. The aims of the Party was to secure the unity and independence of Ireland as a Republic.

Fianna Fáil’s translates into English as Soldiers of Destiny, (Literal translation is Warriors of Fál [“Fál” is the legendary name for Ireland]).Eamon_de_Valera-It-is-my-considered Image copyright Ireland Calling

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1976 On this day in 1976, the women of Ireland received some good news, as the European Economic Community refuses to grant Ireland exemption from its new directive of equal pay for women in the same roles as men.

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1983 Happy birthday to Saul Deeney, born in Derry on this day in 1983. Deeney is a professional footballer and plays as a goalkeeper. He once kept goal for Burton Albion, in a famous FA Cup tie against Manchester United.

Deeney blocked shots from superstars Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney as Burton hung on for a 0 – 0 draw and a lucrative replay at United’s famous ground, Old Trafford.

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Patrick Magee1999 The British government issued a legal challenge to the release of IRA prisoner Patrick Magee on this day in 1999. Magee was set to be released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, but the news caused uproar among the British public after his part in the 1982 Brighton Hotel Bombing.

Five people were killed by a bomb placed by Magee. It was intended for Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, as revenge for her stance over the death of Bobby Sands and other IRA prisoner hunger strikers.

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2001 A pair of Bono’s iconic black sunglasses – his handmade Black Fly shades – sold for €4,000 on this day in 2001. The glasses were one of many lots up for grabs at the Irish Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day Auction.

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Bono and his U2 bandmates have always used their profile to try and help good causes.
Click here to read about Bono busking in Dublin to raise money for a charity for the homeless 
Click here to read about Adam Clayton and the Funky Shoe mental health campaign



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