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1791 John MacHale was born in County Mayo on this day in 1791. He was the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Tuam, in Galway. MacHale was a supporter of Daniel O’Connell and helped to secure Catholic Emancipation.
There is a marble statue of Archbishop John MacHale in the grounds of the Cathedral of the Assumption in Tuam sculpted by Sir Thomas Farrell (1827–1900).
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1831 American Civil War leader, John Sheridan was born on this day in County Cavan, or possibly in New York, or maybe even on the boat on the Atlantic Ocean. Sheridan himself claimed to have been in New York, but there is no record of his birth so no one can say for sure.
Either way he was an American of Irish descent and grew up to become a leading figure in the American Civil War. Sheridan was selected by Ulysses Grant to lead his troops in the Valley Campaign of 1864. Sheridan was successful in gaining ground and winning numerous conflicts against the Confederacy.
He was only 5 feet 5 inches (1.65 m) tall, and had the nickname of ‘Little Phil’.
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1861 Patrick McCall was born in Dublin on this day in 1861. He was a poet and wrote the lyrics of many songs that remain fixtures on the folk circuit today.
Boolavogue, Follow Me Up to Carlow and Kelly the Boy from Killane are all written by McCall. His songs have been performed by the biggest bands over the years, including the Dubliners, Planxty and the Clancy Brothers.
Click here for short biography and song writing of P J McCall
See videos of McCall’s performed by various artists including The High Kings, Planxty, The Dubliners, Jim McCan and The Young Dubliners.
Click here to watch various artists perform Boolavogue
Click here to watch Planxty and others perform Follow Me Up to Carlow
Click here to watch The Clancy Brothers perform Kelly the boy from Killane
Jim McCann and The Dubliners with Boolavogue.
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1935 Ronnie Delany, Olympic gold medallist, was born in Arklow on this day in 1935. Delany was a top middle distance runner and the pinnacle of his athletics career came in the year 1956 at the Melbourne Olympic Games.
He won the gold in the 1500m, finishing in 3 minutes 41.2 seconds, less than one second ahead of German Klaus Richtzenhain and Australian John Landy.
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1978 Micheál Mac Liammóir (born Alfred Willmore) died on this day in 1978. He was a leading child actor (under the name of Alfred Willmore) in the English theatre, and worked with Noël Coward. He was an English actor and playwright who was fascinated with the Irish culture and language. He wrote three autobiographies in Irish and was the co-founder of the Gate Theatre in Dublin.
Mac Liammóir was a giant in his field. He worked with famous characters including Noel Coward and Dudley Moore. His most famous work was probably The Importance of Being Oscar, based on the life and work of Oscar Wilde. He performed the one man show on stage and later on television when the BBC made it into a film.
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1988 The ‘Gibraltar Three’ were shot dead by SAS soldiers on this day in 1988. Seán Savage, Danny McCann and Mairead Farrell were members of the Provisional IRA. Savage and McCann were suspected of killing two policemen at the Belfast docks and McCann had served time in prison for possession of explosives in the past.
The three travelled to Gibraltar intending to plant a bomb at the British military base. The SAS received a tip off that the bomb had already been planted and would be triggered by a remote control device. The group were intercepted on a main road near the island’s airport and shot dead by the SAS soldiers who interpreted ‘aggressive moves’ as attempts to trigger the bomb.
It was later found that no bomb had been planted at the British military base, and none of the group had any weapons or detonation device in their possession. However, a search of the car the group were using found 64 kg of Semtex, enough to make a bomb that could cause devastation and kill anyone in the vicinity when it exploded.