Irish History Bitesize
Proclamation of Irish Independence prints

May 17

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Oliver Cromwell1650 The Mayor of Clonmel negotiated the surrender of his town to Oliver Cromwell on this day in 1650. The previous days had seen a brutal battle between Cromwell’s men and the local O’Neill clan.

Cromwell had lost hundreds of his men and was willing to make heavy concessions to the Mayor in order to take the town peacefully. An agreement was made without Cromwell realising that the O’Neill clan had already left and the town was now his for the taking. The O’Neill’s had left in the night because they no longer had the weaponry and men to repel Cromwell’s attacks.

Upon discovering that he has been deceived by the Mayor, Cromwell sticks to the terms of the agreement despite feeling embarrassed and annoyed.

Click here to read more about Cromwell’s invasion of Ireland 
Click here to read more about the history of the O’Neill clan 
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Tim Healy whosed outspoken remarks helped lead to Parnell's downfall from politics1855 Tim Healy was born in Cork on this day in 1855. He was one of the major Irish politicians of the late 19th and early 20th century. He moved to England to gain employment and became involved in the Irish Home Rule issue.

Healy moved to London, where he became a writer for the Irish newspaper, The Nation. Healy became political associates with the emerging Charles Parnell, and was elected as MP for Wexford in 1880. He quickly gained a reputation as a formidable opponent in the House of Commons.

He was a tireless campaigner for the rights of Irish farmers. Following several bad years in regards to weather, and a decrease in the price of cattle and dairy products, many Irish farmers faced the threat of eviction. Healy devised a comprehensive strategy to improve their rights, which was known as the Plan for Campaign.

Healy then fell out with his long-time friend and leader Charles Parnell. The Irish Party had developed a solid alliance with Prime Minister Gladstone’s Liberal party. Parnell was having a less-than-private affair with the wife of one of his colleagues Captain O’Shea. When Parnell nominated and then supported O’Shea to stand as MP for Galway Healy felt he was putting his personal interests ahead of those of the party.

Tim Healy and Parnell confrontation -Image-copyright-Ireland-Calling

The affair became public knowledge and Captain O’Shea filed for divorce naming Parnell as the main reason. This was a scandal and Healy turned on Parnell and his leadership, criticising and mocking him in public at every opportunity. Parnell lost much of his support and died a few years later of a heart attack after his career had been destroyed.

The Irish Party split into those who had stayed loyal to Parnell, led by John Redmond, and those who hadn’t, led by John Dillon. Initially, Healy was one of Dillon’s leading followers, but over time the two factions of the former Irish Party grew closer again. Healy became disruptive to the party, as he couldn’t co-operate with any of the members who had remained loyal to Parnell. This difficult nature ended with him being expelled from the party.

Healy spent several years in the political wilderness, setting up his own organisations and working as a lawyer. He briefly dipped into politics on several occasions, joining forces with several parties and men he had previously called enemies if he considered it worthwhile.

After the Easter Rising, Healy threw his support behind the new Irish nationalist party, Sinn Féin. However, he took the job of ‘Governor-General of the Irish Free State’ after the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed. The terms of the treaty were unacceptable to many members of the IRA and Healy received death threats for taking the job, and so accepting the treaty.

The job entailed acting as a middleman between the British government and the newly formed Irish government. Healy performed well in the role, using his contacts on both sides to mediate disagreements and reach compromises. He was never far from controversy though, and many republicans called for his resignation when he publicly attacked the newly formed Fianna Fáil and its leader, Éamon de Valera.

Healy did eventually retire in 1928, and surprisingly lived out the rest of this days rather peacefully without major incidents or conflict. He died in 1931 at the age of 75 and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.

Click here to read more about Irish history and the major characters 
Click here to read about the love story of Charles Parnell and Kitty O’Shea

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1908 Dr Vincent Barry was born on this day in Cork in 1908. He was a scientist who specialised in chemistry. He worked on trying to find a cure for leprosy. Barry realised that the bacteria that caused tuberculosis was similar to the one that was responsible for leprosy.
Irish scientist Vincent Barry cure for leprosy Image Ireland Calling

While working at Trinity College in Dublin, Barry he led a team of scientists who created a drug called Clofazimine, which was used to treat leprosy sufferers. It is estimated that the drug saved around 15 million lives.

Click here to read more about the life and work of Dr Vincent Barry 
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Maureen OSullivan in Tarzan1911 Maureen O’Sullivan was born in Co Roscommon on this day in 1911. She was considered to be ‘Ireland’s first movie star’.

She moved to Hollywood after beginning her acting career in Dublin, and played the leading lady in numerous productions.

O’Sullivan starred in Pride and Prejudice and David Copperfield but is probably best known for her role as Jane in the Tarzan movies.

She continued acting in her later years also, and had roles in several 1980s films including Peggy Sue Got Married.

Maureen O’Sullivan has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Click here to read about more Irish actors

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Enya1961 Eithne Ní Bhraonáin was born in Co Donegal on this day in 1961. More commonly known by the English translation of her first name, Enya, she grew up to be one of the biggest selling singers ever to come out of Ireland.

She has won four Grammy awards for four different albums, been nominated for an Academy Award and has even had an asteroid, 6433 Enya, named after her.

Click here to read more about Enya and  see her videos 
Click here to read about more great Irish singers

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Andrea_Corr_Charlie-Brewer_CC21974 Happy birthday to Andrea Corr, born in Dundalk on this day in 1974. She was part of the family band, The Corrs along with her brother and two sisters. The Corrs enjoyed massive success in the UK and Ireland in the late 90s and early 2000s, with songs such as Runaway and So Young.

Click here to read more about the Corrs 
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