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1785 The Irish Academy was founded on this day in 1785, with the mission of promoting excellence in Ireland with regards to literature, science, technology and culture.
It is still in place today, now known as the Royal Irish Academy, and has had many historic figures as members including former Taoiseach Éamon de Valera and Nobel Prize winning writer Seamus Heaney.
Click here to read Mid-term Break by Seamus Heaney
Click here to read Digging by Seamus Heaney
Click here to read more about Seamus Heaney
Click here to read about more key characters from Irish history
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1915 Walter Macken was born in Galway on this day in 1915. He was an actor, an author and a playwright. He is possibly most remembered for his trilogy of novels, Seek the Fair Land, The Silent People and The Scorching Wind.
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1916 Easter Rising leaders Padraic Pearse, Thomas Clarke and Thomas MacDonagh were executed on this day at Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin. The men had led more than 1,000 rebels in five days fighting in Dublin, as they declared Ireland an independent republic. The British eventually overpowered them, and Pearse ordered the rebels surrender to avoid any more bloodshed.
Click here to read more about the Easter Rising
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1927 Ernest Ball died. He was a composer specializing in Irish themes to appeal to the thousands of Irish immigrants in New York at that time. He wasn’t Irish himself.
He wrote the music for When Irish Eyes are Smiling. When Irish Eyes are Smiling isn’t actually an Irish song at all but it’s become one of those numbers that are often used by TV or video producers who want to conjure up a sentimental image of Ireland.
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1933 Dáil passed the Constitution (Removal of Oath) Act – removing the Oath of Allegiance from the constitution.
The Oath was included in Article 17 of the Irish Free State’s 1922 Constitution. It read:
“I (name) do solemnly swear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the Irish Free State as by law established, and that I will be faithful to H.M. King George V, his heirs and successors by law in virtue of the common citizenship of Ireland with Great Britain and her adherence to and membership of the group of nations forming the British Commonwealth of Nations.”
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1973 Happy birthday to Rea Garvey, born in Kerry on this day in 1973. He is a songwriter and musician and has been the frontman for German band Reamonn since 1999. The band played in front of President Obama, during one of his visits to Germany, and also played heavyweight boxer Nikolai Valuev’s walk-on music for his 2008 bout against Evander Holyfield. Garvey has also worked as a solo artist and has collaborated with stars such as Nelly Furtado and Mary J Blige.
Click here to read about more Irish singers
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1997 The 42nd Eurovision Song Contest took part on this day in Dublin in 1997. Boyzone singer Ronan Keating co-hosted the ceremony with Carrie Crowley. The contest was won by the UK’s entry Love Shine a Light by Katrina and the Waves, who received points from every single participating country. Ireland’s entry Mysterious Woman by Marc Roberts came second.
Click here to read more about Irish bands and musicians
Click here to read about Ronan Keating’s collaboration with Burt Bacharach
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2008 Martin Finnegan died on this day in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. He was a motorcycle racer from Dublin, and won nearly 50 Irish road races making him one of the country’s leading motorsport competitors.
Finnegan was killed on this day in 2008, when his front brake failed as he approached a corner during a race. His back wheel hit a bump in the road and he was flung into a bank. Finnegan died from his injuries, and his funeral was held in his hometown of Lusk in Dublin a few days later. More than 2,000 of Finnegan’s fellow motorcycle racers attended the ceremony.
An inquest into the cause of the brakes failing was launched and it was concluded that a loose bolt was responsible for the accident.
Click here to read about more top Irish sports stars