1798 The Battle of Three Rocks took place on this day in 1798. It was one of the more successful battles for the United Irishmen as they rebelled against the British rule.
A troop of 100 British soldiers began a march to Wexford to increase the presence in the city. They had been told that the road into Wexford was clear by a locals. However, this was not the case. Up to 1,000 united Irishmen were waiting in ambush.
Before dawn on 30th May 1798, the 100 British soldiers walked straight into a trap set up by the Irish rebels. Unsuspecting any attack, they were slaughtered with muskets and pikes within a matter of minutes.
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1844 Daniel O’Connell was imprisoned on this day in 1844. He had successfully forced the British government to ease the laws surrounding the rights of Catholics with regard to land ownership and education.
He was now pushing for repeal of the Act of Union, which had merged the Kingdoms of Ireland and Great Britain. O’Connell held several ‘monster meetings’, so called because they were attended by anything up to 100,000 people.
The British government were nervous about the growing support for O’Connell and banned a scheduled ‘monster meeting’ in Dublin. O’Connell accepted the ban, despite objections from his followers. He knew that to defy the government would firstly lose credibility for himself and his cause, and secondly would almost certainly end in with violence.
Strangely, having complied with the government and banned the meeting, O’Connell was still arrested for conspiracy and put in prison. He was released after about three months when the House of Lords ordered his release, stating that he wasn’t given a fair trial.
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1906 Michael Davitt died on this day in 1906. He was one of the founding members of the Land League and spent his life campaigning for better rights for the people of Ireland.
Davitt was from an Irish family that had been evicted from their land and forced to leave the country. He grew up in Liverpool and was left without an arm after an accident in a cotton mill as a child.
Davitt was convinced that land ownership was the key to improving the lives of people in Ireland. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood and was sent to jail when he was caught arranging a delivery of guns to London.
Once released, he joined forces with Charles Parnell and helped publicise the ‘Boycotting’ campaign in County Mayo. Lord Boycott was a British landowner who was driven off his own land by clever tactics adopted by the local community. Parnell, and Davitt, encouraged the locals to shun Boycott at every opportunity. So much so, that the labourers wouldn’t work his land, and the bar owners wouldn’t serve him beer.
The shunning was so effective that Lord Boycott had no choice but return to England, and there the term ‘to boycott’ was born.
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1953 Happy birthday to Colm Meaney, born in Dublin on this day in 1953. He is a film and television actor and has had major roles in many blockbuster films. He starred as the Gene, the right-hand man of Daniel Craig’s nameless suave drug dealing character in the 2004 movie Layer Cake.
Film fans may also recognise Meaney from Con Air, as the obnoxious DEA Agent Duncan Malloy, who is at loggerheads with John Cusack’s character as to the best way to take down a plane full of criminals.
Meaney has also appeared in numerous other films and television programmes, including as a guest voice actor on The Simpsons.
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1955 Colm Tóibín was born on this day in County Wexford in 1955. He is an award winning novelist and his books have sold all around the world. He has a love for Spain after visiting Barcelona as a young man, and the theme of living abroad compared to staying at home, can be found in his work.
Several of Tóibín’s works have been hailed by critics and he has won various awards for novels such as The Heather Blazing, The Blackwater Lightship and The Master.
In 2014, his novel Brooklyn was adapted into a film by director Nick Hornby, and starred young Irish actress Saoirse Ronan.
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1965 Happy birthday to Briana Corrigan, born on this day in Belfast in 1965. She is a singer songwriter who was the first female vocalist of the English band The Beautiful South. With Corrigan, the band had one of the fastest selling albums of all time which was fittingly named Carry on Up the Charts.
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