1699 Lemuel Gulliver set off on his voyage on the Antelope on this day in 1699 according to the legendary novel Gulliver’s Travels. The book was written by Irish writer Jonathan Swift, and sees the main character travel to several weird and wonderful worlds, encountering races of giants and tiny people. The story has been adapted for the big screen on numerous occasions, most recently in 2010, with Jack Black playing the lead role.
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1773 Art Ó Laoghaire was killed by British soldiers on this day in 1773. He was an Irish Catholic, and got into a feud with the High Sheriff of County Cork, an Englishman named Abraham Morris. Morris tried to have Ó Laoghaire arrested for an alleged attack on him and one of his servants but was unsuccessful.
Morris then demanded Ó Laoghaire sell him his horse. The law at the time stated that no Catholic could own a horse that was worth more than £5. If they did, they would have to sell it to any Protestant who offered that amount. Ó Laoghaire refused to sell and challenged Morris to a duel, which he declined.
Morris used his position to have Ó Laoghaire declared an outlaw, so that he could legally be shot on sight. Morris led a group of men to hunt down Ó Laoghaire, and on this day in 1773, he was hit by a fatal shot by one of Morris’ men. Art’s brother Cornelius responded by shooting Morris a short time later, although he was not fatally injured by the attack.
The poem, Caoineadh Áirt Úi Laoghaire, was written by Ó Laoghaire’s wife after his death. It means Lament for Art O’Leary, and the Irish poet Thomas Kinsella later translated the entire poem into English. It was voted as one of Ireland’s favourite poems by readers of the Irish Times in 1999.
Click here to read the original poem in Irish, Caoineadh Áirt Úi Laoghaire
Click here to read the English translation by Thomas Kinsella, Lament for Art O’Leary
Click here to read any of Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
The Lost World of Art Ó Laoghaire – a RTÉ programme with the history of Art Ó Laoghaire. Hear the poem is the Irish tongue.
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1916 Four members of the Irish Volunteers were executed at Kilmainham Gaol on this day in 1916. William Pearse (younger brother of Padraic Pearse), Edward Daly, Michael O’Hanrahan and Joseph Plunkett were killed by firing squad for their part in the Easter Rising, as the Irish nationalists declared Ireland an independent republic, free from British rule.
Plunkett was allowed to marry his sweetheart, Grace Gifford inside the jail and was allowed a few moments with her alone, before he was led out and executed.
Click here to read more about the Easter Rising
Click here to read the tragic love story of Joseph Plunkett and Grace Gifford
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1928 Thomas Kinsella was born on this day in Dublin in 1928. He is one of the most respected and admired poets that Ireland produced in the 20th century. His poems, Another September and Mirror in February were both voted inside Ireland’s 100 favourite poems in a poll held by the Irish Times.
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1956 Happy birthday to Steve Barron, born in Dublin on this day in 1956. He is a film and television director and has made numerous films such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Mike Basset: England Manager.
However, Barron’s most famous work are some of the music videos he has directed. He worked with almost every major star in the 1980s. The following artists have all had a music video directed by Barron; Dolly Parton, Madonna, Dire Straits, Adam and the Ants, Bryan Adams, Culture Club, David Bowie, Def Leppard, Eddy Grant, Fleetwood Mac, Fun Boy Three, Heaven 17, The Human League, The Jam, Joe Jackson, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Paul McCartney, Sheena Easton, Styx, Tears for Fears, Toto, ZZ Top, Nat King Cole.
His most iconic video is A-ha’s legendary Take on Me, in which actress Bunty Bailey gets pulled into a comic book and has to try and escape with the band’s lead singer, Morten Harket.
The video for Michael Jackson’s 1982 classic Billie Jean was also directed by Barron. The video won countless awards as the singer is seen dancing his way through the night to a hotel to meet Billie Jean, all the while trying to escape the attentions of a newspaper photographer.
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1989 Happy birthday to Rory McIlroy, born in County Down on this day in 1989. He is a professional golfer and widely tipped to be the man that eventually takes the place of Tiger Woods as the dominant player in the sport.
McIlroy looked set to win his first major in 2011, when he led by four shots going into the final round of the Masters. However, the pressure go to him and he shot a catastrophic round of 8 over par to throw away his lead and finished the tournament ties for 15th place.
He bounced back in style though, and having learned from his experience he won the US Open just two months later, setting a record total score for the tournament of 16 under par. He also added the PGA Championship to his list of Majors won in 2012, finishing with an outright lead of 8 strokes ahead of second place.
McIlroy has also been on the winning European team in the Ryder Cup in 2010 and 2012, in the latter when Europe came back from a seemingly impossible score of 10-6 down going into the final day. McIlroy turned up late for his head-to-head against Keegan Bradley, but did deliver appoint for his team in an amazing day that became known as the Miracle of Medina.
He has also represented Ireland in the World Cup of Gold on two occasions, finishing in a tie for second by one shot in 2009 and tying for fourth in 2011, four shots off the lead.
Click here to read about more top Irish sports stars