1801 Napper Tandy stood trial for treason on this day in 1801. He had been a member of the United Irishmen and was one of the leaders of the failed Irish Rebellion of 1798.
Tandy actively encouraged young Irish people to follow the example of the French peasants, and uprise against their rulers with force. He was in the process of building an army when his actions came to the attention of the British government.
He was forced to flee Ireland and spent time in France, where he met with Theobald Wolfe Tone and other United Irishmen. They gathered support from the French military and returned to Ireland intent on leading a rebellion.
However, they struggled to gain support. In their absence, the British had quashed the Irish ambition that an independent republic could be achieved using military force. Tandy again had to leave Ireland, through fear of arrest, and sailed all the way around the north of Scotland to avoid landing on English land.
British forces intercepted him in Hamburg, Germany and Tandy was returned to Ireland to stand trial for the treasonable landing on Rutland Island, off the coast of Donegal.
He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to death, but his life was spared after a personal plea from French leader Napoleon, and Tandy was allowed to leave to live out the remainder of his life in France. Tandy was given a huge funeral in Bordeaux.
Tandy is mentioned in the old folk song, The Wearing of the Green, which tells the story of the struggle faced by the Irish people under British rule in the early 19th century.
Click here for more about the 1798 rebellion
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Click here to read more about the Wearing of the Green and watch videos of the song being performed by various Irish musicians
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1926 On this day in 1926, Irish woman Violet Gibson shot Benito Mussolini three times in a failed assassination attempt in Rome. The fascist leader had just delivered a speech on the progress of medicine, and was travelling in his car as part of the post speech parade.
Gibson fired three shots at him with one grazing his face and breaking his nose. Amazingly, he escaped the attack with only minor injuries and continued the parade. Her motive to assassinate Mussolini was unclear, and there was no evidence of her working as part of any larger organisation.
Gibson was diagnosed insane and she was deported back to England, after being released without charge at Mussolini’s request. She lived out the rest of her life in St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton.
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1947 Henry Ford, founder of the Ford car company, died on this day in 1947. Ford had Irish and Belgian heritage, but was born in Michigan. He has gone down in history as a pioneer of transport, the first man to design and make the automobile and make it available on a mass scale.
His belief and determination is still an inspiration to thousands of creative people today. Here are a some of his best quotes:
“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.”
“Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.”
Click here to read more great quotes from famous Irish wits
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1965 The General Election took place in Ireland on this day in 1965, forming the 18th Dáil. Fianna Fáil leader Seán Lemass gained 72 seats, enough to form a majority government.
The following few years would prove difficult for both the public and the government, as the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland continued. The fighting between the IRA, the UVF and the British military saw hundreds lose their lives.
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1970 Shana Morrison was born in New York on this day in 1970. She is a singer songwriter and the daughter of Northern Irish music legend Van Morrison.
Click here to read about more great Irish singers
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2004 Maureen ‘Mo’ Potter, the veteran Irish singer, actor and comedienne died on this day in 2004. Potter had a career on stage that spanned more than half a century, and as a teenager she toured with Jack Hylton and his orchestra during World War II.
In 1984, she was given the Freedom of the City of Dublin, and in 1988 she was awarded an honorary degree from Trinity College, Dublin.
Click here to read about more great Irish actors