1820 Mary Anne Sadlier was born in County Cavan in this day in 1820. She moved to Quebec in 1844 after the death of her father, and married fellow Irish emigrant James Sadlier, a publisher.
She began writing for the family’s Catholic magazine, The Tablet, and regularly broached topics such as the Irish famine, emigration and the Catholic faith. Sadlier encouraged her readers to attend mass and not to lose touch with their Irish roots. She also wrote several novels and collections of short stories.
The family then moved to New York, and Sadlier became a role model and mentor to many Irish Catholic women in America. She continued to write prolifically and became close friends with an Irish-Canadian politician and writer called D’Arcy McGee.
Sadlier continued to rally the Irish pride in New York, and also had links back home in Ireland. McGee was inspired by her influence and desire to improve the stature of Irish people both home and abroad.
Unfortunately, McGee was assassinated by a political rival and Sadlier was left heartbroken at losing her close friend. She returned to Canada with her husband where they lived out the remainder of their lives.
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1839 John Todhunter was born in Dublin in 1839. He was a playwright and a poet and was involved in the foundation of the Irish Literary Society in London.
Todhunter wrote several plays throughout his life, as well as numerous collections of poetry. He was a well-respected scholar of his day, and was a close friend and neighbour of WB Yeats.
Below is an extract from his poem ‘The Banshee’ – click for the whole poem.
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1841 Francis Brinkley was born in County Meath on this day in 1841. He studied maths at Trinity College and joined the army. His cousin, who was the sixth Governor of Hong Kong, invited him out to work alongside him.
Brinkley stopped off in Japan on his way, and witnessed a sword fight between two samurai warriors. Once one warrior had killed his opponent, he immediately covered up his body and knelt down in prayer beside it. Brinkley was highly impressed by this act of respect and humility.
He returned to live in Japan a short time later and remained there for the rest of his life. Brinkley worked as a soldier and trainer with the Japanese Navy, and later a tutor of mathematics at Tokyo Imperial University. Brinkley married a local woman and they had three children together.
He developed business interests in Japan – he was an adviser to the Nippon Yusen Kaisha, Japan’s largest shipping line. He founded and edited the Japan Mail newspaper, which was one of the most read English-language publications in the Far East. He received financial help for the running of the paper from the Japanese government, and his writing was very much pro-Japanese.
He was also the English Times correspondent in Japan, and became famous for his reports during the Russo-Japanese War in 1904-5.
His writing ‘biased’ towards Japan
The English journalist, F.A. MacKenzie, wrote of Brinkley:
Captain Brinkley’s great knowledge of Japanese life and language is admitted and admired by all. His independence of judgment is, however, weakened by his close official connection with the Japanese Government and by his personal interest in Japanese industry. His journal is regarded generally as a government mouth-piece, and he has succeeded in making himself a more vigorous advocate of the Japanese claims than even the Japanese themselves. It can safely be forecasted that whenever a dispute arises between Japanese and British interests, Captain Brinkley and his journal will play the part, through thick and thin, of defenders of the Japanese.
Brinkley’s admiration for Japan and its people led to him collecting numerous pieces of Japanese art and studying their history. He also wrote books for English speakers who wanted to learn the Japanese language and culture.
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1971 Happy birthday to Paul Wallace, born in Cork on this day in 1971. He was a professional rugby player and represented Ireland 45 times between 1995 and 2002. He was part of the Irish squad for both the 1995 and 1999 World Cups.
Wallace is also in the Guinness Book of Records, along with his two brothers, David and Richard, as the only three members of any one family to have played for the British and Irish Lions.
He now works as an expert pundit on rugby matches for Sky Sports, and also writes a column for the Irish Daily Mail.
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1977 Happy birthday to Fran Cosgrave, born in Ireland on this day in 1977. He was the bodyguard for the Irish boyband Westlife throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. This job gave him a moderate amount of publicity, and Cosgrave took advantage of that in 2005 when he agreed to appear on ITV show Celebrity Love Island.
Cosgrave was popular with the channel’s audience and he went on to win the show. He appeared in several more reality programmes in the following few years. Cosgrave also released his own music record, wrote his autobiography and bought a nightclub in Dublin.
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2007 Frank Winder died in Dublin on this day in 2007. He was a scientist with a love of nature and the outdoors. Winder worked on numerous projects in Ireland, searching for rare species of animals and plants.
He discovered a dragonfly called the Downy Emerald in the Kerry mountains, when he was actually searching for a rare butterfly.
On one expedition in Kerry, Winder suffered a fall while scaling up a mountain. He wasn’t seriously injured but the incident made him realise that to become a more successful and efficient field scientist, he needed to improve his rock-climbing and general outdoors skills.
He joined the Irish Mountaineering Club and became one of its leading members. Many of the climbs that Winder did are considered to be classic roots to this day.
His work wasn’t just confined to climbing mountains and hunting insects though. Winder was an accomplised scientist and in the lab he was part of a team that developed a class of phenazines that are still used to treat tuberculosis and leprosy in some part of the world today.
Click here to read about more top Irish scientists