December 31

1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease at £45 per annum for the St. James’s Gate Brewery. Guinness is now brewed in almost 60 countries.
Guinness signs 9,000 year lease on brewery for £45 per year
Discover more about Guinness – ‘Black Velvet’ Ireland’s most famous drink
Guinness Storehouse – tourist attraction
Recipe Beef and Guinness stew – central heating for the body
Research suggests Guinness really can be good for you

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1815 Thomas Burke died in London on this day in 1815. He was born in Dublin and was a leading artist of the 19th century, with most of his work being done using the mezzotint technique. He rarely issued his own prints, and preferred to work for publishers.
Click here to look at the Ireland Calling Celtic store

Detail of Untitled piece - 1800 ~ Thomas Burke
Detail of Untitled piece – 1800 ~ Thomas Burke

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1909 Harry Ferguson’s monoplane successfully took off from Hillsborough Park in Belfast on this day in 1909. He had spent months working with his brother in their Belfast workshop on the plane, and after several false starts and delays, the plane finally took to the air.
Ferguson became the first Irish man to fly and also the first man in the United Kingdom to build and fly his own plane.
This accomplishment was just one of many that Ferguson achieved throughout his career. He was also key in the development of agricultural machinery, and the first four-wheel drive racing car.
Click here to read more about Harry Ferguson  
Click here to read about more great Irish scientists
Harry Ferguson's monoplane

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Mickey Finn1951 Micky Finn was born on this day in County Kilkenny in 1951. He grew up to become a legend of the Galway folk music circuit.
Finn was a gifted fiddler, and was renowned for his creative and versatile performances – he reportedly never played the same song in the same way twice.
Finn played with many famous Irish musicians throughout his life. Christy Moore, Mary Coughlan and Dolores Keane are just a few who have played alongside him.
Click here to read about more of Ireland’s top instrumentalists

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1961 RTÉ television broadcasts began on 31 December 1961. The first person to address the Irish nation was President Éamon de Valera who said: “Never before was there in the hands of men an instrument so powerful to influence the thoughts and actions of the multitude.”
The evening’s viewing also included poetry recitals, music performances and a live broadcast of the diners and ballroom dancers at the Gresham Hotel in Dublin.
1979 Happy birthday to Elaine Cassidy, Born in County Wicklow on this day in 1979. She is an actress who will be recognisable to many sci-fi and horror fans.
Cassidy played the role of Abby Mills in the CBS TV series Harper’s Island, in which one of the character died in each episode. She has also starred as Runt opposite Cillian Murphy in the 2001 Irish film Disco Pigs. She won an IFTA for best actress for her performances in both roles.

Click here to read about more Irish actors

Eamon de Valera RTE first broadcast

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1989 Happy birthday to Peter-James Barron, born in Ireland on this day in 1989. He is a cross-country skier, and competed for Ireland at the World Ski Championships in 2009 and 2011, as well as the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver.
Click here to read about more top Irish sports stars

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2003 Nurse Bridget Dirrane died on this day 2003. She lived to 109. She was thrown in jail for her nationalist beliefs, rubbed shoulders with the leaders of the Easter Rising and went on to campaign for President Kennedy.
Read her story and see her video

Bridget Dirrane -born-15-November-1894


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