February 17

Daniel O'Connell1846 On this day in 1846, Daniel O’Connell spoke in the House of Commons. He wanted to make clear the severity of the suffering that was taking place in Ireland as a result of the potato famine, with many British landowners unaware of the scale of the problems faced. Here is an extract of O’Donnell’s speech:
“It was certain that there was a fearful prospect of a most calamitous season before the people of Ireland. The extent of that calamity had been disputed, and there had been a time when there was a prospect of some portion of it being possibly averted… The calamity was pressing, was imminent – more pressing, more imminent, and more fearful than that House was aware of. In order to understand it, it was right that the House should be made aware of the state of Ireland before the calamity, had impended.”
“The last Population Returns of 1841 showed that, out of the whole rural population of Ireland, 46 per cent lived in a single room; the entire human family and the pigs occupied the same apartment together. The next fact was, that of the civil population – that is, of the inhabitants of towns – 36 per cent lived in a single room, and that two or three families sometimes occupied the same room.”
Daniel_OConnell champion-of-liberty Image copyright Ireland Calling

* * *

1945 Happy birthday to Oscar winning actress, Brenda Fricker, born in Dublin on 17th February 1945. Fricker has always played emotionally challenging roles throughout her career. She played the mother of murdered crime reporter Veronica Guerin and won her Oscar for her part in My Left Foot, about a talented painter suffering with cerebral palsy.
Click here to read more about Brenda Fricker
Brenda_Fricker quote - image copyright Ireland Calling

* * *

2007 Dermot O’Reilly died on this day in 2007 after a long and successful career in music. He was born in Dublin but emigrated to Canada where he formed traditional folk band Ryan’s Fancy, along with Fergus O’Byrne and Denis Ryan. The band released 12 albums and had their own TV show for several years.

Dermot O’Reilly performing ‘The Badger Drive’

* * *

2013 Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin died on this day in 2013 aged 89. He had a remarkable career, beginning as a professional Gaelic footballer in the 1940s. Ó Ceallacháin won three Leinster Senior Hurling Championships and scored a goal in the All-Ireland Final of 1948. In 1953, he took over his father’s radio programme, Gaelic Sports Results on RTÉ. His show was broadcast around the world and he stayed at the helm for nearly 60 years, making him the one of the longest serving radio presenters in the world.

Seán Óg Ó Ceallacháin

1948 All-Ireland Hurling Final between Waterford and Dublin – wonderful atmosphere and images.


Leave a comment