February 9

Francis Danby


1861 One of Ireland’s most successful painters, Francis Danby died on this day in 1861. Danby was renowned for his dramatic and imaginative landscapes and enjoyed great success in London during the 1820s.

Francis Danby

He became friends with fellow artists, James Arthur O’Connor and George Petrie, and when he was 20, the three of them moved to Bristol, and joined the informal artists’ group known as the ‘Bristol School, in which Danby was considered to have been a prominent painter.

He later moved to London, and at the age of 35, won 200 guineas from the British Institution for his ‘Opening of the Sixth Seal’.

This shows the Bible story from the book of Revelations, where the opening of the sixth seal leads to the earth exploding and the end of the world.

Nature has been allowed to run unchecked showing the wrath of God; flashes of lightening, erupting volcano, buildings collapse, and terrified, powerless people try to hide from God’s wrath.

Opening of the Sixth Seal Francis Danby

This dramatic painting was so successful when it was exhibited, it was moved to its own gallery because it was drawing such large crowds. He painted this for its commercial value (he thought it would sell for a high price), rather than any religious fervor.

He experienced poor luck while in London, his wife left him for fellow painter Paul Falconer Poole,  and important commissions were cancelled leading to serious debt.

He vowed never to live in London again and spent ten years living in the isolation of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. He did return to England before his death, to watch his sons grow up and revive his career.

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1880 Tom Kettle is one of the key figures in the history of Ireland. He was born in Dublin on this day in 1880 and had a successful career as a journalist and politician.

He was an Irish nationalist and joined the Irish army at the outbreak of the first World War.

It was then that he wrote a powerful and emotional poem, To My Darling Daughter Betty, to be sent back home as he knew he would be killed in battle and never see his wife and daughter again.

Click here to read the full poem  To My Darling Daughter Betty

Ireland’s 69th most popular poem.

Thomas Kettle To My Darling Daughter Betty Image copyright Ireland Calling

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1923 Brendan Behan was born on this day in 1923.

The Dubliner sadly died aged just 41 due to alcohol related illness, but Behan certainly left his mark.

He is considered to be one of Ireland’s best ever writers and is remembered fondly for his brilliant work along with his razor sharp wit.

Click here to read more on Brendan Behan

Brendan_Behan-They-took-away-our-land,-our-language,-and-our-religion;-but-they-could-never-harness-our-tongues..Image copyright Ireland Calling.

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Garrett Fitzgerald_photo-William-Murphy_CC2 1926 Garrett Fitzgerald was born on this day in Dublin in 1926.

He went on to twice be elected Taoiseach, in the 1980s. It was a difficult period with the economy in recession and the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland.

Fitzgerald remained a respected figure after he left politics. He wrote his autobiography and it immediately became a bestseller. In 2010, he was named on RTÉ’s list of their Top 40 Irishmen.

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1996 On this day in 1996, the Provisional IRA detonated a bomb in Canary Wharf, one of London’s main financial districts. The attack ended a 17 month ceasefire and two people were killed in the explosion.

The IRA said that the deaths were “regrettable” but could have been avoided if the police had responded to “clear and specific warnings”, after they had given a 90 minute warning to evacuate the area.

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Charles Gavan Duffy 1903 Charles Gavan Duffy died in France on this day in 1903.

Duffy was an Irish nationalist and a skilled writer and politician. He was the founder of The Nation, an Irish nationalist weekly newspaper, and campaigned for better rights for the Irish tenants.

Duffy was a supporter of Daniel O’Connell’s Repeal Association and was elected into the House of Commons.

He was arrested for his role as editor of The Nation as it grew from a literacy voice into a rebellious organisation, but released shortly after an appeal in the House of Lords.

Duffy eventually emigrated to Australia having grown tired of the lack of progress being made in achieving Irish independence.

Birth of the Nation Image copyright Ireland Calling

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2013 The 10th Irish Film and Television Awards (IFTA) took place on this day in 2013. Simon Delaney hosted the ceremony at the Convention Centre Dublin, on a night that saw Chris O’Dowd win the Best Entertainment award for his comedy, Moone Boy and Ben Affleck pick up the Best International Film award for Argo.

One of the first videos in this series – Moone Boy – Meet The Moones

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