1873 Alexander Young was born on this day in Galway in 1873. Young fought in the Boer War for the British army and was awarded the Victoria Cross for his heroics on the battlefield.
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1944 Mairead Maguire was born in Belfast on this day in 1944. She was the co-founder of The Peace People, an organisation that campaigned for an end to the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland and for the disputes to be settled without any use of violence.
Maguire was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, although she faced criticism after she announced she intended to keep the prize money, when most people expected her to donate it to a worthy cause.
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1951 Happy birthday to Brian Michael Downey who was born on 27 January 1951 in Dublin. He is a drummer and founder member, with Phil Lynott, of Thin Lizzy. His definitive performance is the drum solo on ‘Sha La La’ on the Live and Dangerous album.
Since the end of Thin Lizzy in 1984, he has formed several bands, mainly playing blues. He joined the tribute Thin Lizzy touring band in 2010, and toured with the band during 2011 to commemorate 25 years since Phil Lynott’s death.
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1983 Happy birthday to Galway born sprinter, Paul Hession, born on this day in 1983. Hession represented Ireland in the 200m at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Olympics.
He has held the Irish record for both the 100m and the 200m. During the 200m qualifying for the 2008 Olympics, Hession finished second to the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, by just 0.03 seconds.
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1989 Dónall Mac Amhlaigh died on this day in 1989. He was born in Galway and served in the Irish army until 1951. He then moved to England in search of work.
Amhlaigh became a writer and worked for several newspapers in England. He also wrote short stories and novels. He wrote in Irish and used his own life experiences as content.
His book, Dialann Deoraí told the story of his life as an Irish immigrant working as a labourer in England. It was a bestseller and an English translation soon followed.
Click here to read about more great Irish writers
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1999 Eamon Collins was brutally murdered on this day in 1999 in Belfast. Collins had been a leading member of the IRA in the 1970s and 80s, but became a police informer after he was arrested in 1985. He agreed to give evidence against several of his former IRA associates, in return for immunity from prosecution himself.
However, he later retracted all his evidence at the request of his wife. The IRA offered him a guarantee of safety provided he gave them full details of the information he had given police. Collins agreed to this.
As he had retracted all evidence against the IRA, he no longer had immunity from the police. Collins was prosecuted for several counts of murder but was acquitted due to a lack of evidence.
He was told to leave Northern Ireland by the IRA and moved in Dublin and then Edinburgh. He returned in 1995, considering it safe as the IRA had announced a ceasefire. He appeared on television and wrote a book about his experiences in the IRA.
In 1998 Collins gave evidence in court against leading republican, Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy. After the trial his house was burned down and he received death threats. He was viciously beaten and stabbed to death 27th January 1999 while out walking his dogs. The IRA denied any involvement in his murder.