1547 Henry VIII died on this day in 1547. He continued the work of his predecessors, and invaded much of Ireland.
He declared himself the King of Ireland although he never gained full control.
Click here to read more about Irish history
* * *
1807 One of Ireland’s most famous explorers, Sir Robert McClure was born on this day in 1807. He was the first man to travel the Northwest passage of the Arctic by boat and sledge.
He did this despite losing his ship, The Investigator to the ice. McClure and his crew continued over the ice by sledge until they were rescued by a British naval ship, The Resolute which also had to be abandoned after the journey was complete. He was court-martialled on his return to Britain for losing his ship, but was acquitted and knighted in 1854.
* * *
1852 Louis Philip Brennan, the inventor of the dirigible torpedo and the gyroscope monorail, was born on the 28 January 1852 at Main Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo.
Click here to read more about Louis Brennan
* * *
1939 William Butler Yeats died on this day in 1939. Yeats was the literary giant of his day and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.
He led a troubled life, with a long term obsession of the beautiful actress Maud Gonne. She spent years rejecting his advances and was the subject of his poem ‘When You are Old’, in which Yeats warned her that her youthful beauty would fade in time.
Click here to read more about WB Yeats
Click here to read When You are Old and notes and analysis on the poem
Here is W.B.Yeats Reading His Own Verse, including The Lake Isle of Innisfree. Yeats made these recordings for the wireless in 1932, 1934 and the last on 28 October 1937 when he was 72.
* * *
1978 Happy birthday to Sheamus, born in Dublin on this day in 1978. Sheamus is a professional wrestler and held the WWE Championship belt on two occasions and has also been crowned King of the Ring and Royal Rumble winner.
When he entered the WWE, Sheamus wanted to break away from the old Irish stereotypes of leprechauns and Guinness. He made a name for himself as a warrior and drew much of his inspiration from ancient Celtic symbols.
Click here to learn more about Celtic symbols
* * *
1981 Daniel O’Donnell made his first professional appearance as a singer with his sister’s band Margo on this day in 1981. He has since gone on to become a star in Ireland and the UK, as well as in America and Australia.
* * *
2003 It was announced that Peter O’Toole will receive an honorary lifetime achievement award at the Academy Awards. (He held the record for the most Academy Award acting nominations without a win). He was ‘enchanted’ by the offer, but he turned it down. The 70 year old said, ‘’I am still in the game and might win the lovely bugger outright. Would the Academy please defer the honour until I am 80.’
Academy president Frank Pierson replied, ‘The award will be at the Academy for you to pick up when you’re 80 or whenever you’re ready.’ However, O’Toole changed his mind and did accept the Award in that year, 2003, the 75th Academy Awards. Here is a video showing his acceptance speech.
Read his memorable quotes here.