1902 Annie French Hector died on this day in 1902. She was a novelist and wrote under the pseudonym Mrs Alexander, as a tribute to her late husband, the explorer Alexander Hector.
Ironically, Mrs Alexander’s husband disapproved of her writing career, and so she never had any of her novels published until after his death. Once her work was published, they sold well and some are still used as study material in English speaking schools today.
Mrs Alexander was born in Dublin but moved to England with her family at a young age when her father got into financial difficulties. She is one of the notable female Irish writers of the late 19th century.
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1927 Kevin O’Higgins was assassinated in Dublin on this day in 1927. He was a member of the Irish Free State government, led by the pro-treaty IRA. When the Irish Civil War broke out in 1922, O’Higgins felt the government had to react strongly. He feared that a long-lasting conflict in Ireland would undermine the Free State government, and give the British an excuse to retake control of governing the country.
The Free State leader, Michael Collins was assassinated during this war. O’Higgins responded by ordering the executions of any anti-treaty IRA members found guilty of attacks on the Free State government. In total, O’Higgins ordered the executions of 77 men during the Irish Civil War. One of those men was Rory O’Connor, the man that led the anti-treaty seizure of the Four Courts building in Dublin. O’Connor had been the best man at O’Higgins’ wedding just a few years earlier.
After the Civil War ended, O’Higgins kept his place in the Free State government. He once described himself as “the most conservative-minded revolutionaries that ever put through a successful revolution”.
O’Higgins was assassinated while on his way to church by three anti-treaty members of the IRA in 1927.
The men responsible for his killing, Timothy Coughlin, Bill Gannon and Archie Doyle, were never successfully charged. Coughlan was murdered himself a year later by a police informer in Dublin. Gannon and Doyle benefited from the amnesty to IRA members in 1932 under the order of Éamon de Valera.
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1956 Happy birthday to Frank Stapleton, born in Dublin on this day in 1956. He is a former professional footballer who played more than 70 times for the Republic of Ireland, scoring 20 goals. Stapleton spent most of the 1970s playing for English giants Arsenal where he won the FA Cup.
He then moved to rivals Manchester United and had an equally successful career there. Stapleton won the FA Cup two more times with the Red Devils. Stapleton is regarded by many experts as one of the most naturally gifted players the Republic of Ireland has ever had.
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1958 Happy birthday to Fiona Shaw, born on this day in Cork in 1958. She is an actress and has had major roles in numerous big films and television series. Shaw played the doctor that befriended Christy Brown in the Oscar winning My Left Foot. She has also appeared in several of the Harry Potter films as Petunia Dursley.
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1974 Happy birthday to Imelda May, born in Dublin on this day in 1974. She is a successful musician and has had three consecutive number one albums. May revealed that in her early career she struggled to get a record label as company bosses treated her like a leper.
Click here to read Imelda May talking about her early career struggle
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2001 One private collector gained an original handwritten copy of one of the chapters of James Joyce’s modern classic Ulysses. The draft copy was covered in scribbles and notes from Joyce, as he worked on the famous novel. Joyce is of course one of Ireland’s most famous writers of the early 20th century. There is even a James Joyce tour in Dublin. Visitors are invited to follow in the footsteps Leopold Bloom, the main character in Ulysses.
The notes went on sale at Sotheby’s auction house in London on this day in 2001, and were eventually sold to an anonymous telephone bidder for £861,250. The total sum was a slight disappointment as a year previously, a draft of another of the chapters of the book fetched well over £1m.
Click here to read more about the James Joyce Centre in Dublin
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