1866 Charles Wood was born in Armagh on this day in 1866. He was a music composer and teacher, and the co-founder of the Irish Folk Song Society in 1904.
Wood composed numerous pieces of music during his life, mostly for the organ. Several of Wood’s compositions are still played in churches around the world today.
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1902 Charles Edward Kelly was born on this day in Dublin in 1902. When he was 19, he co-founded the Dublin Opinion magazine and did all the cartoons and illustrations for the publication. The magazine ran throughout the Irish Civil War, and many of Kelly’s cartoons referenced the events of the day. Dublin Opinion ran up until 1968, when Kelly decided to end its publication, when both the men with whom he had founded it had passed away. He continued to draw and also had some watercolour painting of his exhibited in Dublin.
Kelly’s son Frank, will be known to many comedy fans, as the violent drunken Catholic priest Father Jack Hackett in the brilliant 1990s sit-com Father Ted.
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1919 British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown landed their aircraft in a bog in Clifden, Co Galway on this day in 1919.
From the sky, the men thought they were looking at a green field but in fact was a wet marsh-like area.
Story of Alcock and Brown, the two men who completed first flight across Atlantic and landed in Galway in 1919.
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1976 Happy birthday to Gary Lightbody, lead singer and songwriter for Indie-rock band Snow Patrol. Lightbody was born in Belfast on this day in 1976. Snow Patrol hit the big time with their 2003 album Final Straw with hit songs such as Chocolate and Run. They followed that up with the successful 2006 album Eyes Open which featured the worldwide hit Chasing Cars.
Lightbody is well respected by his peers in the music industry, and has written articles for various magazines and newspapers about bands to look out for.
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1979 A statue of James ‘Big Jim’ Larkin was unveiled on O’Connell Street in Dublin on this day in 1979. Larkin was a Trade Unionist who inspired Ireland’s working classes to unite and stand up for better working conditions and fairer pay.
He was the man behind the Dublin Lockout in 1917, when dock workers went on strike for months in protest at their dangerous working conditions and low pay. Larkin was a brilliant orator, and the man who coined the phrase:
“A fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay.”
He is a key figure in Irish history. George Bernard Shaw once described him as “the greatest Irishman since Charles Parnell”. On the front of the plinth on which the statue stands, is a quote from a speech Larkin gave to the Dublin workers as he inspired them to stand up against their wealthy employers:
“The great appear great because we are on our knees, let us rise!”
On either side of the plinth, there are quotes about Larkin from major Irish writers, Patrick Kavanagh and Seán O’Casey. These lines are from Kavanagh from his poem, On the Death of Jim Larkin:
Read the full poem; On the Death of Jim Larkin here
This Seán O’Casey quote comes from his own book, Drums Under the Window:
“…He talked to the workers, spoke as only Jim Larkin could speak, not for an assignation with peace, dark obedience, or placid resignation, but trumpet-tongued of resistance to wrong, discontent with leering poverty, and defiance of any power strutting out to stand in the way of their march onward.”
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Christy Moore performing the Ballad of James Larkin from 1969.
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1999 On this day in 1999, Boyzone member Stephen Gately confirmed publicly that he was gay. He was forced to make his private life public as he was under threat of a former acquaintance selling stories about him to a tabloid newspaper. Gately decided to take action into his own hands and publicly came out. The music industry rallied round Gately, particularly his bandmates, and he was praised for his bravery. Tragically, Gately was found dead in his apartment in Majorca in 2009 aged just 33.
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