1653 Sir Phelim O’Neill was executed on this day in Dublin in 1653. He was an Irish landowner who felt threatened by the increasing number of British settlers on Irish land.
He organised an uprising against the British which led to an eleven year war. O’Neill’s troops were poorly armed and the conflicts escalated out of his control. He was identified by the British as the main instigator of the rebellion and a £300 bounty was placed on his head. He was eventually captured and stood trial in Dublin, where he was labelled a traitor and hung, drawn and quartered.
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1888 Barry Fitzgerald was born in Dublin on this day in 1888. He was a hugely successful actor both on the stage and on film. He moved to Hollywood and had roles in numerous films, most notably the iconic How Green Was My Valley and The Quiet Man.
Fitzgerald has two stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, one for film and one for television. In 1944, he achieved the unique feat of being nominated for an Oscar for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor for the same role, Father Fitzgibbon in Going My Way. He missed out on the Best Actor but was named Best Supporting Actor.
Fitzgerald actually knocked the head off his Oscar by accident while practising his golf swing at home. Due to a shortage of metal in the Second World War, Oscars were made from plaster and could easily be broken by a swinging golf club.
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1894 On this day in 1894, Ireland won its first ever Rugby Union Triple Crown. Having already beaten England and Scotland, Ireland completed the set by seeing off Wales 6-0 in Belfast.
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1947 Dónal Lunny was born in Tullamore on this day in 1947. He is a musician and was one of the founding members of Irish folk band Planxty. Lunny left the band in 1973 to pursue different projects, but the remaining members, which included musical talents Christy Moore and Andy Irvine, were well on the way to becoming one of the best Irish folk bands around.
Click here to read more about Planxty.
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1966 Frank O’Connor died on this day in Dublin in 1966. He was a prolific author and wrote more than 150 short stories, as well as two autobiographies in his career.
His hometown Cork set up the Frank O’Connor Festival and Prize in 2000, which celebrates the works of short story writers and runs workshops and training for youngsters.
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2000 The Belfast ship building company Harland and Wolff suffered a major setback on this day in 2000. A major contract worth £433m was given to a French rival, leaving the directors of Harland and Wolff fearing they may go under as their famous ship the Titanic did.
The company recovered from the setback though, and are now deeply involved in building the machinery used in renewable energy, particularly wind and water power.
Samson and Goliath are the twin shipbuilding gantry cranes situated at Queen’s Island, Belfast – they dominate the Belfast skyline.