1824 William Allingham, the successful poet and writer, was born on this day in 1824. His most famous work is the poem, The Faeries, which was inspired by the beautiful woodland and scenery in Ballyshannon, County Donegal where he grew up.
Click here to read The Faeries – voted Ireland’s 69th favourite poem.
Click here to read Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
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1928 Patrick McGoohan was born in New York on this day in 1928. His parents had emigrated from Ireland but returned shortly after he was born, before moving to Sheffield, England.
McGoohan worked in several industries before becoming the stage manager at Sheffield Repertory Theatre. One night when an actor was taken ill, McGoohan stepped in and launched himself into an acting career that spanned more than half a century.
McGoohan worked on several major productions in England, Ireland and America including Danger Man and The Prisoner. He was the murderer that was caught by US detective Columbo on four occasions and played King Edward I in Mel Gibson’s 1995 film Braveheart.
Click here to read about more great Irish actors
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1961 Happy birthday to Northern Irish chef Michael Deane, born in Lisburn on this day in 1961. He opened his restaurant in Belfast city centre in 1997 and was awarded Michelin star within 12 months.
Several celebrities are regular diners when they are in the city including Bono, Cliff Richard and John Rocha. James Bond actor Roger Moore once ate in Deane’s for three straight days as he was so impressed with the food and atmosphere.
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1974 Austin Clarke died on this day in 1974. He was one of the leading Irish poets of the 20th century. Three of his poems, The Planter’s Daughter, The Lost Heifer and The Blackbird of Derrycairn were voted amongst Ireland’s 100 favourite poems in 1999.
Click here to read The Planter’s Daughter
Click here to read The Lost Heifer
Click here to read The Blackbird of Derrycairn
Click here to read any of Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
Click here to read about more great Irish writers
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1988 Two off duty British soldiers were savagely beaten and killed on this day in 1988. The two men, David Howes and Derek Wood, drove into an IRA funeral procession by accident in Belfast. Tensions were high amongst the mourners after the recent funeral of the ‘Gibraltar Three’ had been attacked by loyalists resulting in three deaths.
Howes and Wood were mistaken for more loyalist attackers and dragged from their car. They were taken to a nearby park area and heavily beaten and stripped. Catholic priest, Father Alec Reid tried to intervene and stop the attack but was threatened and pushed away.
The two men were put in a taxi and taken to some wasteland where they were shot dead. Father Reid followed the taxi and read the Last Rites to Howes and Wood as they lay bloodied and beaten on the ground.
A picture was taken of Father Reid knelt over David Howes and the photographer managed to escape the scene before his camera was taken by the IRA. The shocking photo became an iconic image of the ‘Troubles’ in Northern Ireland, and broadcast to the world the extreme violence that was taking place.
This attack was witnessed by hundreds of people. One of whom was journalist Mary Holland who recalled the terror on the face of one of the soldiers as the angry crowd pulled him from his car:
“He didn’t cry out, just looked at us with terrified eyes, as though we were all enemies in a foreign country who wouldn’t have understood what language he was speaking if he called out for help.”
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2000 A record quarter of a million people lined the streets of Dublin on this day in 2000 to watch the finale of the St Patrick’s Day Parade. The five day festival was brought to a spectacular close with a stunning fireworks display.
Click here to read about the top attractions in Dublin