March 31

1859 On this day in 1859, the Independent Irish Party was dismantled after disagreements between its leading members.
The group had previously worked to improve the rights of Irish tenants working on British owned land. They had built a policy campaign built on the insistence of the three Fs:

  • Fair rent
  • Fixity of tenure
  • Free sale

Independent-Irish-Party-dissoved Image copyright Ireland Calling

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1872 Arthur Griffith was born on this day in 1872 in Dublin. He was an Irish nationalist and a founding member of the Sinn Féin political party. However, Griffith believed that a dual government of Britain and Ireland was the ideal.
He didn’t approve of the Belfast Lock-out organised by James Larkin, where the Irish dock workers refused to work leaving the British unable to transport their products. Griffith felt that it was not the best way to achieve better rights for the workers as it was in the short term at least crippling the Irish trade.
After the Easter Rising of 1916, many Irish nationalists joined Sinn Féin to try and force through an Irish Republic. This was not the vision that Griffith had for the party and so he resigned as leader.
Griffith remained a member of Sinn Féin and kept his seat in the British House of Commons. After the Irish War of Independence, Eamonn de Valera, who had taken over as leader of Sinn Féin, asked Griffith and Michael Collins to travel to London to negotiate the Anglo-Irish Treaty.
Griffith’s relationship with both men was an uneasy one, and the stress of the high pressure he was under proved too much for him. He died of heart failure while the negotiations were still ongoing, just days before Michael Collins signed the Treaty which led to his own death when he was assassinated.
Despite being the founding member of Sinn Féin, the party were quick to forget Griffith and his widow reportedly had to beg them for a pension for him. Diarmaid Ferriter, the Professor of Modern Irish History at University College Dublin, described Griffith as being ‘quickly airbrushed from Irish history’.
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Patrick MaGee1922 Patrick MaGee was born on this day in County Armagh in 1922. He had a long and distinguished career as an actor. He collaborated with Samuel Beckett several times.
In fact, Beckett was so impressed by Magee’s voice and delivery that he wrote the one-man play, Krapp’s Last Tape solely for him to perform.
MaGee also had a role in the controversial Stanley Kubrick crime thriller, A Clockwork Orange.
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1977 Happy birthday to Finghin Collins, born in Dublin on this day in 1977. Collins is a accomplished pianist, and has performed with many of the top orchestras and conductors around the world.
He studied at the Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, before going on to win numerous competitions for his piano playing. Since then he has released his own CD with music from Robert Schumann.
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Finghin Collins with Mozart Piano Concerto 15.

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1999 On this day in 1999, Ireland is named as the host country for the 2003 Special Olympic Games. Cork born billionaire, Denis O’Brien was chairman of the Irish application process and celebrated with his chief executive Mary Davis.
The games were a roaring success with 7,000 athletes competing across 18 different events. The opening ceremony at Croke Park was a who’s who of global icons. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mohammed Ali, Roy Keane and Nelson Mandela were all in attendance to watch a spectacular music performance from U2, The Corrs and Bon Jovi.
Sporting legends such as Lleyton Hewitt and Seve Ballesteros were just a couple of celebrity fans that watched on as the competitions took place across venues all around Ireland.
Here is an RTÉ compilation video of the highlights of the Games.


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