#OTD in 1861 – The American Civil War began; 150,000 Irishmen would serve with the Union forces, and 40,000 with the Confederacy.

The American Civil War began, a war that would not only pit American against American but also Irish against Irish. An estimated 150,000 Irish fought on the Union side while about 40,000 fought for the confederacy. While the majority fought with the Union, many Irish had a strong antipathy to a northern culture which they […]

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#OTD in 1947 – Death of Henry Ford, automobile production pioneer and son of Irish immigrants.

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” –Henry Ford Henry Ford’s father, William Ford, was born in Co Cork and was one of many to emigrate from Ireland due to poverty and hunger (An Gorta Mór). Ford visited Ireland in 1912, 65 […]

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#OTD in 1916 – Birth of actor, Gregory Peck, in La Jolla, California.

Gregory Peck was born in La Jolla, California. One of the world’s most popular film stars from the 1940s to the 1960s, Peck continued to play major film roles until the late 1970s. Catherine Ashe, the paternal grandmother of Gregory Peck, who emigrated to the United States in the 19th century was a relative of […]

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#OTD in 1881 – Birth of Martin John Sheridan. He was ‘one of the greatest athletes [the United States] has ever known’ according to his obituary in the New York Times.

Martin John Sheridan was ‘one of the greatest athletes the United States has ever known’ according to his obituary in the New York Times. He was born in Bohola, Co Mayo, and died in St Vincent’s Hospital in Manhattan, New York, the day before his 37th birthday, a very early casualty of the 1918 flu […]

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#OTD in 1915 – Typhoid Mary, the first healthy carrier of the disease ever identified in the United States, is put in quarantine, where she would remain for the rest of her life.

Mary Mallon was born in 1869 in Cookstown, Co Tyrone. She emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1884. An Irish immigrant cook, Mallon became the focus of one of the best-known episodes in the history of communicable disease when U.S. health officials identified her as a healthy carrier of the organism causing typhoid […]

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#OTD in 1876 – The Molly Maguires: The murder trial of Edward Kelly, a member of the militant Irish labour group The Molly Maguires, began in Pennsylvania.

In total, twenty members of the group were found guilty of murder and executed. While the Molly’s were responsible for a large number of violent incidents, a number of those executed were likely innocent. The Dubliners were responsible for reminding us of this group with a stirring rendition of The Molly Maguires a song composed […]

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#OTD in 1847 – Choctaw Indians collect money to donate to starving Irish Hunger victims.

Moved by news of starvation in Ireland, a group of Choctaws gathered in Scullyville, Ok, to raise a relief fund. Despite their meager resources, they collected $170 and forwarded it to a U.S. famine relief organisation. The Choctaw Indians may have seen echoes of their own fate in that of the Irish. Just 16 years […]

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#OTD in 1874 – Birth of sculptor, Jerome Connor, in Annascaul, Co Kerry.

Jerome Connor was born in Coumduff, Annascaul, Co Kerry. In 1888, he emigrated to Holyoke, Massachusetts. His father was a stonemason, which led to Connor’s jobs in New York as a sign painter, stonecutter, bronze founder and machinist. Inspired by his father’s work and his own experience, Connor used to steal his father’s chisels as a child […]

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#OTD in 1899 – Creation of the Electric Boat Company by the father of the modern submarine, John Philip Holland.

Holland emigrated to the US in 1873. Holland’s first submarine submission was rejected by the Navy Secretary as ‘a fantastic scheme of a civilian landsman’. The navy eventually relented and purchased it’s first submarine from Holland’s company in 1900 for $150,000. Holland also had a strong interest in aviation writing a paper in 1891 titled […]

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#OTD in 1925 – Nellie Cashman known variously as the ‘Angel of the Yukon’ and ‘Angel of the mining camp’ dies in Victoria, British Columbia aged seventy-nine.

Nellie was born in the farming village of Midleton a few miles from Queenstown (now Cobh) in Co Cork, in 1845. Her parents were Patrick and Fanny (nee Cronin) O’Kissane, a family name later anglicized to Cashman. A sister, Frances or young Fanny, was born a year or two later. The Cashman family was Catholic […]

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