#OTD in 1770 – Mary Anne McCracken, patriot and supporter of the United Irishmen, is born in Belfast.

Mary Ann McCracken was a Belfast social reformer. Her father was Captain John McCracken, a prominent shipowner; her mother Ann Joy came from another wealthy family which made its money in the linen trade and founded the Belfast News Letter. Mary Ann’s liberal and far-sighted parents sent her to David Manson’s progressive co-educational school, where […]

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#OTD in 1952 – Birth of actor, Liam Neeson, in Ballymena, Co Antrim.

Liam worked as a forklift operator for Guinness, truck driver, assistant architect and an amateur boxer. He had originally sought a career as a teacher by attending St. Mary’s Teaching College, Newcastle. However, in 1976, Neeson joined the Belfast Lyric Players’ Theater and made his professional acting debut in the play “The Risen People”. After […]

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The Viking Age in Ireland

The exact reasons for Vikings venturing out from their homeland are uncertain; some have suggested it was due to overpopulation of their homeland, but the earliest Vikings were looking for riches, not land. Vikings also settled in Scotland and, like Ireland, started to settle with the local population. In Scotland these people became known as The […]

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#OTD in 1754 – Birth of Dr. William Drennan in Belfast; physician, poet, educationalist political radical and one of the chief architects of the Society of United Irishmen.

William Drennan’s poetic output included some powerful and moving pieces. He is chiefly remembered today for “Erin” written in 1800, in which he penned the first reference in print to Ireland as “The Emerald Isle”: “Nor one feeling of vengeance presume to defile The cause, or the men, of the Emerald Isle.” Drennan came to […]

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#OTD in Irish History – 22 May:

1748 – Birth of landscape painter, Thomas Roberts in Co Waterford. 1805 – Michael Doheny, poet and Young Irelander, is born near Fethard, Co Tipperary. 1849 – Novelist, Maria Edgeworth, dies in Mostrim, Co Longford. She is laid to rest in a vault at Edgeworthstown Church. Even though in her late seventies, she worked strenuously […]

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#OTD in 1920 – Birth of Joe Cahill, a prominent Irish Republican and former Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA.

Joe was known for his comment. “I was born in a united Ireland, I want to die in a united Ireland”. In May 1920, Cahill was born in Divis Street in west Belfast where his parents had been neighbours with Irish revolutionary James Connolly. Cahill was the first child in a family of thirteen siblings […]

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#OTD in 1867 – Eoin MacNeill, Gaelic scholar and co-founder of the Gaelic League, is born in Glenarm, Co Antrim.

Born in Co Antrim to middle-class Catholic parents, he was educated at St Malachy’s College, Belfast and became law clerk. In 1893, together with Douglas Hyde and others he founded the Gaelic League, an organisation devoted to the preservation of the Irish language, literature, and traditional culture. A brilliant historian and linguist, he was the […]

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#OTD in 1608 – Sir Thomas Phillipps was granted a license by James I to the Old Bushmills distillery in Co Antrim, which is thought to date from at least 1276 – the oldest distillery in the world.

Uisce beatha is the name for whiskey in the Irish language. The word “whiskey” itself is simply an anglicised version of this phrase, stemming from a mispronunciation of the word uisce. This may in turn have influenced the Modern Irish word fuisce (“whiskey”). The phrase uisce beatha, literally “water of life”, was the name given […]

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#OTD in 1980 – Kincora Scandal: ‘Boys suicide bids brought Kincora scandal to light’. Three staff members of the Kincora Boys Home, Belfast, were charged with acts of gross indecency.

The Kincora Boys’ Home was a boys’ home in Belfast, that was the scene of serious organised child sexual abuse, causing a scandal and attempted cover-up in 1980, with allegations of state collusion. The Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry began examining allegations relating to the Home on 31 May 2016, including claims that there […]

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#OTD in Irish History – 2 April:

World Autism Awareness Day International Children’s Book Day In the Liturgical calendar, today is the Feast Day of St Brónach, a 6th-century holy woman from Ireland, the reputed founder and patron saint of Cell Brónche (church of Brónach), now Kilbroney, in Co Down. 1807 – Birth of Sir Charles Edward Trevelyan, 1st Baronet, KCB, a […]

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