July 8


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1819 Francis McClintock was born in Dundalk on this day in 1819. He was an Admiral in the British Navy, and credited with the discovery and exploration of several polar islands to the north of Canada.

7_8_1819-born-Francis_McClintock Image copyright Ireland Calling

In 1857, he captained the ship, The Fox, on a mission to Beechey Island to search for the husband of Lady Franklin, who had disappeared on an exploration there himself. McClintock spent the next two years navigating through the icy waters and going from island to island in search of Franklin.

Eventually he received information from native Inuit tribes that a ship had been destroyed by ice and the survivors had gone to King William Island. McClintock travelled there and discovered the skeletons of what were presumably Franklin and his crew.

McClintock_The-Fox-stuck in ice near-Buchan-Island

McClintock returned to England in 1859 and delivered the bad news. He was rewarded for his bravery with a knighthood and a parliamentary reward of £5,000, which he split with his crew.

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1889 The last ever official bare knuckle boxing match took place on this day in 1889. It was fought between John L Sullivan and Jake Kilrain. The fight lasted for 75 rounds before Kilrain’s trainer threw in the towel. It was one of the first sporting events in the United States to receive national press coverage.

7_8_John_L_Sullivan-Jake-Kilrain Image copyright Ireland Calling

Sullivan was the son of Irish immigrants in America. His father was from County Kerry and his mother from County Roscommon. They moved to Boston and John L Sullivan was born there. His boxing nickname was the ‘Boston Strongboy’. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990, and is recognised as the world’s last bare knuckle heavyweight champion.

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1947 Happy birthday to Jonathan Kelly, born in Drogheda on this day in 1947. He is a singer songwriter and had a career in music in the 1960s and 70s. Some of Kelly’s songs are still performed by various bands today. During his career, he worked alongside several of the world’s great musicians including Eric Clapton.

Click here to read more about Irish music

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1970 Robbie Keane was born in Dublin on this day in 1970. He is the leading all-time goalscorer for the Irish national football team. Keane is one of the most successful footballers the country has ever produced.

Keane has played for big clubs such as Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool and Inter Milan throughout his career. He scored three goals for Ireland in their World Cup finals in 2002. Keane is one of an elite group of players that have scored more than 100 goals in the Premier League.

In 2011, he left England and joined Major League Soccer side LA Galaxy. He helped his side win the MLS Cup in his first two years at the club.

Click here to read about more top Irish sports stars

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1981 Joe McDonnell died on this day in 1981n after spending 61 days on hunger strike in prison. He was a member of the IRA and was arrested after being found in possession of firearms shortly after an IRA firebomb attack.

He joined the prisoners’ strike in 1981, on the principle that he agreed with the objections. The IRA prisoners believed they were political prisoners and should therefore not be treated in the same way as regular criminals. Their demands included the right not to wear a prison uniform and the right not to have to do prison work.

McDonnell joined the hunger strike, although privately he believed that an organised programme of disruption amongst the IRA prisoners would be the best way to achieve their goals.

McDonnell refused to eat as he joined the IRA prisoner protest. The British government refused to back down and wouldn’t give in to the prisoner’s demands. McDonnell died after 61 days on hunger strike.

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1984 The last performance of Bob Dylan’s European tour was at Slane Castle on this day in 1984. Dylan headlined the concert which also featured performances from UB40 and Carlos Santana. U2 were one of the bands that featured in Dylan’s set.

Slane_Castle_coMeath_photo-ODea_CC2-5_Bob-Dylan_Sayantan m CC2 Image irelande Calling

Bob Dylan has said in the past that he took a major influence as a youngster from the Irish band The Clancy Brothers. They were the stars of the music scene in New York when he was just a youngster, and he would follow them around trying to gain bits of advice.

Click here to read more about the relationship of Bob Dylan and the Clancy Brothers


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