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1798 On this day in 1798, Henry Joy McCracken issued a proclamation calling all United Irishmen in Ulster to unite in rebellion.
The rebellion had already began in Leinster and other parts of the country, but the Ulster leaders had wanted to wait until the support of French revolutionists was secured.
However, many of the United Irishmen grew impatient and wished to progress regardless. A meeting was held outside the organisation’s main leadership and McCracken was elected as the man to lead the Ulster rebels.
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1880 William Cosgrave was born in Dublin on this day in 1880. He was an Irish nationalist and was one of Michael Collins pro-Treaty followers when the Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed. The treaty caused a rift in the IRA, with many members feeling it made too many concessions to the British.
However, the pro-Treaty faction were voted into power and due to take control of an independent Irish free state in December 1922. When Arthur Griffiths died of a heart attack, and Michael Collins was assassinated within a few days of each other, the party was left with no leader.
Cosgrave filled the void and became the President of the Executive Council, effectively the leader of the country. His first aim was to end the Civil War between the anti-Treaty and pro-Treaty factions of the IRA. Cosgrave wanted to send out a message that Ireland could govern itself.
To do this, he re-instated the death penalty even though it went against his personal beliefs. Anyone found guilty of attacks against the newly formed Irish government was executed. This was a ruthless approach and resulted in 77 executions in his first year as President.
It did however, bring an end to the Civil War and Cosgrave remained in power for nearly ten years before being beaten in the 1932 elections by Éamon de Valera.
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1898 Ninette de Valois was born on this day in County Wicklow in 1898. She was a world class ballet dancer and later became a teacher and choreographer.
She was the founder of the ‘The Royal Ballet School’ and is often referred to as the ‘godmother’ of English ballet.
De Valois received countless awards and honours throughout her career. Just a couple of the highlights are she was made a CBE in 1947, and was given the Society of London Theatre Laurence Olivier Award Special Award in 1992.
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1954 Happy birthday to Tim O’Reilly, born on this day in 1954 in Cork. He is one of the leading figures in open-source and free software movements. O’Reilly has given speeches all around the world about the future of the internet and its uses.
He believes the internet will develop into a global brain, an intelligent network of people and machines that will function as a nervous system for the planet Earth. Here is a video of O’Reilly and Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg giving a presentation on their expectations for the future of the internet.
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1968 Robert F. (or Bobby) Kennedy was fatally shot in the early hours of 6th June in 1968. He had just given a rallying speech to his supporters after a major political victory. He had been speaking in a conference room of a major Los Angeles hotel, and tried to leave the building through the staff kitchen.
However, as he entered the kitchen, he was shot three times by Sirhan Sirhan, a Palestinian and died from his injuries.
As the younger brother of President Kennedy, Bobby’s political achievements are too easily overlooked. He was a staunch supporter of his brother, and then carried on his work across America, and also campaigned for numerous worthy causes worldwide.
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2004 Simon Cumbers was killed by Al Qaida sympathisers in Saudi Arabia on this day in 2004. He was born in Navan and worked as a freelance journalist and cameraman. In 2004, he was working for the BBC, and was in the Middle East to report on the War in Afghanistan. He was shot in the head while filming an Al Qaida safe house, and died instantly from his wound.