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1919 British aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown took off from Newfoundland, Canada on this day in 1919. They were attempting to become the first men to fly non-stop across the Atlantic Ocean.
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1922 On this day in 1922, Kevin Roche was born in Dublin. He was raised in Cork before he moved to America, and became a leading architect and the recipient of countless awards. Roche designed and oversaw the construction of more than 200 buildings in the USA and around the world.
His vast portfolio of work includes museums, corporate headquarters, research facilities, theatres, and universities. Examples of Roche’s work can be found all over the world.
Central Park Zoo in New York, The Pyramids in Indianapolis, the Headquarters for Santander Central Hispano in Madrid, the DN Tower 21 in Tokyo and the Convention Centre in his hometown of Dublin.
Throughout his career, Roche won awards and prizes for his work. The pinnacle came in 1982 when he won the much-coveted Pritzker Architecture Prize for his Knights of Columbus Building in Connecticut which was built in 1969.
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1929 Eamonn McGrath was born in County Wexford on this day in 1929. He was a writer and wrote about life in Ireland, much based on his own personal experiences. McGrath suffered with tuberculosis as a young man, and after he recovered he took up teaching as a profession.
His first novel, Honour Thy Father, explores life in 1950s rural Ireland. It follows the life of a young man wanting to remain in school to gain qualifications for his future, and the strain it puts on his relationship with his father, who believes farming and priesthood are the only worthwhile professions. McGrath also wrote about life in a tuberculosis unit in Ireland in his second novel, The Charnel House, obviously drawing on his personal experiences. His third novel, The Fish in the Stone, tells a disturbing story of a young girl in rural Ireland, whose abuse by her father goes unnoticed by her career driven mother.
He received praise for all of his novels, and was commended for his willingness to openly tackle the unpleasant side of life in rural Ireland that went unseen by most of society.
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1995 Blues legend Rory Gallagher died on this day in 1995. He was recognised as one of the best guitar players around, and sold more than 30million records throughout his career. Gallagher fronted his own band through most of his career, and was a charismatic and likeable frontman.
He was born in Country Donegal but died in London, after becoming seriously ill with liver failure following years of heavy drinking. He received tributes from almost every major blues and rock guitarist after his death. Brian May of Queen told a story of when he was a teenager and met his hero Rory Gallagher:
“So these couple of kids come up, who’s me and my mate, and say ‘How do you get your sound Mr. Gallagher?’ and he sits and tells us. So I owe Rory Gallagher my sound.”
There is now a bronze statue of Gallagher playing his guitar in his home town of Ballyshannon in Donegal. He is buried in Cork, and his headstone is a replica of his 1972 Guitarist of the Year Award.
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2001 The Aurora, a Dutch ship fitted with the facilities to carry out abortions, docked in Dublin on this day in 2001. The Aurora didn’t travel to Ireland to actually treat any women, but to gain publicity and fuel the debate for Irish law to be amended to allow women more choice.
The Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013, allows women in Ireland have the right to an abortion only in circumstances where their life is at risk, including from suicide.
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2013 On this day in 2013, the renowned violinist and conductor Hugh Maguire died. After being taught to play by his father, Maguire showed a flair for music from a young age. He won several awards in his hometown of Dublin before moving to London to study further.
Maguire went on to have a long and distinguished career in classical music. He worked for the London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra and was also a professor at the Royal Academy of Music throughout his career.
Click here to read about more top Irish musicians