May 1


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1170 Strongbow and his Norman army arrived in Wexford on this day in 1170, at the request of Diarmait Mac Murchada.

The Normans were part of an army sent by King Henry II, after Mac Murchada had asked for help in regaining his position as King Of Leinster.

Dermot Mac Murrough - King of Uí Cheinnsealaig and King of Laigin (Leinster) - the man who invited the Normans to Ireland Image copyright Ireland Calling

He had been ousted from his position by Rory O’Connor, who declared himself the High King of Ireland. Mac Murchada had been fighting to regain his land for a few years and regained some of his former territories. On this day in 1170, Strongbow arrived to help him overthrow O’Connor and reclaim his position as King of Leinster.

Click here to read more about the Norman invasion of Ireland

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James Clarence Mangan1803 One of Ireland’s greatest poets of the 19th century, James Clarence Mangan was born in Dublin on this day in 1803. He translated many poems from German, Arabic and Turkish, although he often wrote new poems and called them a translation as a hoax.

During the ‘Great Famine’ Mangan began to use his literary skill for more serious work. He wrote nationalist poems My Dark Rosaleen and Róisín Dubh, which are still popular today. My Dark Rosaleen was voted as one of Ireland’s 100 favourite poems in 1999.

Dark Rosaleen by James Clarence Mangan

Mangan lived an eccentric life and he began to drink heavily due to the pressure of his work. He suffered malnutrition and died of cholera in 1849.

Several esteemed writers from Ireland have cited Mangan as an inspiration. James Joyce, Shane MacGowan, WB Yeats and Thomas Kinsella have all paid tribute to him in one way or another.

Click here to read the whole poem, My Dark Rosaleen
Click here to read Ireland’s 100 favourite poems
Click here to read about more great Irish writers

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Percy French1854 Percy French was born in Roscommon on this day in 1854. He was a poet and songwriter, and some of his songs are still regularly performed by some of the top folk musicians today.

Click here to read more about Percy French
Click here to read about more great Irish songwriters
Click here to watch Brendan O’Dowda’s brilliant performance of the comedy song Abdul Abulbul Amir
Click here to watch a video of folk legends The Dubliners performing Come Back Paddy Reilly
Click here to watch a video of The High Kings performing Phil the Fluther’s Ball

Here’s Come Back Paddy Reilly To Ballyjamesduff – it could have been written for Paddy Reilly of The Dubliners!

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Dan O'Herlihy as Robinson Crusoe1919 Dan O’Herlihy was born in Wexford on this day in 1919. He was an actor and featured in several Hollywood movies. He played Robinson Crusoe in the 1954 classic movie based on the Daniel Dafoe novel. O’Herlihy also appeared in Halloween III and Robocop.

Click here to read about more great Irish actors

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Tara Leniston Mariagolpe_CC31983 Happy birthday to Irish actress Tara Leniston, born in London on this day in 1983. She moved to County Clare at a young age and spent most of her childhood in Ireland, although she did also have spells living in Korea, Sweden and Hong Kong.

Leniston is a member of the Jackie Chan Group, which the film star set up for young people with exceptional talent. She appeared in his 2003, comedy thriller, The Medallion. Leniston has also been the face for advertising campaigns by beauty and fashion giants L’Oréal and Ralph Lauren.

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1992 The Provisional IRA blew up the British army Cloghoge checkpoint in County Armagh on this day in 1992. They sent a van loaded with explosives along the railway track until it was level with the complex. It was then detonated causing a huge explosion which left one British soldier dead and another 23 seriously injured.


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