August 5: TODAY in Irish History:
Today in Irish History: Curated by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks
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August 5: TODAY in Irish History
1888: Death due to a massive heart attack of General Philip Sheridan. Sheridan’s parents John and Mary Meenagh Sheridan had emmigrated from County Cavan. Sheridan’s diminutive stature of 5 feet five inches earned him the nickname “Little Phil.) He was involved in the Battle of Perryville, Chickamauga and participated in the Chatanooga and Appotamatox campaigns.
Below: Portrayal of a mournful Philip Sheridan in John Ford’s Rio Grande
In his wonderful memoir, Ulysses S. Grant writes of Sheridan:
“Sheridan was a first lieutenant in the regiment in which I had served eleven years, the 4th infantry, and stationed on the Pacific coast when the war broke out. He was promoted to a captaincy in May, 1861, and before the close of the year managed in some way, I do not know how, to get East. He went to Missouri. Halleck had known him as a very successful young officer in managing campaigns against the Indians on the Pacific coast, and appointed him acting-quartermaster in south-west Missouri. There was no difficulty in getting supplies forward while Sheridan served in that capacity; but he got into difficulty with his immediate superiors because of his stringent rules for preventing the use of public transportation for private purposes. He asked to be relieved from further duty in the capacity in which he was engaged and his request was granted. When General Halleck took the field in April, 1862, Sheridan was assigned to duty on his staff. During the advance on Corinth a vacancy occurred in the colonelcy of the 2d Michigan cavalry. Governor Blair, of Michigan, telegraphed General Halleck asking him to suggest the name of a professional soldier for the vacancy, saying he would appoint a good man without reference to his State. Sheridan was named; and was so conspicuously efficient that when Corinth was reached he was assigned to command a cavalry brigade in the Army of the Mississippi. He was in command at Booneville on the 1st of July with two small regiments, when he was attacked by a force full three times as numerous as his own. By very skilful manoeuvres and boldness of attack he completely routed the enemy. For this he was made a brigadier-general and became a conspicuous figure in the army about Corinth.”
Sheridan continued in the military following the civil war and proved a brutally effective officer during the Indian Wars allowing Native Americans little or no quarter. He was appointed Commanding General of the United States Army in 1883.
1934: Birth of TV presenter and host of The Late Late Show – Gay Byrne. Byrne dominated the Irish radio and TV landscape between the 1960s-90s. He was a consummate broadcaster who had the unique ability to be consoling, interesting, inquisitive and generally likeable, all at the same time. Social historians credit his early years as host of The Late Late Show as one of the catalysts which brought Ireland out of the conservative, tradition bound aura of De Valera and Archbishop McQuaid to a more inclusive and modern society. Byrne hosted The Late Late Show which debuted in 1962 for an amazing 37 years, finally handing over the microphone in 1999. On his final show, the President of Ireland addressed the man who was the longest serving host of a chat show in the world saying “You’ve entertained us, you’ve educated us, you’ve exasperated us. What more could anyone ask over 37 years?”
Conservative Ireland of 1960′s can best be recalled via the infamous “Bishop and the nightie” show. Byrne interviewed an audience couple, good-naturedly asking a middle aged couple some questions about their wedding and what she had worn on her wedding night! When the woman responded “nothing,” the wrath of Catholic Ireland came down on the show with the Bishop of Clonfert publicly condemning the show’s content, supported by some politicians. Although not specifically related to this incident, Fine Gael TD Oliver Flanagan is famous for allegedly saying “There was no sex in Ireland before TV!”
Below is a video clip of Gay Byrne interviewing then EU Commissioner Padraig Flynn. Here you can see Byrne’s subtle, conversational style. This interview is pivotal in Irish politics as Padraig Flynn made a number of comments which forced the government to start a tribunal on political corruption. Flynn, like many other senior politicians did not come out of the Mahon Tribunal well. He was found to have “wrongly and corruptly” sought IR£50,000 from a property developer for the Fianna Fail party which he then pocketed for his own use. Flynn rejected the findings of the Tribunal as have all Fianna Fail politicians cited.
Want to learn more about Ireland? See these images and more in the acclaimed For the Love of Being Irish
For the Love of Being Irish written by Chicago based Corkman Conor Cunneen and illustrated by Mark Anderson is an A-Z of all things Irish. This is a book that contains History, Horror, Humor, Passion, Pathos and Lyrical Limericks that will have you giving thanks (or wishing you were) For the Love of Being Irish
This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humoristIrishmanSpeaks – Conor Cunneen. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us via the comment button.
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