Sir Edward Carson, Brendan Behan, Garrett Fitzgerald on this Day in Irish History

February 9: TODAY in Irish History (by IrishmanSpeaks) Twitter Icon

1854: Sir Edward Carson, Queen’s Counsel and Unionist politician is born in Harcourt Street Dublin. Carson’s brilliance was evident not just in the law courts where he represented the Marquess of Queensbury successfully in his action against Oscar Wilde, but also as an organizer of the Unionist movement who saw the Home Rule bill of 1912 as a major threat to their way of life. He was the first signatory of the Ulster Covenant, September 1912 which called for Unionists “to stand by one another in defending, for ourselves and our children, our cherished position of equal citizenship in the United Kingdom, and in using all means which may be found necessary to defeat the present conspiracy to set up a Home Rule Parliament in Ireland.”

“(A)ll means necessary” included founding the Ulster Volunteers, a para-military group dedicated to maintaining a Protestant Ulster.

Edward Carson inspects Ulster Volunteers

1923:  Irish playwright Brendan Behan is born in Dublin. Many of his works were autobiographical showcasing working class, Republican Dublin. Borstal Boy His most famous work might be Borstal Boy, which took its title from the three years Behan spent in borstal following his failed attempt to plant a bomb in Liverpool. Behan suffered from the curse of many Irish writers -alcoholism. “One drink is too many for me and a thousand not enough.”

Brendan Behan

Behan degenerated into a hard-drinking, boisterous, difficult drunk who became known as “the plague of the city’s barmen.” At his death at the terribly young age of forty-one, he received an IRA funeral and a huge send off from Dublin’s population.

1926: Irish politician Garret Fitzgerald is born in Dublin. Fitzgerald was Taoiseach for seven years in the 1980s. He is credited with bringing Ireland back to some semblance of fiscal sanity following the spend, spend, spend policies of Fianna Fail Taoiseach Charles Haughey. The two men intensely disliked each other which often led to angry exchanges in Dail Eireann. Fitzgerald was one of the very few politicians who publicly rebuked the ethics of Charles Haughey, something he was strongly criticized for at the time, but for which he was ultimately totally vindicated.

Garret Fitzgerald. Fine Gael election poster

As Taoiseach, Fitzgerald presided over interminably long cabinet meetings where his cerebral mind often got lost in abstruse economic theory. Apocryphal or not, he allegedly said about one policy: “I know it will work in practice, but does it work  in theory?”

After losing the 1988 election to Charles Haughey’s Fianna Fail, he withdrew from active politics, but remained a strong and influential voice in European economics until his death in 2010.

1983: Derby winner Shergar is kidnapped by the IRA seeking a £2 million ransom. The horse was never found and no charges were brought in the case. See The Truth about Shergar.

Learn more about Ireland? See these images and more in the acclaimed For the Love of Being Irish

Irish gift ideas. Best selling Irish books Joyce Image in For the Love of Being Irish

Today in Irish History is edited by Chicago based business keynote speaker, author, award winning humorist and history buff Conor Cunneen – IrishmanSpeaks. As a Chicago based professional speaker, this Irishman’s client base ranges from Harley-Davidson to Helsinki, from Memphis to Madrid as he Energizes, Educates and Entertains his audience to grow their business, people, teamwork and productivity.

Conor Cunneen is just the 63rd person in the history of Toastmasters to be awarded Accredited Speaker designation. If you spot any inaccuracies or wish to make a comment, please don’t hesitate to contact us. – Cheers!

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