Guitarist Gary Moore. Queen Victoria in Ireland. Oliver Goldsmith on this day in Irish History.

April 4: TODAY in Irish History (by IrishmanSpeaks) Twitter Icon

1774: Death of poet and writer Oliver Goldsmith (b. 1730) Goldsmith lived thoroughly interesting life, perennially in debt and always worried about a visit to the debtors prison. His literary work has been praised and decried. Following his graduation from Trinity College in 1749, he became a kind of wandering minstrel through mainland Europe until he finally settled in London in 1756 where he indulged in a bohemian life of drinking and gambling. His most famous works are probably the poem,  The Deserted Village and The Vicar of Wakefield, the work which saved him from debtor’s prison. When his landlady threated to have him arrested for non payment, Goldsmith’s friend Samuel Johnson took the manuscript of The Vicar of Wakefield and sold it to a publishing house on his behalf.

Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith (c.1730-1774)

Goldsmith was apparantly an extraordinarily vain, jealous man but one whom Horace Walpole described as an “inspired idiot.” His death in 1774 was partly due to his failure to seek proper medical treatment for his failing health.

The following are the opening lines from The Deserted Village, a poem that was beaten into every God-fearing Irish boy in Christian Brothers schools in Ireland!

The Deserted Village (opening lines)

Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way,
With blossomed furze unprofitably gay,
There, in his noisy mansion, skilled to rule,
The village master taught his little school;
A man severe he was, and stern to view;
I knew him well, and every truant knew;
Well had the boding tremblers learned to trace
The day’s disasters in his morning face;
Full well they laughed, with counterfeited glee,
At all his jokes, for many a joke had he;
Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
Conveyed the dismal tidings when he frowned;
Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
The love he bore to learning was in fault.
The village all declared how much he knew;
‘Twas certain he could write, and cipher too;
Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And even the story ran that he could gauge.
In arguing too, the parson owned his skill,
For e’en though vanquished, he could argue still;
While words of learned length and thundering sound
Amazed the gazing rustics ranged around,
And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew
That one small head could carry all he knew.


1900: In what might be termed an act of national schizophrenia, Queen Victoria is met by rapturous crowds on her fourth and final visit to Dublin. Huge crowds lined the streets as she was escorted by her mounted cavalry, the Lifeguards. Her private secretary, Sir Frederick Ponsonby, wrote in his journal: “Although I had seen many visits of this kind, nothing had ever approached the enthusiasm and even frenzy displayed by the people of Dublin.”

On the other hand, nationalist leader Arthur Griffith would write some days after the visit “We have learnt a strange and bitter lesson; let it not be lost upon us. There is much to be done to absolve the land from the treachery of the last few weeks.”


Queen Victoria Ireland 1900

Queen Victoria Ireland 1900


1922: Royal Irish Constabulary (the R.I.C.) stages its final parade in Dublin before its formal disbandment. Many Northern Ireland members of the force would transfer to the Royal Ulster Constabulary when it officially formed June 1 1922. The website, quotes historians W.J. Lowe and E. L. Malcolm on the R.I.C. “That the R.I.C. held up as well as it did in the difficult years after 1918 is remarkable when one takes into account that barracks were managed by large numbers of middle aged men with families to support. Their long careers signified experience, loyalty and knowledge, as well as a maturity that bolstered discipline under duress. But in both organizational and personnel terms, the R.I.C. was a civil police force and not a light infantry. And this presented a problem when confronted by a determined guerilla army.”

R.I.C. members circa 1920

R.I.C. members circa 1920


1952: Blues guitarist Gary Moore is born in Belfast. Moore was a guitar prodigy who was mentored for a time in his teens by Fleetwood Macs Peter Green who gave Moore his 1959 Les Paul Standard guitar after he left Fleetwood Mac. Moore’s first band was Skid Row (not the US band) which featured a young Phil Lynott. Moore went on to play with Lynott and Thin Lizzy for a time before going solo, achieving some commercial success but huge critical acclaim. His most evocative work is Parisienne Walkways which he wrote in 1979. Moore died of a heart attack in 2011.


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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.

Visit Conor’s YouTube channel IrishmanSpeaksto Laugh and Learn. Tags: Best Irish Gift, Creative Irish Gift, Unique Irish Gifts, Irish Books, Irish Authors, Today in Irish History

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