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September 5,

Ben Franklin on Irish Poverty – Drumcollogher Cinema Fire Kills 48

September 5: TODAY in Irish History:

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ben franklin at today in irish history

Snippets of Irish History by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks 

Conor is a Chicago based Motivational Humorous Business Speaker, Author and History buff.

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Utilizing a unique and memorable MARK TWAIN acronym, author Conor Cunneen demonstrates what the Dean of American Humorists learned him bout public speakin’ !

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1771: Benjamin Franklin in Ireland

Benjamin Franklin commences a visit to Ireland where he would later report he had “a good deal of Conversation with the Patriots; they are all on the American side of the Question.”

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ben franklin at today in irish history

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Franklin was horrified by the level of poverty he saw.  He wrote to friend Joseph Galloway, “The lower people in that unhappy country, are in a most wretched situation, thro’ the restraints on their trade and manufactures. Their Houses are dirty hovels of mud and straw; their clothing rags, and their food little beside potatoes. Perhaps three fourths of the Inhabitants are in this situation.”

Franklin also seems to have been influenced / impressed by a preacher “Reverand Mr. Whitefield….  who arrived among us from Ireland” although he was probably born in England.

“In 1739 arrived among us from Ireland the Reverend Mr. Whitefield, who had made himself remarkable there as an itinerant preacher. He was at first permitted to preach in some of our churches; but the clergy, taking a dislike to him, soon refus’d him their pulpits, and he was oblig’d to preach in the fields. The multitudes of all sects and denominations that attended his sermons were enormous, and it was matter of speculation to me, who was one of the number, to observe the extraordinary influence of his oratory on his hearers, and how much they admir’d and respected him, notwithstanding his common abuse of them, by assuring them that they were naturally half beasts and half devils. It was wonderful to see the change soon made in the manners of our inhabitants. From being thoughtless or indifferent about religion, it seem’d as if all the world were growing religious, so that one could not walk thro’ the town in an evening without hearing psalms sung in different families of every street.

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Reverand George Whitefield at today in Irish history
The Reverend Mr. Whitefield who on arriving from Ireland impressed Franklin

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“He had a loud and clear voice, and articulated his words and sentences so perfectly, that he might be heard and understood at a great distance, especially as his auditories, however numerous, observ’d the most exact silence. He preach’d one evening from the top of the Court-house steps, which are in the middle of Market-street, and on the west side of Second-street, which crosses it at right angles. Both streets were fill’d with his hearers to a considerable distance. Being among the hindmost in Market-street, I had the curiosity to learn how far he could be heard, by retiring backwards down the street towards the river; and I found his voice distinct till I came near Front-street, when some noise in that street obscur’d it. Imagining then a semi-circle, of which my distance should be the radius, and that it were fill’d with auditors, to each of whom I allow’d two square feet, I computed that he might well be heard by more than thirty thousand. This reconcil’d me to the newspaper accounts of his having preach’d to twenty-five thousand people in the fields, and to the antient histories of generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.

By hearing him often, I came to distinguish easily between sermons newly compos’d, and those which he had often preach’d in the course of his travels. His delivery of the latter was so improv’d by frequent repetitions that every accent, every emphasis, every modulation of voice, was so perfectly well turn’d and well plac’d, that, without being interested in the subject, one could not help being pleas’d with the discourse; a pleasure of much the same kind with that receiv’d from an excellent piece of musick. This is an advantage itinerant preachers have over those who are stationary, as the latter can not well improve their delivery of a sermon by so many rehearsals.

His writing and printing from time to time gave great advantage to his enemies; unguarded expressions, and even erroneous opinions, delivered in preaching, might have been afterwards explain’d or qualifi’d by supposing others that might have accompani’d them, or they might have been deny’d; but litera scripta monet. Critics attack’d his writings violently, and with so much appearance of reason as to diminish the number of his votaries and prevent their encrease; so that I am of opinion if he had never written any thing, he would have left behind him a much more numerous and important sect, and his reputation might in that case have been still growing, even after his death, as there being nothing of his writing on which to found a censure and give him a lower character, his proselytes would be left at liberty to feign for him as great a variety of excellence as their enthusiastic admiration might wish him to have possessed.”

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1926: Cinema Fire Kills 48

Forty eight die when a fire breaks out in a make-shift cinema on the upper floor of the village hall in Drumcollagher, Co Limerick. During the screening a spool of highly-inflamable nitrate film caught fire.

Not only was it an unauthorized film showing, it appears that the two promoters of the event  “borrowed” the film reels from a Cork city cinema intending to return them the following day.

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Drumcollogher fire disaster memorial at today in Irish history

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Interesting post about Drumcollogher Fire Disaster.

Drumcollogher Fire Disaster Commemoration

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WATCH: A Short History of Ireland

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

Irish gift ideas. Best selling Irish booksRonnie Drew and Luke Kelly - Musical Irish Gifts to the worldJoyce Image in For the Love of Being IrishMichael Collins: Image from For the Love of Being Irish

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This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humorist IrishmanSpeaks – 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 IrishmanSpeaks to Laugh and Learn.

Tags: Best Irish Gift, Creative Irish Gift, Unique Irish Gifts, Irish Books, Irish Authors, Today in Irish History TODAY IN IRISH HISTORY (published by IrishmanSpeaks)

   

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November 10,

Dean O’Banion Gets Whacked – “Miley” Mick Lally – Oliver Goldsmith – Wolfe Tone Speech

November 10: TODAY in Irish History:

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Snippets of Irish History by Conor Cunneen IrishmanSpeaks 

Conor is a Chicago based Motivational Humorous Business Speaker, Author and History buff.

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1730: Birth of Oliver Goldsmith

Oliver Goldsmith 1728-1774
Oliver Goldsmith 1728-1774

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Writer, poet and physician Oliver Goldsmith is born in County Longford. Whether Goldsmith was a genius or as Horace Walpole described him “an inspired idiot” has exercised critics and historians for years.

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.

In a short bio of Goldsmith, British historian J.H. Plumb writes:

“Dr. Oliver Goldsmith was a very great man. This his contemporaries agreed on, yet none of them knew quite why. He baffled Dr. Johnson with his absurdities; Horace Walpole dismissed him as “an inspired idiot”; David Garrick immortalized him in the biting lines:

Here lies Nolly Goldsmith, for shortness called Noll,
Who wrote like an angel, but talked like poor Poll.

And even Sir Joshua Reynolds, who saw further and deeper into Goldsmith’s character than anyone else, realised that no man could get such a reputation for absurdity without there being reason for it.”

READ: Excellent article on Oliver Goldsmith

Goldsmith’s he Deserted Village is a beautiful descriptive piece, although not often appreciated as such by young school kids, back in the day as it was being beaten into them by the Christian Brothers.

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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.

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1798: Wolfe Tone Sentenced to Death

Wolfe Tone
Wolfe Tone 1763-1798

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Tone was one of the founders of the United Irishmen. In efforts to free Ireland from English rule, he had encouraged a French invasion of Ireland which due to bad planning and bad luck was never successful. In October 1798, French forces consisting of eight frigates were intercepted by British ships off Buncrana, Co. Donegal. Retreating French ships offered Tone escape but he allegedly said “Shall it be said that I fled, whilst the French were fighting the battles of my country?” He was captured on the ship Hoche.

He appeared before the Court “dressed,” says the Dublin Magazine for November, 1798, “in the French uniform: a large cocked hat, with broad gold lace and the tri-coloured cockade; a blue uniform coat, with gold-embroidered collar and two large gold epaulets; blue pantaloons, with gold-laced garters at the knees; and short boots, bound at the tops with gold lace.”

In his final speech from the dock, Tone said “From my earliest youth I have regarded the connection between Great Britain and Ireland as the curse of the Irish nation, and felt convinced that, whilst it lasted, this country could never be free nor happy. My mind has been confirmed in this opinion by the experience of every succeeding year, and the conclusions which I have drawn from every fact before my eyes.”

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READ: Wolfe Tone Speech from the Dock

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Two years previously, Wolfe Tone had attempted to land at Bantry Bay, Co. Cork on another French “invasion.”High winds and storms would mean the planned landing would be aborted some days later. He w wrote in his journal:

“We are now, nine o’clock, at the rendezvous appointed; stood in for the coast till twelve, when we were near enough to toss a biscuit ashore; at twelve tacked and stood out again, so now we have begun our cruise of five days in all its forms, and shall, in obedience to the letter of our instructions, ruin the expedition, and destroy the remnant of the French navy, with a precision and punctuality which will be truly edifying.”

Some days previously, Tone’s brother Matthew Tone was executed having been captured at the Battle of Ballinamuck fighting with French forces.

READ: Short History of Wolfe Tone

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1924: Irish American mobster Dean O’Bannion gets whacked.

Mobster Dion (Dean) O’Banion was born to Irish Catholic parents in Maroa Illinois. For a short period, he was a major kingpin in Prohibition Chicago, controlling most of the bootlegging and gambling in the northside of Chicago.

Dion (Dean) O'Banion
Dion (Dean) O’Banion

O’Banion’s development through criminal ranks was not unusual. A poverty stricken teenager (with a beautiful tenor voice), he initially ran with The Market Street gang involved in theft and protection rackets.

On the introduction of Prohibition in 1920, he started importing Canadian beer and  liquor, soon becoming a major player and working in relative harmony with Johnny Torio and his then lieutenant, Al Capone, a harmony that lasted for about two years. Disagreements over territory and enforcement erupted in gang warfare.

O’Banion was gunned down in his florist shop (where he supplied flowers to many Chicago gangster funerals) on by Torio/Capone gunmen. One gunman greeted him with a handshake and held him while two others shot O’Banion six times. His death exploded the bloody Chicago Gang wars that would culminate in the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre in 1929.

O’Banion was one of a number of Irish-American gangsters who brought misery to Prohibition Chicago in the 1920s.

Documentary on Dean O’Banion from TG4 (Irish Language TV)

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READ: Dean O’Banion

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1945: “Well, Holy God!” Mick Lally is born

Famous Irish TV and stage actor and co-founder of The Druid Theatre, Mick Lally is born. Lally is best known for his portrayal of Miley who never stopped saying “Well, Holy God!” in the long running RTE series Glenroe. This wonderful clip features Lally and another great actor Joe Lynch who plays his dad (at about 55 seconds).

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WATCH: A Short History of Ireland

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

Irish gift ideas. Best selling Irish booksRonnie Drew and Luke Kelly - Musical Irish Gifts to the worldJoyce Image in For the Love of Being IrishMichael Collins: Image from For the Love of Being Irish

___________________________________

This history is written by Irish author, business keynote speaker and award winning humorist IrishmanSpeaks – 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 IrishmanSpeaks to Laugh and Learn.

Tags: Best Irish Gift, Creative Irish Gift, Unique Irish Gifts, Irish Books, Irish Authors, Today in Irish History TODAY IN IRISH HISTORY (published by IrishmanSpeaks)