09 January-Brian Friel

Brian Friel was a native of Co Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He was an award winning dramatist and writer of short stories. His play ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’ was adapted into a film starring Meryl Streep.

Brian Patrick Friel was born near Omagh Co Tyrone in 1929. He was educated at St Columb’s College, Derry and was awarded a BA degree from St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in 1948. Following qualification as a teacher from St Joseph’s Training College in Belfast, Friel worked for a time as a teacher of mathematics in Derry.

In 1960 following the appearance of his writings in publications such as ‘The New Yorker’, Friel moved to Donegal and began writing full-time. He published 24 plays including ‘Philadelphia, Here I Come!’, ‘Faith Healer’ and ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’.

Brian Friel was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the British Royal Society of Literature. He received a Tony Award in 1992 for Best Play for ‘Dancing at Lughnasa’. In 2006 he was elected a Saoi of Aosdána.

Brian Friel, award winning dramatist and writer of short stories, was born in the year 1929 On This Day.





21 November-Niall Tóibín

Niall Tóibín is a comedian and actor who is a native of Cork city, Ireland. He is best known as a stand-up comedian and for his role in films such as Ryan’s Daughter, The Ballroom of Romance, Far and Away, and Veronica Guerin. The recipient of several awards, Tóibín has also appeared in several television series, including Ballykissangel, during his career.

Niall Tóibín was born in Cork city in 1929. Having been educated at the North Monastery in Cork, he moved to Dublin in 1947 to work in the Civil Service. Six years later, he left the Civil Service to work full-time as an actor with the Radio Eireann Players. Tóibín also pursued a successful stage career.

In an illustrious career spanning over four decades Tóibín became famous for his roles on television, in film and in the theatre. He was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree by University College Cork in 2010. He was also awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Irish Film and Television Academy in 2011.

Niall Tóibín, award winning comedian and actor, was born in Cork city, Ireland in the year 1929 On This Day.

Pub in Avoca, County Wicklow, Ireland. This was used as a primary exterior set in the BBC television series Ballykissangel in which Niall Tóibín had a role. It retains the name used in the show.

Phil Armitagehttp://www.philarmitage.net/wicklow/wicklow1.html



18 October-Canadian Women Become Persons

Emily Murphy was appointed the first female judge in Canada in in 1916. Her rulings however, were challenged by lawyers because under Canadian law women were not ‘persons’. The challenge was based on a court decision of 1876 which stated: ‘Women are persons in matters of pains and penalties, but are not persons in matters of rights and privileges’.

The British North American Act of 1867 established the Dominion of Canada. The ruling, which stated women were not persons, was made under that act. Murphy and four other Canadian women initiated a campaign to have the ruling overturned. Their petition to the Canadian Supreme Court in 1927 failed.

The women then took their case to the Privy Council of the British government. At the time it was Canada’s highest court. The Privy Council ruled that: ‘the exclusion of women from all public offices is a relic of days more barbarous than ours. And to those who would ask why the word ‘persons’ should include females, the obvious answer is, why should it not?

Women were declared as ‘persons’ under Canadian law in the year 1929 On This Day.

Statue in Calgary, Canada of the Famous Five

07 June-Vatican City

Vatican City is officially known as Vatican City State (Status Civitatis Vaticanae). It is an independent country governed as an absolute monarchy with the Pope at its head. It has diplomatic relations with most countries in the world. It is located within the city of Rome, Italy, covering an area of about 45 hectares (110 acres). Though it has a population of around 1,000 the Vatican has a citizenship of around 600.

The Papal States which once covered most of central Italy, existed from the 8th century until 1870. Following the unification of Italy the Papal States became part of the Kingdom of Italy. The temporal power of the Pope ended when Italian troops conquered Rome in 1870. The Popes did not recognise the authority of the King of Italy and refused to leave the Vatican for almost sixty years.

The crisis ended when the Lateran Treaty, between Italy and the Holy See was signed on February 11th 1929. It was negotiated when the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini was in power in Italy. The treaty established Vatican City State as an independent country.

The Lateran Treaty establishing the Vatican City State as an independent country became effective in the year 1929 On This Day.

Vatican City

Vatican Gardens



22 March-Irish Grand National

The Irish Grand National is a horse race run each year on Easter Monday at Fairyhouse Racecourse. Fairyhouse Racecourse is located in Ratoath County Meath about 26km to the Northwest of Dublin city. The Grand National is a National Hunt chase over a distance of 5.8km

Though racing began at Fairyhouse in 1848 the first Grand National did not take place until 1870. In that year the race was won by a horse called Sir Robert Peel owned by L. Dunne and ridden by John Boylan. Very quickly the race became Irelands most valuable and prestigious steeplechase. With the exception of 1919 due to World War 1 and 1941 due to World War II the race has been held every year since its inception.

The race, over twenty four fences, is 3 miles and 5 furlongs (5.8km) long. It is open to horses of five years and older. It has a prize fund of €250,000. Horses such as Rhyme ‘n’ Reason, Bobbyjo and Numbersixvalverde who were winners of the Irish Grand National also won the English Grand National at Aintree in Liverpool.

A horse called Brown Lad is the only horse to have won the Irish Grand National on three occasions. Other famous winners of the Irish Grand National are Arkle (1964), Desert Orchid (1990) and Commanche Court (2000). In 1929 sixty six horses competed in the Irish Grand National. The race was won by a six year old mare called Alike. The jockey, Frank Wise who was also the owner, was 5’4” (1.6m) tall.

The Irish Grand National was won by a horse called Alike, whose jockey Frank Wise was missing three fingers and had a wooden leg, in the year 1929 On This Day.

The Irish Grand National photo

Very Grand Stands by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1868-01-01 00:00:00

Irish Hospital’s Sweepstake on the 1963 Grand National Booklet by France1978 on 2013-03-03 01:06:06