21 March-Sonia O’Sullivan

Sonia O’Sullivan, who is a native of Co Cork, is one of Ireland’s most successful athletes. She represented Ireland at four Olympic Games, winning an Olympic Silver Medal in 2000. O’Sullivan also won European Gold and World Gold Medals. She was Chef De Mission for the Irish team at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Sonia “Fran” O’Sullivan was born in Cobh, Co Cork on November 28th 1969. She was educated at Cobh Vocational School and began her athletic career with Ballymore Running Club in the town of Cobh. In 1988 O’Sullivan was awarded a scholarship to Villanova University in Philadelphia, USA. She graduated from there with a degree in Accounting in 1992.

Prior to winning her Olympic Medal, Sonia O’Sullivan had a long list of successes to her credit. These included:

•Three World Championship Gold Medals

•Three European Championship Gold Medals

•Four World Records

Sonia O’Sullivan won the Gold Medal in the World Cross Country Championships in Marrakech, Morocco in the year 1998 On This Day.

 

 

 

 

27 February-British Throne Succession

The line of succession to the throne of England was through the male line for 1,000 years. Known as primogeniture it meant that the first born son was automatically the heir to the throne. The current monarch, Elizabeth II succeeded her father to the throne because she had no brothers and she was the elder of two girls.

In 1998 Britain’s House of Lords agreed to give a monarch’s first-born daughter the same claim to the throne as a first-born son. The change is unlikely to have any immediate impact. Prince Charles has no older sister. His heir, Prince William has no sisters and the eldest child of William is a boy. In 2013, laws which banned anyone in the line of succession to the British throne, from marrying a Roman Catholic were scrapped.

Britain’s House of Lords agreed to end 1000 years of male preference, by giving a first-born daughter of the monarch the same claim to the throne as a first-born son, in the year 1998 On This Day.

Queen Elizabeth II in Ireland 2011

 

 

06 August-Michelle de Bruin

Michelle de Bruin (née Smith) is, to date the most successful Olympian in Ireland. She won three Gold Medals and one Bronze Medal in swimming competitions at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. She also won four Gold and three Silver European Championship Medals. She won her last medal at the European Championships in 1997.

Michelle de Bruin was born Michelle Smith in Rathcoole Co Dublin on December 16th 1969. She began her swimming training in 1998 at the age of nine. In that year she won the All-Ireland Community Games competition. She won her first Gold Medals at a novice competition, and at the age of 14, she became National Junior and Senior Irish Champion.

Smith moved to the United States to study Communications (film and television) at the University of Houston. At the university she was able to avail of advanced training techniques. Her times improved and she qualified for the Irish team to compete in the Seoul Olympics in 1988. She was eliminated in the qualifying rounds.

Having graduated with a degree in Communications from the University of Houston, Smith again qualified for the Irish team to compete in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Despite injury she competed but again was eliminated in the qualifying rounds. After the 1992 Olympics Smith moved to Holland where she trained with Erik de Bruin whom she had met in Barcelona.

At the European Championships in Vienna in 1995 Michelle Smith won Gold Medals in both the 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley. She qualified for the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. She won three Gold Medals (400m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m individual medley). She also won a Bronze Medal in the 200m butterfly. Her success caused controversy and a disappointed American swimmer, Janet Evans, highlighted accusations that Smith had been accused of doping. The accusations however were never proven and Evans later apologised to Smith. Smith competed in the European Championships in Seville in 1997 where she won two Gold and one Silver medal.

In 1998 Michelle who was now married to Erik de Bruin was accused by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) of tampering with a urine sample and was banned from competition for four years. She denies any wrongdoing and retains her Olympic Medals. She retired from swimming in 1999 and began studying law at University College Dublin. She was conferred with the degree of Barrister at Law of King’s Inns in 2005. She now lives in Kells, Co Kilkenny with her family and practises as a barrister.

Michelle de Bruin (née Smith), who denies any wrongdoing and retains her Olympic Medals, was given a four year ban from swimming by FINA in the year 1998 On This Day.

Olympic Park, Atlanta

 

 

 

 

26 April-Catriona McKiernan

Catriona McKiernan is a native of Co Cavan, Ireland. She is the winner of numerous long distance and marathon races and is widely regarded as one of the best ever cross country runners. In 1998 McKiernan became the first Irish person to win the London Marathon.

Catriona McKiernan was born in Cornafean, about 13km west of Cavan town on November 30th 1969. Interested in sport from a young age she played Gaelic games before concentrating on athletics. She represented Ireland at the Olympics in 1992 and in 1996. In 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 she was the winner of the silver medal at the World Cross Country Championships.

In 1997 McKiernan began competing in the Marathon, winning her first race in Berlin that year. In 1998 she was the winner of the marathon in both London and Amsterdam. Due to injury she was unable to compete in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She announced her retirement in 2004.

Catriona McKiernan became the first Irish person to win the London Marathon in the year 1998 On This Day.

London Marathon

 

17 April-Paul McGrath

Paul McGrath is widely regarded as one of the greatest footballers ever to play for the Republic of Ireland. He spent most of his career playing with clubs in the English Premier League and played 83 times for his country. A confident and decisive tackler McGrath is regarded as an outstanding football talent and a great athlete whose preferred playing position was centre back. During his career he continued to play despite having alcohol problems and serious knee injuries which required surgery on several occasions.

Paul McGrath was born in Ealing, London on December 4th 1959. He showed exceptional talent as a footballer from an early age and began his full-time football career with St Patrick’s Athletic in Dublin in 1981. He spent one season with St Patrick’s before moving to England where he joined the Manchester United Club. Over a period of seven seasons McGrath appeared 163 times for the club and scored 12 goals. He won an FA cup medal with Manchester United in 1985.

McGrath moved to the Birmingham club, Aston Villa, in 1989. Again over seven seasons he made 252 appearances and scored 9 goals. He was a member of the team in the club’s victory over Manchester United in the League Cup final in 1994. McGrath left Aston Villa in 1996 and went on to play briefly with Derby County and Sheffield United. He played the final game of his club career, just a month before his 39th birthday, with Ipswich Town on November 9th 1997.

Paul McGrath played his first game for Ireland in a 1985 friendly against Italy at Dalymount Park. He would go on to play for Ireland on 83 occasions and score 8 goals. His appearances included UEFA Euro 1998, FIFA World Cup 1990 in Italy and again in the FIFA World Cup 1994 in the USA. He played his final international for Ireland against Wales in 1997 after which he stated: ‘The thought of retirement is a bit scary, soccer has been my life’. A Testimonial match for Paul McGrath was held in Lansdowne Road in May 1998. Over 37,000 fans attended what was an emotional occasion, in which McGrath made an appearance.

The Paul McGrath testimonial match was announced in Dublin in the year 1998 On This Day.

Winners 2008

Villa Park Dressing room photo

Villa Park dressing room (1), September 1995 by Ben Sutherland on 1995-09-01 00:00:00

Photo by Ben Sutherland