11 November-Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly was an outlaw who was a native of Australia. During the 1870’s he became a notorious bushranger (a thief who lived in the Australian bush) whose activities created a sensation in Australia. He also became famous for wearing a bulletproof suit of armour during his last shootout with police.

Ned Kelly was born in Beveridge, Victoria, Australia in 1855. His father, who was from Co Tipperary, Ireland died when Ned was twelve years old. Ned left school to work on the farm but was in trouble with the law by the time he was fourteen.

In 1878 there was a violent confrontation with a policeman at the Kelly home. Kelly’s mother was imprisoned and Kelly fled to the bush with his brother and two associates. Three policemen who were pursuing them were shot. The Kelly gang became involved in bank robberies and began wearing homemade bulletproof armour.

In 1880 they took over the town of Glenrowan about 236km (212 miles) north-east of Melbourne. In the gun battle with police which followed Ned Kelly, though seriously wounded was the only survivor. He was later tried, convicted and sentenced to death.

Ned Kelly, an outlaw who was a native of Australia, was hanged in Melbourne in the year 1880 On This Day.

Statue of Bushranger Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly’s armour


22 February-John Daly, Olympian

John Daly was a native of Galway, Ireland. He was a medal winning athlete at the 1904 Olympic Games, which were held in St Louis, United States. As a member of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Daly represented Ireland at four International Cross Country Championships. He won three Silver team medals and a Bronze medal.

John Daly was born at Ballglunin near Tuam, Co Galway, Ireland in 1880. The 1903 International Cross Country Championships were held at Hamilton Park, South Lanarkshire, Scotland. Daly, competing for Ireland won an individual Bronze medal and a team Silver medal. At the 1904 Olympics Daly won a Silver medal in the steeplechase.

John Daly, winner of a Silver medal in the 1904 Olympics was born in Galway, Ireland in the year 1880 On This Day.

John Daly athlete.jpg

John Daly 1904

Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society

30 March-Seán O’Casey

Seán O’Casey was a playwright who was a native of Dublin, Ireland. Famous for plays such as ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ and ‘The Plough and the Stars’ he was also a well-known Irish nationalist. O’Casey moved to England in 1927 at the age of 47. He lived there for the rest of his life.

Seán O’Casey was born at 85 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin in 1880. He was the youngest of a family of thirteen children. His father died when O’Casey was six years old. As a child his family moved house regularly. O’Casey suffered from poor eyesight which interfered with his early education. Leaving school at the age of fourteen he worked at various jobs. He worked for nine years (1902-1911) with Irish Railways (Great Northern Railway). He later worked with Eason’s, booksellers and newspaper distributors.

O’Casey became interested in Irish nationalism. In 1906 he joined the Gaelic League, learned the Irish language and changed his name to its Irish form, Seán Ó Cathasaigh. Influenced by the poverty he saw in the slums of Dublin, O’Casey joined the Irish Transport and general Workers Union which was founded by the labour leader Jim Larkin. He later joined the Irish Citizen Army but resigned in a disagreement about membership in 1914.

Though he had written a regular column for the Irish Worker from 1912 it was not until 1917 that O’Casey began devoting his energies to writing. His first plays were rejected by the Abbey Theatre but his two-act play, ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ was eventually accepted by the Abbey in 1922. O’Casey was then 42 years old. His most popular play ‘Juno and the Paycock’ was staged by the Abbey in 1924. When the four-act play ‘The Plough and the Stars’ was staged in February 1926 it led to protests and riots in Dublin. O’Casey was in London at the time. He was being awarded a prize for his play ‘Juno and the Paycock’. He gave his acceptance speech in Irish.

While in London O’Casey met the Irish actress Eileen Reynolds Carey. They married in 1927 and though they returned to Ireland for their honeymoon O’Casey spent the remainder of his life in England. They lived in London until 1938 when they moved to Totnes in Devon. O’Casey continued to write plays and essays. Seán O’Casey died at the age of 84 in Torquay, Devon on September 18th 1964.

Seán O’Casey was born in Dublin in the year 1880 On This Day.

Sean O’Casey

Seán O’Casey Bridge


02 March-John Macneill

John Macneill, the engineer who designed much of Ireland’s rail network was a native of County Louth, Ireland. Carlow Railway Station and Cork Railway Tunnel are just two of the many projects designed by Macneill, which are still in use today. He was also responsible for several engineering projects in England and Scotland

John Benjamin Macneill was born in Mountpleasant Dundalk County Louth, Ireland in 1793. He initially joined the army but in 1815 at the age of 22 he decided to train as a civil engineer. Engineer and architect Alexander Nimmo (builder of Knightstown on Valentia Island) employed Macneill to help carry out a survey of the Irish coast. Macneill was later involved in road building around his native Dundalk.

In the early 1820’s Macneill moved to England where he was employed by Thomas Telford building roads and other infrastructure. He worked on building the road from London to Holyhead eventually becoming the Engineer-in-Chief on the road. Working on the same project was Carlow engineer William Dargan. Dargan and Macneill would later return to their native country to work on the building of the Irish rail network.

John Macneill was recruited by the Irish Railway Commission and returned to Ireland in 1837. He was appointed engineer on the Dublin to Carlow and Kilkenny railway line. In 1840 he was appointed engineer on the Dublin and Drogheda Railway. The building of this railway included the construction of the 30m high Boyne Viaduct. He also built what has become known as Macneill’s Egyptian Arch near Newry in County Armagh. Over the following decades over 1,300km of railway lines were constructed all over Ireland.

Trinity College Dublin established a School of Engineering and Macneill was appointed as the first professor of engineering there in 1842. He held the post for ten years. Macneill established a flax-manufacturing factory but it was destroyed in a fire in 1857. The fire together with falling income from investments in railway shares meant Macneill became impoverished. He moved to London to live with his son where he died blind and destitute.

John Macneill, who engineered a large part of the railway network which is still in use in Ireland today, died in the year 1880 On This Day.

The Boyne Viaduct – Drogheda

Egyptian Arch, Newry, Co. Down, circa 1905



05 February-Irish Rugby Football Union

County Carlow Football Club was founded in October 1873. The club was elected a member of the IRFU (Irish Rugby Football Union) on December 1st 1899. Only a few clubs such a Dublin University, Wanderers and Queen’s University were already in existence when the Carlow club was founded.

The Irish Football Union was founded in 1874. It had jurisdiction over clubs in Leinster, Munster and parts of Ulster. In 1875 the Northern Football Union was formed. It controlled clubs in the Belfast area. The two Unions agreed to amalgamate and become the Irish Rugby Football Union in 1879.

Branches were to be formed in Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The Union was to be run by a council made up of six members from each province. Though clubs such as Ballinasloe in the province of Connaught had been founded in 1875 the Connaught Branch of the Union was not formed until 1886.

By 1885 twenty six clubs were affiliated to the IRFU. Today there are over 200 clubs, from the four provinces of Ireland, affiliated to the Union. Rugby football is being played in almost 250 schools throughout Ireland.

The inaugural general meeting of the Irish Rugby Football Union was held in the year 1880 On This Day.


Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland