16 February-Delia Murphy

Delia Murphy was a famous ballad singer who was a native of Co Mayo, Ireland. She made several recordings during her long career. As the wife of the Irish Ambassador to Rome during World War II she helped save the lives of thousands of Jews and escaped allied soldiers from the Nazis.

Delia Murphy was born on Mount Jennings Estate in Hollymount, County Mayo in 1902. She grew up on the estate and attended Robeen National School. Her father allowed members of the travelling community to camp on his estate and Delia said that it was from them she learned many of her songs. Having completed National School she was educated at Presentation Convent, Tuam, County Galway and Dominican College Dublin. A very bright student Delia took degrees in both Arts and Commerce in University College Galway (UCG). In UCG she met and married economist and author Dr Thomas Kiernan when she was 22 years old.

In 1924 Dr Kiernan joined the diplomatic service and his first appointment was to London. Delia regularly sang at diplomatic gatherings and became friendly with the singer John McCormack. She became well known as a singer in her own right and in 1939 she recorded three songs The Blackbird, The Spinning Wheel and Three Lovely Lassies. The recordings became popular in Ireland and abroad.

Thomas Kiernan was appointed Irish Minister Plenipotentiary to the Holy See in Rome and the family moved to Rome in 1941. Monsignor Hugh O’Flaherty (“Vatican pimpernel”) who was responsible for saving 6,500 Allied soldiers and Jews from the Nazis was supported and assisted in his efforts by Delia Murphy. During his career Kiernan also served as Ambassador in Canberra, Bonn, Ottawa and Washington. Despite having four children, a busy lifestyle and frequently moving to new locations Delia Murphy continued to record and perform. During the 1950’s she did concert tours in Ireland and Britain. In 1961 she recorded “The Queen of Connemara” whilst living in Canada. Shortly after the death of her husband Delia Murphy moved to Ireland in 1969 to live near Chapelizod, in Dublin.

Delia Murphy was born near Claremorris County Mayo in the year 1902 On This Day.

I’ll live ’till I die – Tribute to Delia Murphy



20 January-Kevin Barry

Kevin Barry was a member of the Irish Volunteers during the Irish War of Independence. He was executed in 1920 for his part in an ambush in Dublin which led to the deaths of three British soldiers. He was the first member of the Irish Volunteers to be executed since Easter Rising of 1916.

Kevin Gerard Barry was born in Fleet Street Dublin in January 1902. He was one of a family of seven children. The Barry family ran a successful dairy farm at Tombeagh, Hacketstown, Co Carlow and a retail business in Fleet Street, Dublin. In 1920 Kevin Barry was a medical student in University College Dublin

He was just 18 years old when he took part in the ambush of a British Army truck. The truck was picking up a delivery of bread from a bakery at the junction of Church Street and North King Street, Dublin. Mathew Whitehead one of the three soldiers who died as a result of the ambush was just 17 years old. Following the ambush Barry was captured and sentenced to death. He was hanged in Mountjoy Jail on November 1st 1920.

Kevin Barry was born in the year 1902 On This Day.

Kevin Barry House – North King Street (Dublin)


20 July-Jimmy Kennedy

Jimmy Kennedy was a songwriter who was a native of Omagh, Co Tyrone. He wrote over 2,000 songs of which 50 became all-time popular music classics. Though Kennedy usually wrote the lyrics for existing music he also worked with composers during his career.

Jimmy Kennedy was born in Omagh in 1902. He was educated locally before attending Trinity College Dublin. Following graduation he worked as a teacher in England but in 1925 he joined the Colonial Service. Interested in writing poems and songs from a young age, Kennedy began writing for a music publisher in London.

During his career Kennedy became famous for songs such as ‘Red Sails in the Sunset’, ‘South of the Border’ and Teddy Bears Picnic’. He was the recipient of several awards and received and he received an honorary degree from the University of Ulster. He was awarded an OBE by Queen Elizabeth II in 1983. Kennedy was patron of the Castelbar Song Contest from 1973 until he died at the age of 81 on April 6th 1984.

Jimmy Kennedy who wrote the words of songs such as ‘Teddy Bears Picnic’ was born near Omagh Co Tyrone in 1902 On This Day.

Omagh photo

If you go down in the woods today

Photo by Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi


songwiter Jimmy Kennedy photo

Omagh High Street and Courthouse, pre 1901

Photo by whatsthatpicture

26 November-Ireland’s Own

Ireland’s Own is the longest running and bestselling family magazine in Ireland. Published weekly in Wexford town it has a circulation of over 50,000 in Ireland and abroad. Non glossy, old-fashioned and non-political it provides entertainment and information for all the family. Every week it has regular features, short stories, articles on history and a section for children. The first edition of Ireland’s Own was published in Wexford in the year 1902 On This Day

Wexford photo


Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons