seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Patrick J. Hillery Inaugurated Sixth President of Ireland

Patrick John Hillery, Irish politician, is inaugurated as the sixth President of Ireland on December 3, 1976. He serves two terms in the presidency and, though widely seen as a somewhat lacklustre President, is credited with bringing stability and dignity to the office. He also wins widespread admiration when it emerges that he has withstood political pressure from his own Fianna Fáil party during a political crisis in 1982.

Hillery is born in Spanish Point, County Clare on May 2, 1923. He is educated locally at Milltown Malbay national school before later attending Rockwell College. At third level he attends University College Dublin where he qualifies with a degree in medicine. Upon his conferral in 1947 he returns to his native town where he follows in his father’s footsteps as a doctor.

Hillery is first elected at the 1951 general election as a Fianna Fáil Teachta Dála (TD) for Clare, and remains in Dáil Éireann until 1973. During this time he serves as Minister for Education (1959–1965), Minister for Industry and Commerce (1965–1966), Minister for Labour (1966–1969) and Minister for Foreign Affairs (1969–1973).

Following Ireland’s successful entry into Europe in 1973, Hillery is rewarded by becoming the first Irishman to serve on the European Commission, serving until 1976 when he becomes President. In 1976 the Fine GaelLabour Party National Coalition under Liam Cosgrave informs him that he is not being re-appointed to the Commission. He considers returning to medicine, however fate takes a turn when Minister for Defence Paddy Donegan launches a ferocious verbal attack on President Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh, calling him “a thundering disgrace” for referring anti-terrorist legislation to the courts to test its constitutionality. When a furious President Ó Dálaigh resigns, a deeply reluctant Hillery agrees to become the Fianna Fáil candidate for the presidency. Fine Gael and Labour decide it is unwise to put up a candidate in light of the row over Ó Dálaigh’s resignation. As a result, Hillery is elected unopposed, becoming President of Ireland on December 3, 1976.

When Hillery’s term of office ends in September 1983, he indicates that he does not intend to seek a second term, but he changes his mind when all three political parties plead with him to reconsider. He is returned for a further seven years without an electoral contest. After leaving office in 1990, he retires from politics.

Hillery’s two terms as president, from 1976 to 1990, end before the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, which sets terms for an end to violence in Northern Ireland. But he acts at crucial moments as an emollient influence on the republic’s policies toward the north, and sets a tone that helps pave the way for eventual peace.

Patrick Hillery dies on April 12, 2008 in his Dublin home following a short illness. His family agrees to a full state funeral for the former president. He is buried at St. Fintan’s Cemetery, Sutton, near Dublin. In the graveside oration, Tánaiste Brian Cowen says Hillery was “A humble man of simple tastes, he has been variously described as honourable, decent, intelligent, courteous, warm and engaging. He was all of those things and more.”

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Death of RTÉ Presenter Gerard “Gerry” Ryan

Gerard “Gerry” Ryan, presenter of radio and television employed by Raidió Teilifís Éireann (RTÉ), is found dead in the bedroom of his home on Leeson Street, Dublin on April 30, 2010. He presents The Gerry Ryan Show on radio station RTÉ 2fm each weekday morning from 1988 until hours before his sudden death. He is presented with a Jacob’s Award for the show in 1990.

Ryan is born in Clontarf, County Dublin on June 4, 1956. He describes his father, Vinnie, as a “slightly eccentric” dentist from a Presbyterian background and his mother, Maureen, as “a flamboyant woman” who comes from a theatrical background and works in the theatre. His godfather is broadcaster Eamonn Andrews. He is educated at St. Paul’s College, Raheny.

Ryan hosts several series of television shows, including Secrets, Gerry Ryan Tonight, Ryantown, Gerry Ryan’s Hitlist, Ryan Confidential and the first three series of Operation Transformation. In 1987, he earns notoriety and the moniker “Lambo” after an unpleasant incident in Connemara. He is also noted for co-presenting, with Cynthia Ní Mhurchú, Eurovision Song Contest 1994 and, in 2008, presenting an edition of The Late Late Show, television’s longest-running chat show, in place of the then regular host Pat Kenny.

Ryan marries Morah Brennan in 1988 and they have five children: Lottie, Rex, Bonnie, Elliott and Babette. In 1997, Morah famously telephones her husband’s show and, under the name Norah, tells half a million listeners intimate details concerning his personal household habits. Gerry and Morah announce their separation in March 2008, which Ryan calls “a very painful experience.” He soon begins a relationship with the former South African Ambassador to Ireland and the then UNICEF Ireland executive director, Melanie Verwoerd.

Ryan is noted for his love of fine food and wine. He battles a weight problem for several years and takes Reductil (Sibutramine), a “slimming pill,” which he says is effective and safe. Ryan concedes in his autobiography Would the Real Gerry Ryan Please Stand Up, released in October 2008, that he drinks too much for his own good.

Among the dignitaries to send tributes following Ryan’s death are Bono, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Taoiseach Brian Cowen, and President Mary McAleese. His funeral takes place on May 6, 2010, and is broadcast on 2fm, the home of Ryan’s radio show and a first for the predominantly youthpop-oriented station. His death also comes sixteen years to the day after he hosted Eurovision 1994.

An inquest shows that the cause of Ryan’s death is cardiac arrhythmia and that traces of cocaine found in Ryan’s system are the “likely trigger” of Ryan’s death. A considerable public controversy erupts when Ryan’s long-term use of cocaine comes to light. RTÉ eventually admits to having given insufficient coverage of Ryan’s cocaine habit in the aftermath of the inquest.


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Birth of Tipperary Hurling Legend John Doyle

john-doyleJohn Doyle, Irish sportsperson and politician, hailed as one of the best defenders in hurling and his county’s most iconic player upon his death, is born in Holycross, County Tipperary, on February 12, 1930.

Doyle first excels at hurling while at school in Thurles CBS. Regarded as too good for CBS Primary School team, he is drafted into the secondary school’s under-15 Croke Cup team in 1942. Doyle plays at wing-forward as Thurles CBS wins the championship that year.

Doyle arrives on the inter-county scene at the age of sixteen when he first links up with the Tipperary minor team. He makes his senior debut in the 1947-48 National League. A 5-6 to 4-2 defeat of Cork in the provincial decider gives him his first Munster medal. Tipperary retains their provincial crown in 1947, with Doyle collecting a second Munster medal following a 2-4 to 1-2 defeat of Waterford. Doyle goes on to play a key role for Tipperary during a hugely successful era for the team, winning eight All-Ireland medals, ten Munster medals, and ten National Hurling League medals.

On June 26, 1949, Doyle makes his senior championship debut in a Munster quarter-final replay against Cork. As a member of the Munster inter-provincial team for fifteen years, Doyle wins six Railway Cup medals. At club level he wins three championship medals with Holycross-Ballycahill.

After surrendering their provincial crown in 1966, Tipperary bounces back the following year, with Doyle winning a record tenth Munster medal following a 4-12 to 2-6 defeat of Clare. On September 3, 1967, Tipperary faces Kilkenny in the All-Ireland decider, a game which presents Doyle win the opportunity of making history by winning a record-breaking ninth All-Ireland medal. Despite leading at halftime 2-6 to 1-3, Kilkenny goalkeeper Ollie Walsh makes a series of spectacular saves in the second half and Kilkenny is victorious 3-8 to 2-7 and lays to rest a bogey that Tipperary has had over the team since 1922. The defeat brings the curtain down on Doyle’s inter-county career.

For almost fifty years Doyle, together with Christy Ring, hold a unique record as the only players to win eight All-Ireland medals on the field of play. This record is subsequently surpassed by Henry Shefflin on September 30, 2012. His record of National League medals has yet to be equalled. Throughout his career, Doyle makes 54 championship appearances, a Tipperary record which stands until August 9, 2009 when it is surpassed by Brendan Cummins.

In retirement from inter-county hurling, Doyle continues to work on his farm in Holycross. In later years he enters politics. He stands unsuccessfully as a Fianna Fáil candidate at the 1969 general election for the Tipperary North constituency, but is subsequently elected to Seanad Éireann on the Agricultural Panel. He serves until 1973 when he loses his seat.

Doyle is widely regarded as one of the greatest hurlers in the history of the game. During his playing days he wins two Cú Chulainn awards, and is named Texaco Hurler of the Year in 1964. He is repeatedly voted onto teams made up of the sport’s greats, including as left corner-back on the Hurling Team of the Century in 1984 and the Hurling Team of the Millennium in 2000.

John Doyle dies on December 29, 2010. Taoiseach Brian Cowen is among those who pay tribute saying “He was an immense hurler and an incredibly decent man, his love of the GAA was matched by his concern for his country and his own community, he was a Tipperary legend and a proud Irishman.” Doyle is buried at Holy Cross Abbey outside Thurles on December 31, 2010.