seamus dubhghaill

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


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Birth of Betty Williams, Peace Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Recipient

Elizabeth “Betty” Williams (née Smyth), peace activist and co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976, is born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on May 22, 1943.

Williams’s father works as a butcher and her mother is a housewife. She receives her primary education from St. Teresa Primary School in Belfast and attends St. Dominic’s Grammar School for Girls for her secondary school studies. Upon completing her formal education, she takes up a job of office receptionist.

Rare for the time in Northern Ireland, Williams’s father is Protestant and her mother is Catholic, a family background from which she later says she derived religious tolerance and a breadth of vision that motivated her to work for peace. Early in the 1970s she joins an anti-violence campaign headed by a Protestant priest. She credits this experience for preparing her to eventually found her own peace movement, which focuses on creating peace groups composed of former opponents, practicing confidence-building measures, and the development of a grassroots peace process.

Williams is drawn into the public arena after witnessing the death of three children on August 10, 1976, when they are hit by a car whose driver, an Irish Republican Army (IRA) paramilitary named Danny Lennon, had been fatally shot in return fire by a soldier of the King’s Own Royal Border Regiment. As she turns the corner to her home, she sees the three Maguire children crushed by the swerving car and rushes to help. Their mother, Anne Maguire, who is with the children, dies by suicide in January 1980.

Williams is so moved by the incident that within two days of the tragic event, she obtains 6,000 signatures on a petition for peace and gains wide media attention. With Mairead Corrigan, she co-founds the Women for Peace which, with Ciaran McKeown, later becomes the Community of Peace People.

Williams soon organises a peace march to the graves of the slain children, which is attended by 10,000 Protestant and Catholic women. However, the peaceful march is violently disrupted by members of the IRA, who accuse them of being “dupes of the British.” The following week, she leads another march in Ormeau Park that concludes successfully without incident – this time with 20,000 participants.

In recognition of her efforts for peace, Williams, together with Corrigan, become joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize for 1976.

The Peace Prize money is divided equally between Williams and Corrigan. Williams keeeps her share of the money, stating that her intention is to use it to promote peace beyond Ireland, but faces criticism for her decision. She and Corrigan have no contact after 1976. In 1978, Williams breaks off links with the Peace People movement and becomes instead an activist for peace in other areas around the world.

Williams receives the People’s Peace Prize of Norway in 1976, the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement in 1977, the Schweitzer Medallion for Courage, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award in 1984, and the Frank Foundation Child Care International Oliver Award. In 1995, she is awarded the Rotary International “Paul Harris Fellowship” and the Together for Peace Building Award.

At the 2006 Earth Dialogues forum in Brisbane, Williams tells an audience of schoolchildren during a speech on Iraq War casualties that “Right now, I would like to kill George W. Bush.” From September 17 to 20, 2007, she gives a series of lectures in Southern California. On September 18, she presents a lecture to the academic community of Orange County entitled “Peace in the World Is Everybody’s Business” and on September 20 she gives a lecture to 2,232 members of the general public, including 1,100 high school sophomores, at Soka University of America. In 2010, she gives a lecture at WE Day Toronto, a WE Charity event that empowers students to be active within their communities, and worldwide.

Speaking at the University of Bradford before an audience of 200 in March 2011, Williams warns that young Muslim women on campus are vulnerable to attacks from angry family members, while the university does little to help protect them. “If you had someone on this campus these young women could go to say, ‘I am frightened’ – if you are not doing that here, you are dehumanising them by not helping these young women, don’t you think?”

At the time she receives the Nobel Prize, Williams works as a receptionist and is raising her two children with her first husband Ralph Williams. This marriage is dissolved in 1981. She marries businessman James Perkins in December 1982 and they live in Florida in the United States.

In 2004, Williams returns to live in Northern Ireland. She dies on March 17, 2020, at the age of 76 in Belfast.


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Birth of Fergus Slattery, Rugby Union Player

John Fergus Slattery, former rugby union player who represented Ireland, is born in Dún Laoghaire, the county town of Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown, on February 12, 1949.

Slattery plays club rugby for Blackrock College and University College Dublin before embarking on an international career that takes in 61 caps for Ireland, 18 as captain, and four for the British and Irish Lions. He makes his international debut in a draw against South Africa at Lansdowne Road in 1970.

In 1971, Slattery first tours with the British and Irish Lions squad that toured New Zealand, missing out on a start in the third Test due to illness. With the back-row berths claimed by John Taylor, Peter Dixon and Mervyn Davies and still being a newcomer at international level he has to wait until 1974 for his shot at a Lions Test jersey. In the meantime, he plays for the Barbarian F.C. in the famous 1973 game against the All Blacks in Cardiff.

Slattery tours with the Lions again in 1974, playing in all four Tests and captaining the side for two provincial matches. In South Africa he is an invaluable member of the touring party that comes to be known as “the invincibles.” He starts all four Tests as the Lions win the series 3-0 and skippers the side twice during midweek tour matches.

For Ireland, Slattery captains their hugely successful touring side in Australia in 1979 when they win seven of the eight matches including the two Tests in Brisbane and Sydney. In 1982 he starts all four games of Ireland’s Triple Crown season, being denied the Grand Slam by France in the final game of the Five Nations Championship.

Slattery is inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 2007.


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Birth of Ollie Campbell, Former Rugby Union Player

seamus-oliver-campbellSeamus Oliver “Ollie” Campbell, former rugby union player, is born in Dublin on March 5, 1954. He plays fly-half for the Ireland national rugby union team from 1976 to 1984. He is most well known for his role in orchestrating Ireland’s Triple Crown victory at the 1982 Five Nations Championship, breaking a drought of over 30 years. He has been described as Ireland’s most complete fly-half since Jack Kyle.

Campbell is educated at Belvedere College, a famous Irish rugby school in Dublin, where he is on the teams that win the Leinster Schools Rugby Senior Cup twice in a row in 1971 and 1972. He plays for Old Belvedere R.F.C. at club level and represents Leinster at provincial level, although prior to the professional era. While playing for Old Belvedere, he travels to the United States in 1978, where he plays in New York City against the Old Maroon Rugby Club.

Campbell wins a total of 22 caps for Ireland from 1976–1984, scoring 217 test points. His international career is more brief than this span suggests, however, as he plays only four full seasons for Ireland from 1980–1984. Of his career totals, he wins 22 caps and scores 182 points in the Five Nations tournament. He tours twice with Ireland, to Australia in 1979 and to South Africa in 1981.

Campbell wins his first cap for Ireland at the age of 21 against Australia in 1976, but does not secure another cap with Ireland until 1979 during Ireland’s 1979 tour to Australia. He sets an Irish record on the 1979 tour to Australia when he scors 60 points, 19 of them in Brisbane which is an Irish record for points in a match against Australia.

The defining moment in Campbell’s career comes in 1982, with Campbell as the architect-in-chief of Ireland’s 1982 Triple Crown victory, Ireland’s first since 1949. Ireland enters the tournament winless in its past eight matches. Campbell starts the 1982 Five Nations by scoring eight points in Ireland’s 20–12 win against Wales, and also playing a major hand in all three of Ireland’s tries. He then scores another eight points in the following match, a 16–15 win against England. In Ireland’s third match, he kicks all of Ireland’s 21 points, including a career best 6 penalties, against Scotland at Lansdowne Road to secure the Triple Crown. He is the leading scorer in the 1982 Five Nations with 46 points.

In the 1983 Five Nations Championship, Campbell leads Ireland to a joint Five Nations Championship shared with France. He is again the tournament’s leading scorer with 52 points, and scores 21 points against England to set an Irish record for most points against England in a Five Nations match. He plays his last match for Ireland in 1984 against Wales.

Campbell is also capped seven times for the British & Irish Lions. He earns three caps in the 1980 Lions tour to South Africa, where he is the Lions’ leading scorer in the last two tests with six and five points respectively. He earns another four caps in the 1983 Lions tour to New Zealand, where he is the Lions’ leading scorer in the four test matches with 15 points. He scores 184 points in total for the Lions.

Campbell retires from rugby in 1986 following two years of struggles with hamstring injuries. In 2007 he is presented with the Newbridge RFC Legend in Rugby Award along with the Irish Rugby Squad which won the 1982 Triple Crown and elected an Honorary Life Member of Newbridge RFC. He has worked in the family clothing business since retirement from rugby in 1984.

Old Belvedere’s sportsground on Anglesea Road in Dublin is renamed Ollie Campbell Park in his honour in 2019.