O’Brien is the eldest child of a Roman Catholic church musician. In 1885, he first appears in a public piano recital and, later in the year, becomes the organist of Rathmines parish church, a position he holds until 1888. He holds another organist’s position at the Dublin Carmelite church from 1897 to 1899, but is chiefly known as organist and choir director of Dublin’s largest Roman Catholic Church, St. Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, between 1903 and 1946. In 1898, he is the founder and first director of the Palestrina Choir, originally all-male, which is still active, and which is financed for many years by Edward Martyn.
O’Brien studies with Robert Prescott Stewart at the Royal Irish Academy of Music (1888-90), where he is the first winner of the Coulson Scholarship and frequently performs as both tenor singer, piano accompanist, and organist in many public concerts during the 1890s. As a church musician, he becomes particularly involved in the Cecilian Movement, conducting works by Michael Haller and others, and also pursuing their artistic ideals in his own sacred choral compositions.
O’Brien is the founding conductor of the Dublin Oratorio Society (1906), the Brisan Opera Company (1916) and conducts at many ad hoc events. In 1925, he becomes the first music director of Radio Éireann (originally called 2RN), a position he holds until 1941. He singles out his work as music director for the 31st International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin (1932) as his most prized personal achievement. As late as 1945, he founds Our Lady’s Choral Society, a large oratorio choir still in existence, which originally is recruited mainly from the various Roman Catholic church choirs in Dublin.
Among his teaching positions, O’Brien teaches at the diocesan seminary at Holy Cross College, is Professor of Gregorian Chant at the missionary seminary of All Hallows College from 1903, and Professor of Music at the Ladies’ Teacher-Training College at Carysfort Park, Blackrock, County Dublin, from 1908 until his death in Dublin on June 21, 1948. As a much-demanded vocal coach, he teaches at his home, his best-known pupils including John McCormack, Margaret Burke Sheridan and James Joyce. He performs the piano accompaniments for McCormack’s first gramophone recordings and accompanies him during his 1913–14 Australasian tour of 60 performances in three months, during which he also gives organ recitals at the Irish-dominated Catholic cathedrals of Sydney and Melbourne.
Of his two sons, Oliver O’Brien (1922–2001) largely follows in his father’s footsteps, as organist and director of the Palestrina Choir, of Our Lady’s Choral Society, music teacher at Carysfort College and as teacher in various Dublin schools. His other son, Colum O’Brien, is organist in the Pro-Cathedral.
Before his work for the Palestrina Choir, O’Brien’s musical interests are very broad, culminating in 1893 in the composition of the full-scale opera Hester. As a church music composer, he follows Cecilian ideals, with a number of hymns, motets and other choral works. He also composes a number of songs for voice and piano, with The Fairy Tree (1930) being a particular favourite of John McCormack’s.
O’Reilly is born on May 14, 1929, in Granard, County Longford, one of six children of James P. O’Reilly, shopkeeper and musician, and Catherine O’Reilly (née Donegan). The family moves to Dublin when he is nine years old. He is educated at the Christian Brothers school in James’s Street, where he excels at Gaelic football and develops an interest in drama and music. Toward the end of his schooldays he begins to participate in athletics, particularly the high jump, and is coached by Jack Sweeney, a leading athletics coach.
Always a man of many talents and interests, after leaving school O’Reilly combines working in the insurance business with an athletics career with Donore Harriers and evening drama classes. He wins several Irish titles, including the high jump, javelin, and decathlon, and sets a national record in the high jump. In 1954 he wins the British AAA Championships high jump title, beating the Commonwealth champion into second place, and setting a championship record of 6 ft. 5 in. (1.96 m). As a result, he secures a United States athletics scholarship to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he takes a degree in liberal arts, majoring in speech and drama. While at Michigan he improves his Irish record to 6 ft. 7 in. (2.007 m). His athletic career, however, is dogged with bad luck. He is selected to compete in the high jump at the European Athletics Championships in Bern, Switzerland, in 1954 but fractures an ankle in practice and fails to advance beyond the qualifying round. Although he competes at international level for ten years (1952–62), he is unlucky to never take part in the Olympic Games. A victim of sporting politics in 1952, as an NCAA athlete he is not entitled to compete. He is selected for the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne but is unable to attend when, at the last minute, his club cannot provide the finance for him to attend. Earlier that year he wins the Big Ten Conference high jump title.
On leaving Michigan O’Reilly moves to New York City, where he embarks on an acting career with the Irish Players, but he returns to Dublin in 1959, where, after brief spells working as a teacher and for an advertising agency, he applies to Ireland’s new television station for a position. He is looking for an acting job but ends up being offered a position as a presenter, joining Teilifís Éireann in 1961 as an announcer/interviewer. His relaxed and unobtrusive style appeals to viewers and his light entertainment show, The Life of O’Reilly, is the most popular programme on Irish television in the day, eclipsing even a fledgling The Late Late Show. It is as a sports presenter and commentator, however, that O’Reilly is primarily remembered, as he becomes the face of sport on RTÉ Television for many years. He attends five Olympic Games as a broadcaster, from Mexico in 1968 to Los Angeles in 1984, commentating on athletics and gymnastics. The first presenter of RTÉ’s flagship Saturday afternoon sports programme Sports Stadium in 1984, he continues to present it over its fourteen-year life, co-presenting the final programme in December 1997. He also is the regular presenter of RTÉ’s Wimbledon Championships tennis coverage for many years, the sports results on news broadcasts on TV and radio, and Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio, as well as commentating on individual sports such as ice-skating.
Although sports presenting is a natural progression for an athlete with his talents, O’Reilly’s real love is the arts. He continues to act, playing the part of Detective Inspector Michael Roarke in the classic children’s film Flight of the Doves (1971) with Ron Moody and Willie Rushton. He is also an accomplished singer and songwriter, and writes and performs his own one-man show, Across the Spectrum, comprising his own poems and songs in 1992. As well as a book of poems, The Great Explosion (1977), he releases a number of albums and tops the charts with his own song, “The Ballad of Michael Collins,” in 1981. He has a great admiration for Michael Collins and this leads to his becoming the first non-political figure to give the oration at the annual Collins commemoration at Béal na Bláth, County Cork, in 1981. He also writes the song “Let the Nations Play” (1985), inspired by the boycotts of the Olympic games of 1980 and 1984, and the song is adopted as an anthem of the international Olympic movement.
Tall and slim in build, O’Relly is affable, modest, and self-deprecating in character. His relaxed style is no mere public affectation. He often exasperates colleagues by turning up just in time for broadcasts, and his ability to ad-lib is important in a live television environment. He once describes himself as “a champion high-jumper who could enunciate properly and keep my hair neatly combed” (The Irish Times, April 7, 2001). Despite the disappointments in his sporting career, he maintains that his other interests more than compensated. In relation to the Olympics he is quoted as saying, “If you asked me whether I’d have preferred to win a medal or have written the song, I’d honestly say I would have preferred to have written the song” (Longford Leader, April 6, 2001).
O’Reilly lives in Ranelagh, Dublin, and is married twice. He meets his first wife Linda Herbst (née Kuhl) in New York in the late 1950s. His second marriage is to Johanna Lowry. He has four children. After a lenghty illness, he dies on April 1, 2001, in St. Vincent’s Hospital, Fairview, Dublin. He is buried at Mount Venus cemetery, Rathfarnham.
(From: “O’Reilly, Brendan” by Jim Shanahan, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie, October 2009)
In field hockey, Kyle gains 58 Irish caps as well as representing three of the four Irish provinces (Leinster, Munster and Ulster) at different stages of her career. She is named in the World All Star team in 1953 and 1959. She is also a competitor in tennis, swimming, sailing and cricket and works as a coach. She is chair of Coaching NI. In 2006, she is awarded the honorary degree of Doctor of the University (DUniv) from the University of Ulster.
Kyle is awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2006 Coaching Awards in London in recognition of her work with athletes at the Ballymena and Antrim Athletics Club. Earlier in 2006 she is one of 10 players who are initially installed into Irish hockey’s Hall of Fame. She is appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.
Within a few days of Carruth winning his Olympic medal the Government of Ireland announces that he has been instantly promoted to sergeant within the Irish Army in recognition of his achievement at the Olympics. And, on the day of his return to Ireland, local pubs drop the price of beer to that of 1956.
Carruth turns pro in 1994 after taking leave from his job as a soldier in the Irish Army. He is trained by former Irish boxing great Steve Collins. He has limited success as a pro, losing in both of his defining pro bouts: in 1997 against Mihai Leu for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) Welterweight title and in 2000 against Adrian Stone for the International Boxing Organization (IBO) Light Middleweight title. He retires in 2000, after the loss to Stone, with a career professional record of 18-3-0.
In 2006, Carruth competes on the TV series Celebrity Jigs ‘n’ Reels. He serves as an expert boxing analyst for RTÉ‘s Olympic coverage in 2008, 2012 and 2016. In 2020, he appears in the fourth season of the Irish edition of Dancing with the Stars. He and his professional partner, Karen Byrne, are eliminated on February 3, 2020.
Orr’s 1909 publication Notes on Thermodynamics for Students is seen as epitomising his style of teaching, with its emphasis on logical rigour and clear statement of underlying assumptions. Known for his generosity to staff and students who encounter difficulties, he is nonetheless a strict disciplinarian who abhors idleness and valued stoicism. He is elected Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 1909 and is awarded an honorary degree of D.Sc. from Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in 1919.
In 1892, Orr marries Elizabeth Campbell of Melbourne, Australia, whose father, Samuel Campbell, is from County Down. They live at 19 Pembroke Road, Dublin, and have three daughters. He dies at Douglas, Isle of Man on August 14, 1934, and is interred in Mount Jerome Cemetery, Dublin. He is survived by his two daughters.
(From: “Orr, William McFadden” contributed by Paul Rouse, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie)
In 1957 Conway becomes vice-president of Maynooth, and in 1958, he is named Ireland’s youngest bishop, Titular Bishop of Neve, and auxiliary bishop to Cardinal John D’Alton, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland. He is consecrated in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh on July 27, 1958. He serves as administrator of St. Patrick’s Church, Dundalk, for the next five years, gaining valuable pastoral experience, and also uses these years to familiarise himself with his new diocese, especially its geography. On the death of D’Alton, he is chosen to succeed him in September 1963, and is enthroned on September 25 in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh by the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Sensi. At the end of 1964, Pope Paul VI chooses him as Ireland’s seventh residential cardinal, and he receives the red hat in the public consistory of February 22, 1965.
The thirteen-odd years of Conway’s ministry as primate are dominated firstly by the Second Vatican Council and secondly by the Troubles in Northern Ireland. His primary concern is the church, to steer it through testing times. He is a very active bishop in a diocese of 160,000 Catholics, with fifty-seven parishes and some 167 priests. He carries the burden alone until 1974 when he is given an auxiliary in the person of his secretary, Fr. Francis Lenny (1928–78). Two new parishes are created, five new churches are built, and many others are renovated to meet the requirements of liturgical reform. Twenty new schools are also provided. He attends all four sessions of the Vatican council (1962–65), as auxiliary bishop and as primate. On October 9, 1963 he addresses the assembly, making a plea that the council might not be so concerned with weightier matters as to neglect to speak about priests. He also makes contributions on the topics of mixed marriages, Catholic schools, and the laity. On the topic of education, he is convinced that integrated schools will not solve Northern Ireland’s problems.
Apart from the synod, Conway travels a few times each year to Rome for meetings of the three Roman congregations on which he is called to serve (those of bishops, catholic education, and the evangelisation of peoples) and the commission for the revision of the code of canon law. He also travels further afield in a representative capacity to the International Eucharistic Congress at Bogotá, also attended by Pope Paul VI, and to Madras (1972), where he acts as papal legate for the centenary celebrations in honour of St. Thomas. In 1966 he is invited by the bishops of Poland to join in celebrations for the millennium of Catholicism in that country, but is refused an entry visa by the Polish government. In January 1973 he feels obliged to forgo participation in the Melbourne eucharistic congress because of the troubled situation at home. Within Ireland he accepts invitations to become a freeman of Cork and Galway (1965) and of Wexford (1966). In 1976 the National University of Ireland (NUI) confers on him an honorary LL.D.
Conway is acknowledged as an able and diligent chairman of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference. The core problem in the early years is how to lead the Irish church into the difficult new era that follows the council. He shows exceptional leadership qualities in the manner in which he promotes firm but gentle progress, avoiding sudden trauma and divisions. A major event in his term as Archbishop of Armagh, and one that gives him much satisfaction, is the canonization of Oliver Plunkett, his martyred predecessor, in the holy year 1975. He follows with great interest the final stages of the cause from 1968, and is greatly disappointed when grounded by his doctors six weeks before the event. He does however take part, concelebrating with Pope Paul VI at the ceremony on October 12, 1975. He also presides the following evening at the first mass of thanksgiving in the Lateran Basilica, receiving a tumultuous applause from the thousands of Irish present.
More than anything else, the Troubles in Northern Ireland occupy Conway during the second half of his term as archbishop and primate. He is the leading spokesman of the Catholic cause, but never fails to condemn atrocities wherever the responsibility lay. He brands as ‘monsters’ the terrorist bombers on both sides. In 1971 he denounces internment without trial, and the following year he is mainly responsible for highlighting the ill-treatment and even torture of prisoners in Northern Ireland. He repudiates the idea that the conflict is religious in nature, emphasising its social and political dimensions, and is openly critical of the British government over conditions in Long Kesh Detention Centre, and of ‘the cloak of almost total silence’ surrounding violence against the Catholic community.
In January 1977 Conway undergoes surgery in a Dublin hospital, and almost immediately comes to know that he is terminally ill. It is the best-kept secret in Ireland until close to the end. On March 29, he writes to his fellow bishops informing them that the prognosis regarding his health is ‘not good, in fact . . . very bad,’ and that he is perfectly reconciled to God’s will. He is still able to work at his desk until Good Friday, April 8, 1977.
Conway dies in Armagh on Low Sunday night, April 17, 1977. Seven countries are represented at his funeral by six cardinals and many bishops. The apostolic nuncio, the bishops of Ireland, the president and Taoiseach, six Irish government ministers, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland are also among the mourners. The cardinal is laid to rest in St. Patrick’s Cathedral Cemetery, Armagh. The red hat received from Pope Paul VI is suspended from the ceiling of the Lady chapel, joining those of his four immediate predecessors.
(From: “Conway, John William,” Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie, contributed by J. J. Hanley)
Logan is born while his father, Charles Alphonsus Sherrard, is a Derry-born Irish tenor known by the artistic name Patrick O’Hagan, is touring Australia. The family moves back to Ireland when he is three years old. He learns the guitar and begins composing his own songs by the age of thirteen. On leaving school he apprentices as an electrician, while performing in pubs and cabaret. His earliest claim to fame is starring as “Adam” in the 1977 Irish musical Adam and Eve and “Joseph” in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
Logan adopts the stage name Johnny Logan after the main character of the film Johnny Guitar and releases his first single in 1978. He first attempts to participate in the Eurovision Song Contest in 1979, when he places third in the Irish National Final with the song “Angie.” Readers of The Connaught Telegraph in Ireland vote him as “Best New Male Artist.”
In 1980, Logan again enters the Irish National selection for the Eurovision Song Contest with the Shay Healy song “What’s Another Year,” winning the Irish final on March 9 in Dublin. Representing Ireland in the Netherlands, he wins the Eurovision Song Contest on April 19. The song becomes a hit all over Europe and reaches number one in the UK.
In 1987, Logan makes another attempt at Eurovision and with his self-penned song, “Hold Me Now,” representing Ireland at the Eurovision Song Contest in Belgium. The song wins the contest and he becomes the first person to win the contest twice.
Having composed the Irish Eurovision Song Contest 1984 entry for Linda Martin, “Terminal 3” (which finishes in second place), Logan repeats the collaboration in 1992 when he gives Martin another of his songs, “Why Me?” The song becomes the Irish entry at the finals in Sweden. The song takes the title and cements Logan as the most successful artist in Eurovision history with three wins.
Logan continues to perform and write songs. He is sometimes referred to as “Mister Eurovision” by fans of the contest and the media at large. He has continued his love of participating in musical theatre, having toured Norway with Which Witch, an opera-musical originating in that country. He continues to have success, particularly in the Scandinavian countries. His 2007 album, The Irish Connection, goes platinum in Denmark, twice platinum in Norway and gold in Sweden. He performs in the Celtic rock opera Excalibur from 2009 to 2011.
McCaughey comes to Australia with an uncle, Charles Wilson, a brother of Sir Samuel Wilson, and lands at Melbourne in April 1856. He immediately goes to the country and begins working as a jackaroo. Within three months he is appointed an overseer and two years later becomes manager of Kewell station while his uncle is on a visit to England.
In 1860, after his uncle’s return, McCaughey acquires an interest in Coonong station near Urana with two partners. His brother John who comes out later becomes a partner in other stations.
During the early days of Coonong station McCaughey suffers greatly from drought conditions, but overcomes these by sinking wells for artesian water and constructing large tanks, making him a pioneer of water conservation in Australia.
In 1871 McCaughey is away from Australia for two years on holiday, and on his return does much experimenting in sheep farming. At first he seeks the strains that can produce the best wool in the Riverina district. Afterwards, when the mutton trade develops, he considers the question from that angle.
In 1880 Sir Samuel Wilson goes to England and McCaughey purchases two of his stations, Toorale and Dunlop Stations, during his absence. He then owns about 3,000,000 acres. In 1886 he again visits the old world and imports a considerable number of Vermont sheep from the United States and also introduces fresh strains from Tasmania. He ultimately owns several million sheep, earning the nickname of “The Sheep King.”
In 1900 McCaughey purchases North Yanco and, at great cost, constructs about 200 miles of channels and irrigates 40,000 acres. The success of this scheme is believed to have encouraged the New South Wales government to proceed with the dam at Burrinjuck.
Delany qualifies for the Olympic 1500 metres final, in which local runner John Landy is the big favourite. Delany keeps close to Landy until the final lap, when he starts a crushing final sprint, winning the race in a new Olympic record. He thereby becomes the first Irishman to win an Olympic gold medal in athletics since Bob Tisdall in 1932. The Irish people learn of its new champion at breakfast time. He would be Ireland’s last Olympic champion for 36 years, until Michael Carruth wins the gold medal in boxing at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona.
Delany wins the bronze medal in the 1500 metres event at the 1958 European Athletics Championships. He goes on to represent Ireland once again at the 1960 Summer Olympics held in Rome, this time in the 800 metres. He finishes sixth in his quarter-final heat.
Delany continues his running career in North America, winning four successive Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) titles in the mile, adding to his total of four Irish national titles, and three NCAA titles. He is next to unbeatable on indoor tracks over that period, which includes a 40-race winning streak. He breaks the World Indoor Mile Record on three occasions. In 1961 he wins the gold medal in the World University Games in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Delany retires from competitive running in 1962, securing his status as Ireland’s most recognisable Olympian as well as one of the greatest sportsmen and international ambassadors in his country’s history.
Mannix’s forthright demands for state aid for the education of Roman Catholics in return for their taxes and his opposition to drafting soldiers for World War I make him the subject of controversy. A zealous supporter of Irish independence, he makes an official journey to Rome in 1920 via the United States, where his lengthy speech making attracts enthusiastic crowds. His campaign on behalf of the Irish, however, causes the British government to prevent him from landing in Ireland, which he finally visits in 1925.
By the 1960s the distinct identity of the Irish community in Melbourne is fading, and Irish Catholics are increasingly outnumbered by Italians, Maltese and other postwar immigrant Catholic communities. Mannix, who turned 90 in 1954, remains active and in full authority, but he is no longer a central figure in the city’s politics. He dies suddenly on November 6, 1963, aged 99, while the Archdiocese of Melbourne is preparing to celebrate his 100th birthday. He is buried in the crypt of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Melbourne.