seamus dubhghaill

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


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Birth of Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Short Story Writer & Translator

Philip Ó Ceallaigh, Irish short story writer and translator, is born in Ireland on March 23, 1968. He wins the 2006 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and is shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He speaks six languages.

One of Ó Ceallaigh’s classmates in school is Sinéad O’Connor. He once tells an interviewer, “She told me she wanted to become famous and I tried to talk her out of it.”

Ó Ceallaigh graduates from University College Dublin (UCD) with a degree in philosophy. After receiving his degree, he travels the world, doing a variety of jobs, including waiter, newspaper editor, freelance journalist and volunteer for clinical trials. He moves to Bucharest, Romania, so that he can live cheaply and pursue his desire to write.

Ó Ceallaigh has spent much of his adult life in Eastern Europe, starting in Russia in the early 1990s. Since 1995 he has lived mostly in Bucharest, Romania. He has also lived for a while in the United States.

Ó Ceallaigh has published over 40 short stories, as well as essays and criticism. His work has appeared in Granta, The Irish Times and the Los Angeles Review of Books and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. In 2010, he edits Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails, an anthology of new short stories by twenty-two Irish and international writers, for The Stinging Fly Press. He translates Mihail Sebastian‘s autobiographical novel For Two Thousand Years. It tells the story of the author’s early years as a Jew in Romania during the 1920s. It is published in 2016.

Ó Ceallaigh has written an unpublished novel but reduces it to a long short story and believes “if you’ve got something to say and you can say it with less, that’s the way to go.”

The first story in Ó Ceallaigh’s third collection, Trouble, involves a security guard and the theft of sum of money from a gangster. He uses time he spent as a security guard in Dublin to form the basis of this fiction.

Ó Ceallaigh eschews the prevailing style of Irish short story writing in that his works are rarely set in Ireland, and instead are set in a variety of locations across the world, predominately in Romania. His stories generally feature solitary men, with women playing more incidental roles. He acknowledges being influenced in his writing style by Charles Bukowski, Anton Chekhov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, and Ivan Turgenev.

Ó Ceallaigh wins the Hennessy Award for his first published work in 1998. He wins the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and the Glen Dimplex New Writers’ Award for his collection Notes from a Turkish Whorehouse in 2006. His second collection, The Pleasant Light of Day, is shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. He is the first Irish writer to receive this honour.


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Birth of Irish Composer John McLachlan

Irish composer John McLachlan is born in Dublin on March 5, 1964.

McLachlan is the son of the writer Leland Bardwell, and studies at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) Conservatory of Music and Drama (1982–86), the Royal Irish Academy of Music (1989–97), and Trinity College Dublin (BA 1988). He studies composition with William York, Robert Hanson and Kevin Volans. He holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Trinity College (1999) for a study of the relationship between analysis and compositional technique in the post-war avant-garde.

McLachlan writes numerous articles for The Journal of Music in Ireland (2000–10). He is executive director of the Association of Irish Composers (1998–2012), and in 2007 he is elected to Aosdána.

McLachlan is the featured composer in the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra‘s “Horizons” series in 2003 and 2008. He also represents Ireland at international festivals, including the ISCM World Music Days in Slovenia in 2003 and Croatia in 2005. In 2006, his work Grand Action is commissioned as a test-piece for the AXA Dublin International Piano Competition.

McLachlan’s musical aesthetic is largely shaped by a desire to impart a sense of narrative and expectation to his music without recourse to pastiche rhetorical devices. A critic writes of a recording of McLachlan’s piano piece Nine: “The style of each little piece sends one’s imagination and musical memory reeling, some of them evoking French Impressionism, some jazzy in feel, some reminiscent of the miniatures for piano of Webern, and none of them in any way, shape or form derivative.” Much of his music is structured in contrasting and suddenly changing block-like sections of homogeneous material. The material within these sections is propelled by a rigorous focus on subtle rhythmic and melodic permutations, which result in both surface opacity and gradually increasing tension.

McLachlan’s works have been performed in the United States, Peru, Japan, South Africa, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Holland, Switzerland, Finland, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Romania, Moldova, Slovenia, Croatia, and around Ireland, with broadcasts in several of these countries. Performers who have played his music include the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Opera Theatre Company, the National Chamber Choir, Concorde, Sequenza, Traject, Archaeus, the Pro Arte Orchestra, Antipodes, Ensemble Nordlys, The Fidelio Trio, The ConTempo Quartet and Trio Arbós as well as many prominent soloists including Ian Pace, John Feeley, Mary Dullea, Darragh Morgan, Satoko Inoue and David Adams.

McLachlan is also known as a broadcaster and writer on contemporary music, with many published articles.

McLachlan now lives in Inishowen, County Donegal.


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Birth of Northern Irish Motorcyclist Joey Dunlop

William Joseph Dunlop OBE, Northern Irish motorcyclist, is born in Armoy, County Antrim, near Ballymoney, on February 25, 1952. His achievements include three hat-tricks at the Isle of Man TT meeting (1985, 1988 and 2000), where he wins a record 26 races in total. A curve at the 26th milestone on the Isle of Man is named in his honour. During his career he won the Ulster Grand Prix 24 times.

Dunlop marries on September 22, 1972 at the Ballymoney register office. He is the proprietor of a pub in Ballymoney and is highly superstitious, always wearing a red T-shirt and his yellow crash helmet when racing. He is presented with the Freedom of the Borough by Ballymoney Council in 1993.

Dunlop helps orphans in the Balkans, driving a van loaded with supplies to orphanages in Romania, Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina before the annual racing season begins. In 1996, he receives an OBE for his humanitarian work.

On the night of May 23, 1985, Dunlop is traveling from Northern Ireland to the Isle of Man for the annual TT races by sea, onboard the Tornamona, a former fishing boat. The vessel departs from Strangford, County Down with Dunlop, other riders, racing bikes and equipment onboard. Strong currents into Strangford Lough push the Tornamona onto St. Patrick’s Rock where her rudder breaks off in a crevice. The boat sinks and all 13 passengers and crew are rescued by the Portaferry Lifeboat. The bikes are later recovered by divers.

In 1986, Dunlop wins a fifth consecutive TT Formula One world title. Initially based on one race at the Isle of Man TT after the loss of World Championship status from 1977-onwards and organised by the Auto-Cycle Union, the title is eventually expanded to take in more rounds in other countries.

Dunlop is awarded the MBE in 1986 for his services to the sport. He is featured in three documentary films regarding his career: V Four Victory (1983), Joey – The Man Who Conquered the TT (2013) and Road (2014).

Dunlop wins his third hat trick at the Isle of Man TT in 2000 and sets his fastest lap on the course of 123.87 mph in the Senior race, in which he finishes third.

Dunlop dies in Tallinn, Estonia, on July 2, 2000 while leading a 125cc race on the Pirita-Kose-Kloostrimetsa Circuit. He appears to lose control of his bike in the wet conditions and dies instantly on impact with trees. As a mark of respect, the Estonian government’s official website is replaced with a tribute to Dunlop within hours of his death. Northern Ireland television carries live coverage of his funeral. Fifty thousand mourners, including bikers from all parts of Britain and Ireland and people from all backgrounds in Northern Ireland, attend the funeral procession to Garryduff Presbyterian church and his burial in the adjoining graveyard.

Following Dunlop’s death, the Leisure Centre in his hometown of Ballymoney is renamed from the Riada Centre to the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre. Also, a memorial statue is erected in his hometown. The Joey Dunlop Foundation is initiated, a charity that provides appropriate accommodation for disabled visitors to the Isle of Man. In 2001, the Joey Dunlop Memorial Garden is established in the Dunlop family’s hometown, and in 2010 the tribute is extended to include the Robert Dunlop Memorial Garden to honour Joey’s late brother, Robert Dunlop.

The most successful overall rider at the annual TT races is awarded the “Joey Dunlop Cup.” On the Isle of Man, a statue of Dunlop astride a Honda overlooks the Bungalow Bend at Snaefell and the 26th Milestone area of the TT course is named “Joey’s.” A memorial stone is installed at the crash site in Tallinn as well. Irish publishers the O’Brien Press produces a full-colour pictorial tribute to Dunlop following his death. Northern Ireland band Therapy? records a song in memory of Dunlop called “Joey.” It appears on the album Shameless, released in 2001.

On January 30, 2015, Dunlop is voted Northern Ireland’s greatest sports star by readers of the Belfast Telegraph newspaper. In 2016 he is voted through Motorcycle News as the fifth greatest motorcycling icon ever, behind Valentino Rossi.


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Death of Poet Matthew Gerard Sweeney

Matthew Gerard Sweeney, Irish poet, dies at Cork University Hospital in Wilton, Cork on August 5, 2018. His work has been translated into Dutch, Italian, Hebrew, Japanese, Latvian, Mexican Spanish, Romanian, Slovakian and German.

Sweeney is born at Lifford, County Donegal, on October 6, 1952. Growing up in Clonmany, he attends Gormanston College (1965–70). He then reads sciences at University College Dublin (1970–72). He goes on to study German and English at the Polytechnic of North London, spending a year at the University of Freiburg, before graduating with a BA Honours degree in 1978.

Sweeney meets Rosemary Barber in 1972 and they marry in 1979. Two offspring – daughter Nico and son Malvin – are produced before the couple goes their separate ways in the early 21st century. Having lived in London for many years until 2001, he separates from Rosemary and goes to live in Timișoara, Romania and Berlin. In 2007, he meets his partner, Mary Noonan, and in early 2008 he moves to Cork to live with her there.

Sweeney produces numerous collections of poetry for which he wins several awards. His novels for children include The Snow Vulture (1992) and Fox (2002). He authors a satirical thriller, co-written with John Hartley Williams, and entitled Death Comes for the Poets (2012).

As Bill Swainson, Sweeney’s editor at Allison & Busby in the 1980s, recalls: “As well as writing his own poetry, Matthew was a great encourager of poetry in others. The workshops he animated, and later the residencies he undertook, were famous for their geniality and seriousness and fun. Sometime in the late 1980s I attended one of these workshops in an upstairs room of a pub in Lamb’s Conduit Street, Bloomsbury, where the poems were circulated anonymously and carefully read and commented on by all. Around the pushed-together tables were Ruth Padel, Eva Salzman, Don Paterson, Maurice Riordan, Jo Shapcott, Lavinia Greenlaw, Michael Donaghy, Maura Dooley and Tim Dooley.” Sweeney later has residencies at the University of East Anglia and Southbank Centre, among many others. He reads at three Rotterdam Poetry Festivals, in 1998, 2003 and 2009.

According to the poet Gerard Smyth: “I always sensed that in the first instance [Sweeney] regarded himself as a European rather than an Irish poet – and rightly so: like the German Georg Trakl whom he admired he apprehended the world in a way that challenged our perceptions and commanded our attention.” Sweeney’s work has been considered “barely touched by the mainstream of English writing” and more so by the German writers Heinrich von Kleist, Georg Büchner, Franz Kafka, Günter Grass and Heinrich Böll, as well as the aforementioned Georg Trakl. According to Poetry International Web, he would be among the top five most famous Irish poets on the international scene.

Sweeney’s final year sees the publication of two new collections: My Life As A Painter (Bloodaxe Books) and King of a Rainy Country (Arc Publications), inspired by Charles Baudelaire‘s posthumously published Petits poèmes en prose.

Having been diagnosed with motor neuron disease the previous year, Sweeney dies at the age of 65 at Cork University Hospital on August 5, 2018, surrounded by family and friends. He continues writing up until three days before his death. In an interview shortly before his death he is quizzed on his legacy, to which he gives the response, “Mostly what awaits the poet is posthumous oblivion. Maybe there will be a young man in Hamburg, or Munich, or possibly Vienna, for whom my German translations will be for a while important – and might just contribute to him becoming a German language poet with Irish leanings.”

Among those attending a special ceremony on August 8, 2018 at the Triskel Arts Centre in Cork to celebrate Sweeney’s life are fellow poets Jo Shapcott, Thomas McCarthy, Gerry Murphy, Maurice Riordan and Padraig Rooney. On August 9, 2018, he is buried in Clonmany New Cemetery in County Donegal.


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Birth of James David Bourchier

james-david-bourchierJames David Bourchier, Irish journalist and political activist, is born at Baggotstown House, Bruff, County Limerick, on December 18, 1850. He works for The Times as the newspaper’s Balkan correspondent. He lives in Sofia, Bulgaria from 1892 to 1915. He is an honourable member of the Sofia Journalists’ Society and a trusted advisor of Tzar Ferdinand I of Bulgaria. He acts as an intermediary between the Balkan states at the conclusion of the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913.

Bourchier studies at Trinity College, Dublin, where he is elected a scholar in classics in 1871. Deeply engaged in the processes that are taking place on the Balkan peninsula at that time, Bourchier supports the idea that the island of Crete be annexed by Greece.

In his writings he criticises certain clauses of the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest, which he deems unfair to Bulgaria. As a result of the treaty, Bulgaria loses the southern part of Dobrudja, which is annexed by Romania, and part of Macedonia.

Bourchier also expresses his strong support for Bulgaria during the Paris Peace Conference of 1919-1920. The conference produces five treaties, including the Treaty of Neuilly-sur-Seine, the peace agreement between the Allies and Bulgaria. Under the terms of the treaty, Bulgaria has to cede part of Western Thrace to Greece and several border areas to Yugoslavia. Southern Dobrudja is confirmed in Romanian possession, reparations are required, and the Bulgarian Army is limited to 20,000 men.

With his numerous publications in the British press, and in his private and social correspondence, Bourchier repeatedly voices his sympathy towards Bulgaria and its people. After his death in Sofia on December 30, 1920, James Bourchier is buried near the Rila Monastery in southwestern Bulgaria.

Bourchier Peak on Rila Mountain, James Bourchier Boulevard and James Bourchier Metro Station in Sofia, and Bourchier Cove on Smith Island in the South Shetland Islands, Antarctica are named after James David Bourchier.