seamus dubhghaill

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


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Birth of Sir Philip Crampton, Surgeon & Anatomist

philip-cramptonSir Philip Crampton, 1st Baronet, FRS, an eminent Irish surgeon and anatomist, is born in Dublin on June 7, 1777.

Crampton is the son of a dentist. He is a childhood friend of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the United Irishman, and a cousin, on his mother’s side, of Thomas Verner, Grand Master of the Orange Order. He joins the army when young and becomes an assistant surgeon. When he is appointed surgeon to the Meath Hospital in 1798 he is not yet fully qualified, and goes on to graduate in Glasgow in 1800. A few years later he also becomes assistant surgeon at the Westmoreland Lock Hospital, Dublin and also builds up a large private practice at his house in Dawson St. He joins Peter Harkan in teaching anatomy in private lectures, forming the first private school of anatomy and surgery in the city.

Crampton becomes a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in Ireland for a treatise on the construction of eyes of birds, written in 1813. This is later published, with other writings, in the Dublin Journal of Medical Science.

In 1821, together with Sir Henry Marsh and Dr. Charles Johnston, Crompton founds the Pitt St. Institution, a children’s hospital in Pitt St. (now Balfe St.). This hospital is the first teaching children’s hospital in Ireland or Great Britain. The main objective of the hospital is to treat sick children in one of the poorest parts of Dublin, The Liberties.

Crompton resigns the chief-surgeoncy of the Westmoreland Lock Hospital when he is appointed surgeon-general to the forces in Ireland. He remains as consulting surgeon to Dr. Steevens’ Hospital and the Dublin Lying-In Hospital. He is three times president of the Dublin College of Surgeons and he is knighted in 1839.

Crompton is always interested in zoological science and plays an active part in founding the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland and is many times its president. He is also a member of the Royal Irish Academy.

Sir Philip Crampton dies at his residence, 14 Merrion Square, in Dublin on June 10, 1858.

The Crampton Memorial, at the junction of College St. with Pearse St. and D’Olier St., is erected from the design of sculptor John Kirk in 1862. It is of a curious design, consisting of a bust above a fountain and surmounted by a cascade of metal foliage. As it is slowly falling apart, it is removed in 1959. James Joyce references the monument in his novel Ulysses when Leopold Bloom passes the monument and thinks, “Sir Philip Crampton’s memorial fountain bust. Who was he?”

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Death of Street Rhymer Michael J. Moran

Michael J. Moran, an Irish street rhymer popularly known as Zozimus, dies in Dublin on April 3, 1846. He is a resident of Dublin and also known as the “Blind Bard of the Liberties” and the “Last of the Gleemen.”

Moran is born around 1794 in Faddle Alley off the Blackpitts in Dublin’s Liberties and lives in Dublin all his life. At two weeks old he is blinded by illness. He develops an astounding memory for verse and makes his living reciting poems, many of which he has composed himself, in his own lively style. He is described by songwriter Patrick Joseph McCall as the last gleeman of the Pale.

Many of his rhymes have religious themes while others are political or recount current events. He is said to have worn “a long, coarse, dark, frieze coat with a cape, the lower parts of the skirts being scalloped, an old soft, greasy, brown beaver hat, corduroy trousers and Francis Street brogues, and he carried a long blackthorn stick secured to his wrist with a strap.”

Moran performs all over Dublin including at Essex Bridge, Wood Quay, Church Street, Dame Street, Capel Street, Sackville Street, Grafton Street, Henry Street, and Conciliation Hall.

In his last few years, Moran’s voice grows weak, costing him his means of livelihood. He ends up feeble and bedridden and he dies on April 3, 1846 at his lodgings in 15 Patrick Street. He is buried two days later on Palm Sunday in Glasnevin’s Prospect Cemetery, which is guarded day and night, as he had feared grave robbers, who are busy in Dublin at the time.

His grave remains unmarked until the late 1960s, when the band Dublin City Ramblers erect a tombstone in his memory. His grave is in the “Poor Ground” of the cemetery, not far from Daniel O’Connell‘s monument.

Moran’s nickname is derived from a poem written by Anthony Coyle, Bishop of Raphoe about Saint Mary of Egypt. According to legend, she had followed pilgrims to Jerusalem with the intent of seducing them, then, turning penitent on finding herself prevented from entering the Church of the Holy Sepulchre by a supernatural force, she flees to the desert and spends the remainder of her life in solitary penance. When she is at the point of death, God sends Zosimas of Palestine to hear her confession and give her Holy Communion, and a lion to dig her grave. The poem has the intolerable cadence of the eighteenth century, but is so popular, and so often called for, that Moran is soon nicknamed “Zozimus,” and by that name is remembered.


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Birth of Academy Award Winning Actress Brenda Fricker

(Newscom TagID: mrpphotos209322) [Photo via Newscom]

Brenda Fricker, Irish actress of theatre, film, and television, is born in Dublin on February 17, 1945. In 1989, she becomes the first Irish actress to win an Oscar, earning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for My Left Foot.

In her teens, Fricker aspires to follow her parents’ footsteps into journalism. Before becoming an actress, she is assistant to the art editor of The Irish Times, with hopes to become a reporter. At age 19, she becomes an actress “by chance,” as her feature film career begins with a small uncredited part in the 1964 film Of Human Bondage, based on the 1915 novel by W. Somerset Maugham. She also appears in Tolka Row, Ireland’s first ever soap opera.

One of Fricker’s first TV roles is as staff nurse Maloney in Coronation Street, debuting on January 10, 1977. Fricker comes to wider public attention in the United Kingdom in another nursing role, as Megan Roach in the BBC One television drama series Casualty, appearing in 65 episodes. After making cameo appearances in three additional episodes, Fricker’s final appearance as Megan is in August 2010, when her character takes a lethal cocktail of drugs to end her life.

Fricker finds international acclaim after she wins the 1989 Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Christy Brown‘s mother in My Left Foot, becoming the first Irish actress to win an Oscar. The film is a triumph for Irish film making. Daniel Day-Lewis wins best actor for his portrayal of the disabled Brown while director Jim Sheridan receives numerous Best Director nominations at various film festivals.

She rejoins  Sheridan to make the 1990 film The Field, starring alongside Richard Harris as Maggie McCabe. She continues her television work during this period, starring in the Australian-produced short series Brides of Christ (1991). She then co-stars in the 1992 TV miniseries Seekers alongside Josette Simon and produced by Sarah Lawson.

Buoyed by her Oscar win, Fricker goes on to appear in several high profile Hollywood films, most notably in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. The following year she portrays May Mackenzie in So I Married an Axe Murderer, and next portrayed Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character’s motherly caretaker Maggie in Angels in the Outfield. One of her last Hollywood film roles comes with A Time to Kill, as Ethel Twitty, loyal secretary to Matthew McConaughey‘s Jake Brigance. She then focuses almost exclusively on film and television work in Canada and the British Isles.

In July 2014, Fricker tentatively retires from acting. Previously married to director Barry Davies, Fricker currently lives in the Liberties in Dublin.