The current Taoiseach, 66-year-old Enda Kenny, announced his resignation the previous month after six years at the head of the centrist party, setting off a battle to lead the ruling Fine Gael.
“If somebody of my age, of my mixed-race background and of all the things that make up my character can potentially become leader of our country, then I think that sends out a message to every child born today that there is no office in Ireland that they can’t aspire to,” Varadkar tells Newstalk radio.
The Fine Gael parliamentary party votes overwhelmingly (70 percent) in favor of Varadkar while 65 percent of members favor Coveney. As Varadkar is backed by most lawmakers and local representatives, he gains victory under the center-right party’s electoral college system.
Varadkar’s position is confirmed later in the month after parliament resumes following a break.
Varadkar’s father, Ashok, a doctor, moves to Ireland in the 1970s and his youngest son is born in Dublin in 1979. He studies medicine at Trinity College Dublin and spends several years as a junior doctor before qualifying as a general practitioner in 2010.
Varadkar is first elected in local elections in 2003 and in 2007 to the lower house of Ireland’s assembly, the Dáil Éireann. He comes to public prominence in 2015 when Ireland votes in favor of same-sex marriage.
Varadkar’s most pressing first international task is negotiating Ireland’s new arrangement with the United Kingdom after it leaves the European Union.
In a radio interview in 2015, Varadkar speaks for the first time about being gay, “It’s not something that defines me. I’m not a half-Indian politician, or a doctor politician or a gay politician for that matter. It’s just part of who I am. It doesn’t define me. It is part of my character I suppose.”
Varadkar’s partner is also a doctor in Dublin.
(From: “Ireland’s ruling party elects Varadkar new leader” by Jane Mcintosh, Deutsche Welle (DW), http://www.dw.com, June 2, 2017)
Lever is born in Amiens Street, Dublin, on August 31, 1806. He is the second son of James Lever, an architect and builder, and is educated in private schools. His escapades at Trinity College, Dublin (1823–1828), where he earns a degree in medicine in 1831, are drawn on for the plots of some of his novels. The character Frank Webber in the novel Charles O’Malley is based on a college friend, Robert Boyle, who later becomes a clergyman. He and Boyle earn pocket-money singing ballads of their own composing in the streets of Dublin and play many other pranks which he embellishes in the novels Charles O’Malley, Con Cregan and Lord Kilgobbin.
Before seriously embarking upon his medical studies, Lever visits Canada as an unqualified surgeon on an emigrant ship. Arriving in Canada, he journeys into the backwoods, where he is affiliated to a tribe of Native Americans but has to flee because his life is in danger, as later his character Bagenal Daly does in his novel The Knight of Gwynne.
Back in Europe, Lever pretends he is a student from the University of Göttingen and travels to the University of Jena and then to Vienna. He loves German student life and several of his songs, such as “The Pope He Loved a Merry Life,” are based on student-song models. His medical degree earns him an appointment to the Board of Health in County Clare and then as a dispensary doctor in Portstewart, County Londonderry, but his conduct as a country doctor earns him the censure of the authorities.
In 1833 Lever marries his first love, Catherine Baker, and in February 1837, after varied experiences, he begins publishing The Confessions of Harry Lorrequer in the recently established Dublin University Magazine. Before Harry Lorrequer appears in volume form (1839), he has settled on the strength of a slight diplomatic connection as a fashionable physician in Brussels.
In 1842 Lever returns to Dublin to edit the Dublin University Magazine, and gathers round him a typical coterie of Irish wits. In June 1842 he welcomes William Makepeace Thackeray, the author of The Snob Papers, to Templeogue, four miles southwest of Dublin, on his Irish tour. The O’Donoghue and Arthur O’Leary (1845) make his native land an impossible place for Lever to continue in. Thackeray suggests London, but Lever requires a new field of literary observation and anecdote. His creative inspiration exhausted, he decides to renew it on the continent. In 1845 he resigns his editorship and goes back to Brussels, whence he starts upon an unlimited tour of central Europe in a family coach. Now and again, he halts for a few months, and entertains to the limit of his resources in some ducal castle or other which he hires for an off season.
Depressed in spirit as Lever is, his wit is unextinguished. He is still the delight of the salons with his stories, and in 1867, after a few years’ experience of a similar kind at La Spezia, he is cheered by a letter from Lord Derby offering him the more lucrative consulship of Trieste. The $600 annual salary does not atone to Lever for the lassitude of prolonged exile. Trieste, at first “all that I could desire,” became with characteristic abruptness “detestable and damnable.”
Lever’s depression, partly due to incipient heart disease, partly to the growing conviction that he is the victim of literary and critical conspiracy, is confirmed by the death of his wife on April 23, 1870, to whom he is tenderly attached. He visits Ireland in the following year and seems alternately in high and low spirits. Death had already given him one or two runaway knocks, and, after his return to Trieste, he fails gradually, dying suddenly, however, and almost painlessly, from heart failure on June 1, 1872 at his home, Villa Gasteiger. His daughters, one of whom, Sydney, is believed to have been the real author of A Rent in a Cloud (1869), are well provided for.
French attends Trinity College Dublin, and trains in acting. She settles in Ireland and has lived in Dublin since 1990. She and her husband have two daughters.
French is enthralled by both acting and writing since her childhood but eventually focuses more on acting. She grows up reading mystery and crime novels. She trains as a professional actor at Trinity, and she works in theatre, film, and voice-over.
In her later 30s, her passion for writing is rekindled. She begins writing her debut novel in the months-long lulls between castings. In the Woods is published in 2007 to international acclaim and receives rave reviews from many publications. Publishers Weekly praises her, saying she “expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her debut” and that “Ryan and Maddox are empathetic and flawed heroes, whose partnership and friendship elevate the narrative beyond a gory tale of murdered children and repressed childhood trauma.” It receives several literary prizes, is a bestseller in hardcover and paperback, and has been termed a “dream debut.” In 2014, Flavorwire includes it in their 50 of the Greatest Debut Novels Since 1950. As of 2015 more than one million copies of In the Woods have been sold.
French’s second novel, The Likeness (2008), presents the story of the first novel’s co-lead, Cassie Maddox. It quickly achieves high positions on bestseller lists in various countries and stays on The New York Times Best Seller list for several months. In its reviews of the novel, Kirkus Reviews praises its mix of “police procedures, psychological thrills and gothic romance beautifully woven into one stunning story.” In an interview with The Guardian, French states that Donna Tartt‘s The Secret History was an influence on The Likeness, opening up the “landscape of friendship as something worthy of exploration and something that could be powerful enough to trigger a murder.”
French’s first six novels are part of the Dublin Murder Squad series. After publishing The Trespasser in 2016, she publishes two standalone novels. Both The Witch Elm and The Searcher also take place in Ireland.
In 2015, Euston Films & Veritas acquire TV production rights. Sarah Phelps writes the screenplay, which she bases on both In the Woods and The Likeness, for the eight-episode series of Dublin Murders, commissioned by the BBC for BBC One and Starz, with RTÉ later joining the project. Filming commences in 2018 in Belfast and Dublin and continues in Dublin to late February 2019. Broadcast begins on BBC One on October 14, 2019, on RTÉ One on October 16, 2019, and on Starz on November 10, 2019.
Archer is the eldest son of Rev. Richard Archer (1796? – 1849), perpetual curate of Maghera hamlet, County Down, and his wife, Jane Matilda (née Campbell). Nothing is known of his education, though his two younger brothers attend Trinity College Dublin (TCD). At some point, he apparently appears to become estranged from his family.
Archer moves to Dublin around 1846, where for many years he pursues a business career. He achieves fame as a naturalist, and in 1849, is one of the twelve founder members of the Dublin Microscopical Club, of which he is the secretary and moving spirit for many years. Between 1858 and 1885 he writes over 230 scientific papers on Irish fauna and flora in the Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, the vast majority of which are short notes on desmids collected in Ireland. Sometimes the same article is published in two or more journals.
Archer begins a new career when he becomes librarian of the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) in January 1877. The bulk of the society’s library is being taken over by the state to form the National Library of Ireland. He becomes the chief librarian of the new institution and has the task of overseeing the changes. Most of the ideas put forward in his pamphlet, Suggestions as to public library buildings . . . with especial reference to the National Library of Ireland (Dublin, 1881), are used by Sir Thomas Newenham Deane in his design for its new building, which opens in August 1890. His adoption of the Dewey Decimal Classification system and the inception of a dictionary catalogue, both novel in the day, are to prove of lasting value to users of the library.
In poor health, Archer retires in 1895. He dies, unmarried, at his home, 52 Mount Street Lower, Dublin, on August 14, 1897. He is a shy, modest man, who declines professorships at the Royal College of Science for Ireland and at Trinity College Dublin (TCD), and who is nominated for membership of the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) and the Royal Society without his knowledge.
Donleavy grows up in the Bronx. His father is a firefighter, and his mother comes from a wealthy background. He has a sister, Mary Rita, and a younger brother. He declares himself to be an atheist at the age of fourteen. He receives his education at various schools in the United States, then serves in the United States Navy during World War II. After the war ends, he moves to Ireland and becomes an Irish citizen. In 1946 he begins studying bacteriology at Trinity College Dublin, but leaves in 1949 before taking a degree.
Donleavy’s first published work is a short story entitled A Party on Saturday Afternoon, which appears in the Dublin literary periodical Envoy, A Review of Literature and Art in 1950. He gains critical acclaim with his first novel, The Ginger Man (1955), which is one of the Modern Library 100 best novels. The novel, of which his friend and fellow writer Brendan Behan is the first person to read the completed manuscript, is banned in Ireland and the United States by reason of obscenity. The lead character, Sebastian Dangerfield, is in part based on Trinity College companion Gainor Crist, an American Navy veteran also studying at Trinity College on the G.I. Bill, whom Donleavy once describes in an interview as a “saint,” though of a Rabelaisian kind.
In 1946, Donleavy marries Valerie Heron. The couple has two children: Philip (born in 1951) and Karen (born in 1955). They divorce in 1969 and he remarries in 1970 to Mary Wilson Price. That union ends in divorce in 1989. In 2011, it is reported that he had not fathered his two children with Price. A DNA test in the early 1990s confirms that Rebecca is the daughter of brewing scion Kieran Guinness, and Rory is the son of Kieran’s older brother Finn, whom Price marries after her divorce from Donleavy. “My interest is only to look after the welfare of the child,” Donleavy tells The Times, “and after a certain stage, you can’t worry about their parentage.”
Donleavy lives at Levington Park, a country house on 200 acres directly on Lough Owel, near Mullingar, County Westmeath, from 1972. Throughout much of his life, he is known as Mike by close friends, though the origins of this nickname are unclear.
Donleavy dies in Mullingar at the age of 91 on September 11, 2017.
In 1953, Lambert becomes Jacob’s chief accountant as the management grooms him for an executive career. During 1948–56, Jacob’s suffers from profit and price controls, lack of capital investment and complacency brought about by the absence of competition. The entry of Boland’s Bakery into the Irish biscuit market in 1957 is exploited by Lambert who urges the alarmed board, which has long regarded advertising as vulgar, to market its products more vigorously. This assertiveness yields his advancement to the position of commercial manager in 1958. A year later he becomes the first non-member of the Bewley and Jacob families to be appointed to the board.
Between 1959 and 1970, biscuit consumption in Ireland doubles for which Lambert can claim much credit. Recognising that the advent of self-service stores means that manufacturers can no longer rely on retailers to sell their products, he pioneers advanced promotional techniques in Ireland, particularly the use of marketing surveys and of mass advertising in newspapers, on radio and on the emerging medium of television. To further accord with retailers’ preferences, Jacob’s drives the widespread packaging of biscuits in airtight packets rather than tins, and also introduces a striking red flash logo for its packets. His interest in contemporary art enables him to contribute directly to Jacob’s packaging designs.
Lambert is appointed to the board of the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) in 1964, a position he holds until 1977, and serves as president of the National Agricultural and Industrial Development Association (NAIDA) in 1964–65, spearheading a “Buy Irish” campaign. His involvement with NAIDA dates to the mid-1950s and leads to his friendship with Jack Lynch, Minister for Industry and Commerce. This relationship and his admiration for Seán Lemass incline him toward Fianna Fáil. He also believes the party is the one most likely to deliver economic growth.
In 1977, Lambert is appointed to Seanad Éireann by Taoiseach Jack Lynch. He sits as an independent but assures Lynch he will broadly support the government. Dismayed by Ireland’s economic uncompetitiveness, he uses this platform to bemoan the state’s financial profligacy and failure to control inflation, and the indifference of Irish politicians towards the business community, contending that Irish industrialists suffer and need to learn from the expert lobbying of the indigenous agricultural sector and of large multi-national companies based in Ireland. He also articulates his social liberalism, desire for peaceful reconciliation in Northern Ireland and support for cultural and environmental causes. But his commitment to the Seanad wanes as he grasps its irrelevance. When Lynch resigns in December 1979, Lambert joins the Fianna Fáil party in a futile bid to preserve his political influence.
Following Jacob’s takeover of Boland’s Bakery in 1966, Lambert becomes joint managing director of a new entity, Irish Biscuits Ltd, the manufacturing and trading company for the Boland’s and Jacob’s biscuits operations. W. & R. Jacob and Co. Ltd becomes a holding company. In 1968, he becomes the sole managing director. From 1977 he begins withdrawing from the active administration of the company, relinquishing his managing directorship in 1979 to become chairman.
The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) opens in 1991 and receives through the medium of the Gordon Lambert Trust some 212 works, which form the centerpiece of its collection. Thereafter Lambert gifts another 100 works to IMMA. He sits on IMMA’s board from 1991, and the west wing of the museum is named after him in 1999.
Despite being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1988, Lambert remains relatively active and plays golf into his 80s. In 1999 he receives an honorary LLD from TCD. From 1997, he relies increasingly on Anthony Lyons, an acquaintance of longstanding, to care for him. His last years are overshadowed by the collapse in autumn 2002 of his close but complex relationship with his family. Thereafter he shuns his relations and changes his will, granting Lyons a substantial portion of his estate while curtailing the amount to be received by his family. He dies in a Dublin hospital on January 27, 2005. Relatives challenge his final will in the High Court in 2009 but it is upheld.
(Pictured: Photograph of director of Jacob’s Biscuits, Gordon Lambert, speaking from a podium at the first Jacob’s Television Awards. The Lord Mayor of Dublin, James O’Keefe, is sitting behind Lambert. The awards ceremony takes place at the Bishop Street factory, Dublin.)
References to Stephens’s early life, according to one of his biographers, Desmond Ryan, are obscure and limited to Stephens’s own vague autobiographical recollections. He is born at Lilac Cottage, Blackmill Street, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, on January 26, 1825 and spends his childhood there. No birth records have ever been located, but a baptismal record from St. Mary’s Parish is dated July 29, 1825. There is reason to believe that he is born out of wedlock in late July 1825. However, according to Stephens, his exact date of birth is January 26. He is educated at St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny, for at least one quarter in 1838. He is later apprenticed to a civil engineer, and from 1844 onwards works for the Waterford–Limerick Railway Company.
When the Young Irelanders split from Daniel O’Connell‘s Repeal Association and found the Irish Confederation in January 1847, Stephens becomes involved in the activities of the Kilkenny Confederate clubs. After the government suspends habeas corpus and issues warrants of arrest against the Confederate leaders, William Smith O’Brien appears in Kilkenny on July 23, 1848, seeking support for a popular insurrection, and two days later Stephens joins him. For four days he follows O’Brien’s wanderings and takes part in all his encounters with government forces, including the affray at the home of Widow McCormack on July 29 when O’Brien’s followers besiege a party of policemen in a house near Ballingarry, County Tipperary. They are finally dispersed by gunfire and the arrival of reinforcements, thus ending O’Brien’s revolutionary efforts. Stephens reportedly receives two bullet wounds, but manages to hide and evade arrest.
Three days later, Stephens proceeds to Ballyneale, near Carrick-on-Suir, County Tipperary, in search of John O’Mahony. He accompanies O’Mahony to meet Michael Doheny, and for six weeks Stephens and Doheny avoid arrest by roaming around the south of Ireland, an adventure that Doheny records in The Felon’s Track (1849). On September 12, Stephens is smuggled out of Ireland by the family of the Skibbereen attorney McCarthy Downing, and four days later manages to reach Paris. O’Mahony and Doheny join him shortly afterwards, although Doheny soon emigrates to the United States.
From their exile Stephens and O’Mahony watch the failure of the ’49 conspiracy of James Fintan Lalor and Philip Gray, and witness the barricades against Louis Napoleon’s coup d’état in 1851. Stephens later claims to have joined the French republican insurgents, but according to O’Mahony this is merely a frustrated intention. Equally without foundation is the rumour that Stephens and O’Mahony at this time join a republican secret society as a training ground for their future Irish enterprise.
Stephens remains in Paris from 1848 to 1855, supporting himself by teaching English. He attends Sorbonne University and has plans to obtain a professorship that never materialises. Towards the close of his exile, he is employed by the Le Moniteur Universel, for which he allegedly translates Charles Dickens‘s Martin Chuzzlewit. Late in 1855 he returns to Ireland and undertakes a series of tours throughout the island. He later magnifies the venture as “the 3,000 miles’ walk” and reformulates it as an attempt to measure the country’s nationalist temperature. However, his primary intention at the time is to collect information for a book he is planning to write. The following autumn he returns to Dublin, becomes tutor of French to the children of several well-to-do families including that of the Young Irelander John Blake Dillon, and joins the nationalist circle of Thomas Clarke Luby, Philip Gray, and other veterans of the ’49 conspiracy.
When Gray dies in January 1857, Stephens asks O’Mahony, then living in New York, to collect funds for a funeral monument. This evidence of nationalist activity, coupled with the prospect of “England’s difficulty” awakened by the recent Crimean War and the insurrection in India, give life to O’Mahony’s and Doheny’s Emmet Monument Association (EMA). That autumn the EMA sends an envoy to Ireland with a proposal for Stephens to prepare the country for the arrival of a military expedition. Stephens offers to organise 10,000 men in three months, provided he is given at least £80 a month and absolute authority over the enterprise. On March 17, 1858, Saint Patrick’s Day, he receives the first installment and his appointment as “chief executive” of the Irish movement. The same day he and his associates take an oath to make Ireland “an independent democratic republic.” The nameless secret society thereby inaugurated eventually becomes known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). It is organised in cells, each led by a “centre” with Stephens being known as the “head centre.”
The EMA’s failure to send a second installment prompts Stephens to travel to New York in October 1858. While in America he attempts, and fails, to engage the support of the Young Irelanders John Mitchel and Thomas Francis Meagher, but succeeds in establishing a solid partnership with Irish nationalists based in New York. Late in 1858 the surviving members of the EMA reorganise themselves into a modified replica of the IRB, and under John O’Mahony’s inspiration adopt the name of the Fenian Brotherhood (FB). Eventually the label “Fenian” comes to be applied to the members of both organisations. As part of the new arrangements, Stephens obtains a new appointment as head of the movement “at home and abroad.”
Despite Stephens’s success, his labours in America and the secrecy of his own activities in Ireland are almost spoiled in December by the arrest of Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa and other members of the Phoenix National and Literary Society of Skibbereen, which had been incorporated into the IRB the previous May. On his return from America in March 1859 Stephens takes refuge in Paris and delegates management of the organisation to Luby. He only returns to Dublin in April 1861 when O’Mahony, then on a tour of inspection, suggests establishing an executive council to share Stephens’s power. Stephens succeeds in frustrating this plan, but from the time of O’Mahony’s visit the tension between the two leaders never subsides.
In the autumn of 1861 Stephens takes lodgings on Charlemont Street at the house of John and Rossanna Hopper, owners of a small tailoring establishment, and soon falls in love with their daughter Jane, almost twenty years his junior. The two are married on January 24, 1864, at the church of SS Michael and John, Exchange Street. The marriage produces no children.
The first success for Stephens’s IRB comes on November 10, 1861, when the IRB-dominated National Brotherhood of Saint Patrick stages the funeral for the Young Irelander Terence MacManus after an intense tug-of-war with both the Catholic church and constitutional nationalism. Stephens plays a central role in promoting IRB control of the funeral arrangements and although the event lacks the mythical nationalist significance claimed by Fenian apologists, it serves to boost Fenian self-assertion and hasten the divorce between middle-class nationalist elites and a new militant republican working class which has different interests at stake in an independent Ireland.
Despite the McManus funeral success, the IRB continues to endure financial difficulties throughout 1862. In 1863, Stephens resolves to address these difficulties and consolidate the movement’s position by founding a newspaper. The Irish People is first issued on November 28, 1863. He contributes leading articles to its first three numbers, but finally abandons his literary efforts in favour of Luby, John O’Leary, and Charles J. Kickham, thereafter the paper’s leading writers and guiding spirits.
In the meantime, the relationship between Stephens and O’Mahony continues to deteriorate. In November 1863 O’Mahony has turned the tables and persuaded the FB to acknowledge Stephens merely as “its representative in Europe.” In March 1864 Stephens again travels to the United States in order to stimulate the flow of funds towards the IRB and regain some hold on the FB. As part of his new policies he makes the sensational announcement that 1865, at latest, is to be the movement’s “year of action.” After the end of the American Civil War in April 1865, Fenian activity increases spectacularly, and demobilised soldiers travel to Ireland. However, on September 15, 1865, the government takes action, suppresses The Irish People, and arrests most of Stephens’s closest collaborators, including Luby, O’Leary and O’Donovan Rossa. Stephens himself is arrested on November 11 but, in a daring operation that proves a propaganda coup for the Fenians, is rescued from Richmond Bridewell penitentiary thirteen days later and eventually makes his way to America via Britain and France. By the time he arrives in the United States, the FB has split into two “wings,” the partisans of John O’Mahony and those of William R. Roberts, the president of the Fenian “senate,” who advocate shifting military efforts towards invading Canada. The split ends Stephens’s already slender chances of launching a successful rising before the end of December, and he calls a postponement.
On February 17, 1866, the government suspends habeas corpus in Ireland and arrests multiply. Stephens braves the members’ impatience, calls a new postponement, and in May travels to New York in order to try and solve the American crisis in the IRB’s favour. He accepts O’Mahony’s resignation, takes control of his wing, and starts an intensive campaign of propaganda and fund-raising. Again, he proclaims 1866 as the “year of action,” but by December the movement is weaker than ever, and he tries to call a new postponement. This time his lieutenants, led by Col. Thomas J. Kelly, lose patience, depose him from leadership and prepare to launch the insurrection themselves. The result is the ill-fated Fenian Rising of March 5-6, 1867.
After his deposition, Stephens spends most of his remaining years in France, in dire financial distress, but still hoping against hope to regain his position at the head of the movement. However, the IRB is now under the control of the anti-Stephens supreme council, and the FB is quickly losing its influence to the newly emerged Clan na Gael. His reputation, always tainted by his controversial personality and autocratic management, had been ruined forever by the 1866 events and his repeated failure to order the rising. With the exception of a small core of diehard partisans, the majority of his former associates and followers have grown resentful of his leadership and are vehemently opposed to his return.
Apart from occasional English tutoring and a ruinous venture as a wine merchant that takes him to the United States from 1871 to 1874, Stephens’s post-Fenian years are mainly spent in poverty while awaiting the next opportunity to resume leadership of the IRB. In 1880, after a last unsuccessful trip to the United States and a crushing defeat by John Devoy and Clan na Gael, he gives up hope, returns to Paris, and settles down to earn a living as an occasional newspaper contributor. In 1885 he is expelled from France under the unfounded suspicion of involvement in dynamiting activities with his cousins Joseph and Patrick Casey and the journalist Eugene Davis. He then takes up residence in Brussels but is able to return to Paris two years later. Finally, through Charles Stewart Parnell‘s intervention in 1891, he is allowed to return to Ireland. He moves into a cottage in Sutton, near Howth, and settles into retirement. After his wife’s death in 1895 he moves to the house of his in-laws in Blackrock, County Dublin, where he dies on March 29, 1901. Two days later he is given a solemn nationalist funeral and is interred in Glasnevin Cemetery.
Stephens’s controversial historical reputation never accords him a comfortable place in the post-independence nationalist pantheon. His egotism and defects as a leader overshadow the credit he is given as a founder and organiser. Yet his notorious personality is arguably the key to his success and ultimate historical significance. His obsessive self-confidence and single-mindedness turn the EMA’s half-matured proposal into a solid partnership that inaugurates an enduring pattern of American involvement in Irish nationalism. At the same time, by impressing the IRB with his own assertiveness he enables it to break the tacit monopoly of the middle classes on Irish political life. By the time of his downfall, Irish republicanism has acquired a definite shape and a marginal but stable position in the Irish political scene.
Stephens’s name has been incorporated into Kilkenny local heritage in institutions as diverse as a swimming pool, a military barracks, and a hurling team. In 1967 a plaque is unveiled at the site of his childhood home on Blackmill Street. The main collections of his documents are the James Stephens papers, MSS 10491–2, in the National Library of Ireland, and the Michael Davitt papers addenda, MS 9659d, in Trinity College Dublin.
(From: “Stephens, James” by Marta Ramón, Dictionary of Irish Biography, http://www.dib.ie, last revised March 2021)
Synge attends St. Andrew’s College, Dublin and in 1915 enters Trinity College Dublin (TCD). He is elected a Foundation Scholar his first year, which is unusual as it is normally won by more advanced students. While an undergraduate at TCD, he spots a non-trivial error in Analytical Dynamics of Particles and Rigid Bodies, a textbook by E. T. Whittaker, who had recently taught there, and notifies Whittaker of the error. In 1919 he is awarded a BA in Mathematics and Experimental Physics, and also a gold medal for outstanding merit. In 1922 he is awarded an MA, and in 1926 a Sc.D., the latter upon submission of his published papers up to then.
In 1918, Synge marries Elizabeth Eleanor Mabel Allen. She is also a student at TCD, first of mathematics, then of history, but family finances forced her to leave without graduating. Their daughters Margaret (Pegeen), Cathleen and Isabel are born in 1921, 1923 and 1930 respectively. The middle girl grows up to become the distinguished Canadian mathematician Cathleen Synge Morawetz.
Synge is appointed to the position of lecturer at Trinity College, and then accepts a position at the University of Toronto in 1920, where he is an assistant professor of mathematics until 1925. There he attends lectures by Ludwik Silberstein on the theory of relativity, stimulating him to contribute “A system of space-time co-ordinates,” a letter in Nature in 1921.
Synge is one of the first physicists to seriously study the interior of a black hole, and his early work is cited by both Martin David Kruskal and George Szekeres in their independent discoveries of the true structure of the Schwarzschild black hole. Synge’s later derivation of the Szekeres-Kruskal metric solution, which is motivated by a desire to avoid “using ‘bad’ coordinates to obtain ‘good’ coordinates,” has been generally under-appreciated in the literature, but is adopted by Chandrasekhar in his black hole monograph.
In pure mathematics, Synge is perhaps best known for Synge’s theorem, which concerns the topology of closed orientable Riemannian manifold of positive sectional curvature. When such a space is even-dimensional and orientable, the theorem says it must be simply connected. In odd dimensions, it instead says that such a space is necessarily orientable.
Synge also creates the game of Vish in which players compete to find circularity (vicious circles) in dictionary definitions.
Synge retires in 1972. He receives many honours for his works. He is elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of London in 1943. He is elected as a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and in 1943 is the first recipient of the society’s Henry Marshall Tory Medal, as one of the first mathematicians working in Canada to be internationally recognised for his research in mathematics. In 1954 he is elected an honorary fellow of Trinity College Dublin. He is president of the Royal Irish Academy from 1961 until 1964. The Royal Society of Canada establishes the John L. Synge Award in his honour in 1986.
Synge dies on March 30, 1995, in Dublin, exactly one week after his ninety-eighth birthday.
Byrne is born on March 17, 1882, the second of seven children born to Thomas Byrne, an engineer, and Fanny Dowman. His childhood home is at 36 Seville Place, a terraced house with five rooms just off the North Strand in Dublin. He drops out of school at the age of thirteen and is soon juggling jobs as a grocer’s assistant and a bicycle mechanic. Eventually he uses his savings to buy a pub on Talbot Street. He marries Elizabeth Heagney in 1910.
Byrne is elected as an Independent TD supporting the Anglo-Irish Treaty for the Dublin Mid constituency at the general election to the Third Dáil in 1922. From 1923 to 1928 he represents Dublin City North. In 1928 he is elected for a six-year term as a member of Seanad Éireann. He vacates his Dáil seat on December 4, 1928. He resigns from the Seanad on December 10, 1931, and returns to the Dáil in 1932. He remains a TD until his death in 1956, representing Dublin City North (1932–37) and Dublin North-East (1937–56). In several elections he secures more votes than any other politician in the country.
Byrne is elected as Lord Mayor of Dublin in 1930, serving in the post for nine consecutive years. When cycling or walking around the city he dispenses lollipops to children, who are often seen chasing him down the street. With a handshake and a few words for all, his eternal canvassing soon earns him the first of his nicknames: the Shaking Hand of Dublin. Married with eight children, he treats the people of Dublin as his second family. Every morning he finds up to fifty people waiting for him in the Mansion House. None have appointments. All are met. He answers 15,000 letters in his first year as Lord Mayor. Many are from Dubliners looking for a job, a house, some advice or a reference. One morning in 1931 a journalist watches the Lord Mayor attend to his correspondence. Within an hour he accepts “seventeen invitations to public dinners, one invitation to a public entertainment and eight invitations to public functions.” Then he dictates forty-three sympathetic letters to men and women looking for employment.
In 1937, children between the ages of eight and eleven years old are being sentenced to spend up to five years in Industrial Schools. Their crime is stealing a few apples from an orchard. When Byrne says such sentences are “savage,” a judge responds with a defence of the Industrial School system, urging an end to “ridiculous Mansion House mummery.” He stands firm: “For the punishment of trifling offences the home of the children is better than any institution.” In 1938, he is favoured by the press for the presidency of Ireland, a ceremonial role created in the new Constitution, but he is outgunned by the political establishment.
When, in 1935, Byrne becomes the first Lord Mayor of Dublin to visit North America in 40 years, he is granted the freedom of Toronto, and The New York Times hails the arrival of a “champion showman.” He often extends a hand of friendship to Britain. He also improves relations between Dublin, until recently the centre of British authority, and the rest of the country. One night Dublin Fire Brigade gets an urgent call for assistance from Clones, County Monaghan. As Lord Mayor, he feels obliged to join the men on top of the fire engine as they set off on the 85-mile journey in the middle of the night.
In August 1936, Byrne addresses the inaugural meeting of the anti-communistIrish Christian Front, some of whose members later express anti-Semitic views. In 1938, as Lord Mayor, he presents a gift of a replica of the Ardagh Chalice to Italian naval cadets visiting Dublin on board two warships, who had been welcomed by the Irish government despite the protests of Dubliners. A photograph exists of Byrne giving a fascist salute along with Eoin O’Duffy, commander of the Blueshirts, around 1933.
In 1954, Byrne is elected as Lord Mayor for a record tenth time. This time he does not live in the Mansion House, but stays in Rathmines with his family, taking the bus to work each morning. He is just as devoted to the job. When flooding damages 20,000 houses in Fairview and North Strand, he rises from his sick bed to organise a relief fund. His final term as Lord Mayor comes to an end in 1955. Shortly afterwards, Trinity College Dublin awards him an honorary Doctorate of Law, describing him as a “champion of the poor and needy, and a friend of all men.”
Byrne dies on March 13, 1956. His funeral is the largest seen in Dublin for many years. The Evening Herald reports that “Traffic in O’Connell Street was held up for almost 20 minutes to allow the cortege of over 150 motor cars to pass, and at all the junctions along the route to Glasnevin people silently gathered to pay tribute to one of Dublin’s most famous sons.” The members of the Dáil stand and observe a short silence as a mark of respect. A telegram is sent to his widow from the Mayor of New York City, Robert F. Wagner Jr., expressing deepest sympathy, and stating “that Ald. Byrne had attained high office of Lord Mayor many times, but he never lost contact with the poor and the underprivileged, whose champion he was.”
Berkeley is the eldest son of William Berkeley, a cadet of the noble family of Berkeley whose ancestry can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon period and who had served as feudal lords and landowners in Gloucester, England. Little is known of his mother. He is educated at Kilkenny College and attends Trinity College Dublin, where he is elected a Scholar in 1702, being awarded BA in 1704 and MA and a Fellowship in 1707. He remains at Trinity College after completion of his degree as a tutor and Greek lecturer.
Berkeley’s earliest publication is on mathematics, but the first that brings him notice is his An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision, first published in 1709. In the essay, he examines visual distance, magnitude, position and problems of sight and touch. While this work raises much controversy at the time, its conclusions are now accepted as an established part of the theory of optics.
For this theory, the Principles gives the exposition and the Dialogues the defence. One of his main objectives is to combat the prevailing materialism of his time. The theory is largely received with ridicule, while even those such as Samuel Clarke and William Whiston, who do acknowledge his “extraordinary genius,” are nevertheless convinced that his first principles are false.
Shortly afterwards, Berkeley visits England and is received into the circle of Joseph Addison, Alexander Pope and Richard Steele. In the period between 1714 and 1720, he intersperses his academic endeavours with periods of extensive travel in Europe, including one of the most extensive Grand Tours of the length and breadth of Italy ever undertaken. In 1721, he takes holy orders in the Church of Ireland, earning his doctorate in divinity, and once again chooses to remain at Trinity College Dublin, lecturing this time in Divinity and in Hebrew. In 1721-22 he is made Dean of Dromore and, in 1724, Dean of Derry.
In 1723, following her violent quarrel with Jonathan Swift, who had been her intimate friend for many years, Esther Vanhomrigh names Berkeley her co-heir along with the barrister Robert Marshall. Her choice of legatees causes a good deal of surprise since she does not know either of them well, although Berkeley as a very young man had known her father. Swift says generously that he does not grudge Berkeley his inheritance, much of which vanishes in a lawsuit in any event. A story that Berkeley and Marshall disregarded a condition of the inheritance that they must publish the correspondence between Swift and Vanhomrigh is probably untrue.
In 1725, Berkeley begins the project of founding a college in Bermuda for training ministers and missionaries in the colony, in pursuit of which he gives up his deanery with its income of £1100.
In 1728, Berkeley marries Anne Forster, daughter of John Forster, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas, and his first wife Rebecca Monck. He then goes to America on a salary of £100 per annum. He lands near Newport, Rhode Island, where he buys a plantation at Middletown – the famous “Whitehall.” He purchases several enslaved Africans to work on the plantation. He also brings John Smibert to New England, the Scottish artist he “discovered” in Italy, who is generally regarded as the founding father of American portrait painting. Meanwhile, he draws up plans for the ideal city he plans to build on Bermuda. He lives at the plantation while he waits for funds for his college to arrive. The funds, however, are not forthcoming and he leaves America and returns to London in 1732.
Berkeley and his wife have four children who survive infancy: Henry, George, William and Julia, and at least two other children who die in infancy. William’s death in 1751 is a great cause of grief to his father.
Berkeley is nominated to be the Bishop of Cloyne in the Church of Ireland on January 18, 1734. He is consecrated as such on May 19, 1734. He is the Bishop of Cloyne until his death on January 14, 1753, although he dies at Oxford.
While living in London’s Saville Street, Berkeley takes part in efforts to create a home for the city’s abandoned children. The Foundling Hospital is founded by royal charter in 1739, and Berkeley is listed as one of its original governors.
Berkeley’s last two publications are Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries Concerning the Virtues of Tarwater, And divers other Subjects connected together and arising one from another (1744) and Further Thoughts on Tar-water (1752). Pine tar is an effective antiseptic and disinfectant when applied to cuts on the skin, but he argues for the use of pine tar as a broad panacea for diseases. His 1744 work on tar-water sells more copies than any of his other books during Berkeley’s lifetime.
Berkeley remains at Cloyne until 1752, when he retires. With his wife and daughter Julia, he goes to Oxford to live with his son George and supervise his education. He dies soon afterwards and is buried in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford. His affectionate disposition and genial manners make him much loved and held in warm regard by many of his contemporaries. Anne outlives her husband by many years, dying in 1786.
(Pictured: “Bishop George Berkeley,” oil on canvas portrait by John Smibert, c. 1727)