Portal:Ireland/Selected biography archive

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Selected article archive

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Some of these are featured articles about Irish people who appear on the Portal:Ireland




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Éamon de Valera (/ˈmən dɛvəˈlɛrə/; born Edward George de Valera, 14 October 1882 – 29 August 1975) was one of the dominant political figures in 20th century Ireland. Co-owner of one of the Irish Press Newspapers, he served in public office from 1917 to 1973, holding the various Irish prime ministerial and presidential offices. He was a significant leader of Ireland's struggle for independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in the early 20th century, and the Republican anti-Treaty opposition in the ensuing Irish Civil War. After the formation of Fianna Fáil, his militant republicanism moderated towards conservatism. De Valera is also often cited as the principal author of the Constitution of Ireland.

At various times a teacher of mathematics and a politician, he served three times as Irish head of government; as President of Dáil Éireann, as the second President of the Executive Council and the first Taoiseach. He ended his political career as President of Ireland, serving two terms from 1959 until 1973. He was also the Chancellor of the National University of Ireland from 1922 until 1975. Read more...



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George Best (22 May 1946 – 25 November 2005) was a Northern Irish football player best known for his years with Manchester United. He was a winger whose game combined pace, acceleration, balance, two-footedness, goalscoring and the ability to beat defenders. In 1968, his annus mirabilis, he won the European Cup with Manchester United, and was named the European Footballer of the Year. When fit, he was an automatic choice for the Northern Ireland team, but he was unable to lead them to the FIFA World Cup tournament.

In 1999 he was voted 11th, behind Marco van Basten, at the IFFHS European Player of the Century election and 16th, behind Lothar Matthäus, in the World Player of the Century election. Pelé named him as one of the 125 best living footballers in his 2004 FIFA 100 list and Best was named 19th, behind Gerd Müller, at the UEFA Golden Jubilee Poll. In his native Northern Ireland the admiration for him is summed up by the local saying: "Maradona good; Pelé better; George Best."

He was one of the first celebrity footballers, but his extravagant lifestyle led to problems with alcoholism which curtailed his playing career and eventually led to his death at the age of 59. His cause of death was a kidney infection, a side-effect of the immuno-suppressive drugs he was required to take after a liver transplant. Best's lovable, cheeky image won him many fans, during his career and after, despite his public drunkenness on TV, his convictions for drunk driving and assaulting a policeman, allegations of domestic violence, and his inability to give up drinking even after the transplant. 100,000 people turned out on a rainy day for his funeral in East Belfast. Read more...



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William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse KP (June 17, 1800 – October 31, 1867) was born in Monkstown, County Cork and was an Irish astronomer. He was the sixteenth Chancellor of Trinity College, Dublin between 1862 and 1867. He became the third Earl of Rosse when his father died in 1841. Prior to this, his title was "Lord Oxmantown".

In the 1840s, he built his "Leviathan of Parsonstown" 72-inch (183-cm) telescope at Birr, Ireland (then called "Parsonstown") in County Offaly, which was for many decades the largest telescope in the world. He had to invent many of the techniques he used in constructing this telescope, both because its size was without precedent and because earlier telescope builders had guarded their secrets or had simply failed to publish their methods. Rosse's telescope was considered a marvelous technical and architectural achievement, and images of it were circulated widely within the British commonwealth. Building of the telescope had to be suspended during the Great Irish Famine, but in 1847 it was put into service. Read more...



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Father Jack Hackett is a fictional character in the Channel 4 television series Father Ted. The character (played by Frank Kelly) is the deeply alcoholic, and at times violently psychotic, third priest in Father Ted's household. According to one of Graham Linehan's former peers at Catholic University School in Dublin, Fr. Hackett has been based on one of the former resident priests at the school. Through much of the series he is comatose in his chair and most of his waking moments are spent calling for alcohol. Despite his feeble appearance, he is capable of impressive feats such as stealing drink at seemingly impossible speeds. Jack is also able to tell the vintage and variety of wine just from the sound of the bottle clinking.

Jack is a chronic alcoholic and is in a constantly inebriated state. As a result of this, his speech is crude and limited. The few words he speaks occasionally are "Drink!", "Feck!", "Arse!" and "Girls!", though occasionally he blurts out nonsensical comments like "Are those my feet?", "I like cake!" and "I'm a happy camper!". Once, Father Ted tried to improve father Jack's speech with some success; he taught Jack the phrases "Yes!" and "That would be an ecumenical matter!" so that he could communicate at a basic level with three bishops that were guests on Craggy Island. Jack uses his alcoholism to escape from his depressing life on the island; on one occasion during Lent, he became sober and was shocked to learn that he was "still on that feckin' island!" Father Ted described Jack's sobriety in that episode as being "like some weird hallucinogenic trip to him". Read more...



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George Augustus Moore (24 February 1852 – 21 January 1933) was an Irish novelist, short-story writer, poet, art critic, memoirist and dramatist. Moore came from a Roman Catholic landed family. He originally wanted to be a painter, and studied art in Paris during the 1870s. There, he befriended many of the leading French artists and writers of the day.

As a naturalistic writer, he was amongst the first English-language authors to absorb the lessons of the French realists, and was particularly influenced by the works of Émile Zola. His writings influenced James Joyce, according to the literary critic and biographer Richard Ellmann, and, although Moore's work is sometimes seen as outside the mainstream of both Irish and British literature, he is as often regarded as the first great modern Irish novelist. Read more...



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Oliver Cromwell (25 April 1599 – 3 September 1658) was an English military and political leader best known for his involvement in making England into a republican Commonwealth and for his later role as Lord Protector of England, Scotland and Ireland. He was one of the commanders of the New Model Army, which defeated the royalists in the English Civil War. After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, Cromwell dominated the short-lived Commonwealth of England, conquered Ireland and Scotland, and ruled as Lord Protector from 1653 until his death in 1658. When the Royalists returned to power in 1660, his corpse was dug up, hung in chains, and beheaded.

Cromwell has been a very controversial figure in the history of Britain and Ireland – a regicidal dictator to some historians (such as David Hume and Christopher Hill) and a hero of liberty to others (such as Thomas Carlyle and Samuel Rawson Gardiner). In Britain he is held in high esteem, being elected as one of the Top 10 Britons of all time in a BBC poll. However, his measures against Irish Catholics have been characterised by some historians as genocidal or near-genocidal, and in Ireland itself he and his memory are widely despised. Read more...



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George Ivan Morrison OBE (generally known as Van Morrison) (born August 31, 1945) is a Grammy Award-winning Northern Irish singer, songwriter, author, poet and multi-instrumentalist, who has been a professional musician during the last five decades. He plays a variety of instruments, including the guitar, harmonica, keyboards, drums, and saxophone. Featuring his characteristic growl — a unique mix of folk, blues, Irish, scat, and Celtic influences — Morrison is widely considered one of the most unusual and influential vocalists in the history of rock and roll. Critic Greil Marcus has gone so far as to say that "no white man sings like Van Morrison."

Known as "Van the Man" by his fans, Morrison first rose to prominence as the lead singer of the Northern Irish band, Them, penning their seminal 1964 hit "Gloria". A few years later, Morrison left the band for a successful solo career.

Morrison has pursued an idiosyncratic musical path. Much of his music is tightly structured around the conventions of American soul and R&B, such as the popular singles "Brown Eyed Girl", "Moondance", "Domino" and "Wild Night". An equal part of his catalogue consists of lengthy, loosely connected, spiritually inspired musical journeys that show the influence of Celtic tradition, jazz, and stream-of-consciousness narrative, such as his classic album Astral Weeks and lesser known works such as Veedon Fleece and Common One. The two strains together are sometimes referred to as "Celtic Soul".

Morrison's career, spanning some five decades, has influenced many popular musical artists. In 1993 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2003. In 2000, Morrison ranked #25 on American cable music channel VH1's list of its 100 greatest artists of rock and roll, and in 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked Van Morrison 42nd on their list of The Immortals: 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Paste Magazine ranked him 20th in their list of 100 Greatest Living Songwriters In 2006 and Q Magazine ranked him 22nd on their list of 100 Greatest Singers in April 2007. Read more...



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Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory (15 March 1852–22 May 1932), née Isabella Augusta Persse, was an Irish dramatist and folklorist. With W B Yeats and others, she co-founded the Irish Literary Theatre and the Abbey Theatre, and wrote numerous short works for both companies. She also produced a number of books of retellings of stories from Irish mythology. Born into a class that identified closely with British rule, her conversion to cultural nationalism, as evidenced in these writings, was emblematic of many of the changes to occur in Ireland during her lifetime. Read more...



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Enya (born Eithne Patricia Ní Bhraonáin on 17 May 1961, Gweedore, County Donegal, Ireland), sometimes presented in the media as Enya Brennan, is an Irish singer and songwriter. She is Ireland's best-selling solo artist and her works have earned her four Grammy Awards and an Academy Award nomination. As a musical group, Enya represents a partnership between three people: Enya herself, who composes and performs the music; Nicky Ryan, who produces the albums, and Roma Ryan, who writes the lyrics in various languages. Enya is an approximate transcription of how Eithne is pronounced in her native Irish, in the Donegal dialect. Read more...



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Cillian Murphy (born 25 May 1976) is an Irish film and theatre actor. He is often noted by critics for his chameleonic performances in diverse roles and distinctive blue eyes.

A native of Cork, Murphy began his performing career as a rock musician. After turning down a record deal, he made his professional acting debut in the play Disco Pigs in 1996. He went on to star in Irish and UK film and stage productions throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s, first coming to international attention in 2003 as the hero in the post-apocalyptic film 28 Days Later. Murphy's best-known roles are as villains in two 2005 blockbusters: the Scarecrow in the superhero film Batman Begins, and Jackson Rippner in the thriller Red Eye. Next came two contrasting, widely acclaimed starring roles: his Golden Globe Award-nominated performance as transgender outcast "Kitten" in 2005's Breakfast on Pluto and a turn as a 1920s Irish revolutionary in 2006 Palme d'Or winner The Wind That Shakes the Barley. In 2008, Murphy will star in a pair of UK biopics, The Edge of Love and Hippie Hippie Shake, and has a cameo as Scarecrow in the Batman sequel, The Dark Knight.

A resident of London since 2001, Murphy often works in or near London and has no desire to move to Hollywood. Uncomfortable on the celebrity circuit, he customarily gives interviews about his work, but does not appear on television talk shows or discuss details of his private life with the press. Read more...



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James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish expatriate writer, widely considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He is best known for his landmark novel Ulysses (1922) and its highly controversial successor Finnegans Wake (1939), as well as the short story collection Dubliners (1914) and the semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916).

Although he spent most of his adult life outside Ireland, Joyce's psychological and fictional universe is firmly rooted in his native Dublin, the city which provides the settings and much of the subject matter for all his fiction. In particular, his tempestuous early relationship with the Irish Roman Catholic Church is reflected through a similar inner conflict in his recurrent alter ego Stephen Dedalus. As the result of his minute attentiveness to a personal locale and his self-imposed exile and influence throughout Europe, (notably in Paris, France), Joyce became paradoxically one of the most cosmopolitan yet one of the most regionally-focused of all the English language writers of his time. Read more...



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Saint Patrick (Latin: Patricius, Irish: Naomh Pádraig) was a Roman Britain-born Christian missionary and is the patron saint of Ireland along with Brigid of Kildare and Columba. When he was about sixteen he was captured by Irish raiders and taken as a slave to Ireland, where he lived for six years before escaping and returning to his family. He entered the church, as his father and grandfather had before him, becoming a deacon and a bishop. He later returned to Ireland as a missionary in the north and west of the island, but little is known about the places where he worked and no link can be made between Patrick and any church. By the eighth century he had become the patron saint of Ireland. The Irish monastery system evolved after the time of Patrick and the Irish church did not develop the diocesan model that Patrick and the other early missionaries had tried to establish.

The available body of evidence does not allow the dates of Patrick's life to be fixed with certainty, but it appears that he was active as a missionary in Ireland during the second half of the fifth century. Two letters from him survive, along with later hagiographies from the seventh century onwards. Many of these works cannot be taken as authentic traditions. Uncritical acceptance of the Annals of Ulster (see below) would imply that he lived from 378 to 493, and ministered in modern day northern Ireland from 433 onwards. Read more...



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U2 /ˌjuːˈt/ are a rock band from Dublin, Ireland. The band consists of Bono (vocals and guitar), The Edge (guitar, keyboards and vocals), Adam Clayton (bass guitar) and Larry Mullen, Jr. (drums and percussion).

U2 formed in 1976 when the members were teenagers with limited musical proficiency. By the mid-1980s, however, the band had become a top international act, noted for their anthemic sound, Bono's impassioned vocals, and The Edge's textural guitar playing. Their success as a live act was greater than their success at selling records until their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree, increased the band's stature "from heroes to superstars," according to Rolling Stone. U2 responded to the dance and alternative rock revolutions, and their own sense of musical stagnation by reinventing themselves with their 1991 album Achtung Baby and the accompanying Zoo TV Tour. Similar experimentation continued for the rest of the 1990s. Since 2000, U2 have pursued a more traditional sound that retains the influence of their musical explorations. Read more...



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William Butler Yeats (/ˈjts/; 13 June 1865 - 28 January 1939) was an Irish poet and dramatist, and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and English literary establishments, in his later years Yeats served as an Irish Senator for two terms. He was a driving force behind the Irish Literary Revival, and together with Lady Gregory and Edward Martyn founded the Abbey Theatre, and served as its chief during its early years. In 1923, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel Committee described as "inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation;" and he was the first Irishman so honoured. Yeats is generally considered one of the few writers whose greatest works were completed after being awarded the Nobel Prize; such works include The Tower (1928) and The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1929).

Yeats was born and educated in Dublin, but spent his childhood in Sligo. He studied poetry in his youth, and from an early age was fascinated by both Irish legends and the occult. Those topics feature in the first phase of his work, which lasted roughly until the turn of the century. His earliest volume of verse was published in 1889, and those slowly paced and lyrical poems display debts to Edmund Spenser and Percy Bysshe Shelley, as well as to the lyricism of the Pre-Raphaelite poets.

From 1900, Yeats' poetry grew more physical and realistic. He largely renounced the transcendental beliefs of his youth, though he remained preoccupied with physical and spiritual masks, as well as with cyclical theories of life. Over the years Yeats adopted many different ideological positions, including, in the words of the critic Michael Valdez Moses, "those of radical nationalist, classical liberal, reactionary conservative and millenarian nihilist". Read more...



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Patrick Alan Bartholomew Ahern (born 12 September 1951) is an Irish politician who has been the tenth Taoiseach of Ireland since 26 June 1997. He is head of a rainbow coalition government led by his Fianna Fáil party that includes the Green Party and the Progressive Democrats, with the support of independent TDs.

Ahern has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 1977 and he represents the constituency of Dublin Central. He served in the governments of Charles Haughey and Albert Reynolds as Minister for Labour (1987–1991) and Minister for Finance (1991–1994). He also served briefly as Tánaiste after the break-up of Albert Reynolds' coalition government. In 1994 he was elected sixth leader of Fianna Fáil.

Ahern is currently involved in an enquiry into large payments made to him in the mid-1990s. This issue has seen him called before the Mahon Tribunal. As a result, in an address delivered to the media outside government buildings on the 2 April 2008, while highlighting the successes of his leadership, he announced his intention to resign the office of Taoiseach (and as leader of Fianna Fáil) on 6 May 2008. Read more...



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Brian mac Cennétig (c. 941; 23 April 1014), called Brian Bóruma (English: Brian Boru, Irish: Brian Boraime), was an Irish king who overthrew the centuries-long domination of the Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill. Building on the achievements of his father, Cennétig mac Lorcain, and brother, Mathgamain, Brian first made himself King of Munster, then subjugated Leinster, making himself ruler of the south of Ireland.

The Uí Néill king Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill, abandoned by his northern kinsmen of the Cenél nEógain and Cenél Conaill, acknowledged Brian as High King at Athlone in 1002. In the decade that followed, Brian campaigned against the northern Uí Néill, who refused to accept his claims, against Leinster, where resistance was frequent, and against Dublin. Brian's hard-won authority was seriously challenged in 1013 when his ally Máel Sechnaill was attacked by the Cenél nEógain king Flaithbertach Ua Néill, with the Ulstermen as his allies. This was followed by further attacks on Máel Sechnaill by the Norse Gaels of Dublin under their king Sihtric and the Leinstermen led by Máel Mórda mac Murchada. Brian campaigned against these enemies in 1013. In 1014, Brian's armies confronted the armies of Leinster and Dublin at Clontarf near Dublin on Good Friday. The resulting Battle of Clontarf was a bloody affair, with Brian, his son Murchad, and Máel Mórda among those killed. The list of the noble dead in the Annals of Ulster includes Irish kings, Norse Gaels, Scotsmen, and Scandinavians. The immediate beneficiary of the slaughter was Máel Sechnaill who resumed his interrupted reign as the last Uí Néill High King.

In death, Brian proved to be a greater figure than in life. The court of his great-grandson Muirchertach Ua Briain produced the Cogadh Gaedhel re Gallaibh, a work of near hagiography. The Norse Gaels and Scandinavians too produced works magnifying Brian, among these Njal's Saga, the Orkneyinga Saga, and the now-lost Brian's Saga. Brian's war against Máel Mórda and Sihtric was to be inextricably connected with his complicated marital relations, in particular his marriage to Gormlaith, Máel Mórda's sister and Sihtric's mother, who had been in turn the wife of Amlaíb Cuarán, king of Dublin and York, then of Máel Sechnaill, and finally of Brian. Read more...



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Louis le Brocquy (born November 10, 1916) is an Irish painter. Born in Dublin, Louis le Brocquy's work has received much international attention and many accolades in a career that spans seventy years of creative practice. In 1956, he represented Ireland at the Venice Biennale, winning the Premio Acquisito Internationale with A Family (coll. National Gallery of Ireland), subsequently included in the historic exhibition Fifty Years of Modern Art at Brussels, World Fair 1958. The same year he married the Irish painter Anne Madden and left London to work in the French Midi.

Le Brocquy is widely acclaimed for his evocative "Portrait ‘Heads" of literary figures and fellow artists, which include William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and his friends Samuel Beckett, Francis Bacon and Seamus Heaney, in recent years le Brocquy's early "Tinker" subjects and Grey period "Family" paintings, have attracted headline attention on the international marketplace marking him as the fourth painter in Ireland and Britain to be evaluated within a very select group of artists, alongside Lucian Freud, David Hockney and Francis Bacon.

In Ireland, he is honoured as the first and only living painter to be included in the Permanent Irish Collection of the National Gallery of Ireland. To mark le Brocquy's 90th birthday some eleven one-person exhibitions were organised at home and abroad including the National Gallery of Ireland; the Tate; the Irish Museum of Modern Art; Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane; the Crawford Municipal Art Gallery, Cork; and the Hunt Museum, Limerick. Read more...



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Tom Crean (20 July 1877 – 27 July 1938) was an Irish seaman and Antarctic explorer, from County Kerry. He enlisted in the British Royal Navy at the age of fifteen as a Boy 2nd class. In 1901, while on naval duty serving as an Able Seaman on HMS Ringarooma in New Zealand, he volunteered to join Robert Falcon Scott's 1901–1904 British National Antarctic Expedition on Discovery, thus beginning a distinguished career as an explorer during the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

Crean was on three of the four major British expeditions to Antarctica during this period. After the Discovery Expedition he joined Captain Scott on the 1911–1913 Terra Nova Expedition, in which the race to reach the South Pole was lost to Roald Amundsen, followed by the deaths of Scott and his polar party. During this expedition Crean's 35–mile (56 km) solo walk across the Ross Ice Shelf to save the life of Edward Evans led to the award of the Albert Medal. His third Antarctic venture was the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition on Endurance led by Ernest Shackleton, in which he served as Second Officer. After the sinking of Endurance he was a participant in the 800–mile (1,280 km) open boat journey from Elephant Island to South Georgia, and was one of the party of three which undertook the first land crossing of South Georgia.

These feats earned him a reputation as a tough and dependable polar traveller. After the Endurance expedition Crean returned to the Navy, and when his naval career ended in 1920 he moved back to County Kerry. Here he opened a public house in his home town, Annascaul, called the South Pole Inn. He lived there quietly and unobtrusively until his death on 27 July 1938. Read more...



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Peter Canavan (born April 9, 1971) is a former Gaelic football player for Tyrone, and is one of the most decorated players in the game's history. He represented Ireland in the International Rules Series on several occasions from 1998 until 2000.

After sixteen years on the senior inter-county scene, and with two All-Ireland Senior Championship Medals, six All Stars (more than any other Ulster player, and joint third overall), four Ulster titles, and several under-age and club championship medals to his name, he is considered one of the great players of the last twenty years by sources such as John Haughey of the BBC.

His scoring record of 218 points is the second highest of all time in the Ulster Senior Football Championship. His early high scoring rate, when he would often be Tyrone's best performer—particularly in the 1995 All-Ireland final when he scored eleven of Tyrone's twelve points—led to claims that Tyrone was a "one-man show"; however, the continued emergence of skilled players such as Brian Dooher and Stephen O'Neill dissipated that criticism.

Canavan's career features many examples of indiscipline, including on-pitch scuffles with other players. Read more...



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The Waterboys are a band formed in 1983 by Mike Scott. The band's membership, past and present, has been composed mainly of musicians from Scotland, Ireland and England. London, Dublin, Spiddal, New York and Findhorn have all served as homes for the group. The band has played in a number of different styles, but their music is a mix of Celtic folk music with rock and roll, or folk rock. After ten years of recording and touring, they dissolved in 1993 and Scott pursued a solo career. They reformed in 2000, and continue to release albums and tour worldwide. Scott emphasizes a continuity between The Waterboys and his solo work, saying that "To me there's no difference between Mike Scott and the Waterboys; they both mean the same thing. They mean myself and whoever are my current travelling musical companions."

The early Waterboys sound was dubbed "The Big Music" after a song on their second album, A Pagan Place. This musical style was described by Scott as "a metaphor for seeing God's signature in the world." It either influenced or was used to describe a number of other bands, including Simple Minds, The Alarm, In Tua Nua, Big Country, the Hothouse Flowers and World Party, the last of which was made up of former Waterboys members. In the late 1980s the band became significantly more folk influenced. The Waterboys eventually returned to rock and roll, and have released both rock and folk albums since reforming. Their songs, largely written by Scott, often contain literary references and are frequently concerned with spirituality. Both the group and its members' solo careers have received much praise from both rock and folk music critics, but The Waterboys as a band has never received the commercial success that some of its members have had independently. Read more...



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Mary Therese Winifred Robinson (Irish: Máire Mhic Róibín; born 21 May 1944) was the first female President of Ireland, serving from 1990 to 1997, and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, from 1997 to 2002. She first rose to prominence as an academic, barrister, campaigner and member of the Irish senate (1969–1989). She defeated Fianna Fáil's Brian Lenihan and Fine Gael's Austin Currie in the 1990 presidential election becoming, as an Independent candidate nominated by the Labour Party, the Workers' Party of Ireland and independent senators, the first elected president in the office's history not to have the support of Fianna Fáil.

She is credited by many as having revitalised and liberalised a previously conservative political office. She resigned the presidency four months ahead of the end of her term of office to take up her post in the United Nations. Robinson has been Honorary President of Oxfam International since 2002, she is Chair of the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) and is also a founding member and Chair of the Council of Women World Leaders. Robinson is also one of the European members of the controversial Trilateral Commission.

She serves on many boards including the GAVI Fund. Robinson’s newest project is Realizing Rights: the Ethical Globalization Initiative, which promotes equitable trade and development, more humane migration policies and better responses to HIV/AIDS in Africa. The organization also promotes women's leadership and supports capacity building and good governance in developing countries. She is Chancellor of the University of Dublin. Since 2004, she has also been Professor of Practice in International Affairs at Columbia University, where she teaches international human rights. Robinson also visits other colleges and universities where she lectures on human rights.

In 2004, she received Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award for her work in promoting human rights. Read more...



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Michael Gomez (born Michael Armstrong, 21 June 1977), also known as "the Irish Mexican" or "the Predator", is a professional boxer. He was born to an Irish Traveller family in Longford, County Longford, Ireland, spending his early years in Dublin before moving to Manchester, England with his family at the age of nine.

Gomez fights in the lightweight division, having previously fought in the featherweight and super featherweight divisions. During his career he has amassed a number of championship title belts: the IBF Inter-Continental featherweight title; and the British, WBO Inter-Continental, WBA Inter-Continental and WBU super featherweight titles. He was the first Irish boxer to win the Lonsdale Belt outright.

Gomez, who has been compared to Johnny Tapia, has lived a turbulent life and has often been involved in controversial fights. In Gomez's initial matches he suffered a number of losses to journeyman opposition but then went on a run of victories which stretched for almost four years. Of his 17 fights between February 2001 and March 2008, 16 ended in knockouts. Concerns arose about his drinking and failure to adhere to his diet and training regimes after a 2001 loss to Laszlo Bognar. Gomez appeared to be "back on track" in 2003, with his high-profile fight against Edinburgh-based fighter, "Amazing" Alex Arthur for the British and WBA Inter-Continental super featherweight titles, which Gomez won by delivering a knockout blow to Arthur in the fifth round.

In 2006, Gomez suffered a controversial loss to Peter McDonagh when, in the middle of a round, he dropped his guard and walked out of the ring, later saying he had retired from boxing. He returned to the ring after a 15–month interval. On 21 June 2008, Gomez lost what was seen as possibly his last bout—a last chance saloon opportunity to resurrect his career against rising star and Olympic silver medallist Amir Khan. The fight ended with Gomez suffering a TKO when the referee stopped the fight in the fifth round. Read more...



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George Bernard Shaw (26 July 1856 – 2 November 1950) was an Irish playwright.

Although Shaw's first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, his talent was for drama, and he authored more than 60 plays including Pygmalion. Nearly all of his writings deal sternly with prevailing social problems, but have a vein of comedy to make their stark themes more palatable. Shaw examined education, marriage, religion, government, health care, and class privilege and found them all defective. He was most angered by the exploitation of the working class, and most of his writings censure that abuse. An ardent socialist, Shaw wrote many brochures and speeches for the Fabian Society. He became an accomplished orator in the furtherance of its causes, which included gaining equal political rights for men and women, alleviating abuses of the working class, rescinding private ownership of productive land, and promoting healthful lifestyles.

Shaw married Charlotte Payne-Townshend, a fellow Fabian, whom he survived. They settled in Ayot St. Lawrence in a house now called Shaw's Corner. Shaw died there, aged 94, from chronic problems exacerbated by injuries he incurred by falling.

He is the only person to have been awarded both the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938). These were for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion, respectively. Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honors, but accepted it at his wife's behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He rejected the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books to English. Read more...



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Pierce Brendan Brosnan, OBE (born May 16, 1953) is an Irish actor, film producer and environmentalist, who holds both Irish and US citizenship. After leaving school at 16, Brosnan began training in commercial illustration, but trained at the Drama Centre in London for three years. Following a stage acting career he rose to popularity in the television series Remington Steele.

Brosnan portrayed the secret agent James Bond in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. He also provided his voice and likeness to Bond in the video game James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing. In 1996, he formed, along with Beau St. Clair, a Los Angeles-based production company named Irish DreamTime. He was married to Cassandra Harris until her death, and is now married to Keely Shaye Smith.

Since leaving the role of James Bond, Brosnan has starred in films such as The Matador and Seraphim Falls. He became an American citizen in 2004. In his later years, he has been known for his charitable work and environmental activism. He is currently working on the projects The Topkapi Affair, Caitlin and The Big Biazarro. He has starred in the new musical Mamma Mia as one of the leading roles. Read more...



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Andrea Jane Corr MBE (born 17 May 1974) is an Irish singer, and actor. Corr debuted in 1990 as the frontwoman of the Celtic folk rock and pop rock group, The Corrs, which consists of herself and her three siblings, Caroline, Sharon and Jim. As a band, they are notable for their hit singles, including their debut "Runaway" and "Breathless." Aside from singing lead vocals, she can play the tin whistle and the piano which was taught by her father.

With The Corrs, she has released several albums. The Corrs are currently on hiatus because Sharon, Jim and Caroline are raising their children, so Andrea is pursuing a solo career, releasing her debut album, Ten Feet High, in 2007. The album moved away from the folk-rock genre of The Corrs, and features a darker, edgier dance-pop sound.

Andrea is involved in philanthropic activities. She has played charity concerts to raise money for the Pavarotti & Friends Liberian Children's Village, Freeman Hospital in Newcastle, the victims of the Omagh bombing in Northern Ireland and The Prince's Trust in 2004. She is an ambassador for the Nelson Mandela's "46664" campaign, raising awareness towards AIDS in Africa. During the Edinburgh Live 8 on 2 July 2005, The Corrs performed "When the Stars Go Blue" alongside Bono to promote the Make Poverty History campaign. As a result, she had received an honorary MBEs for her contribution to music and charity in 2005. Read more...



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Gerry Adams, MLA, MP; born 6 October 1948) is an Irish Republican politician and abstentionist Westminster Member of Parliament for Belfast West. He is the president of Sinn Féin, which is the second largest political party in Northern Ireland and fourth largest party in the Republic of Ireland.

Adams is credited with having played an important role in helping to end the Troubles in Northern Ireland. His leadership and ability to communicate and negotiate with both paramilitary forces and also politicians such as John Hume and John Major was the catalyst that brought about the Good Friday Agreement.

From the late 1980s, Adams was an important figure in the Northern Ireland peace process, initially following contact by the then Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) leader John Hume and subsequently with the Irish and British governments and then other parties. In 2005, the IRA indicated that its armed campaign was over and that it is now exclusively committed to democratic politics. Under Adams, Sinn Féin changed its traditional policy of abstentionism towards Oireachtas Éireann, the parliament of the Republic of Ireland, in 1986 and later took seats in the power-sharing Northern Ireland Assembly.

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Patrick "Pat" Kenny (Irish language: Pádraig Ó Ceannaigh - born January 29, 1948) is a veteran broadcaster in Ireland. He was the presenter of The Late Late Show on RTÉ One. Kenny also presents Today with Pat Kenny on RTÉ Radio 1 on weekdays between 10:00 and 12:00 midday.

Kenny had a past career as a lecturer and has academic degrees in the fields of chemical engineering. He has co-hosted the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest as well as numerous other television shows, including Today Tonight, Saturday Live and Kenny Live, and has worked for both RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ 2fm, sometimes simultaneously, in a career that has spanned four decades. Kenny spent ten years hosting The Late Late Show from 1999–2009 but will leave to present a new current affairs programme intended to replace Questions and Answers. He is the holder of a Jacob's Award and is RTÉ's highest paid employee. Read more...



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Patrick Henry Pearse (also known as Pádraig Pearse; Irish: Pádraig Anraí Mac Piarais; An Piarsach; 10 November 1879 – 3 May 1916) was an Irish teacher, barrister, poet, writer, nationalist and political activist who was one of the leaders of the Easter Rising in 1916.

In 1896, at the age of only sixteen, he joined the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge), and in 1903 at the age of 23, he became editor of its newspaper An Claidheamh Soluis ("The Sword of Light"). In 1900 he was awarded a BA in Modern Languages by the Royal University of Ireland, and in 1900 he was awarded the degree of Barrister-at-Law from the King's Inns. In December 1913, Bulmer Hobson swore Pearse into the secret Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). On 1 August 1915, Pearse gave a now-famous graveside oration at the funeral of the Fenian Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa.

When the Easter Rising erupted on Easter Monday, 24 April 1916, it was Pearse who proclaimed a Republic from the steps of the General Post Office. After six days fighting, Pearse issued the order to surrender along with the remaining leaders. He was declared "President of the Provisional Government" of the Irish Republic in one of the bulletins issued by the Rising's leaders, a status that was however disputed by others associated with the rebellion both then and subsequently. Following the collapse of the Rising and the execution of Pearse, along with his brother (Willie Pearse) and fourteen other leaders, Pearse came to be seen by many as the embodiment of the rebellion. Read more...



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Simon Byrne was an Irish bare-knuckle prize fighter, nicknamed "The Emerald Gem", who lived between 1806 and 1833. As the heavyweight boxing champion of Ireland, he was drawn to England by larger prize money and hopes of becoming the heavyweight champion there as well. He became one of only six fighters ever to have been involved in fatal fights since both survivor and deceased since records began in 1741.

Byrne fought in an era when English boxing, although illegal, was patronised by many powerful individuals. Its patronage and popularity did not, however, free it from corruption, heavy betting, and staged fights. Byrne fought eight recorded matches, but accounts of his career focus on the last three, against the Scottish champion Alexander McKay, the English champion Jem Ward, and James Burke for the vacant championship of England. The injuries McKay received in his fight with Byrne resulted in his death the following day, and rioting in his home country of Scotland. His final contest in May 1833 was a gruelling 99 rounds against James Burke that lasted for 3 hours and 6 minutes, the longest ever recorded prize fight. Byrne died three days later as the result of damage to his brain caused by the beating he had received. Read more...



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James Nesbitt (born 15 January 1965) is a Northern Irish actor. Born in Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Nesbitt grew up in Broughshane and Coleraine. He wanted to become a teacher, so began a degree in French at the University of Ulster. He dropped out when he decided to become an actor, and transferred to the London Central School of Speech and Drama. After graduating in 1987, he spent seven years performing in plays such as Up on the Roof and Paddywack, and made his feature film debut in Hear My Song.

Nesbitt got his breakthrough television role playing Adam Williams in the romantic comedy-drama Cold Feet (1998–2003), which won him a British Comedy Award, a Television and Radio Industries Club Award, and a National Television Award. His first significant film role came when he appeared as pig farmer "Pig" Finn in Waking Ned (1998). With the rest of the starring cast, Nesbitt was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award. In Lucky Break (2001), he made his debut as a film lead playing prisoner Jimmy Hands. The next year, he played Ivan Cooper in the television film Bloody Sunday, about the 1972 shootings in Derry. The film was a turning point in his career as he won a British Independent Film Award and was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor.

Nesbitt also starred in Murphy's Law (2001–2007); a role that twice gained Nesbitt Best Actor nominations at the Irish Film & Television Awards (IFTA). In 2007, he starred in the dual role of Tom Jackman and Mr Hyde in Steven Moffat's Jekyll, which earned him a Golden Globe Award nomination in 2008. Nesbitt has since appeared in several more dramatic roles; he starred alongside Liam Neeson in Five Minutes of Heaven (2009), and was one of three lead actors in the television miniseries Occupation (2009) and The Deep (2010). He also starred in the movies Outcast (2010) and The Way (2011), and has been cast in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit (2012/13). Read more...



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Ronan John Ross O'Gara (born 7 March 1977 in San Diego, California, United States) is an Irish former rugby union player, who played fly-half for both Ireland and Munster. He is Ireland's most-capped player, and the third most-capped in rugby union history. O'Gara has captained Munster, Ireland, and the British and Irish Lions and won four Triple Crowns with Ireland and two Heineken Cups with Munster. O'Gara now coaches Top 14 team Racing Métro 92 in Paris, where he lives with his wife and four children.

O'Gara is the all-time highest points scorer for Ireland, and is the fourth highest points scorer in the history of International Rugby Union. He has scored more tries (16) for Ireland than any other fly-half in history. O'Gara is Munster's all-time leading points scorer (2,625), and also holds the Heineken Cup record for points (1,365).

O'Gara scored several match-winning dropped goals for Ireland, including in the 78th minute of the Wales vs Ireland match in the 2009 Six Nations Championship to secure the Grand Slam and in the 78th minute of the Italy vs Ireland match in the 2011 Six Nations Championship, which ensured Ireland avoided a first defeat to Italy in the Six Nations. Read more...



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One Direction are an English-Irish pop boy band based in London, comprising Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, Harry Styles and Louis Tomlinson. They finished third in the seventh series of the British televised singing competition The X Factor in 2010. Propelled to international success by social media, Their three albums, Up All Night (2011), Take Me Home (2012) and Midnight Memories (2013) broke records, topped charts in most major markets, and generated hit singles.

Their achievements include four Brit Awards and four MTV Video Music Awards among many others. According to Nick Gatfield, the chairman and chief executive of Sony Music Entertainment UK, One Direction represented a $50 million business empire by June 2012. They were proclaimed 2012's "Top New Artist" by Billboard. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, by April 2013 they had an estimated personal combined wealth of £25 million ($41.2m) making them the second wealthiest musicians in the UK under 30 years of age. After the release of Midnight Memories, One Direction became the first band in the US Billboard 200's history to have their first three albums debut at number one. Additionally, the album was a global success, debuting at number one on the UK Albums Chart, and became the biggest selling album worldwide of 2013. Read more...



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Evanna Lynch at HBP signing in London - Dec 09 cropped.jpg
Evanna Lynch (born 16 August 1991) is an Irish actress and model from Termonfeckin. She rose to prominence for her portrayal of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film series, appearing in four films and their tie-in video games. She has made fashion accessories and recorded an audiobook of Foster by Claire Keegan. She has also appeared in photo shoots for various magazines, and modelled for Katrin Thomas and Ciaran Sweeney. She has used her fame to promote healthy self-esteem and body image in young girls because of her previous experiences with the disorder anorexia nervosa. Her charity work includes participation with the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland and is also a member of the Board of Advisors for the Harry Potter Alliance. Read more...



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