8 People Who Have Powered Great Moments In Irish History

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For a small country, Ireland has experienced some great moments and produced/hosted some amazing people...

So, we decided to take a lil’ look at some individuals who’ve created some truly iconic occasions in Irish political, sporting and cultural history.

There’s so many people/moments we’d love to include but listicles are as cut-throat as the Hunger Games so we’ve narrowed it down to eight guys and gals who’ve really shone.

1. Daniel O’Connell

Starting waaaaay back with Daniel O’Connell – the “Liberator” – who was born in 1775. 

A sound fella who dedicated his life to improving rights for Catholics and trying to get an Irish parliament established by repealing the Act of Union. 

Catholic emancipation was granted in 1829 and a year later, O’Connell became the first Catholic in modern history to sit in the House of Commons. Although O’Connell never got the Act of Union repealed, the grassroots movements, mass meetings and his ideals inspired future generations – Good man Daniel. 

2. James Joyce

This guy is the reason you see people running around Dublin on June 16 wearing boater hats and dressed like something out of Cluedo. Bloomsday takes place around the world every year to celebrate the life and works of our next man of the list: Mr James Joyce, the Irish writer best known for his novel Ulysses.

Whether you love or hate the book (or just lie about having read it), many argue that it captures the very essence of the city of Dublin.

Joyce helped put Ireland on the map in terms of literary greatness and his style of writing influenced writers like Samuel Beckett and William Faulkner.

3. Gay Byrne

Let’s be clear, Gay Byrne is a top man. At a time when Ireland was... a lot more conservative, Gay Byrne and The Late Late Show weren’t afraid to discuss taboo topics.

Gay Byrne’s varied guests and discussions around contraception, divorce and religion allowed the show to help modernise Ireland. G’wan Gay, a true man of the people. 

4. Jack Charlton

Whether you remember watching the games or just grew up hearing about Italia 90 and the ’94 US World Cup, you know that it was a fantastic time for soccer in Ireland.

Jack Charlton, a former English footballer and manager, took charge of the Ireland soccer team and led us to our first World Cup in 1990.  Sure aren’t we all part of Jackie’s army?

5. Mary Robinson

Being the first female President of Ireland, Mary Robinson has powered her fair share of moments in Ireland.

In her early political career Mary worked alongside Senator David Norris - amongst others - to decriminalise homosexual acts and campaigned for equality for women. As President, she signed the Bills to full decriminalise homosexuality and bring the availability of contraception fully into law.

Her iconic pearls, slick suits, passion and intelligence are absolute goals – here’s to you Ms Robinson!

6. Katie Taylor

Katie winning gold in the London Olympics is one of those “where were you when it happened?” moments. She won over the nation with her determination and warm personality.

She’s been hustlin’ for years; making major changes and gaining recognition for female boxing in Ireland. Before Always had their “Like a girl” campaign, Katie was inspiring young girls around Ireland to pick up boxing gloves and get involved in sport. 

7. Adi Roche

The smiling faces of these children arriving into Irish airports definitely make for some powerful moments in Ireland’s recent history.

Adi Roche stepped in to give a hand to the children suffering in the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. The Chernobyl Children International, which she founded, has since brought over 25,000 kids from Belarus, Western Russia and Ukraine to spend time in Ireland.

8. Panti Bliss 

Panti, otherwise known as Rory O’Neill, has been dubbed ‘The Queen of Ireland’ – and it’s easy to see why. 

Panti played a big role in the marriage equality campaign, which resulted in gay marriage being legalised in May 2015.

And of course who can forget the Noble Call speech at The Abbey Theatre two years ago? Panti’s powerful speech about oppression got recognition and praise all around the world.

Anyone fighting for an equal Ireland is more than alright by us. 

Written By

Róisín Nestor

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