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What have the Irish ever done for us?



“What have the Irish ever done for us?” book cover. Photo courtesy of author David Forsythe.

As we celebrate Ireland and all things Irish this St Patrick’s Day, there is no better time to also reflect on the Irish contribution to the wider world. In his new book, What have the Irish ever done for us?, author David Forsythe does exactly that. The book from Currach Books features wonderful illustrations by Alba Esteban and details the achievements and contributions of numerous Irish people all around the world. Here we get a sneak peek at a few of those included in the book.

John Boyd Dunlop & William Harvey Du Cros

It was a Belfast vet by the name of John Boyd Dunlop and a Dublin cycling enthusiast named William Harvey du Cros who came up with the innovation that would make the age of the motorcar possible. Dunlop created an early pneumatic tyre to make his son’s bone-shaking tricycle rides along the cobbled streets of Belfast more comfortable. The design was soon taken up by racing cyclists where Du Cross first spotted it. He took Dunlop’s idea global with the Dunlop Rubber Company.

John Holland

As unlikely as it may seem the modern submarine is indeed an Irish invention, developed by the talented John P. Holland from Liscannor in County Clare. The US Navy purchased Holland’s design in 1900 where the USS Holland became the first commissioned submarine in history. Its success led to other navies also purchasing the designs including Japan and the United Kingdom where five ‘Holland Class’ submarines were commissioned.

James Martin

Engineer James Martin from Crossgar in County Down made the first successful test of an aircraft ejector seat in January 1945 when Bernard Lynch successfully ejected. The Martin-Baker ejector seat went into production soon afterwards and to date has saved more than seven thousand lives around the world.

Samuel O’Reilly

Inventive tattoo artist Samuel O’Reilly did much more than come up with artistic tattoo designs. It was O’Reilly who patented the first electric tattoo machine in New York in 1891. O’Reilly’s invention made tattooing much safer, much quicker and cheaper to do. Without him the modern popularity of tattooing would not have been possible.

Cynthia Longfield

Cork woman Cynthia Longfield became known as “Madame Dragonfly” thanks to her adventurous career as a globetrotting entomologist. She collected specimens all around the world discovering several new species and became a leading authority on Dragonflies. She became an honorary associate of the Natural History Museum in London where much of her work is cataloged.

Eileen Marie Collins

Proud Irish American Eileen Marie Collins became the first female space shuttle commander aboard the space shuttle Columbia in 1999. Eileen also piloted the space shuttle Discovery in 1995 and the Atlantis in 1997. During her final mission in 2005 on Discovery she became the first pilot to manoeuvre a shuttle through a 360-degree roll.

Ninette de Valois

Ninette de Valois was the stage name of Edris Stannus from Blessington, County Wicklow. When injury cut her career as a ballet dancer short she formed her own ballet company performing in Dublin and London. The company she formed at the Sadler’s Wells theatre in London would go on to become the England’s national ballet company, the Royal Ballet.

Jim Fitzpatrick

An image created by Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick in 1968 is among the most recognized by any artist from any era. The black-on-red image of Che’s face has since become one of the most recognized images in the world, a symbol of protest and rebellion, and now appears on everything from mugs to posters and t-shirts.

Bram Stoker

Dublin-born writer Bram Stoker will forever be remembered for writing Dracula, first published in 1897. It was immediately successful and has continued to grow in popularity ever since its publication. Dracula has become the most successful horror novel in history and one of the most adapted and influential works of any genre.

Nellie Bly

Irish American Elizabeth Cochran Seaman, better known by her pen name of Nellie Bly, was a pioneering investigative reporter. She became world-famous in 1889 when she successfully embarked on a round-the-world trip with the aim of beating the fictitious Around the World in Eighty Days achieved by Phileas Fogg.

What have the Irish ever done for us? Is available in all good bookshops or online at

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Two days late! How July 4th became Independence Day



Few people realize that the resolution for American Independence was actually approved on July 2, 1776. Here’s how it happened.

By June of that year, the colonies were seething with revolt. The English Parliament had forced them to endure “an absolute tyranny,” as Thomas Jefferson later wrote in the Declaration of Independence.

Grievances included: Taxation without representation; Parliament’s dissolving the Virginia House of Burgesses; a monopoly on exports and imports resulting in exorbitant prices; and British troops being quartered in the colonists’ homes.

As the Continental Congress debated in Philadelphia, there were still those who pushed for reconciliation with the powerful mother country.

On June 7, 1776, Henry Lee of the Virginia Assembly laid a resolution before the Continental Congress for the colonies to be free and independent states. After a ferocious debate, both sides decided that a declaration of independence should be drafted in case it would be needed.

Of the five men named to write it, the job fell to Thomas Jefferson. At age 33, he felt Ben Franklin should do it, but Franklin was ill. Or that John Adams should, but Adams won him over by saying gruffly, “You can write ten times better than I.”

On July 1, Congress met to reconsider Virginia’s resolution for independence. At first, a third of the colonies voted against it, and the resolution was tabled until the following day. There followed a frenzy of activity.

Sent for by messenger, Caesar Rodney of Delaware arrived after an 80-mile ride on horseback, pelted by rain all the way. He broke a tie, and Delaware voted for independence.

Patriots converged on delegates of the remaining demurring states and won them over. The vote for independence was carried on July 2.

On July 3, Jefferson’s declaration was read and passages felt to be overly inflammatory were removed.

On July 4, the declaration was finally signed and approved. BUT … independence was actually voted on July 2, 1776.

John Adams, who later served as President, said in a letter, “The second day of July 1776 … will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.” He was almost right.

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How single fathers can get the support they need



It’s not easy being a single parent, which is why it’s important to surround yourself with family and friends who can help. This Father’s Day, reach out for the support you need so you can keep being an amazing dad.

Rely on family
Loved ones are an invaluable source of support for single parents and there’s no shame in asking a relative or friend to babysit while you take a much-needed break. In fact, giving yourself time to recharge allows you to be a more engaged and energetic parent. Let your kids be spoiled by their grandmother or doted on by their aunt. Taking time to relax and unwind is sure to do you good.

Find your tribe

You might feel isolated as a single father, but you’re not alone. In fact, at least 2.5 million families are headed by single fathers in the United States.

Though it’s challenging to cultivate a social life as a single parent, it can be immensely rewarding to build friendships with men who share your experiences, struggles, and commitment to being a good dad. Plus, play dates are a great way to connect with other adults when you have young children.

So whether it’s at the office, the gym, or when you pick your kids up from school, take the time to meet and connect with other single fathers.

Being a single parent isn’t easy. However, by reaching out to others you can share some of the responsibilities involved and give yourself time to recharge.

Do you know a man who’s doing a great job of raising his children alone? This Father’s Day, show your appreciation by offering to watch his kids for a few hours. This way, he can take a well-earned break.

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4 amazing dads from movies



Father’s Day is just around the corner. A great way to celebrate the occasion is by watching a movie with your dad. Here are four that feature fantastic fathers.

1. Life is Beautiful
Guido Orefice is an optimistic, cheerful man. When he and his family are interned in a Nazi concentration camp, Guido turns the experience into a game to spare his young son the cruel truth.

2. The Incredibles

Bob Parr, also known as Mr. Incredible, is a loving and proud father of three. What’s more, he considers being a supportive and involved dad just as important as fighting crime.

3. The Pursuit of Happyness
After his wife abandons them, Chris Gardner must raise his son alone. Based on a true story, this father does everything in his power to ensure his child’s well-being, even when they’re forced to live on the street.

4. Ant-Man
Several Marvel movies are known for their problematic father figures, but Scott Lang is an exception. Even after he becomes Ant-Man, this dad’s number-one priority is his daughter, Cassie.

There are countless admirable fathers portrayed on the big screen. Who’s your top pick?

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A gift for every dad



Are you looking for the perfect Father’s Day present but don’t know what to buy? Here are some gift ideas for several types of dads.

The athlete
If your father’s a fitness enthusiast, he’ll likely appreciate:

• A sturdy, insulated water bottle

• A membership to a specialized gym
• A duffle bag for his workout gear
• A pair of high-quality running shoes
• A set of wireless headphones

The foodie
If your father loves to cook (and eat), you can’t go wrong with:

• A cookbook featuring international recipes
• An assortment of spices
• A set of knives
• A barbecue and/or accessories for the grill
• A meal at a five-star restaurant

The bookworm
If your father always has his nose in a book, consider:

• A personalized bookmark
• A new release by an author he loves
• A patterned book sleeve
• A gift certificate from a bookstore
• An e-book reader

Regardless of the gift you choose, remember to include a heartfelt card that shows your dad how much he’s loved and appreciated.

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Legislative Update

Sixth District Perspectives with Congressman Ben Cline – Memorial Day



Honoring Those Who Perished in Service to Our Country
Among our national treasures in Washington, DC stands the WWII Memorial – honoring those who fought and perished 75 years ago to liberate the world from tyranny and oppression. At the center of this hallowed site lies a wall bearing 4,000 stars symbolizing the 400,000 brave Americans who passed away in the United States’ fight for justice and freedom. However, these stars represent only a fraction of the nearly 3.7 million veterans interred in one of more than 140 national cemeteries.

Originally called Decoration Day, this day was set aside to commemorate those who died during the Civil War. In 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which established Memorial Day, and in 1971, the day became a Federal Holiday.

Virginia and the Sixth Congressional District have a long history of heroism and the giving of blood and treasure of its sons and daughters. There are few places as steeped in the sacrifices of those who fought our Nation’s battles.

From Arlington to Norfolk, from Winchester to Lynchburg, and from Manassas to the Shenandoah Valley, the Commonwealth can claim the mantle of not only being the cradle of democracy but also the arsenal of freedom.

Memorial Day provides us a chance to honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice. It reminds me of what President Reagan once said:

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

On my way into Washington, I regularly pass Arlington, the Vietnam Wall, the Korean and the World War II Memorials, and it serves as a sobering reminder of the debt we owe to those who came before us in our Nation’s struggles and who sacrificed so that we may enjoy all our Republic offers.

Today my thoughts are also of that Gold Star wife, husband, son or daughter who said goodbye to their loved ones and watched as they boarded a ship or plane to deploy to hostile areas never knowing if that was the last hug, the last wave, the last kiss, or the last goodbye. And that same family getting a knock at their door or seeing the bike messenger deliver the Western Union telegraph afraid to open the door knowing what that visit brought.

The year 2020 marks the 19th year that the United States has been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan with more than 7,000 casualties suffered. Also, in places like Africa and Syria, our troops are engaged in fighting and dying in the name of freedom. Unfortunately, the news of these sacrifices has moved from the front to the back pages of our Nation’s papers.

Today, let us resolve that any casualty wearing our Nation’s uniform be remembered for their sacrifice and bravery and not relegated to a brief mention or passing comment. The word hero often gets misused, but when it comes to those we honor today, we should never forget the words of Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address. While given at the dedication ceremony of the battlefield, Lincoln encapsulated the meaning of today.

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they here gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

May God continue to bless our Nation and produce those willing to stand in the gap and sacrifice for those they never met but are bound to through a shared American heritage all in the name of freedom.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your Congressman. If my office can ever be of assistance, please contact my Washington office at (202) 225-5431.

For the latest updates from Washington, please follow my social media accounts: FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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Memorial Day: Time to remember those of valor



The tradition of honoring our country’s fallen defenders began as a springtime custom following the Civil War. Originally, called Decoration Day, it was a time to remember those whose valor knew no bounds.

To the list of those who died at Gettysburg and Bull Run, we have added names from San Juan Hill, Verdun, Corregidor, Inchon, Khe Sanh, Vietnam, the deserts of the Middle East, and a thousand other places touched by war.

For most of the year, these brave souls lie in anonymity, but on Memorial Day we bring them back to life with our thanks for their great sacrifice.

It is not really a time of sadness. Rather it should be an affirmation that these men and women did not lose their lives in vain.

This special day is a time of tribute to those who fell and to a country that plunged onward in pursuit of justice and democracy. We mourn our dead, but we rejoice in their memory and in the democracy they defended.

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