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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 www.currachbooks.com.
U.S. Census Bureau: Celebrating 245 Years of America
On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress approved the Declaration of Independence, setting the 13 colonies on the road to freedom as a sovereign nation. As we celebrate this Independence Day, we reflect on how our Founding Fathers enshrined in our Constitution the importance of statistics as a vital tool for measuring America.
The following facts are possible thanks to responses to U.S. Census Bureau surveys.
Did You Know?
The estimated number of people living in the newly independent nation in July 1776.
Source: Historical Statistics of the United States: 1789-1945
The nation’s population on April 1, 2020.
Source: 2020 Census
The number of signers of the Declaration of Independence.
It is also worth noting that:
John Hancock, a merchant by trade, was the first signer. In 2019, more than 1 million business establishments nationally with paid employees like Hancock were in the retail trade industry.
Source: 2019 Geography Area Series: County Business Patterns, Table CB1900CBP
Benjamin Franklin, who represented Pennsylvania, was the oldest signer of the Declaration of Independence at age 70. Pennsylvania had a resident population of 13,002,700 on April 1, 2020. Edward Rutledge of South Carolina was the youngest signer at age 26. South Carolina had a resident population of 5,118,425 on April 1, 2020
Source: 2020 Census
Counties and census incorporated places that contain the word “Liberty” in the name.
Source: Vintage 2019 Population Estimates
Counties that have “Union” in the name.
Source: Vintage 2019 Population Estimates
The national happy march satisfies the urge to conduct the band
If you are older, you may not have heard it for a while. If you are younger, you may never have heard it.
Either way, on July 4, find The Stars & Stripes Forever and listen. You’ll want to conduct the band with abandon and smash the cymbals.
It’s a giant, jubilant march, with stirring lyrics which, for fun, you can also substitute for a duck song (Be kind to your web-footed friends…).
John Philip Sousa — Marine, musician, and bandleader — was returning to the United States from a vacation in Italy in 1896. It was Christmas Day and from the deck of an ocean liner, he heard the march in his head.
“Suddenly, I began to sense the rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain,” Sousa wrote in his autobiography Marching Along, “It kept on ceaselessly playing … the imaginary band continued to unfold the same themes, echoing and re-echoing the most distinct melody.
“I did not transfer a note of that music to paper while I was on the steamer, but when we reached the shore I set down the measures that my brain-band had been playing for me, and not a note of it has ever changed,” he wrote.
The song repeats distinct melodies in sections, called strains, using different instruments to repeat and lead. So the song begins with a hearty introduction by the horns with great smashing beats on drums, followed by the melody. Woodwinds repeat, and later, the famous response of the piccolos. The trombones thunder in with a bold counter melody. Then, the entire band plays together — and, by then, we’re all marching.
While it is the official national march of the United States, the tune has also been adopted by soccer fans in the UK, sung as ‘Here We Go,’ once called a working-class march. Cartoon character Popeye fought bad guys to the song. Comedians invented the duck lyrics. The Grateful Dead played it to retire.
One strange Stars & Stripes Forever fact: Circuses in the early 20th century loved to fire up the crowd with march music, but they never played The Stars & Stripes Forever. This tune was a secret signal, only played when a life-threatening disaster was imminent. When they heard it, emergency personnel would try to quietly disperse the crowd, not always successfully.
Franklin’s quip reveals the high stakes of independence
It was a blast heard around the world, a declaration of treason as much as independence by a handful of colonists living on the other side of the Atlantic from the most powerful country in the world.
Congress in America voted to adopt the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. A month later, on August 2, they signed the document. Eight days after that, the English King had a copy.
Following the natural rights theory of John Locke, the document proclaimed the equality of ‘all men’ and their ‘unalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,’ Thomas Jefferson, helped by others, wrote that governments were established to secure these rights; when they failed to do so, the people could abolish them.
That last bit was a nice thought, but King George III would disagree.
And so, at the signing of the Declaration, John Hancock worried that some would lose heart and their fire for independence would wane. He said, “We must all hang together.”
Always the sharp wit, Benjamin Franklin smiled and said, “Or most assuredly we will all hang separately.”
The love between a father and his child
Across the country, families will be celebrating Father’s Day on June 20th this year. This is the day when you can tell your dad how much you love him. It’s also a great time to show him how grateful you are for everything he has done for you.
He taught you how to ride a bike. He helped you with your homework and encouraged you to work hard and succeed. He listened when you were going through tough times and found words of comfort. He guided you and showed you the “right path.” He shared his positive values. He showed his love for you in a million ways. Now is the time to let him know that you appreciate and love him.
If he has given you that much, it is because he, too, benefitted enormously from the love that ties him to you. Contact with his children provides a father with intense happiness and incomparable satisfaction. He also becomes a better person thanks to this special contact. It makes him more aware of his emotions, and he learns how to express his feelings. He makes a connection with the world of children that helps him stay young.
This relationship of mutual benefits serves to bring a father and his children closer. This is a link that will never be broken. Regardless of the age of your father, show him all the tenderness that you feel for him and celebrate Father’s Day with love and happiness.
How to celebrate Dad with a special meal
This year for Father’s Day, celebrate your dad by offering him a meal he’ll savor and enjoy. Here are a few different ways you can spoil him at suppertime.
• Five-course dinner. Offer Dad a whole gastronomical experience starting with an amuse-bouche followed by an appetizer. After, serve up a delicious main course. Then, set out a cheese plate before ending with his favorite dessert.
• Barbecue. If the weather’s nice, take advantage of it by cooking outside on the grill. Choose a dish that suits Dad’s tastes and matches your culinary talents, whether it’s burgers, surf, and turf, perfectly seasoned ribs, or a variety of skewers.
• Catered affair. Opt for a meal you don’t have to cook by hiring a local catering company. This is also a great option if you can’t see your father in person. You can select a supper he likes and have it delivered to his home.
• Restaurant. Dining out is a simple way to celebrate the occasion. In addition to their regular fare, many restaurants create special Father’s Day menus. If you prefer to eat at home, order a meal for pickup or delivery.
To serve Dad a meal he’ll remember, there’s no shortage of options. Just be sure to plan ahead, so you can be certain he’ll have all his favorites.
Father’s Day is June 20th: A gift for every type of dad
If you’re wondering what to get your dad for Father’s Day, it’s a good idea to consider his hobbies and interests. Here are some suggestions for different kinds of dads.
The movie buff
If space permits, your dad might appreciate a vintage film projector or studio lamp. Alternatively, consider getting him a movie-themed trivia game, a scratch-off poster, or a collectible figurine from his favorite flick. There are also many great reads about film history and culture.
One way to impress a dad who loves to cook is by spoiling him with new kitchen accessories. Consider buying him a quality cutting board, Japanese chef knives, barbecue utensils, or a new apron. If your dad has a green thumb, another option is to get him potted herbs he can grow outside or in the kitchen.
If your dad is a stamp enthusiast, he’ll likely appreciate a magnifier to help with identification or a UV lamp to assist with observing phosphorescent markings. For the father who collects coins, consider getting him a rare or commemorative piece, a specialized storage album, a magnification loupe, or a cleaning bath for his coins.
The dad who enjoys spending time in nature is likely to welcome getting a set of hiking poles, an engraved compass, a pair of waterproof binoculars, or a wilderness survival handbook. Alternatively, check to see if some of his camping, hunting, or fishing gear could use an upgrade.
The music lover
For the dad with a passion for music, buy a water-resistant portable speaker, wireless headphones, or a guitar pick maker. Alternatively, get him a music-themed keepsake such as a wall clock depicting his favorite band, drink coasters that look like CDs or records, or cuff links shaped like a treble clef or the instrument he plays.
For more Father’s Day gift ideas, visit the specialty stores in your area to find one-of-a-kind products and services.