July 15

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1927 Countess Markievicz, née Constance Gore-Booth (59), republican socialist, the first woman to be elected to the British House of Commons, minister for labour in the first Dáil Éireann (1919–21) and Fianna Fáil TD, died.
  • 1984 Glenveagh National Park in north-west Donegal, covering 40,000 acres, was formally opened by President Patrick Hillery. The estate was created (1857–9) by businessman John George Adair, who also built Glenveagh Castle (1870) and is remembered today for the Derryveagh evictions (1861), when he ejected 244 of his tenants. Adair died in 1885, after which the castle fell into disrepair. Later, during the Civil War, the castle and grounds were occupied for a time by anti-Treaty forces who used it as their headquarters, and it narrowly avoided being amongst the c. 300 ‘big houses’ destroyed during that period. When the Irregulars eventually moved out, Peadar O’Donnell was told to burn it to the ground. He ignored the order. In 1929 the estate was purchased by an American academic, Professor Arthur Kingsley Porter, who disappeared, presumed drowned, four years later after spending the night in his fisherman’s hut on Inishbofin Island. The last private owner was the Philadelphia art collector and philanthropist Henry McIlhenny, whose grandfather had emigrated from nearby Carrigart during the Great Famine. He sold the lands to the State in 1975 and donated the castle and gardens six years later. All three were generous hosts. Amongst Adair’s visitors were, no doubt, his influential relations from the business and banking world, whilst the polymath George William Russell (‘AE’), equipped with his paints, regularly stayed with Kingsley Porter. McIlhenny, who spent his summers in Ireland, kept an open house there. Besides celebrities like Greta Garbo, Marilyn Monroe and Clark Gable, he hosted the great American composer Samuel Barber (1910–81), who had Scots/Irish ancestry, during the summer of 1952. Barber would be best remembered today for his mournful Adagio for Strings (1936).
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