An Independence Day Little Known Fact

An Independence Day Little Known Fact

Happy Independence Day. Or as we Irish Dachshunds call it, Tim Murphy Day. For surely this Irish frontiersman, this colonial sharpshooter, this ragged rebel serving under Daniel Morgan has done a service as integral to secure the birth of this Great Nation as any Founding Father.

Tim Murphy fearlessly and without hesitation fired a fatal shot into British General Simon Frasier, thus ensuring a turning point to the favor of the Patriot movement during the American Revolution.  Without Mr. Murphy, there would likely not even be an America.

However you like to celebrate the 4th of July, be it with fireworks or barbecue (or both, as I do), remember Ireland’s enduring contribution to your freedom.  Raise your perfectly built stout to Tim Murphy and know that without him, you’d all still be wearing powdered wigs in court and calling cookies ‘biscuits’.   (Which is ironic because I call my biscuits ‘cookies’, but they’re actually biscuits and I’m not even a little bit English.)

On a personal note, I will be releasing my W.O.I.D. (Wrath of Irish Dachsund) at my family’s annual fireworks celebration on Saturday evening.  I anticipate it being an even bigger display of my power and wisdom than ever before.  I will endeavor to take pictures of the event, but Mama Dog is quite protective of her expensive camera equipment and also very selfish.  At least she is ever since Bachmann crawled into her camera case and took her 80 mm lens, which he then proceeded to mount on his river boat as a makeshift periscope.  That was during his last camping trip on the Little Nokasippi.  Mama Dog was not happy about that, especially when he brought the boat back but not the lens.  He claimed that he’d been boarded by a rogue band of beaver pirates and the lens was stolen.  But what I suspect happened was that he’s a terrible sailor, he got into trouble on the river and lost the lens overboard during rough weather or sold it to make bail.  It’s about 50/50 for either scenario with that beaver.  Anyway, the point is that unless Mama Dog takes photos of me during my performance, there may not be any photographic evidence of my greatness.

So.  God Bless America and God Bless Ireland.  And thank you for your support.

 

A Little Known Fact

A Little Known Fact

While working on his play, Henry V, Shakespeare took a few days to visit his older sister, Judith and her family.  He brought his work with him on this holiday and often worked late into the night, sometimes requesting refreshments from his sister’s maid, Irish-born Ailbe O’Roarke.  Miss O’Roarke, something of a story-teller herself, found herself acting as a sounding board for Mr. Shakespeare’s work.

Late one evening, Ailbe took tea and biscuits to the playwright, and found him wringing his hands in frustration – the pivotal moment in his play had arrived and the Bard had no words to adequately convey the scene.  Miss O’Roarke offered a memory from her childhood in Ireland – an afternoon of play with her siblings, re-enacting the famous Celtic Battle of Axona against Julius Caesar.  She recalled how her brother Brogan rallied his brothers and sisters against the children from the neighboring farm (who were portraying the Roman army)  with words of encouragement and pride.  “Those who are not here with us on this day will forever be ashamed!“ he had cried.  “My band of brothers and sisters that shed blood with me and will show our scars with pride, remembering our valiant deeds!”  “Oh, that Brogan,“ she said fondly, “he’s a silver tongue in his head.  Always quick with a story or a speech to fit the occasion.”    She laughingly recounted the lot of them running into imagined battle, shaking stick-swords and holding shields of tree bark in front of them, shrieking like banshees as they charged the ‘enemy’.  She then left Shakespeare to his work, telling him she had confidence he would find the right words to complete his story.

Some months later, she attended a performance of Henry V and was surprised and pleased to hear her brother’s words that she had shared with the author, uttered from the stage.  After the play ended she sought out Mr. Shakespeare and congratulated him on the piece, mentioning that she was glad to have provided him with the material for the pivotal scene.  Shakespeare pretended he had no idea to what she referred and quickly slunk away without so much as a by-your-leave.

Not one to be silent when slighted, Miss O’Roarke took every opportunity to share Shakespeare’s thievery and slight. However, because of her Irish heritage, she was most often disregarded and assumed to be an embittered ex-consort of the writer.  She never stopped telling the true story of the famous St. Crispin’s Day speech, though, sadly, history remains shamefully occluded about the true origin and once again, denies the Irish due credit for a great literary achievement.

A Little Known Fact

A Little Known Fact

During the Second World War, a lesser known but equally important war was being fought:  The Great Fabric War.  Irish textile manufacturer, Finnegan O’Fergus set out to create a synthetic fabric that would be more durable, flexible and cost-effective than cotton.  He determined that the common Irish potato was a perfect medium through which to develop this wonder fabric.  Through extensive experimentation with potato starches and their natural polyesters, he finally came up with a material which he called “Potaterylene.”  This miracle fiber was lightweight, durable, stain and water resistant and flexible. Knowing the value of his invention, O’Fergus set out for England and the patent office in London.  He was certain that his fortune was about to be made.  Until …

O’Fergus arrived at the Patent Office only a few minutes before closing.  He hurriedly handed over his application and corresponding notes, research and formulas for Potaterylene to Patent Clerk (and frustrated chemist) John Rex Whinfield.  Whinfield assured him the paperwork would be filed before the office closed on this Friday afternoon and O’Fergus left to find a quiet pub in which to celebrate his imminent success.

Whinfield, meanwhile, read over O’Fergus’s research and plotted to claim the discovery for himself.  He took the notes and formulas home for the weekend and, using them as a model, created his own fiber.  He substituted other plant cuticles for the potato polyesters and renamed the fabric “Terylene.”  Whinfield filed his own patent application the following Monday morning and *accidentally* mis-laid the application proffered by O’Fergus.

Terylene was hailed as one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century and Whinfleld became famous.  The DuPont Corporation purchased the formula for Terylene and the revolutionary fabric, renamed Dacron became a worldwide sensation.

O’Fergus petitioned the patent commission for many years afterward trying to prove that he had come up with the fiber first, but it was no use.  Thus, another opportunity for Irish notoriety was lost.

A Little Known Fact

A Little Known Fact

While traveling in Egypt, Irish architect Onchu Mac Canaan was excited to have the opportunity to meet Imohtep, the multi-talented Egyptian whose reputation as a gifted healer, priest, scientist and architect had long been the subject of the Irishman’s admiration.

Mac Canaan met the Vizier at a potential building site for the royal tomb, which Imohtep had been tasked with designing and building. As the two men stood in the early morning desert breeze, Imohtep outlined his vision for a magnificent structure that would awe and impress even the most revered King. Mac Canaan listened as the other man described the huge spherical building balanced on a smaller, block-shaped base. It would be made entirely of granite, polished to a high sheen so that the brilliant North African sun would reflect off of it, creating a shining symbol of the King’s bright reign. Imohtep was extremely anxious to get started on the project as it would doubtlessly take many years to complete.

Onchu pictured the tomb in his head and wondered aloud if a spherical shape would present too many logistical obstacles for the construction workers. How would they get the granite pieces into the very top of the sphere, for example. And if the giant ball was not going to be solid in it’s center, how did Imohtep propose to support the interior of the structure? Would it not be most disastrous for the giant sphere to crumble in upon itself? Imohtep was  outraged by the Irishman’s gall. He was Imohtep, adviser to Kings, Architect to Royalty! But however angry he was, he grudgingly admitted that Mac Canaan had a good point. What was he to do? Imohtep had promised the King a monument that would shame all other monuments, and this had been his most remarkable design.

Mac Canaan immediately offered a number of suggestions. Imohtep could construct a domed structure, rather than a completely spherical one, for instance. Or perhaps the Egyptian had underestimated the inspirational qualities of a large block structure decorated with intricate carvings or artwork? He casually mentioned a revolutionary structure he had designed back home in Ireland that had seemed quite simple in design, but had been very striking once built. He called it a ‘pyramid’ and explained how a square base made it quite stable. Row upon row of ever-decreasing steps, he said, culminating in a point at the top, made it eye-catching and unique. It was, he declared, much easier to build because of the stepped walls.

Imohtep thanked his new friend for the many ideas but asserted that his original design would be the final choice. He would find a way to make it work. As the two parted, Mac Canaan wished the Egyptian much success with his project and Imohtep invited him to return to visit and see the progress.

Alas, Onchu Mac Canaan was never able to return to Egypt. Had he done so, he would have seen that Imohtep, upon realizing the folly and impracticality of his spherical design (and under threat of death from the King), had opted to steal Mac Canaan’s “pyramid” design instead and claim it as his own.

And so it was that the Irish had once again been robbed of their proper place in global history.

A Little Known Fact

A Little Known Fact

Irishman Duncan O’Flanagan longed for a peaceful, quiet life. During his career as a soldier of fortune, he had seen enough violence and bloodshed and now he was ready to retire and fulfill his lifelong dream of running his own bakery. He excitedly opened Duncan’s Dough Hut in the small Irish village of Booterstown, where he baked breads, cakes, pastries and pies for pleasure and profit.

Particularly popular with his customers, were his special loaves of pre-sliced sourdough bread. The texture was refined and light and the villagers declared that Duncan’s bread was a wonder. O’Flanagan’s secret was the special slicing machine he had invented, which allowed him to uniformly slice the bread before packaging it for sale. Customers loved the neat, even slices, which were the perfect thickness for sandwiches and saved time when preparing the day’s lunches for many busy homemakers.

Word of this ‘wonder’ bread began to spread throughout Ireland, England, Europe and eventually, even across the ocean. Finally, it came to the attention of frustrated American inventor, Otto Rohwedder, who had long been puzzling over his own bread predicament:  How could he cram thick handcut slices of homemade bread into a newly marketed device called a toaster and achieve even toasting on both sides?  In each of his attempts, the unevenly sliced bread inevitably came out of the toaster un-browned on one half and charred on the other. Upon hearing of the Irish ‘wonder’ bread, Rohwedder was struck with the notion that, if he were to market the idea of pre-slicing and packaging bread before sale in the United States, he could achieve wealth and fame. He knew few would question his claim to the idea, as Ireland was much removed from the industrial revolution currently spreading through America.

After several failed attempts to recreate the success of O’Flanagan’s slicing device, including one disastrous idea where he used hat pins to hold the bread slices in place for packaging, Rohwedder finally marketed his bread slicer in 1928. The pre-sliced bread was well-received in the United States and Rohwedder did indeed receive credit for the revolutionary idea.

Although there were many in Ireland and even England who decried the American’s claim of ownership to this fantastic invention, they were largely ignored and dismissed as radicals and Irish nationalists. Thus another Irish achievement has passed into the annals of history, falsely attributed to a lesser nation …

Beard to Beard:  A Little Known Fact

Beard to Beard: A Little Known Fact

 

Because today is St. Patrick’s Day, I thought it appropriate to provide for you, gentle readers, the real story of this great Irish hero.

In the early fourth century, the island of Ireland was overrun with venomous, slithering, rude snakes. They terrorized the countryside – villagers and travelers lived in fear of the horrid asps. Until the day St. Patrick walked across the land, using his Holy stick to drive the serpents toward the Channel and forever eradicating them from the Emerald Isle. The news of this miracle spread quickly – to England and then throughout the European continent. Plagued by snakes themselves, leaders from other countries pleaded with St. Patrick to perform the same miracle in their lands. But Patrick refused. They begged and then accused him of being selfish. But still Patrick would not use his powerful staff to help them. It was his most effective revenge against all those who had contributed to robbing Ireland of its rightful position as a glorious world-power. To this day, Ireland remains snake-free while all other bo-hunky lands are subject to their serpentine whims.

Beard to Beard:  A Little Known Fact

Beard to Beard: A Little Known Fact

In the Beginning Time of the Great Continent Pangaea, a great warrior chieftain, Mickey O’ Ogg ruled over all. Until the continental plates began to shift and separate. O’ Ogg tried to convince his tribe to jump to the larger section of land as it drifted but most were too afraid. And henceforth the mighty nation of Ireland dwindled to a tiny island.

Beard to Beard:  A Little Known Fact

Beard to Beard: A Little Known Fact

Irish warrior-turned-farmer Aodh Dunne was a legendary sportsman. He held the honor of being the only Irishman ever to swim the River Swilley fully-clothed and while drinking a stout. Each summer, when he held what he called A Tournament of Physical Prowess, his property was overrun with participants from all over the island, eager to prove themselves worthy of the top prize, the Golden Potato. Dunne chose the finest examples from his annual potato crop and gave them as awards to the winners of each event at the Tournament. Along with the lovely potato, the winners would also win the right to call themselves “Master of the Tournament” until the next year’s competition. Events such as the pike toss, heavy-booted foot race, jumping over the sheep and downhill bark sliding proved to be crowd favorites and the winners of these events became instant celebrities.

As word of his Tournament spread to England and then throughout mainland Europe, Dunne began to receive inquiries from foreigners, wishing to pit their strength and ability against the native Irishmen. For several years, Englishmen, Scots, Welshmen, Frenchmen and Italians participated in the Tournament and its popularity continued to grow. Until one year, Greek pike tosser Cleon Toppappatous came to compete. After losing the preliminary round of pike tossing to Scotsman Donlevy MacTavish, Toppappatous returned to Greece bitter and bent on revenge. Rather than train harder to compete again the following year, Cleon went to Greek nobleman and financier Eutychos Grappelotomous and hatched a plan to create a Greek version of the Irish Tournament.

Their scheme involved stealing all of Dunne’s competitors by prohibiting them from participating in both tournaments on the grounds that Dunne was hiring professionals to compete and therefore his competition was unfair. Since the potato, at that time, was a form of Irish currency, they felt it was a just point of order. The Greeks would promise a fair and accurate measure of physical prowess in their tournament by offering simple crowns of laurel to the victors rather than payment. They decided to call their tournament the Olympic Games, after the famous Mt. Olympus – one of the most recognizable landmarks in Greece.

As is evidenced by history’s credit for the creation of the first Olympic Games to Greece, the diabolical plan of two petty Greeks clearly succeeded. And thus passes yet another missed opportunity of historical importance and glory for Ireland.