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.
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.
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.