The 16th Green

oscar

Today is the birthday of a famous Irishman and, lest I insult your knowledge, I should quickly add that I do not refer to our boy above. Wildeans, of course, need no reminding that Oscar celebrates his birthday on October 16th.

Consider instead a curiosity about the date in Irish lore.

Michael Collins, the leading figure in the struggle for Irish independence was born on October 16th, 1890, the youngest of eight children, in Sam’s Cross, County Cork. In the 1996 eponymous biographical film directed by Neil Jordan, Collins was played by Liam Neeson who, also in the 1990s, portrayed Wilde on stage in The Judas Kiss.

Michael Collins as a boy

But Michael was not the only political Collins to be born this day. Gerard “Gerry” Collins, the former Fianna Fáil politician and Cabinet Minister was born in Abbeyfeale, County Limerick in 1938, also on October 16th. Even more surprisingly, perhaps, Michael Collins was not the only notable Irishman who was born the youngest of eight children on this day. The popular recording artist and pop singer Joe Dolan, arrived on October 16th, 1939 in the County Hospital in Mullingar, County Westmeath, the eighth child of parents who both died while Joe was young—something worth a thought next time you hear his song Make Me An Island.

Son of Irish immigrants, Wilde’s fellow playwright, Eugene O’Neill was also born on October 16th in 1888. O’Neill was a Nobel laureate who won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama, but who, like Wilde, suffered from bouts of depression and alcoholism later in his life. Curiously, O’Neill also died one late November night in a hotel room. [1]

eugene
Portrait of O’Neill as a child, c. 1893

By some luck of the Irish, all of these men were no doubt fulfilling a tradition instigated by John Hobart Caradoc, 2nd Baron Howden, the politician and soldier instrumental in the 1798 battle of Vinegar Hill, who was born in Oscar’s home city of Dublin, predictably, on October 16th, 1799.


[1] Room 401 of the Sheraton Hotel, Bay State Road, Boston.

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John Cooper

John Cooper is a researcher, author, blogger and documentary historian. As a long-standing member of the Oscar Wilde Society in London, a founding member of the Oscar Wilde Society of America, and a former manager of the Victorian Society In America, he has spent 30 years in the study of Oscar Wilde, having lectured on Wilde, and contributing to TV, film, and academic journals including The Wildean and Oscholars. Online he is the designer, author and editor of this noncommercial archive Oscar Wilde in America, blogger, and moderator of the Oscar Wilde Internet discussion groups at Yahoo and Google. For the last 14 years he has specialized in new and unique research into Oscar Wilde in New York, where he conducts guided walking tours based on the visits of Oscar Wilde. In 2012 John rediscovered Oscar Wilde's essay The Philosophy Of Dress that forms the centerpiece to his recent book Oscar Wilde On Dress (2013).

2 thoughts on “The 16th Green”

    1. I appreciate this site and your articles. I guess a belated Happy Birthday to Oscar is in order. “Those whom the gods love grow young.” Oscar Wilde.

      Liked by 1 person

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