The most famous Irish people you’ve probably never heard of

What do the inventors of the submarine and the ejector seat, the surgeon who carried out the world’s first C-section and the first All-Black rugby captain have in common? They’re all Irish. With the help of the Epic — the Irish Emigration Centre — we profile 20 of our most famous 

The most famous Irish people you’ve probably never heard of

First person to artificially split the atom

Ernest Walton, 1903-1995

Ernest Walton: Discovery helped usher in the nuclear age
Ernest Walton: Discovery helped usher in the nuclear age

Ernest Walton was born in Dungarvan, Co Waterford. His father was a Methodist minister and the family moved frequently.

He was educated in Belfast and at Trinity College Dublin in mathematics and experimental science.

He went to Cambridge to pursue his Ph.D., before returning to Trinity as a Fellow, becoming Erasmus Smith Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy in 1946, and Senior Fellow of Trinity College in 1960.

Working with J.D. Cockcroft in the Cavendish Laboratory, their research made it possible to show that various light elements could be disintegrated by bombardment with fast protons.

They were directly responsible for disintegrating the nucleus of the lithium atom by bombardment with accelerated protons, and for identifying the products as helium nuclei.

Walton and Cockcroft were the first people in history to artificially split the atom, ushering in the nuclear age.

His awards include the 1938 Hughes Medal, jointly with John Cockcroft, and an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1959.

The first European to see Antarctica

Edward Bransfield, 1785-1852

Edward Bransfield Island in Antarctica.
Edward Bransfield Island in Antarctica.

Bransfield was born in Co Cork to a respected Catholic family. Details of his education are unknown, but because of the Penal Laws, he may have attended a hedge school.

In 1803, at the age of 18, he was taken from his father’s fishing boat and forced to join the Royal Navy.

Beginning as ordinary seaman, he worked his way up through the ranks, serving as a master on sixth-rate ships between 1814-16.

In 1817, he was posted to Valparaiso in Chile as master of the HMS Andromache. When reports reached Valparaiso that new land had been sighted to the south by an English skipper blown off course, Bransfield and a crew were sent to investigate.

They sailed to the South Shetland Islands, which Bransfield took possession of in the name of King George III.

He passed Deception Island without investigating and continued across what is now known as the Bransfield Strait to the coast of Antarctica. The mountain he saw there is now called Mount Bransfield, and he continued on to Clarence Island, which he charted.

Bransfield Island, Bransfield Trough, Bransfield Rocks and Mount Bransfield, all located in Antartica, and a ship the RSS Bransfield have also been named in his honour.

However, when the Royal Mail wanted to issue a commemorative stamp in his honour in 2000, no likeness could be found and so the RSS Bransfield was used instead.

The architect who designed the White House

James Hoban, 1755-1831

James Hoban: Won competition to design the White House.
James Hoban: Won competition to design the White House.

James Hoban was born in 1755 in Callan, Co Kilkenny, on the estate of the Earl of Desart.

He worked as a carpenter until his early 20s, before studying as an advanced student in the Dublin Society Drawing School.

After the American Revolutionary War, which ended in 1783, he immigrated to the US and began to work as an architect. He designed the Charleston County Courthouse, and it is said President Washington admired the design and may have met with Hoban on his Southern Tour in 1791.

Washington encouraged Hoban to enter the competition to design the White House in 1792, and Hoban won.

Washington amended his design from three stories to two, and insisted that the house be faced with stone. The White House was influenced by Leinster House, Dublin, and a merging of the classical styles is evident in both. The building was completed in 1801, and Hoban oversaw its restoration after it was damaged in the War of 1812.

Hoban was also a supervising architect on the Capitol, although the building was designed by Dr William Thornton. He lived the rest of his life in Washington and was instrumental in the development of many Catholic institutions there.

His last federal commission was the state and War Offices in 1818. In 1824, he designed Rossenarra House near Kilmonganny in Co Kilkenny. He died in 1831 and is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington.

Sixth president of Israel

Chaim Herzog, 1918-1997

Chaim Herzog: Born in Belfast and lived in Dublin until 1935.
Chaim Herzog: Born in Belfast and lived in Dublin until 1935.

Chaim Herzog was born in Belfast to Rabbi Yitzhak HaLevi Herzog and his wife Sara (née Hillman), who were of Polish and Latvian birth respectively.

His father would serve as Chief Rabbi of Ireland from 1919 to 1937. In 1919, the family moved to the Portobello area of Dublin, then a popular area of residence for Jews from Eastern Europe fleeing pogroms.

Herzog’s father was known as the ‘Sinn Féin Rabbi’ for his fluent Irish and his support of the First Dáil. The family moved to what was then known as Mandatory Palestine in 1935.

He took his law degree in London before enlisting in the British Army. As part of the Intelligence Corps, he assisted in the liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

On his return to Palestine and after the establishment of the Israeli State, he fought in the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

As UN ambassador in 1975, he campaigned to defeat the resolution that equated Zionism and racism, with great passion but without success. He became president in 1983 and was elected unopposed for a second term in 1988.

During his presidency, he travelled widely and visited Ireland in 1985 and opened the Irish Jewish Museum in Dublin. He died in 1997 in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Revolutionised whiskey distilling

Aeneas Coffey, 1780-1852

Aeneas Coffey: Invented and patented the continuous still.
Aeneas Coffey: Invented and patented the continuous still.

Inventor of the continuous whiskey still, Aeneas Coffey was educated in Dublin at Trinity College. He worked as Inspector General of Excise, and was a man of many interests.

Ireland at the time played host to many illegal distilleries, and Coffey worked hard to both uphold the law, and make the legal brewing of whiskey a more attractive prospect to distillers through his 1823 Excise Act.

He was also instrumental in formalising the difference in the spelling between Irish whiskey and Scotch whisky.

Dublin at the time was one of the world’s largest whiskey exporters, and Coffey took an interest in the many Dublin breweries situated in the Liberties area of the city.

After observing their brewing processes, he set about modernising their equipment. In 1830, Coffey invented and patented the continuous still, basing it on the less efficient column stills: highly efficient, it was the first heat exchange device.

But the alcohol it produced was so pure it had little character, and Irish distillers spurned it. Scottish distilleries felt differently and after mixing in other whiskies for flavour they used Coffey’s still to conquer the world market.

After retiring in 1824, Coffey went into business with the Aeneas Coffey Whiskey Company, where he put his own invention to good use. His design impacted on distilling practices all over the world, but wasn’t taken up by the Dublin market.

Its success elsewhere inadvertently led to the eventual collapse of the Dublin whiskey distilling industry, whose logos are only familiar now from old advertisements seen in Dublin pubs.

Global pop icon with Irish roots

Robyn ‘Rihanna’ Fenty 1988 – present day

Rihanna’s Irish heritage comes from her father’s side.
Rihanna’s Irish heritage comes from her father’s side.

Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born in St Michael’s parish in Barbados, the daughter of an accountant and a warehouse supervisor and the eldest of three siblings.

Her parents divorced when she was 14, and at 15 she formed a girl group.

When she scored an audition with music producer Evan Rodgers, she left for America and became a music icon. She signed with Def Jam Records at 16 and released her first album in 2005. She was mentored by rapper Jay-Z for a large part of her career and the two have collaborated frequently. She has won Grammy and MTV awards.

The story of Rihanna’s Irish heritage begins in the 1600s when, following Oliver Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland, many of the defeated Irish were sent abroad as slaves and indentured servants to Barbados.

When they arrived, they were sold to British plantation owners for £10 to £35. Overall, more than 50,000 Irish people were transported to Barbados, with yet more sent to other West Indian islands.

The Irish community, which became known as the ‘Red Leg’ community, still survives today.

Many of the Irish ‘Red Leg’ descendants inter-married with Barbadians of African descent, which is why you will come across so many Irish names in Barbados.

Rihanna’s Irish heritage comes to her from her father’s side of the family.

The man behind Australia’s biggest goldrush

Patrick ‘Paddy’ Hannan 1840-1925

Paddy Hannan: Happened upon gold while searching for horses.
Paddy Hannan: Happened upon gold while searching for horses.

Paddy Hannan was born in 1840, in Co Clare. Little is known of his early life during the Famine years.

He immigrated to Australia in 1863, the first of six brothers to do so. His uncle William Lynch was mining in Victoria, and he joined him there before heading to the goldfields in Southern Cross, Western Australia.

While on their way to investigate rumours of a find, Paddy Hannan and two other Irishman (Thomas Shanahan and Daniel Shea) lost their horses near Kalgoorlie.

While searching for them, they happened upon gold. The three men worked secretly on their find for a week (earning the equivalent of several years’ wages) before Hannan rode to the nearest town to register their claim for 3.1kg of gold.

Within days the largest gold rush in Australia history had begun and over 1,000 prospectors a week were arriving in the small town of Kalgoorlie.

The “Kalgoorlie Golden Mile” is still mined today and is one of the richest veins in the world; producing 28 tonnes of gold a year.

Hannan’s discovery ended the recession of the time and attracted thousands of hopeful immigrants to Australia eager to make their fortune on the gold fields.

Today ‘Hannan Street’ is the principal avenue in Kalgorlie and it boasts a prominent statue of the famous prospector at its centre.

Despite his discovery, Paddy Hannan did not become wealthy as he didn’t have the capital to spearhead major extraction.

He continued to prospect for the rest of his life, but never again with the same success.

His contribution to the wealth of the country was recognised with a state pension from the Australian government, and he died in 1925.

The notorious outlaw

Henry McCarthy (AKA Billy the Kid), 1859-1891

Billy the Kid: Turned to petty crime after he was orphaned.
Billy the Kid: Turned to petty crime after he was orphaned.

Henry McCarthy was reportedly born on November 23, 1859 in New York City to Irish immigrants Patrick and Catherine McCarthy.

Relatively little is known of his early life, but it is thought that his father left the family and his mother died of TB when he was 15, leaving him an orphan. He and his brother turned to a life of petty crime to survive, later joining a violent gang known as ‘The Regulators’.

His personality was mercurial and during robberies he could be charming and polite one minute, violent the next. This, along with his signature sombrero hat, contributed to the legend that built up around him.

Henry adopted a number of aliases during his career as an outlaw including William H Bonney and Henry Antrim.

During his short life he is reported to have killed eight men and was apparently fluent in Irish, Spanish and English. He finally met his end when he was shot by Sheriff Patrick Garrett in July 1881, himself a grandchild of Irish immigrants.

Inventor of submarine

Robert Fulton, 1765-1815

Robert Fulton: Built the first submarine, the ‘Nautilus’.
Robert Fulton: Built the first submarine, the ‘Nautilus’.

Robert Fulton was born in Pennsylvania, the son of Kilkenny emigrants.

He showed promise as an artist, and was sponsored to study in Europe. However, he soon turned to engineering, showing an interest in propeller design and steam power from an early age. In 1800, he was commissioned by Napoleon to design the “Nautilus”, the first practical submarine in history.

Initially, the model of stealth warfare he suggested was rejected as dishonourable. Undaunted, he built the submarine himself, ‘the Nautilus’, and was finally given permission to use it in an attack on two English ships.

The ships easily outmanoeuvred the submarine. He would later pitch his submarine to the English and American armies, with little success. He is also credited with inventing some of the world’s earliest naval torpedoes for use by the British Royal Navy.

His commercial breakthrough came with the building of the Clermont, the first commercially successful steamboat, in 1808.

Discovered the cure for cholera

Dr William Brooke O’Shaughnessy 1809-1899

William Brooke O’Shaughnessy introduced medicinal cannabis
William Brooke O’Shaughnessy introduced medicinal cannabis

Born in Limerick, O’Shaughnessy showed great intellectual capacity from an early age.

After matriculating at Trinity College Dublin from 1825-1827, he went to study medicine at the University of Edinburgh.

Part of his training involved the dissection of cadavers supplied by two other notorious Irishmen, Burke and Hare.

Graduating in 1829, he moved to London and began working on an analysis of the blood of cholera sufferers.

His studies led him to conclude that by replacing the lost salt and water intravenously cholera could be cured.

In 1833, he moved to Kolkata in India.

While in India he also discovered a new way of creating gunpowder from charcoal by extracting acids from it, which was adapted by the British Army.He was also the first scientist to introduce cannabis to Western medicine when, in 1841 he returned to Great Britain, bringing several samples of Cannabis sativa for the Pharmaceutical Society and for the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew.

He also invented a new type of telegraphic cable, and for this he was knighted by Queen Victoria in 1856.

Inventor of the recipe for hot chocolate

Hans Sloane, 1660-1753

Hans Sloane: Mixing cocoa with milk made it more palatable.
Hans Sloane: Mixing cocoa with milk made it more palatable.

Hans Sloane was born in Killyleagh, Co Down. His father was a friend of James Hamilton, Lord of Clanbrassil, who owned the castle at Killyleagh.

He took Hans and the other Sloane children under his wing and provided them with a private education.

Sloane studied medicine and botany, before being appointed physician to the West Indies fleet and travelling to Jamaica. He indulged his lifelong passion for collecting specimens while there. He was also introduced to cocoa as a drink favoured by the local people.

He found it ‘nauseous’ but that mixing it with milk made it more palatable. He brought this chocolate recipe back to England where it was manufactured and at first sold by apothecaries as a medicine. Eventually, in the 19th century, it was taken up by Messrs Cadbury who manufactured chocolate using Sloane’s recipe.

Inventor of tattoo gun

Samuel O’Reilly, 1854-1909

Samuel O’Reilly: Patented his tattooing machine in 1891.
Samuel O’Reilly: Patented his tattooing machine in 1891.

Samuel O’Reilly was born in 1854 in New Haven, Connecticut, to Irish immigrant parents.

After time spent in the navy, where he learned to tattoo, he moved to New York.

By the mid-1880s, he was operating as a tattoo artist. He completed and patented his Electric Tattooing Machine in 1891, basing it on Thomas Edison’s model for the Automatic Printing Pen — a device used for etching documents onto stencils.

O’Reilly had seen a demonstration of the invention and it piqued his interest. Edison’s invention was a failure, but O’Reilly’s modified version for tattooing was hugely successful.

O’Reilly’s tattoo gun was capable of delivering 50 perforations per second, whereas tattoo artists working by hand could only deliver three per second. Modern versions of the machine can deliver up to 3,000 per second.

He owned an number of tattoo businesses from the 1880s to 1909, when he died after a fall sustained while painting his house.

Nanny to the children of the last Tsar

Margaretta Eagar, 1863-1936

Margaretta Eagar: Governess to the Tsar’s four daughters.
Margaretta Eagar: Governess to the Tsar’s four daughters.

Eagar was born in Limerick to a middle-class Protestant family. She trained as a nurse in Belfast, before working as a matron in an orphanage.

In 1898, she travelled to Russia to become governess to Tsar Nicholas II’s daughters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia. She was recommended to the Tsarina Alexandra by Emily Loch, a lady-in-waiting at the Russian court.

As a result of Eagar’s English lessons, the four princesses are said to have spoken English with a slight Limerick accent, until an English tutor names Charles Sydney Gibbs was hired to combat this.

Eagar’s keen interest in politics was noted, and was commented on by the princesses’ aunt, the Grand Duchess Olga Alexandrovna, who recalled Maria’s escape from her bath as a toddler while Eagar was distracted by a discussion of the Dreyfus Affair.

Eagar spent six years with the Royal Family and grew quite close to princesses. She returned to Great Britain in 1904. She stated that her reasons were personal, but tensions due to the Britist support for the Japanese side in the Russo-Japanese war may have contributed to her decision to leave.

In 1906, she wrote a book about her time in Russia called Six Years at the Russian Court and continued to exchange letters with the family till the monarchy was overthrown in 1917, and received a pension from the Russian government.

The death of the royal family affected her deeply. In later life she ran a boarding house, and died in a nursing home at the age of 73.

The man who invented the ejector seat

James Martin, 1893-1981

James Martin: Focused on pilot safety after friend’s death.
James Martin: Focused on pilot safety after friend’s death.

James Martin was born in Co Down in 1893. Although he interviewed at Queen’s University, he rejected a formal education and moved to London in his early 20s, setting up a workshop in Acton and working as inventor, draughtsman, experimental engineer, toolmaker, fitter, assemblyman, salesman and delivery driver.

In 1934, he founded the Martin’s Aircraft Works. He met Captain Valentine Baker during the testing of one his aircraft prototypes, the MB1, and the two established the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company.

In 1942, Baker was killed in a tragic accident when the engine of an aircraft prototype he was testing seized, leading him to crash land. Martin, devastated by this event, turned his attention to pilot safety, inventing the world’s first ejector seat.

The first test of the Martin-Baker ejector seat was held in 1945 using a crash test dummy.

Later, in 1946, the first live test subject, Bernard Lynch, was launched into the air landing without injury.

During his lifetime Martin’s invention saved over 3,000 lives. The Martin-Baker ejector seat has had over 7,400 successful ejections.

75 rounds with the last bareknuckle boxing champion

John L Sullivan, 1858-1918

Irish American boxing legend John L Sullivan.
Irish American boxing legend John L Sullivan.

John L Sullivan has long been regarded as one of the most iconic boxers of all time.

He has often been referred to as the last heavyweight bareknuckle boxing champion of America. But was also the first heavyweight champion of gloved boxing.

Referred to as the ‘Boston Strong Boy’, he was the son of Irish immigrants Michael Sullivan and Catherine Kelly who emigrated from counties Kerry and Westmeath respectively.

After an early stint as a baseball player, Sullivan moved to boxing. In 1883–84 he went on a coast-to-coast tour by train with five other boxers. They were scheduled to hold 195 fights in 136 different cities and towns over 238 days. To help promote the tour, Sullivan famously announced that he would box anyone at any time during the tour under the Marquis of Queensberry Rules for $250. He knocked out 11 men during the tour.

In 1889, Sullivan was challenged by Jake Kilrain to what was to be the last heavyweight bareknuckle boxing championship match ever fought. It lasted an astounding 75 rounds.

Sullivan was expected to withdraw after he vomited in the 44th round. However, he recovered and Kilrain conceded defeat in the 75th.

Throughout his career Sullivan won 40 of his 44 fights, 34 by knockout. He only lost once in what was to be his last fight to fellow Irish-American ‘Gentleman’ Jim Corbett who would become the new world heavyweight champion.

Sullivan earned over $1m during his career. After a long struggle with alcoholism, he became a prohibition lecturer.

The barn where Sullivan trained is still in the town of Belfast, New York and is home to the Bareknuckle Boxing Hall of Fame.

Man who explained why the sky is blue

John Tyndall, 1820-1893

John Tyndall: Climate change institutes named in his honour.
John Tyndall: Climate change institutes named in his honour.

John Tyndall was born in Co Carlow, the son of a member of the Royal Irish Constabulary. His family had come to Ireland from Gloucestershire in the 17th century, and were by all accounts well-educated but poor by the time of John’s birth.

Tyndall studied at a hedge school until the age of 17, before joining the Ordnance Survey in 1839. He was sent to work in Preston, but was soon fired for his outspoken articles on the treatment of the Irish. From here, he became a schoolmaster in Hampshire before pursuing a PhD in Marburg University, Germany.

Although he tried to gain lectureships in Cork and Galway in the 1850s, he was unsuccessful, before being elected Professor of Natural Philosophy at the Royal Institute.

He was a true polymath, writing poetry and conducting experiments in a number of fields during the course of a long and eventful career.

His many achievements including providing the first experimental proof for Pasteur’s germ theory of disease, the first scientific explanation for why the sky is blue, and crucially, the discovery of the greenhouse warming effect of certain gases. Several modern climate change institutes are named in his honour.

Performed the first successful caesarean operation

Dr James Barry (Margaret Ann Bulkley), 1789-1865

James Barry: Born Margaret Ann Bulkley in Cork in 1789.
James Barry: Born Margaret Ann Bulkley in Cork in 1789.

James Barry was born Margaret Ann Bulkley in Cork, the daughter of a grocer, probably in the year 1789.

When her father’s grocer’s business began to fail, she and her mother Mary Ann moved to London to stay with Mary Ann’s brother James, a successful painter. When he died in 1806, he left Margaret and her mother a decent inheritance on which to survive.

Sometime between 1806 and 1809, Margaret began to disguise herself as a man, and eventually moved to Edinburgh to study medicine. Once her studies and apprenticeship were complete, she became an army doctor, and travelled the world, reportedly meeting such famous contemporaries as Florence Nightingale, and in 1826, performing the first successful caesarean while in Africa.

Doctor James Barry was known for his great bedside manner and his progressive view towards medicine; she believed in the benefits of fresh air and healthy eating and was a vegetarian.

She was also known for her sharp temper, and once struck an officer in the face with a whip for suggesting she looked like a woman.

On her death from dysentery in 1865, Barry’s sex became known, and went on to inspire many responses, including capturing the imagination of Charles Dickens, who was fascinated by the story.

Now, Barry is widely remembered for becoming the first fully qualified female British doctor and first female British general.

Mayo man who founded the Argentinian navy

Admiral William Brown, 1777-1857

Founder of the Argentinian navy, Admiral William Brown.
Founder of the Argentinian navy, Admiral William Brown.

William Brown was born in Foxford, Co Mayo in 1777. He served in the Royal Navy, before joining the merchant service.

He came to Argentina in 1811, hoping to make a living trading out of Buenos Aires.

On his arrival, the city had declared its independence from the Spanish, who set up a trade blockade which William successfully broke on a numerous occasions.

In 1814, he was asked to improvise a navy, and despite initial reluctance, he eventually agreed and won two victories against the Spanish forces.

The following year, he took a crew into the Pacific without the permission of his superiors and faced trial for insubordination and the death penalty.

He argued successfully that as head of the navy he had the right to disregard the order, but lost much of his property in the trial, leaving him bankrupt and dismissed from the navy.

However, his popularity meant that many public figures stood by him, and he regained his house and soon built up a successful shipping business.

In 1826, during the war with Brazil, Brown was asked to improvise another navy. He won a number of decisive victories over the Brazilians, freeing the slaves on their ships.

When the war ended in 1828, he was made governor introducing a number of enlightened policies concerning health, education and finance, but resigned on the outbreak of civil war in 1829, to be replaced by the notorious dictator General Rosas.

In 1841, he defended Argentina from a French and British blockade.

When he died in 1857, he was given a huge funeral and many streets in Argentina are named after him.

Inventor of steam engine and pioneer of electricity

Sir Charles Parsons, 1854-1931

Charles Algernon Parsons: Knighted for scientific work.
Charles Algernon Parsons: Knighted for scientific work.

While Charles Parsons was born in London, he was the son of the Earl of Rosse and the family seat was Birr Castle.

He was raised and educated there by private tutors who specialised in the sciences.

The family preoccupation was with astronomy, and Charles’ father William Parsons had built the Leviathan, which was the largest telescope in the world from 1845-1917.

Charles Parsons studied mathematics at Trinity College Dublin, before taking the unusual step of training as an apprentice at W.G. Armstrong in Newcastle. Here, and in other engineering firms in the area, he worked on rocket-powered torpedoes and turbine engines.

In 1884, he used a turbine engine to run an electrical generator, thus revolutionising the production of electricity and ushering in the modern electric world.

He also designed a turbine powered yacht, the Turbina which was exhibited at Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and was at the time the fastest ship in the Royal Navy.

Parson’s turbine engines would also be used to power the famous HMS Dreadnought, the first modern battleship.

An engineering company he established in Newcastle still exists today and is now a subsidiary of Siemens, the German conglomerate.

Parsons was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and knighted for his contributions to science.

First captain of the All-Blacks

Dave Gallaher, 1873-1917

Dave Gallaher: Emigrated to New Zealand at the age of five.
Dave Gallaher: Emigrated to New Zealand at the age of five.

Dave Gallagher was born in the Donegal village of Ramelton, on October 30, 1873, son of a shopkeeper and a schoolteacher.

When he was five, the family emigrated to New Zealand where his father died soon after they arrived.

They settled in Katikati on the North Island where David’s mother Maria became the local schoolteacher. Maria died in 1887 at the young age of 42, leaving 11 children orphaned.

Two years later, the 17-year old Dave Gallaher went to Auckland and played rugby — first for the Parnell Club and then Ponsonby from 1896.

In 1901, he joined the New Zealand Contingent of Mounted Rifles to fight in the Boer War. Safely home, he resumed his rugby career and played for New Zealand in the first ever encounter with the British and Irish Lions in 1904, and in 1905 he captained the legendary ‘Originals’ All Black team that toured Britain, France and North America.

This was the first time that the New Zealand team toured beyond Australasia and it was the first time that the name ‘All Black’ had been used. The five-month tour was a triumph for Gallaher’s team, scoring 976 points and conceding only 59 in 35 matches.

Following retirement as a player, Gallaher continued as a selector for Auckland and for the All Blacks from 1907 to 1914. He co-wrote a coaching manual, The Complete Rugby Footballer, which is still widely consulted to this day.

Gallaher volunteered to fight in World War 1. He was mortally wounded at the battle of Passchendaele and died on October 4, 1917, just weeks short of his 44th birthday. He is buried at Nine Elms Cemetery, Poperinge, Belgium. His grave, which bears the New Zealand emblem the Silver Fern, has become a place of pilgrimage for All Blacks teams when on tour in neighbouring France.

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