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Ireland past and present

John Morrissey Irish american founder of Saratoga racecourse

What do Saratoga Racecourse in New York and the film Gangs of New York have in common? John Morrissey.

John Morrissey

John Morrissey was born in Templemore, Co. Tipperary in 1831 and his family moved to America in 1833. By the time he was 18 he was working for the Irish gangs and got a reputation as a fighter. As leader of the Dead Rabbitts he came across William Poole (Bill the Butcher) and the Bowery Boys when given the task of stopping them from rigging an election, something he achieved.

He also taught himself to read and write. During a lifetime of adventure, he was involved in the gold rush in California, fought for the heavyweight boxing title and became a state Congressman. He then set up a casino in Saratoga and then founded the famous racecourse.

John Morrissey died in 1878, aged just 47. From a small town in Ireland to becoming one of the most famous achievers in America.


Rex Ingram Hollywood director

Rex Ingram was born in Dublin, lived in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary (see my previous post), and went onto take Hollywood by storm and discover one the biggest stars, Rudolph Valentino. He was an unknown actor cast by Ingram in the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921) and the rest is history.

Rex Ingram was one of the most influential film directors at the start of the golden era of Hollywood-and he was Irish. He was born in 1892 in Dublin, then moved to Nenagh, Co. Tipperary in 1897 when Rex was 5 years old. When Clearys Circus came to town, Rex had his first encounter with moving image. He described seeing grainy, black and white images of men running a race and a train.
He moved to America in 1911. By 1914 he was directing his first film ( a short), then a full feature film in 1916.
Most famous for his film The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (1921). He left Hollywood to start a mini studio in Nice, France. After ‘talkies’ became the norm, he decided to retire from film making and take up his first love, art (he studied at Yale when first in America), just 16 years after directing his first film. He died in 1950 in Hollywood.
He influenced many directors, including David Lean, and was mentioned in James Joyces’. Finnegan’s Wake (1939) which contains the line: “his scaffold is there set up, as to edify, by Rex Ingram, pageant-master.

Rex Ingram
Rex Ingram

How to Make coddle

How to make ‘Coddle’, sometimes known as Dublin Coddle. Traditionally made with left overs, this is real comfort food. The word Coddle can mean to slowly cook something or treat someone in an indulgent way or pamper. It’s made with bacon, sausages, potatoes, stock, maybe carrots (depending on who you talk to).


  • thick cut bacon
  • pork sausages
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 875g (1 3/4lb) potatoes, thickly sliced
  • large handful curly parsley, chopped
  • carrots (optional)
  • 2 pints of stock


  1. Brown the sausages and bacon in a frying pan for a few minutes. Place half the sausages and bacon in the bottom of a large, oven proof casserole 
  2. Add half the onions, potatoes, carrots, salt, pepper. Add another layer of meat and vegetables, season to taste 
  3. Cover with a lid and cook in a slow oven (180 degress, gas mark 3) for about 2 hours
  4. Remove the lid for the last 30 minutes and dot the top layer with butter (this allows the top layer to colour and crisp up)