it's probably named for a Carthaginian named Mago, as it happens). But the stories stick, like mayonnaise to a spoon, and we seem to like them, if not need them. Mercifully, nobody says the steeplechase is named for Mick Steeple. But it's claimed to be a product of the Irish genius, all the same. In 1752, one Edward Blake raced a Mr. O'Callaghan on horseback from Buttevant church in Co. Cork to the steeple of the church in Doneraile, four and a half miles away. The DIB says that the church is named for St. Leger, but I think it's actually St. Mary's, Viscount St. Leger having built it. One notable feature of the church as pictured: no steeple. Apparently, it blew down in 1825. I'm not sure that I believe that Mr. Blake was responsible for the steeplechase: it seems obvious that people would race towards a well-known place that all knew, and that a village church is an obvious choice. But there's a plaque for Blake and O'Callaghan in Buttevant; who am I to argue with lapidary history?
Frank Aiken excoriated the business-friendly cronyism that Blaney championed. And the civil servant Peter Berry blew the whistle on Blaney's efforts to run arms to Northern Ireland in the early years of the Troubles. Blaney was an extraordinary politician, who built a political machine in Donegal - based on that started by his father, Neal - that was so successful that he was able to detach it from his own party and run it independently for several years. Patrick Maume's entry on Blaney in the DIB is quite magisterial - maybe the best I've read so far. His summation is marvellous, writing of "the ruthless authoritarianism which marked his career ... [t]he volatile mixture of calculation, resentment, sophistication, provincialism, ruthlessness, and nostalgia which he displayed is reminiscent of other political figures of his intermediate generation: he might well have become taoiseach but instead became a catalyst for the formation of the Provisional IRA." It convincingly establishes the need for a full biography of Blaney.