Emeralds in Tinseltown: The Irish in Hollywood, that begins its story in the earliest days of the film business. Hubert Brenon from Dublin, virtually forgotten today, was directing Mary Pickford films for Carl Laemmle before Hollywood even existed: it's been claimed he directed more than 300, most of them lost. He gave early leading roles to Theda Bara, Pola Negri, Ronal Colman, Clara Bow and Lon Chaney. According to Emeralds in Tinseltown, but not the DIB, Brenon sued the mogul William Fox when his directing credit was removed from the over-budget (but smash hit) Daughter of the Gods (1916): he was unsuccessful but the lawsuit emboldened directors to insist on credit in their studio contracts. Like so many, including his great countryman the director Rex Ingram, Brenon's career did not survive the transition to sound, although he made a steady stream of films in England until 1940. He died in Hollywood in 1958.
órama, as he's more accurately known (it means Brian from Bórama, a place near Killaloe in Co. Clare). He died in 1014 at the Battle of Clontarf at which the Irish defeated the Vikings outside Dublin. I still have my history textbook from national school 45 years ago, by "D. Casserley, M.A.", an interesting woman I would have like to have seen in the DIB. She tells the story all Irish children learned, and maybe still learn: how Boru united the Irish under a single High King and then broke the political power of the Viking invaders, dying at the moment of his triumph. It's quite a nuanced account for a book aimed at elementary schoolchildren (for instance, wondering if Boru felt any pangs of conscience about overthrowing his nearest rival - "we can only hope he did"). The DIB gives him his due - "an outstanding success" and "the most powerful of rules in his day" - while noting shrewdly that the image that grew after his death was one he himself had begun to cultivate beforehand.
Another legendary Irish figure: St. Brigit. This is what D. Casserley, M.A. had to say about her:
Bridgid, who was the daughter of a nobleman, was born at Faughart, near Dundalk, a few years before St. Patrick's death. When she grew up, she determined to devote her life to God's service, so she became a nun, and did splendid work among the poor, as well as converting many of the pagan Irish, of whom there were still a great number. The monastery which she founded was called Cill Dara (the Church of the Oak Tree), and it is from it that Kildare gets its name. Many stories are told of St. Brigid's goodness to the poor, and her love of children and animals. Under her wise and gentle rule the monastery and convent of Kildare were renowned throughout Ireland.