Famous People

Redmond CunninghamMajor Redmond Christopher Archer Cunningham MC and Bar, Croix de Guerre (25 December 1916 – 1 December 1999), was one of the most highly decorated Irish officers serving in the British army during the WWII and was the only Irishman to receive the Military Cross on D-Day.[1] After the war, ‘The Major’, as he became known, married and became a successful architect in his home town of Waterford. An unrepentant bon vivant with a nose for a flutter, Cunningham led a colourful life.

Cunningham was born to a large family in the Ballybricken area of Waterford City on Christmas Day in 1916.

Cunningham entered the army as a Second Lieutenant in the 79th Armoured Division of the Royal Engineers. He was immediately sent to Scotland where preparations for D-Day were nearing completion and  Cunningham landed in Normandy on the morning of the 6th as part of the first attack wave.[6] on ‘Queen Red’ beach, the code name for Ouistreham with the rest of his unit.

Almost immediately seeing his good friend Geofferey Desanges fall, Cunningham threw himself and his tank into battle. His tank was hit within minutes of landing by heavy German mortar fire. He went on to fight in three further tanks that morning before reorganising the unit and clearing the mined beach. Army dispatches record Cunningham removing mines under heavy fire with his hands.

With the mines cleared, he then led his men to the German defences and captured some 90 German soldiers.[8] His quick thinking and selfless actions on D-Day and June 7, when he supervised the capture of the lock at Ouistreham,[9] allowed the infantry from the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Ulster Rifles to push inland.[10] His bravery on D-Day and D-Day+1 was recognized with the Military Cross award.

A Bar was added to his cross later that year at Nijmegen in the Battle of the Scheldt, where he led an assault on German positions capturing some 200 prisoners.[11]It was there that Cunningham received the shrapnel wounds which he was to carry with him for the rest of his life.He was further awarded a Croix de Guerre by the Belgian government for his part in rescuing civilians in Antwerp following a German V1 attack on the centre of that city.

Robert Cunningham (1837–1905) was a British-Canadian lay missionary turned entrepreneur who founded the town of Port Essington, British Columbia.

He was born January 1, 1837, in Dungannon, Ireland to a Protestant (Anglican) family. In 1862, at the age of twenty-five, he sailed to Canada with the Anglican Church Missionary Society to work as a lay assistant to the Anglican lay missionary William Duncan at the Tsimshian community of Metlakatla, B.C.

Shortly after his arrival at Metlakatla Robert Cunningham was assigned to assist the missionary R. Arthur Doolan, himself newly arrived from England, in founding a new mission among the Nisga’a. Together with a Tsimshian interpreter named Robert Dundas they opened a mission among the villages on the lower Nass River in July 1864. When it soon came to light that Cunningham had fathered a child with a young Tsimshian student of Duncan’s named Elizabeth Ryan Doolan married the couple and Cunningham’s formal relationship with the Church Missionary Society was terminated.

Cunningham began working at the Hudson’s Bay Company’s Fort Simpson, a trading fort later known as Port Simpson and Lax Kw’alaams. He worked alongside Charles F. Morison, who eventually married Elizabeth’s niece Odille Quintal (later Morison), the Tsimshian linguist. Cunningham eventually rose to the position of chief trader.

In 1870 he left the HBC and Port Simpson and Cunningham then began an entrepreneurial relationship with one Thomas Hanki. In 1871, with the onset of the Omineca Gold Rush, Cunningham and Hankin became traders at Hazelton, in Gitxsan territory, and eventually founded a depot at Woodcock’s Landing downriver at the Skeena River estuary, at what later became the site of Inverness cannery.

In search of a better location, the two staked a claim for a plot of land at a site Tsimshians called Spaksuut (fall camping-place), on the territory of the Gitzaxłaał Tsimshians at the confluence of the Skeena and Ecstall rivers. In 1872 a store was built there, and the site gradually acquired a more or less permanent presence of Kitselas and Kitsumkalum Tsimshians from upriver.

By the 1890s Port Essington, as Spaksuut came to be known, was a small town, and soon it became the largest settlement in the region and its economic hub. Cunningham bought out Hankin and established salmon packing as the community’s main industry. The Cunningham Cannery produced “Diamond A” brand canned salmon. Though other canneries operated in the town, Port Essington was largely considered to be “Cunningham’s town.”

Several members of Cunningham’s family in Ireland eventually moved to Port Essington, as did Charles and Odille Morison. In 1888, Cunningham’s wife Elizabeth was drowned with several others when their canoe capsized off Port Lambert near Port Essington. Of their five children, only two, George and John, survived early childhood, and John was killed at age seventeen when a trading schooner was wrecked near the Queen Charlotte Islands.

In 1893 Cunningham married again, to Flora Bicknell, formerly of Coventry, in England. They had two children, Hazel and Harold. A third, Edith, was born shortly after Robert’s death, in April 1905, in Victoria, B.C., at the age of sixty-nine. He is buried in Metlakatla.

John Cunningham VC, (born 1890 – 16 April 1917) was a British soldier during the First World War, an Irish recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Cunningham born in Thurles, County Tipperary on 22 October 1890 was one of two sons of Johanna and Joseph Cunningham.[1]

He was 26 years old, and a corporal in the 2nd Battalion, Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment, when he performed a deed on 12 April 1917 at Bois-en-Hache, near Barlin, France which earned him the Victoria Cross. Cunningham later died as a result of his injuries.

James Cunningham James Cunningham(August 1, 1834 – May 4, 1925)[1] was a Canadian merchant and Liberal politician, who represented New Westminster in the Canadian House of Commons during the 3rd Parliament from 1874 to 1878.

Born in Anyevny, County Monaghan, Ireland, the son of James Cunningham, he was educated in Anyevny, later coming to Canada and entering business as a merchant in New Westminster. In 1864, Cunningham married Mary Ann Woodman. He resigned his seat in the House of Commons in 1878.He sat as MLA for New Westminster City from 1884 to 1886. He also served as Mayor of New Westminster. Cunningham died in New Westminster at the age of 91.

His brother Thomas served in the British Columbia assembly.[4]

Glenn Verniss Cunningham Glenn Cunningham(August 4, 1909 – March 10, 1988) was an American distance runner and athlete considered by many the greatest American miler of all time. He received the James E. Sullivan Award as the top amateur athlete in the United States in 1933.

He was born in Atlanta, Kansas but grew up in Elkhart, Kansas – Cunningham was nicknamed the “Kansas Flyer”, the “Elkhart Express” and the “Iron Horse of Kansas”. Cunningham’s legs were very badly burned in a explosion caused when someone put gasoline instead of kerosene in the can at his schoolhouse by accident when he was eight and his brother Floyd was thirteen. Floyd died in the fire. When the doctors recommended amputating Glenn’s legs, he was so distressed his parents would not allow it. The doctors predicted he might never walk normally again. He had lost all the flesh on his knees and shins and all the toes on his left foot. Also, his transverse arch was practically destroyed.

However, his great determination, coupled with hours upon hours of a new type of therapy, enabled him to gradually regain the ability to walk and to proceed to run. It was in the early summer of 1919 when he first tried to walk again, roughly two years after the accident. He had a positive attitude as well as a strong religious faith. His favorite Bible verse was Isaiah 40:31: “But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.”

He competed in both the 1932 Summer Olympics as well as the 1936 Summer Olympics. While on the ship traveling from the US to Germany, he was voted “Most Popular Athlete” by his fellow Olympians, finishing just ahead of Jesse Owens.[1] Cunningham and Owens would end up rooming together for the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany. Through this experience Owens and Cunningham developed a life long friendship. [1]

Cunningham won the Sullivan medal in 1933 for his various running achievements in middle distance.

In the 1932 Olympics he took 4th place in the 1500 m, and in the 1936 Berlin Olympics, he took silver in the 1500 meters. In 1934, he set the world record for the mile run at 4:06.8, which stood for three years. In 1936, he set the world record in the 800 m run. In 1938, he set a world record in the indoor mile run of 4:04.4. He retired from competition in 1940.

Cunningham has a park named after him in his hometown of Elkhart, Kansas.

Walter CunninghamWalter Cunningham, a member of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA, was the Lunar Module pilot on the first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 7, an 11-day Earth-orbit flight in October 1968.

He was born in Creston, Iowa, on March 16, 1932. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors in physics in 1960 and a Master of Arts degree in physics in 1961 from the University of California at Los Angeles. He worked as a scientist with the RAND Corporation before becoming an astronaut. He attended the Advanced Management Program, Harvard School of Business, in 1974.

Cunningham joined the Navy in 1951 and began flight training in 1952. He joined a Marine squadron in 1953 and served with the Marine Corps until 1956 and in the Marine Corps Reserve program until 1975. He holds the rank of Colonel, USMC (retired).

NASA selected him as an astronaut in October 1963, and on October 11, 1968, he, Commander Walter Schirra and Command Module pilot Donn Eisele were launched aboard Apollo 7 – a spacecraft that had been almost completely redesigned after the first Apollo crew died in the Apollo 1 launch pad fire on January 27, 1967. The 260-hour, 4 1/2-million-mile flight was a complete success and provided NASA with confidence to send the next Apollo crew, Apollo 8, into orbit around the moon.

Cunningham retired from NASA in 1975 and two years later, a book about his experiences as an astronaut, “The All American Boys,” was published by Macmillan. He currently is president of Acorn Ventures, Inc., Houston. Cunningham serves on the Board of Directors of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.

Walt Cunningham was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on October 4, 1997.

Kenneth Edward “Kenny” Cunningham (born 28 June 1971) is an Irish former footballer who played as a defender. He played international football for the Republic of Ireland until his retirement in 2005. He spent his entire professional club career, from 1989 to 2007, in England, making more than 500 appearances in the Football League and Premier League playing for Millwall, Wimbledon, Birmingham City and Sunderland.

After retirement as a player, he has worked as a pundit for RTÉ Sport.

Allan Cunningham, (1791 – 1839) was an English explorer and botanical collector.

Cunningham’s explorations included Brazil (from 1814 to 1816), eastern Australia (1816 – 1839), and New Zealand (1826).

He was sent to Brazil in 1814 on a two year expedition to collect plants for the British Royal Gardens. In 1816, he sailed to New South Wales, Australia, to continue the work of the botanist Robert Brown (who had been on the Matthew Flinders expedition). Working with John Oxley, he explored (and collected plants from) much of eastern Australia. He traveled the course of the Lachlan River, Macquarie River, Cudgegong River, Hunter River, Gwydir River, Dumaresq River, MacIntyre River, and Brisbane River, Pandora’s Pass (1823), the Australian coastline between North West Cape and the Gulf of Carpentaria (and many other areas).

In 1827, Cunningham discovered Darling Downs (named for Governor Ralph Darling, who supported the trip) in eastern Australia. Cunningham’s Gap is a pass over the Great Dividing Range between the Darling Downs and Brisbane areas in Queensland, Australia.

Although he returned to Britain briefly, Cunningham spent the rest of his life in Australia. He is buried in Sydney’s Botanical Gardens.