Updated: 18/02/17 : 04:36:45
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Sligo ignores the 'William B' born here.....

NEXT MONTH marks the death of a Sligo man who made a powerful impact in American national politics.

Not just there either -- British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, no less, has cited his oratory skills.

Famous friends of the Sligo man included Thomas Edison, inventor.....but not of the light bulb, for which he made the first commercial product.

Also there in that frame of friendship were writer Mark Twain and Joseph Pulitzer, after whom the famed series of annual awards are named.

Apart from owning newspapers, Pulitzer was also an elected New York member of Congress for the Democratic Party.

Big Impression

Yet William B Cockran remains little known of in Ireland or in his native Sligo, let alone properly honoured. So who is he?

In the 2008 book ''Ireland and the Americas'' -- with JFK on the cover -- Cockran gets a lengthy biography right after the entry for one Bill Clinton. See link below.

In his day, the Sligo man made a big an impression on the same Democratic Party.

He even represented a New York district in the House of Congress on and off over three decades.

Those losses came when he chose to ignore the Tammany Hall politics machine and it chose sometimes to ignore the Sligo man; ''too patrician,'' said one. 

But law remain his first love. While waiting to be an attorney, he briefly became a journalist and returned to the Auld Sod as a foreign correspondent.

Small Fortune

For the record, Carrowkeel near Ballymote was the birthplace of William Bourke Cockran on February 28th 1854.

The family, prominent Catholics, later moved to live in Wine Street in Sligo town.

He died on March 1st 1923 -- the same year the other 'William B' associated with Sligo was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

As an attorney, Cockran originally defended criminals but later amassed a small fortune by specialising in civil cases.

It was in courtrooms, charming the juries, that he also honed his legendary speaking skills.

The Sligo man who lived in Manhattan now lies in a New York cemetery which also includes the burial place of film star Jimmy Cagney.