Did you know?

  • Oliver Goldsmith was once a busker. He spent several years travelling around Europe living on what he could earn from playing his flute.
  • The saying “Goody Two Shoes” originates with a book called Little Goody Two Shoes, which is thought to have been written by Goldsmith.
  • He was all set to emigrate to America on a ship sailing from Cork, but he stayed too long at a party and it sailed without him!
  • He had a brass neck! As the story below (as told by Colin Murphy in the Independent) demonstrates:

“Returning home from school at the age of 16, he borrowed a horse and a guinea to make the 25-mile journey. This was his first taste of the freedom of the road, and he decided to indulge. In the village of Ardagh, he asked a passerby for the best accommodation. The passerby was a local character, and directed him to what was literally the best accommodation – the private, family mansion of a Mr Featherstone. Goldsmith rode up to the door and ordered his horse to be stabled, then walked into the parlour, put his feet up by the fire, and asked for the menu. Featherstone recognised Goldsmith as the son of an old acquaintance: instead of disabusing him of his notions, he decided to play along.Goldsmith patronisingly insisted Featherstone, his wife and daughter should join him for the meal, and ordered a good bottle of wine to show his generosity. On the way to bed, he ordered hot cakes for the morning.” It was only the next morning he was let in on the joke and was suitably embarrassed.

  • Goldsmith was involved in the infamous Black Dog Riots, a darker part of Trinity College’s history. After a fellow student was arrested, a group of students, including Goldsmith, set him free, and proceeded to storm Newgate Prison (the Black Dog), gathering up an angry mob along the way. The prison guards fired on the mob, killing two people. Four of the ringleaders of the gang were expelled from Trinity and Goldsmith got away with being disciplined.