Ascend or Die

For more rights information Contact Us

More About This Title Ascend or Die


The dramatic story of Ireland's first aeronaut, an impressive showman, including new information on his time living in the U.S. Richard Crosbie (1756–1824) is rightly celebrated as Ireland's first aeronaut, and this book tells the dramatic story of the intrepid scientist. Inspired by balloon experiments in France, he constructed a hydrogen balloon with the aim of flying across the Irish Sea. A crowd of 20,000 people witnessed his first flight from Ranelagh Gardens, Dublin in January 1785. He organized two further flights in Dublin and made a final flight from Limerick in 1786. For his first flight, he wore satin and silk lined with fur, Moroccan boots, and a turban made from leopard skin, while a cork jacket was part of his wardrobe for later flights. Crosbie's adventures and persona enthralled the public and won him the support of many influential figures, but he never achieved his goal of crossing the Irish Sea. This biography reveals new information about his subsequent career as an actor in New York, where he organized a balloon spectacle for public entertainment in 1800, and includes a poignant account of his final years living in poverty in Baltimore, Maryland.


Bryan MacMahon is a historian who has published several articles in Dublin Historical Record, History Ireland, and The Irish Sword.