17 July-Tsar Nicholas II of Russia

Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia. He inherited the throne in 1894 when his father Tsar Alexander III died. Known as Tsar Nicholas II he reigned as Emperor of Russia for 23 years. He was forced to abdicate in 1917 following the Russian Revolution. The Romanov dynasty which had ruled Russia for three centuries had come to an end.

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was born in Saint Petersburg in 1868. He was crowned Tsar of Russia on May 26th 1896. Frequent unrest occurred during his reign and there was violent suppression of the 1905 revolution. He was seen as a weak and incompetent leader. Russia was defeated by the Empire of Japan in 1905 and over 3 million Russian people died in World War I.

Following his abdication in 1917 Nicholas and his family were arrested. They were imprisoned in the town of Tobolsk east of the Ural Mountains. The family was moved 600km to the town of Yekaterinburg in April 1918 where they were later executed by the Bolsheviks.

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks in the year 1918 On This Day.

Tsar Nicholas II and Family




16 July-Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer who led the first expedition to reach the South Pole in 1911. Just two years previously Ernest Shackleton from Kilkea in Co Kildare Ireland, led an expedition which came within 180km of the Pole (88° 23′S). Though Shackleton was forced to turn back, his team succeeded in reaching the South Magnetic Pole on January 16th 1909.

Roald Amundsen was born in Borge, Østfold near Oslo Norway in 1872. He studied medicine until he was 21 years old. He then left university for a life at sea. Amundsen made his first expedition to Antarctica as a member of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition in 1897. This became the first expedition to spend the winter in Antarctica and led Amundsen to the decision that he was ready to lead his own expedition.

Amundsen set about being the first to reach the North Pole but everything changed when the American Robert Peary got there first on April 6th 1909. Amundsen then decided that he would try to be the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen headed for Antarctica and reached the South Pole on December 14th 1911, one month before British explorer Robert Scott’s second attempt.

Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer who in 1911 led the first Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole, was born in the year 1872 On This Day.




15 July-Sean Lemass

Sean Lemass was an Irish statesman who served as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland from 1959 to 1966. He was one of the major political figures in Ireland during the 20th century. Lemass is widely credited with laying the foundations of economic development in Ireland.

Seán Francis Lemass was born in Dublin in 1899. He played an active part in the Easter Rising of 1916, the War of Independence and the Civil War. Lemass was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1924 and in 1926 was a founding member of the Fianna Fáil Party. He was elected at each subsequent election until his retirement from politics in 1969.

During his time as an elected representative Lemass served as Minister for Industry and Commerce and also as Minister for Supplies during World War II. He served as Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) from 1945 until his election as Taoiseach in 1959. During his time as Taoiseach, Lemass introduced programmes of economic development and forged links with the European Community.

Sean Lemass, politician and statesman who served as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland from 1959 to 1966, was born in the year 1899 On This Day.




11 July-Big Ben

The Big Ben clock tower is located in the Palace of Westminster in London. The Great Bell in the clock tower has the nickname Big Ben. However Big Ben is usually used to refer to the clock and clock tower.

The clock tower was renamed Elizabeth Tower in tribute to Queen Elizabeth II in her Diamond Jubilee year. It is one of London’s most iconic landmarks. It is a major tourist attraction and has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom.

Big Ben, the great bell in the Elizabeth Tower in the Palace of Westminster, chimed for the first time in the year 1859 On This Day.

Big Ben, London

10 July-John Calvin

John Calvin was a theologian who was a native of France. He is widely regarded as one of the most important figures of the Protestant reformation. During his lifetime he became an important religious and political leader. His religious teaching led to the establishment of the Presbyterian Church.

John Calvin was born Jehan Cauvin in Noyon, Picardy, France in July 1509. Having studied law at the University of Orléans he moved to Geneva to join the Reformation in 1536. Anti-Protestant sentiment forced to move to Germany. However he returned to Geneva in 1541 where he established a religious government.

During his time in Geneva Calvin instituted several positive initiatives. However 56 people were executed for dissent and many more were exiled. Geneva became a centre for the spread of Protestantism in Europe. John Knox from Scotland studied with Calvin in Geneva and brought the teachings of Calvin back to Scotland. Presbyterianism was brought to Ireland in the early 1600’s and the Presbytery of Ulster was created in 1642. John Calvin died in Geneva on May 27th 1564.

Today the Presbyterian Church in Ireland is an All-Ireland organisation with a membership of around 300,000 people. The Scots’ Church, which is the Presbyterian Church in Carlow town, Ireland is located on the Athy Road in Carlow. The church, which was built in 1818 had its own minister until 1936. On December 31st of that year Rev. James Black retired and this was followed by the union of the Carlow congregation with that of Athy, Co Kildare.

John Calvin, a theologian who is widely regarded as one of the most important figures of the Protestant reformation was born in the year 1509 On This Day.

Jean Calvin

John Calvin – South Nave Bay F – National Cathedral – DC