18 March-Sheela’s Day

Today is Sheela’s Day. In the Celtic calendar, Sheela’s Day was celebrated the day after St Patrick’s Day. It was annual festival held in ancient times. The festival was to honour what is thought to be the fertility goddess known as Sheela-na-gigh or Sheela-na-gig.

A Sheela-na-gig is a stone carving of a naked woman clasping her vulva. The greatest number of Sheela-na-gigs are found in Ireland. They were, at one time widespread on churches and castles and were usually positioned over doors or windows. They are also found in Great Britain, France and Spain. The largest collection of Sheela-na-gigs in the world are in the National Museum of Ireland.

Sheela’s Day is celebrated every year On This Day.

Bunratty Sheela-na-gig

St Mary and St David Church, Kilpeck, Herefordshire




17 March-Michael O’Hanrahan

O’Hanrahans GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Club is located in Carlow town, Ireland. The club was founded in 1919. It is named in commemoration of Michael O’Hanrahan who was executed for his part in the Easter Rising of 1916. The club has consistently been one of the top teams in County Carlow.

Michael O’Hanrahan was born in New Ross Co Wexford in 1877. When Michael was young his family moved to Carlow where his father established a cork making business on Tullow Street. Michael was educated at the Christian Brothers School in Carlow. He later worked in his father’s business.

In 1899 O’Hanrahan founded a branch of the Gaelic League in Carlow. He was also a founding member of Carlow Workman’s Club. The Club was established as a non-sectarian and non-political organisation. O’Hanrahan attempted to use the club to promote the use of the Irish language. However his proposal to have information to club members circulated in Irish and English failed to succeed. O’Hanrahan resigned from the club when his proposal to refuse membership of the club to a Mr Hopkins was defeated. Mr Hopkins was a serving member of the British Army.

O’Hanrahan moved to Dublin in 1903 where he worked in the printing business. He also began to write for various nationalist publications. In 1914 his first novel ‘A Swordsman of the Brigade’ was published. His novel ‘When the Norman Came’ was published posthumously in 1918.

In 1913 O’Hanrahan joined the Irish Volunteers. He eventually became Quartermaster General of the 2nd Battalion of the Volunteers. During the Easter Rising of 1916 O’Hanahan was second in command under Commandant Thomas MacDonagh at the garrison in Jacob’s Biscuit Factory. The Factory was located on Bishop Street on the south side of Dublin City. The garrison saw little fighting.

When the Rising ended the garrison at Jacob’s was ordered to surrender on April 30th. Following the surrender Michael O’Hanrahan was found guilty at his court martial and sentenced to death. He was executed by firing squad at Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin on May 4th 1916. He was 39 years old.

Michael O’Hanrahan (Micheál Ó hAnnrachain), who was executed by firing squad at Kilmainham Gaol for his part in the Easter Rising of 1916 was born in the year 1877 On This Day.

Michael O Hanrahan photo

Michael O’Hanrahan

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons







16 March-John Butler Yeats

John Butler Yeats was an artist who was a native of Ireland. His categories of art include portraiture, sketching and oil painting. He was the father of the poet William Butler Yeats and the artist Jack Butler Yeats. Several portraits by Yeats can be seen in the Yeats museum in the National Gallery of Ireland. These include a portrait of his son William and of the Abbey actress Máire Nic Shiubhlaigh, whose father Mathew Walker ran a printing business in Carlow town.

John Butler Yeats was born in Lawrencetown near Banbridge, Co Down in 1839. He studied at Trinity College Dublin and graduated in 1862. Yeats then trained as a barrister at King’s Inn and was called to the Irish bar in 1866. The following year he decided to pursue a career as an artist. He moved to London where he trained at Heatherleys Art School.

Having established himself as a portrait painter Yeats moved back to Ireland. During the following years he moved several times between England and Ireland. In 1901 he was commissioned by Hugh Lane to paint portraits of prominent Irishmen including John O’Leary, George Moore and John Redmond. In 1908 he moved to New York City where he lived for the rest of his life. He died there on February 3rd 1922.

John Butler Yeats, artist, father of the poet William Butler Yeats and the artist Jack Butler Yeats was born in Co Down in the year 1839 On This Day.

John Butler Yeats by Alice Boughton

Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division





15 March-Escalator

An escalator is motor-driven moving staircase. It is used to convey people from one floor to another. The first working escalator was installed as an amusement park ride at Coney Island, New York in 1896. It was invented and built by Jesse Wilford Reno who was an engineer.

The first escalator was designed by Nathan Ames from Massachusetts in 1859. However it was never built. The escalator installed by Reno at Coney Island was just over two metres long and was inclined at an angle of 25 degrees. He later built escalators for the subway systems in various American cities and for the London Underground.

Jesse Wilford Reno was granted a patent for the first working escalator in the year 1892 On This Day.

Reno Escalator

Image from page 772 of “The street railway review”




14 March-Pi (π) Day

Today is celebrated around the world as Pi Day. Pi is represented by the Greek letter ‘π’. The letter π is used in mathematics to represent the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. This ratio is approximately equal to 3.14159.

However π is a non-terminating, non-repeating decimal. Described as an irrational number it has been calculated to over one trillion digits beyond its decimal point. March 14th is chosen because the date is sometimes written 3/14

Pi, or π day is celebrated every year On This Day.

Happy π Day

π cake on π day