31 July-Francis Ledwidge

Francis Ledwidge was a poet and soldier who was a native of Co Meath, Ireland. He is often referred to as the ‘Poet of the Blackbirds’. During World War I Ledwidge served in both the Balkans and Western Europe. He was killed by a German shell at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

Francis Edward Ledwidge was born at Janeville near Slane Co Meath on August 19th 1887. When he was five years old his father died. At the age of 13 Francis left school to work in support of his family. He worked at various jobs including farm labourer, road worker, miner and shop assistant. During this time he was writing poetry and his first poems were published in the Drogheda Independent when he was fourteen years old.

Lord Dunsany became his patron and helped Ledwidge publish his first poetry collection, ‘Songs of the Fields’. He also introduced him to poets of the day including Katharine Tynan and W B Yeats. Following the outbreak of World War I, Ledwidge enlisted in the 5th battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was at the time a supporter of the Gaelic League, a nationalist and founder of the local branch of the Irish Volunteers. Despite this and against the advice of Lord Dunsany he decided to enlist. He later said: ‘I joined the British army because England stood between Ireland and an enemy common to our civilisation, and I would not have had it said that she defended us while we did nothing at home but pass resolutions.’

Ledwidge first served in The Balkans. He landed at Gallipoli in July 1915 and in August took part in the joint allied attack on Suvla Bay. Following the failure of the attack his regiment was transferred to Serbia where Ledwidge damaged his back and was transferred to Hospital in Manchester, England. Whilst in hospital Ledwidge heard about the 1916 Easter Rising. He was dismayed to learn about the execution of Thomas MacDonagh whom he had known before the war. His poem, ‘Lament for Thomas MacDonagh’ is one his best known compositions.

Ledwidge was given leave to return home. He was badly affected by the events in Dublin of 1916 and was disillusioned with the war. Following his period of leave he failed to report on time for duty and was arrested for being drunk. He was demoted and sent to the western front in France. In the spring of 1917 Ledwidge was involved in the Battle of Arras. He was later sent to Belgium where he was killed while involved in preparation for the battle of Passchendaele near the Belgian city of Ypres.

Francis Ledwidge, poet and soldier, was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I in the year 1917 On This Day.

Francis Ledwidge Cottage, Slane by OpenPlaques on 2012-03-28 00:44:29

Francis Ledwidge, Island of Ireland Peace Park by R/DV/RS on 2008-10-13 14:32:11

Francis Ledwidge, Slane Bridge by OpenPlaques on 2012-04-06 15:51:08


30 July-JK Rowling

When the author J K Rowling began writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, she was living on state benefits. Today she is one of the richest women in the United Kingdom. She is best known for her Harry Potter series which have sold more than 400 million copies worldwide.

Joanne Rowling was born in Yate, Gloucestershire, England. She did not have a middle name. Her publishers suggested she should use initials rather than her full name in order to keep her identity anonymous as her readership was likely to be young boys. She chose Kathleen, her grandmother’s name as her second name. As a result the Harry Potter series was produced under the pen name J. K. Rowling.

Having completed secondary education Rowling went on to study at the University of Exeter. She was awarded a BA in French and Classics in 1986 and moved to London to work for Amnesty International. She later moved to Portugal where she taught English as a foreign language in the city of Porto. When Rowling separated from her husband in November 1993 she moved with her daughter to Edinburgh, Scotland.

In Edinburgh Rowling began writing her first Harry Potter book. It was published in June 1997 and led to six other books in the Harry Potter series being published. The series charts the life of Harry Potter and others at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. As the various books were published they broke many previous sales records. When Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows was released on July 21st 2007 it sold eleven million copies on the first day and became the fastest selling book of all time. Rowling has also published books for adults, including The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm under the pen name Robert Galbraith.

The novelist Joanne Rowling was born in the year 1965 On This Day.

JK Rowling (Harry Potter Author), Aberfeldy Home by Delboy1940Essex (Still trying to catch up) on 2013-11-15 12:38:54

100405_EasterEggRoll_683 by Daniel Ogren on 2010-04-05 13:49:24

JK Rowling Autograph by baslow on 2004-12-26 19:10:26

31 July-Carlow Town Park

The Town Park in Carlow, Ireland is in a central location in the town along the banks of the River Barrow. Located in Graiguecullen on the Laois side of the river it is connected to the Carlow side by an impressive pedestrian bridge. The bridge, which was officially opened on April 15th 2002, was a major part of the millennium projects of Carlow town. As the barrow is navigable the 2m wide steel suspension bridge is placed 4.6m above the river Barrow. The town park which covers 5 hectares has open spaces, a number of paved walks and a playground for children. Up until 1970 the area was used as a landfill. The town park now provides a link between the Carlow and Laois sides of the town.

The Graiguecullen area of the park contains walkways the playground for children and informal parkland in the northern section. It also has a large earthen configuration. This is in the form of a motte, linking the park to the nearby Carlow castle and reflecting the Norman heritage of Carlow town. On the opposite side of the river, the paved walks form part of the Barrow Way. The Barrow Way is a 100km National Waymarked walking trail through counties Kildare, Laois and Carlow which follows the original towpath of the Barrow canal.

Carlow Town Park which was commissioned by Carlow Urban District Council and Carlow County Council was officially opened in the year 2003 On This Day.

Millennium Bridge, Carlow by Nico Kaiser on 2012-10-21 11:58:41

30 July-Henry Ford

Henry Ford founded the Ford Motor Company. His father William Ford emigrated from Ballinscarthy near Clonakilty County Cork, Ireland to America in 1846. Henry Ford became one of America’s foremost industrialists. He revolutionized assembly-line modes of production which led to the automobile becoming available to a person on an average income.

Henry Ford was born on a farm in Greenfield Township near Detroit, Michigan in 1863. He left home at the age of 16 and began working in machine shops in Detroit. By 1893 he was working as chief engineer with the Detroit Edison Company which was supplying electricity to the city. During his time with the Edison Company he began to build a gasoline powered vehicle. When it was completed in 1896 he called it the ‘Quadricycle’. He established the Ford Motor Company in 1903 and in 1908 the first Model T was produced.

The Model T made possible relatively cheap travel and brought about a revolution in transportation. Demand for the car led Ford to begin the mass production of the ‘Model T’. The assembly line as a method of production in the motor industry had been first introduced in 1901 by Ransome E Olds. He used the method to build the first mass produced car which was known as the Oldsmobile Dash. Henry Ford introduced a similar method to mass produce the Model T. He succeeded in developing and improving the method to the stage where it took only 93 minutes to fully assemble a car. Production of the Model T continued for nineteen years and by 1917 it accounted for over half of all the cars in the world. By 1925 over 2 million units of the Model T were being sold annually.

Henry Ford and his son Edsel paid a visit to his father’s home place in Ballinscarthy in 1912. He returned to Ireland again in 1917 and established a plant in Cork City producing Fordson Tractors. It was the first manufacturing plant built by Ford outside the USA. The plant in Cork later produced Ford cars such as, the Prefect, the Cortina and the Sierra. Members of the Ford family continue to visit Cork.

Henry Ford became one of the wealthiest and best known people in the world. As owner of the Ford Motor Company he expanded the business throughout North America and to several parts of the world. He consistently sought ways to reduce costs and increase production. When he retired his son Edsel became president of Ford. When Edsel died in 1943, Henry returned for a time as president of the company. However he was suffering from ill-health and died at the age of 83 on April 7th 1947.

Henry Ford was born in the year 1863 On This Day.

Henry Ford on innovation by Cea. on 2011-03-31 21:28:12

1927 Ford Model T by dok1 on 2007-09-16 13:10:09

30 July-Carlow win 1944 Leinster Championship

The first meeting of Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) in Carlow, Ireland was held in the CYMS (Catholic Young Men’s Society) Hall on College Street on April 2nd 1888. Nine clubs from around the county were represented at the meeting. During the following years structures were put in place to enable teams to represent Carlow at the various levels.

Teams at various levels went on to represent County Carlow in Leinster competitions. However it was not until 1941 that Carlow reached the Senior Football Championship final for the first time. The game was due to be played in August against Dublin but had to be postponed due an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. When the game finally took place on November 9th 1941 Dublin had an easy win over Carlow. The Carlow Senior football team reached the Leinster final again in 1942. Though there was a dispute following the game concerning the eligibility of one player, Dublin were finally awarded the Leinster title. In 1943 Carlow missed out on a place in the Leinster quarter final when they were narrowly beaten by Laois.

In 1944 the Carlow Senior Football team reached the Leinster final and once again the opposing team represented Dublin. The final was played in Geraldine Park, Athy before what was described as an enormous crowd. Despite the difficulties posed by World War II, people made their way to the game to support their team using every possible mode of transport.

On a day of pleasant weather the crowd witnessed a thrilling and close game. Supporters of both teams were kept on edge from the throw-in until the final whistle. The Carlow team [J. Quinlan (O’Hanrahans), J. Lawler (Fighting Cocks), J.Archbold (Tullow), P. Farrell (Kilbride), P. Whelan (Tinryland), B. O’Rourke (Ballymurphy), E. Joyce (Ballymurphy), L. Kelly (Ballymurphy), J. Morris (Erins Hope), J. Moore (O’Hanrahans), M. Byrne (O’Hanrahans), W. Hosey (Tinryland), P. Sullivan (Army and Tinryland), J. Doyle (Tinryland), J. Rea (O’Hanrahans)], made history by defeating Dublin 2-06 to 1-06.

Carlow Senior Football team won their first, and so far only, Leinster Senior Football title in the year 1944 On This Day.


Netwatch Cullen Park, Carlow

Headquarters of Carlow GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association)