29 July-Benito Mussolini

Benito Mussolini was journalist and socialist politician who founded the Fascist party in Italy in 1919. He was appointed Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and ruled Italy until he was ousted from power in 1943. He was captured the Italian resistance while trying to escape in April 1945 and executed.

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was born in Dovia di Predappio, Forlì in north central Italy in 1883. He qualified as an elementary schoolteacher in 1901. Mussolini moved to Switzerland in 1902 where he became involved in socialist politics. He returned to Italy in 1904 to work for the socialist press. Following World War I Mussolini founded the Fascist Party in March 1919.

By 1922 Italy was in political chaos. Mussolini was invited by King Victor Emmanuel to form a government. Mussolini took the title of ‘Il Duce’. He gradually dismantled the institutions of democratic government and appointed himself dictator in 1925. He established a regime which was held together by strong state control. Violet Gibson from Dublin, wounded Mussolini, when she attempted to assassinate him on April 7th 1926.

As part of his efforts to form a new Italian Empire Mussolini invaded Ethiopia (then Abyssinia) in 1935. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) he provided military support for Franco who went on to become dictator of Spain. In 1939 he signed the Pact of Steel which increased cooperation with Nazi Germany. Mussolini declared war on the Allies in June 1940.

The Italian Army suffered several defeats in North Africa and the Allies landed troops in Sicily in July 1943. Mussolini was overthrown by his own Fascist party and imprisoned. He was rescued by German commandos and installed as leader of a puppet government in northern Italy. When the Allies began to advance Mussolini attempted to flee to Switzerland but was captured and executed by Italian partisans on April 28th 1945.

Benito Mussolini, founder of the Fascist Party and dictator of Italy from 1925 to 1943, was born in the year 1883 On This Day.

Benito Mussolini, 1927 / photographer V. Laviosa, Rome by State Library of New South Wales collection on 1927-01-01 00:00:00

Mussolini, Clara Petacci and other members of the Italian Social Government following their execution by trix2005 on 2008-03-02 16:13:47

28 July-Shankill Castle

Shankill Castle is situated in the Southeast of Ireland on the Carlow/Kilkenny border about 130km from Dublin. The Castle which is set in parkland is located in the village of Paulstown in Ireland’s Ancient East. Until 1991 it was the home of the Toler-Aylward family. It is now the home of the distinguished artist Elizabeth Cope. As well as being a residence for the artist the estate is also a working farm and a tourist attraction. Visitors to Shankill Castle can enjoy a walk through the gardens and take a guided tour of the Castle

Shankill Castle was originally a medieval tower-house belonging to the Butlers of Ormonde. The tower-house was built near the ruins of an old church. Elizabeth Butler, an heiress to the estate, married Peter Aylward of Waterford around 1700. Aylward purchased the estate from his wife’s family. Between 1708 and 1713 he refurbished and extended the tower-house to look much as it does today. The new building called Shankill Castle was built in the English Baroque architectural style common in the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714).

The Castle was set in a formal landscape some of which still survives today. The gardens, which are described as an oasis of tranquillity, include 18th century lime alles and 19th century laurel lawns. Gigantic sequoias from the Victorian era can be seen in the grounds. Three trees in the gardens of Shankill Castle are listed in the Tree Registry of Ireland. When Mary Aylward of Shankill Castle married Reverened Peter Toler from Roscommon in 1835 the family name became Toler-Aylward. The couple had two children Merial Elizabeth Toler-Aylward and Hector James Charles Toler-Aylward

Hector James Charles Toler-Aylward who served a Justice of the Peace for Kilkenny died in the year 1918 On This Day

Shankill Walk by Bernie Goldbach on 2005-04-24 13:46:58

27 July-Ethel Lilian Voynich

Ethel lilian Voynich (née Boole) was an Irish born novelist and musician. She was the daughter of George Boole (Boolean Logic) the first Professor of Mathematics at University College Cork. Her mother, Mary Everest, was a feminist philosopher and niece of George Everest after whom Mount Everest is named.

Ethel Lilian Voynich was born at Lichfield Cottage, Ballintemple, Cork on May 11th 1864. Following the death of her father George, her mother Mary moved with her children to England where she worked as librarian at Queen’s College, London. Ethel Lilian studied piano and music composition in Berlin between 1882 and 1885.

While studying in Berlin Ethel Lilian became involved in revolutionary politics. She learned Russian and worked as a governess in St Petersburg from 1887 to 1889. She continued her revolutionary activities there, before returning to England. She published her most famous and successful book, ‘The Gadfly’ in 1897. She met Wilfrid Michael Voynich, a Russian revolutionary who had escaped from Siberia. He was working England as an antiquarian book dealer. They married in 1902. In 1920 the Voynich’s moved to New York where Wilfrid continued his business.

‘The Gadfly’ became an international success. It sold millions of copies but it was until 1955 that Voynich heard that the book had sold over 2,500,000 in the Soviet Union alone. The book was also made into a movie on two occasions in the Soviet Union. In New York Ethel concentrated on music and composed a number of cantatas.

Ethel Lilian Voynich novelist, musician and native of Cork, Ireland died in New York City at the age of 96 in the year 1960 On This Day.

Voynich by Ben Woosley on 2010-06-02 21:46:52

Cork photo

Queen’s College, Cork (now UCC)

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons


27 July-Tom Nolan TD

Tom Nolan, who was a native of Co Carlow, Ireland served as a TD (Teachta Dála) for the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency for almost 17 years. He was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1965. During his time as a TD Tom Nolan, who was a member of the Fianna Fáil Party served as a Government Minister. Desmond Governey, who was a member of the Fine Gael Party and a native of Carlow town, served as TD for the same constituency also for 17 years between 1961 and 1982. It was the only time in recent years that two of the five TD’s for the constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny were both from County Carlow.

Tom Nolan was born near the village of Myshall, Co Carlow in 1921. He was educated at the De La Salle College in Muine Bheag (Bagenalstown) before joining the Defence Forces. He later established a business in Bagenalstown and became involved in politics as a member of the Fianna Fáil Party. He was elected to Carlow County Council in 1960 and in 1961 he was nominated to serve as member of Seanad Éireann.

Tom Nolan was first elected to Dáil Éireann for the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency in 1965. He served as TD for the constituency until he retired in 1982. Nolan also served as a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 1973 to 1979. During his time as a TD he was Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Welfare. He was also appointed to the serve in Government as Minister for Labour in 1980.

Tom Nolan, who served as TD (Teachta Dála) for the Constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny was born in Cappawater, Myshall, Co Carlow in 1921 On This Day.

Bagenalstown photo

Market Square, Bagenalstown, Co Carlow, 1991

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons

Bagenalstown photo

1977 Victory Dinner for Fianna Fáil

Photo by missfitzphotos


27 July-Brian Merriman and The Midnight Court

Brian Merriman, who wrote the poem ‘The Midnight Court’ (Cúirt an Mhéan Óiche), was a native of Co Clare, Ireland. ‘The Midnight Court’, probably the most famous poem in the Irish language has over 1,000 lines. It is widely regarded as the finest comic poem in Irish literature. Merriman was a farmer, poet and in later life, a teacher.

Brian Merriman was born in Ennistymon Co Clare on the west coast of Ireland in 1749. When he was a child his family moved to live near the town of Feakle about 55km from where the poet was born. Brian grew up there in the townland of Killanena near Lough Graney.

At the time education was usually provided in what were called ‘hedge schools’. It is thought that Merriman was educated at a hedge school. Hedge schools became a feature of rural Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries. While classes were sometimes held outdoors, they were mostly held in barns and private houses. Irish, English and Mathematics were usually taught. Other subjects such as Latin, History and Music depended on the teacher available. The teacher was usually a local educated man or a poor travelling scholar and payment was by subject.

In 1787 at the age of 38 Merriman married Kathleen Collins in Feakle. The couple had two daughters. In 1797 he was awarded prize of two spinning wheels by the Royal Dublin Society for the flax he had grown on his farm. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Limerick in 1802 where Merriman had been appointed as a teacher of mathematics.

The Midnight Court, which he wrote around 1780 is set on the shores of Lough Graney. It runs to over a 1,000 lines and is full of humour and sarcasm. The poet in a dream is brought before the court of Queen Aoibheall, judge and queen of the Fairies. There the women of Ireland accuse the men of waiting until they are too old to marry. When they finally do marry they are unable to perform in the bedroom. An old man defends the attitude of the men but his young wife gives a derisive account of his performance as a husband.

Lady of Craiglea, you must assess

The extent of Irish women’s distress,

How, if the men continue with their ways,

Alas, women will have to make the plays

By the time the men are disposed to wed

They’re no longer worth our while to bed

And it’ll be no fun to lie below

Those old men who are so weak and slow

He is sentenced to be flogged but the poet awakens to realise it was all a nightmare.

Though the poem was written in around 1780 it was not published until 1850. It has been translated into English on many occasions. A translation by the author Frank O’Connor was banned by the Irish Censorship Board in 1946. The poem has also been translated into other languages including Japanese. The Merriman Summer School is held each year in County Clare, usually in the month of August.

Brian Merriman, author of ‘The Midnight Court’, died in Limerick in the year 1805 On This Day.

FF2015 – Runic Cult – Priestess (Gold) – Immateria Unseelie Court Midnight by Tigist Sapphire on 2015-05-02 11:10:31

Ennistymon photo

Main St. Ennistymon, Co Clare

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons