29 October-Sir Walter Raleigh

Sir Walter Raleigh introduced tobacco from Virginia to Ireland and England. He is also said to have introduced the potato to Ireland following his expeditions to South America. During his time as a landlord in Ireland from 1585 to 1602 Raleigh lived at Killua Castle, Clonmellon, Co Westmeath and occasionally at Youghal Co Cork.

Walter Raleigh was born around 1554 and grew up on a farm near the village of East Budleigh in Devon. During the Wars of Religion in France he fought, at the age of 17, on the side of the Huguenots. He returned to England in 1572 and entered Oxford but left without a degree. He later studied law at the Middle Temple.

During the Second Desmond Rebellion in Ireland Raleigh gained distinction as a soldier in the army of Queen Elizabeth 1. He played a leading and ruthless role in the suppression of the Rebellion in Munster. He was present at the siege of Smerwick in September 1580. 600 papal troops had landed at Smerwick in Kerry in support of the Desmond Rebellion. They were surrounded by forces loyal to Elizabeth 1. They surrendered after two days and were massacred.

Following the suppression of the Rebellion Raleigh was granted large estates in Munster including the towns of Youghal and Lismore by Queen Elizabeth I. He did not manage the estates very well. After 17 years in Ireland he sold the estates to Richard Boyle 1st Earl of Cork.

Raleigh began to explore North America during his time in Ireland. He helped prepare for settlements to be established in what is now North Carolina. He named it Virginia in honour of Queen Elizabeth 1 who was often referred to as the virgin queen. It was during these trips to America that tobacco was brought to Ireland and England.

In 1592 Raleigh married Bessy Throckmorton who was a maid-of-honour to Queen Elizabeth 1. The marriage enraged the Queen and she imprisoned both Raleigh and his wife in the Tower of London. He was later released and in 1594 led an expedition to South America in search of gold. Little gold was found but his later successes against the Spanish restored him to the Queens favour.

When Elizabeth 1 died in 1603, Raleigh was imprisoned, accused of plotting against her successor James 1. He was found guilty of treason but King James spared his life. He was imprisoned and not released until 1616. He set out in search of gold again in South America. He antagonised King James by invading Spanish territory and on his return to England his sentence for treason was re-instated.

Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded at the Palace of Westminster in the year 1618 On This Day.

Sir Walter Raleigh statue by Sutherland85 on 2011-05-15 13:07:56

Sir Walter Raleigh by davidmallett33 on 2009-08-24 05:23:00

28 October-Bill Gates

Bill Gates co-founded Microsoft with Paul Allen in 1976. He served as chief executive of Microsoft until January 2000. Gates still works with the company as technology advisor. He is currently one of the wealthiest people in the world.

William Henry Gates III was born in Seattle Washington, USA in 1955. He took leave of absence from Harvard in 1975 to co-found Microsoft. The company was registered on November 26th 1976. Today Microsoft is a global company with over 114,000 employees.

Since stepping down as chief executive of Microsoft Bill Gates has become involved in a number of philanthropic endeavours. He is co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The Foundation is devoted to improving education and healthcare and also to ending poverty.

Bill Gates was born in the year 1955 On This Day.

Bill Gates photo

Bill Gates

Photo by ToddABishop

28 October-Statue of Liberty

William Russell Grace from Ballylinan, Co Laois, Ireland was mayor of New York when the Statue of Liberty arrived in the city from France in 1885. It was a gift of friendship from the people of France to the United States of America. The Statue of Liberty is now a national Monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is a popular tourist site attracting over 3 million visitors annually and is one of America’s most famous landmarks.

In 1865 the French poet, author and politician Edouard de Laboulaye proposed a monument for the United States to commemorate the centennial of the American Declaration of Independence. The sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was commissioned to design a suitable sculpture. Following a trip to America and discussions with individuals in America and France the idea of the Statue of Liberty was conceived

It was agreed that the cost of building the statue would be borne by the French and the Americans would build the pedestal. Funds for the project were raised through lotteries, exhibitions and other events in both countries. Construction of the statue began in 1875. The metallic skeleton which supports the copper exterior of the statue was designed by French engineer Gustave Eiffel (1832-1923) who later built the Eiffel Tower in Paris.

The Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City aboard the French ship Isere on June 17th 1885. It took four months to assemble and erect the statue which had been shipped from France as 350 individual pieces. It was erected on the pedestal which had been prepared by the Americans on what is now called Liberty Island in New York harbour.

The site for the Statue of Liberty was originally suggested by Bartholdi having noted during his visit that ships arriving in New York had to sail past it. Ellis Island, the main immigration station in America, opened in 1892. During the following sixty years millions of people, many of them Irish, sailed past the statue on their way to Ellis Island and a new life in America.

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated at a ceremony presided over by Grover Cleveland, President of the United states of America, in the year 1886 On This Day.

Statue of Liberty by Sue Waters on 2012-07-06 14:38:57

Building the Statue of Liberty by pbump on 2013-03-16 11:31:43


Grace family mausoleum, Sacred Heart Church, Arles, Co Laois, Ireland

28 October-Jonas Salk

Dr Jonas Salk was a physician and medical researcher who discovered the first safe and successful polio vaccine. Poliomyelitis (Polio) is an infectious disease which is caused by the poliovirus. A very large number of people around the world were affected by polio during the 1900’s. The poliovirus is spread by faecal-oral contact or by infected saliva. A small number of those affected by the polio virus (less than 0.5%) are affected by muscle weakness and some of those may fully recover. Those who do not recover, suffer from paralysis (usually of the legs) and in severe cases some patients may die.

Jonas Edward Salk was born in New York City, USA in 1912. Following graduation from high school he entered City College, New York. He graduated from there with Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1934. Salk went on to study medicine at New York University graduating with an MD in 1939. He decided to devote his time to medical research rather than practice medicine. He began research on polio at the University of Pittsburgh in 1947.

Though there is evidence to show that the effects of polio have been known since prehistory, it was not until the first half of the 20th century that polio reached pandemic levels in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. Ireland experienced the first epidemic of the disease in 1942 and there continued to be other epidemics up to 1953. There was a severe outbreak of the disease in Cork in 1956. At the same time the United States was experiencing an annual average of over 35,000 cases. There is no cure for Polio but the development of an effective vaccine means that the disease can be prevented.

During his research on polio Salk discovered that there were three types of the polio virus and developed a vaccine against the disease. Testing of the vaccine began in 1952. It was administered to almost 2 million children before it was approved in 1955. The widespread administration of the vaccine led to a rapid decline in the incidence of polio and Salk was hailed as a miracle worker. In later years Dr Jonas Salk went on to carry out research on cancer, AIDs and HIV. He died in California on June 23rd 1995.

Dr Jonas Salk was born in New York City in the year 1912 On This Day.

Dr Jonas Salk photo

Dr Jonas Salk

Photo by nordique

Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute by dreamsjung on 2008-11-10 13:17:29

27 October-Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas was a poet and writer who was a native of Wales. He is famous for such works as ‘Do not go gentle into that good night’ and ‘Under Milkwood’. Dylan, who became a very popular poet during his lifetime, died in 1953 at the age of 39.

Dylan Marlais Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales in 1914. He left school at sixteen to become a journalist and had his first literary success with ‘Light breaks where no sun shines’ in 1934. He spent the summer of 1935 in Donegal. He was married to Caitlin Macnamara.

Dylan Thomas was born in the year 1914 On This Day.

Dylan Thomas. Poet. 1914-1953. by The hills are alive* on 2014-01-22 21:56:34

Dylan Thoma