31 December-Big Ben Chimes

The Big Ben clock tower in the Palace of Westminster in London was designed by the architect Augustus Pugin. Pugin is reputed to have designed The Church of the Most Holy Rosary, Tullow, Co Carlow, Ireland. He designed many famous buildings in Ireland including the Co. Wexford churches at Gorey, Tagoat and Barntown and the Cathedrals at Enniscorthy and Killarney. He also designed the seminary at Maynooth in County Kildare. The Great Bell in the clock tower in the Palace of Westminster has the nickname Big Ben. However Big Ben is usually used to refer to the clock and clock tower.

On the night of October 16th 1834 the old Palace of Westminster in London was, for the most part, destroyed by fire. Architect Charles Barry won the competition to build the new palace and he commissioned Alexander Pugin to design the clock tower. The tower, which is 96m high was completed in 1858. It has four clocks the dials of which are each 7m in diameter. The numbers on the clock are approximately 60cm long. The chimes of Big Ben, the massive bell in the tower were first heard on May 31st 1859.

In 2012 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, a major tourist attraction and has become one of the most prominent symbols of the United Kingdom.

Big Ben Chimes were first broadcast on the BBC in the year 1923 On This Day.

Big Ben


31 December-Window Tax

The Window Tax, considered to be a forerunner of the Property Tax, was in force in Ireland from 1799 to 1851. The tax applied to any house with more than six windows. As a result houses were built with as few windows as possible.

Some houses and buildings from the period can be seen to have bricked-up window-spaces to avoid the tax. The Bank of Ireland building on College Green is a good example of a building where space was left for windows which were never glazed. The Window Tax which was introduced in Ireland in 1799 was already in place in England and Wales for 104 years.

The Window Tax was introduced in England and Wales in the year 1696 On This Day.

Bank of Ireland, Dublin. County Dublin, Ireland-LCCN2002717395

Bank Of Ireland – College Green (Dublin)

Bank of Ireland at night

31 December-Letitia Dunbar Harrison

Letitia Dunbar-Harrison was recommended for appointment as Librarian for County Mayo in the west of Ireland in July 1930 by the independent Local Appointments Commission. What should have been a routine appointment caused conflict between local and national government and between church and state. It became a famous public controversy which attracted national headlines. Reports about the controversy also appeared in newspapers in places such as London and Boston.

Letitia Dunbar-Harrison was born in Dublin on February 4th 1906. Her family were members of the Church of Ireland. Letitia was educated at Alexandra College in Dublin and entered Trinity College Dublin in 1924. She graduated with an honours degree in French and Spanish in 1928. Afterwards she trained as a librarian at University College Dublin and worked at the Rathmines Public Library in Dublin.

Following independence in 1922 the Local Appointments Commission had been established by the Irish Government. Its role was to prevent nepotism or corruption in recruitment to senior local government posts. The Commission advertised the Position of County Librarian for Mayo in early 1930. Following public competition Letitia Dunbar-Harrison was recommended for appointment by the Commission.

Under the law Mayo County Council was obliged to ratify her appointment. However the County Council backed by the Library Committee refused to do so. The reason given for refusing to ratify the appointment was that Ms Dunbar-Harrison was not proficient in the Irish language. However it is widely accepted that the Council refused to ratify her appointment because she was not a Roman Catholic and also that she was a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.

The Minister for Local Government, Richard Mulcahy, abolished the Council and appointed a Commissioner, PJ Bartley, to carry out its functions. One of his first acts was to appoint Letitia Dunbar Harrison as County Librarian for Mayo. Soon after her appointment clerics and conservative Catholics organised a boycott of the library services in Mayo. Monsignor D’Alton, a member of the library committee and Parish Priest of Ballinrobe, said at the time: ‘The only outstanding qualification she has is that she is a Protestant and was educated in Trinity College. Are these not peculiar qualifications for a Catholic county like Mayo? 99% of the people of Mayo are Catholic’.

The appointment of Ms Dunbar-Harrison caused political controversy. Mr Eamon de Valera, then leader of Fianna Fáil the main opposition party stated: ‘I say that if I had a vote on a local body, and there were two qualified people who had to deal with a Catholic community, and if one was a Catholic and the other a Protestant, I would unhesitatingly vote for the Catholic’.

In order to defuse the controversy Taoiseach W. T. Cosgrave held a meeting with Dr Thomas Gilmartin the Catholic Archbishop of Tuam. Following the meeting Ms Dunbar-Harrison was promoted to the Department of Defence Library in Dublin later that same year.

While she was living in Castlebar Ms Dunbar-Harrison met her future husband Rev. Robert Crawford, a Methodist Minister. They married a short time after she moved to Dublin in 1931. Letitia was forced to resign her position because at the time married women were not allowed to work in the civil service.

Mayo County Council was abolished for failing to carry out its statutory duty, namely the appointment of Ms Letitia Dunbar-Harrison as County Librarian, in the year 1930 On This Day.

Main Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo on 1880-01-01 00:00:00

Wynne’s, Castlebar, Co Mayo. 1989

Menawn Cliffs, Achill. County Mayo, Ireland] (LOC) on 1890-01-01 00:00:00

30 December-Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods is a professional golfer who is a native of California USA. He is one of the most successful golfers of all time. The recipient of numerous awards, Woods was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2007.

Eldrick Tont ‘Tiger’ Woods was born in Cypress, California, USA in 1975. He was introduced to golf as a child by his father. Woods won the Junior World Championships six times between 1988 and 1991. He turned professional in 1996. At age 21 Woods had reached the number one position in the world rankings by June 1997.

Since then Tiger Woods has been world number one for the most consecutive weeks. He has also been the world number one for the greatest total number of weeks of any other golfer. He has been awarded PGA Player of the Year a record eleven times. With Rory McIlroy, Woods shares the honour of winning both the Silver Medal and The Gold Medal at The Open Championship.

Tiger Woods was born in the year 1975 On This Day.

Tiger Woods


30 December-Coca-Cola

Asa Griggs Candler, whose ancestor Daniel Candler was born in Callan in Co Kilkenny, Ireland, was the founder of the Coca-Cola Company. William Candler, a son of Daniel, emigrated to America in the mid 1700’s. He settled in Richmond, Georgia.

One of a family of eleven children Asa Candler was born on a farm near Villa Rica, Georgia in 1851. Having trained as a pharmacist he began his career as a drugstore clerk. He bought the rights to what was described as a tonic and headache medicine called the Coca-Cola formula, from John Pemberton in 1887.

Through aggressive marketing Candler made millions of dollars from sales of the soft drink product. Though the product contained a ‘secret formula’ it did not contain caffeine or cocaine. By the turn of the century Coca-Cola had become a nationwide phenomenon in the United States. Today it is a world renowned beverage. It has one of the most widespread distribution networks in the world.

In 1919 Candler sold the business for $25,000,000. He became involved in real estate development and in philanthropic activities. He served as Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia from 1916 to 1919. Candler Park in the city of Atlanta, is named in his honour. Candler’s home in Atlanta is called Callan Castle, which alludes to his ancestral home town in Ireland. He died in Atlanta, Georgia on March 12th 1929.

Asa Griggs Candler, the founder of the Coca-Cola Company, was born in the year 1851 On This Day.

Coca-Cola Sign, Atlanta, Georgia