30 March-Seán O’Casey

Seán O’Casey was a playwright who was a native of Dublin, Ireland. Famous for plays such as ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ and ‘The Plough and the Stars’ he was also a well-known Irish nationalist. O’Casey moved to England in 1927 at the age of 47. He lived there for the rest of his life.

Seán O’Casey was born at 85 Upper Dorset Street, Dublin in 1880. He was the youngest of a family of thirteen children. His father died when O’Casey was six years old. As a child his family moved house regularly. O’Casey suffered from poor eyesight which interfered with his early education. Leaving school at the age of fourteen he worked at various jobs. He worked for nine years (1902-1911) with Irish Railways (Great Northern Railway). He later worked with Eason’s, booksellers and newspaper distributors.

O’Casey became interested in Irish nationalism. In 1906 he joined the Gaelic League, learned the Irish language and changed his name to its Irish form, Seán Ó Cathasaigh. Influenced by the poverty he saw in the slums of Dublin, O’Casey joined the Irish Transport and general Workers Union which was founded by the labour leader Jim Larkin. He later joined the Irish Citizen Army but resigned in a disagreement about membership in 1914.

Though he had written a regular column for the Irish Worker from 1912 it was not until 1917 that O’Casey began devoting his energies to writing. His first plays were rejected by the Abbey Theatre but his two-act play, ‘The Shadow of a Gunman’ was eventually accepted by the Abbey in 1922. O’Casey was then 42 years old. His most popular play ‘Juno and the Paycock’ was staged by the Abbey in 1924. When the four-act play ‘The Plough and the Stars’ was staged in February 1926 it led to protests and riots in Dublin. O’Casey was in London at the time. He was being awarded a prize for his play ‘Juno and the Paycock’. He gave his acceptance speech in Irish.

While in London O’Casey met the Irish actress Eileen Reynolds Carey. They married in 1927 and though they returned to Ireland for their honeymoon O’Casey spent the remainder of his life in England. They lived in London until 1938 when they moved to Totnes in Devon. O’Casey continued to write plays and essays. Seán O’Casey died at the age of 84 in Torquay, Devon on September 18th 1964.

Seán O’Casey was born in Dublin in the year 1880 On This Day.

Sean O’Casey

Seán O’Casey Bridge


30 March-Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter who was a native of The Netherlands. He worked for an international art dealer in The Hague. As part of his job he travelled to cities such as London and Paris. In 1880, at the age of 27 he decided to become an artist. His work included paintings of portraits, landscapes, wheat fields and sunflowers.

Vincent Willem van Gogh was born in Groot-Zundert, Netherlands in 1853. Virtually unknown during his lifetime his work had a big influence on 20th century art. Paul Gauguin, also a post-impressionist painter, was born in Paris, France in 1848. His work was influential on such artists as Matisse and Picasso but he was not well appreciated until after his death.

In 1888 van Gogh and Gauguin spent over two months painting together in van Gogh’s house in Arles. However they quarrelled frequently, mostly about art. Following one such quarrel van Gogh cut off part of his own ear on December 23rd 1888. He died at the age of 37 on July 29th 1890.

Vincent van Gogh was born in the year 1853 On This Day.

Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh, Houses at Auvers, 1890



29 March-Smoking Ban

Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace. The ban was introduced under the Public Health (Tobacco) Acts 2002 and 2004. Together with bars and restaurants the ban, which was introduced in 2004, is strictly enforced in all public buildings and offices.

Smoking bans were introduced at various times in history, including in Roman Catholic churches in Mexico in 1575, by King James I of England in 1604 and by Adolf Hitler in 1941. During the 20th century the adverse effects of smoking on health led to restrictions being introduced in public places such as restaurants. The restrictions have been gradually expanded in countries around the world.

Smoking in workplaces in Ireland was banned in the year 2004 On This Day.


Smoking Room




29 March-Niagra Falls

The Niagara Falls are on the watercourse of the Niagara River. They lie on the border between the United States and Canada. The Falls with an average annual flow rate of 2,400 m3 per second have the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world. The Niagara Falls stopped flowing for over thirty hours in 1848.

The Niagara Falls consist of three waterfalls, the Horseshoe Falls, the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls. The falls are of recreational, commercial and industrial significance. Twin cities, Niagara Falls Ontario and Niagara Falls New York have grown up on either side of the falls. Significant amounts of electrical power is generated by the falls and they attract millions of tourists every year.

In March 1848 the Niagara Falls stopped flowing. Mills and factories which depended on the falls for power had to shut down. The river bed was exposed and people walked on the river bottom. For a time no one knew why the falls had stopped which caused fear and anxiety among the local residents.

Eventually word arrived that the head of the Niagara River at Lake Erie had been blocked by ice. The ice stopped water flowing from the lake into the river for over thirty hours. The ice eventually moved and the river began to flow again bringing the Niagara Falls back to life.

The Niagara Falls fell silent as the flow of water stopped in the year 1848 On This Day.

Niagra Falls

Niagara Falls photo

Photo by Artur Staszewski



29 March-Irish Times

The Irish Times is a newspaper which is published in Ireland. It is published every day of the week except Sundays. It has a circulation of about 80,000 per day and it is claimed that it is read by over 600,000 readers daily. As well as covering news stories of the day from Ireland and abroad, the Irish Times also reports on matters such as sport, business and property. Apart from expert opinion and analysis, the paper also carries a vast array of items catering for a huge range of interests.

Though a newspaper using the name Irish Times was published in 1823 the present publication was established in 1859 by Major Lawrence E. Knox. He was a supporter of Isaac Butt’s Home Rule League. The paper was based at 4 Lower Abbey Street in Dublin and for the first few months was published only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The first editor of The Irish Times was Dr George Ferdinand Shaw, a journalist and Professor at trinity College Dublin.

The Irish Times was bought in 1873 by the Arnott family. The Arnott family were owners of a major department store in Dublin. In 1895 the paper moved its offices to D’Olier Street where it was to remain until it moved to its present location on Tara Street in 2006. Today, 156 years after it was first published, the Irish Times continues to be a popular and thriving Irish newspaper.

The Irish Times was first published in the year 1859 On This Day.

Irish Times

Irish Times photo

Irish Times Clock

Photo by Daniel Dudek-Corrigan