21 March-Sonia O’Sullivan

Sonia O’Sullivan, who is a native of Co Cork, is one of Ireland’s most successful athletes. She represented Ireland at four Olympic Games, winning an Olympic Silver Medal in 2000. O’Sullivan also won European Gold and World Gold Medals. She was Chef De Mission for the Irish team at the 2012 Olympics in London.

Sonia “Fran” O’Sullivan was born in Cobh, Co Cork on November 28th 1969. She was educated at Cobh Vocational School and began her athletic career with Ballymore Running Club in the town of Cobh. In 1988 O’Sullivan was awarded a scholarship to Villanova University in Philadelphia, USA. She graduated from there with a degree in Accounting in 1992.

Prior to winning her Olympic Medal, Sonia O’Sullivan had a long list of successes to her credit. These included:

•Three World Championship Gold Medals

•Three European Championship Gold Medals

•Four World Records

Sonia O’Sullivan won the Gold Medal in the World Cross Country Championships in Marrakech, Morocco in the year 1998 On This Day.

 

 

 

 

21 March-James Ussher

James Ussher was born in Dublin on January 4th 1581. He is listed as the second student admitted to Trinity College Dublin, which had opened on January 9th 1593. He was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree by 1598 and a Master’s degree in 1600. He was ordained a priest in 1602.

Ussher worked in Trinity College Dublin in various capacities before being appointed Bishop of Meath in 1621. He studied church history and was a collector of Irish manuscripts. He was a passionate supporter of the Reformation and strongly opposed to concessions being made to Irish Catholics by King Charles 1.

Believing in the literal truth of the Bible, Ussher set about calculating the beginning of creation. In 1650 he published Annales veteris testamenti (Annals of the Old Testament). Allowing 365 days in each year he calculated various events in the Bible, including that Adam and Eve were driven from Paradise on November 10th 4004 BC, that on May 5th 2348 BC, the Ark touched down on Mt Ararat.

Ussher also calculated that creation began on October 23rd 4004 BC. By 1701 Ussher’s dates were adopted for use by the Church of England in its official Bible. It was suggested that Ussher had also predicted that the world would end on October 22nd 1996. However he never made any such prediction.

James Ussher Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, who calculated that creation began at midday on October 23rd 4004 BC died in the year 1656 On This Day.

Ussher’s Anales

20 March-Brendan Behan

Brendan Behan was a native of Dublin, Ireland. He was an author of poems, short stories, novels and plays. He was also involved in republican activities for which he served time in prison. His writing is noted for its satire and political commentary.

Brendan Behan was born Brendan Francis Aidan Behan at Holles Street Hospital on February 9th 1923. His family was staunchly republican. At the age of 13 Behan left school to work as painter with his father. By then he was drinking alcohol which led to him being an alcoholic all his life.

During his lifetime Behan was imprisoned in England for his republican activities. Shortly after his return to Ireland in 1942 he was convicted of the attempted murder of a policeman. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison, during which time he studied the Irish language. He left the republican movement in 1947.

In 1948 Behan moved to Paris to concentrate on his writing. During his career he produced a large volume of work. His most famous works include ‘The Quare Fellow’, ‘The Hostage’ and ‘Borstal Boy’. His plays were staged in Dublin, London and New York.

Brendan Behan, author of poems, short stories, novels and plays died at the age of 41 in the year 1964 On This Day.

Brendan Behan

18 March-Sheela’s Day

Today is Sheela’s Day. In the Celtic calendar, Sheela’s Day was celebrated the day after St Patrick’s Day. It was annual festival held in ancient times. The festival was to honour what is thought to be the fertility goddess known as Sheela-na-gigh or Sheela-na-gig.

A Sheela-na-gig is a stone carving of a naked woman clasping her vulva. The greatest number of Sheela-na-gigs are found in Ireland. They were, at one time widespread on churches and castles and were usually positioned over doors or windows. They are also found in Great Britain, France and Spain. The largest collection of Sheela-na-gigs in the world are in the National Museum of Ireland.

Sheela’s Day is celebrated every year On This Day.

Bunratty Sheela-na-gig

St Mary and St David Church, Kilpeck, Herefordshire

 

 

 

17 March-Ireland’s Oldest Mother

Mary Higgins was a native of Cork City, Ireland. She is Ireland’s oldest mother on record. In 1931 she gave birth to her first child. At the time she was 55 years and 69 days old. The child, a daughter, was born to Ms Higgins and her husband following natural conception.

A woman becomes sterile following the menopause. As men age they experience a decline in fertility. However with advances in assisted reproductive technology it has been possible for older women to become pregnant.

The oldest woman on record to give birth is Daljinder Kaur. With the aid of reproductive technology she gave birth to a son, Arman on April 19th 2026. She was 72 years old at the time. The oldest woman to give birth through natural conception was an unidentified English woman. She gave birth to triplets at the age of 62 years and six months in 1887.

Mary Higgins from Cork City became Ireland’s oldest mother on record at age 55 years and 69 days when she gave birth to her daughter, following natural conception in the year 1931 On This Day.

Cork City