21 May-Alexander Pope

Alexander Pope was an 18th century poet and satirist who was a native of England. He is best known for his poems ‘An Essay on Criticism’, ‘The Rape of the Lock’ and for his translation of Homer’s Iliad. He was a friend of Jonathan Swift and poet Thomas Parnell of Portlaoise Co Laois.

Alexander Pope was born into a catholic family at Lombard Street, London in 1688. The Penal Laws (Test Acts), then in force had an impact on his education. The same laws did not permit Catholics to live within ten miles of London. As a result his family to move to Berkshire in 1700.

Pope was largely self-educated. His epigrams, some of which are quoted below, are some of the most frequently quoted in the English language.

‘A little learning is a dangerous thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring’

‘To err is human, to forgive divine’

‘For fools rush in where angels fear to tread’

‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast: Man never is, but always to be blessed’

Alexander Pope, poet and satirist who was a native of England, was born in the year 1688 On This Day.

Alexander Pope

20 May-Christopher Columbus

Christopher Columbus was an explorer and navigator who was a native of Genoa, Italy. He is known as ‘the man who discovered America’. He was hoping to find a new route to India when he landed in the New World in 1492. His discovery changed the course of world history.

Christopher Columbus was born Cristòffa Cónbo in Genoa, Italy in October 1451. He failed to get support from Portugal, France and England for his ‘enterprise of the Indies’. However, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain agreed to sponsor the Expedition. On August 3rd 1492 Columbus sailed from Palos de la Frontera in Southwestern Spain. Ten weeks later he landed in the Bahamas.

Columbus made three further voyages across the Atlantic. He visited several islands in the Caribbean and explored the coasts of Venezuela and Central America. He believed he had discovered a new route to India. He claimed all the newly discovered territories for Spain.

Christopher Columbus, who has been credited with opening up the Americas to European colonization, died in Valladolid, Spain in the year 1506 On This Day.

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Christopher Columbus

 

Christopher Columbus, Central Park, NYC

 

 

 

19 May-The Beheading of Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn was the second wife of King Henry VIII of England. Her grandmother was Margaret Butler of Kilkenny Castle, Ireland. Anne Boleyn was Queen of England from 1533 to 1536. Her marriage to Henry VIII led to the start of the Reformation in England.

Henry VIII married to Catherine of Aragon in 1509. She was the widow of his older brother, Arthur Prince of Wales. The marriage of Henry and Catherine produced a daughter, but no surviving sons. The daughter would become Mary I of England.

Henry was dissatisfied with the marriage to Catherine. He had become infatuated with Anne Boleyn. His request to have his marriage to Catherine annulled was refused by Pope Clement VII. Henry assumed supremacy over religious matters and the English clergy declared his marriage to Catherine invalid. He married Anne Boleyn on January 25th 1533. Anne Boleyn’s Irish cousin, Piers Butler of Kilkenny was created Earl of Ormond by Henry. The marriage led to the schism between England and the Catholic Church.

The marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn produced a daughter, who would become Elizabeth I of England. The failure of the marriage to produce a son disappointed Henry. In 1536 he had Anne arrested for high treason. She was found guilty and sentenced to death.

Anne Boleyn, Queen of England and the second wife of King Henry VIII of England was beheaded in the Tower of London in the year 1536 On This Day.

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Anne Boleyn

National Portrait Gallery

The Queens Head – Ely Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

18 May-John Bruton

John Bruton is a politician who served as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland from 1994 to 1997. He helped to begin the transformation of the Irish economy into one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Bruton was also deeply involved in the development of the Northern Irish Peace Process.

John Gerard Bruton was born in Dunboyne, Co Meath in 1947. Having qualified as a barrister he decided to enter politics. He was elected to Dáil Eireann to represent the constituency of Meath in the general Election of 1969. He was returned at each subsequent election until his retirement from politics in 2004.

Apart from serving as Taoiseach, Bruton also served in several ministerial positions during his time in Dáil Eireann. Following his retirement he served as the Ambassador of the European Union to the United States from 2004 to 2009. He continues to play an active role in Irish and European affairs.

John Bruton, who served as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland from 1994 to 1997 was born in Co Meath in the year 1947 On This Day.

Former Taoiseach John Bruton speaking at a public meeting on the Stability Treaty

 

 

16 May-First Female Train Driver

Teresa Carey became Ireland’s first female train driver in 2002. She began her driving career with Iarnrod Eireann (Irish Rail) at the age of 26 on the Cork to Dublin route. The Cork to Dublin route is one of the busiest in Ireland.

Teresa Carey was born in Radford, Coventry, England in 1976. She moved to Tralee, Co Kerry, Ireland when she was three years old. In 1994 she began working on the railways. She worked as a caterer, gatekeeper and train guard before beginning her locomotive training in 2001. Having successfully completed her training she drove the 9.05am train from Kent Station in Cork to Heuston Station in Dublin the following year.

Teresa Carey became Ireland’s first female train driver in the year 2002 On This Day.

Cork Kent Railway Station

Kent Station in Cork