19 July-Queen Mary I

Mary I was the first Queen of England and Ireland. She reigned from 1553 until her death in 1558. During her reign, Co Laois in the Irish midlands was planted with English settlers and was called Queen’s County. Though the county was renamed Laois following Irish independence in 1922, property deeds are still updated as being in Queen’s County. The adjacent county of Offaly was called King’s County after the husband of Mary I, King Phillip II of Spain.

Queen Mary I was born in Greenwich London on February 18th 1516. She was the only surviving daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. When Edward VI, son of Henry VIII died Lady Jane Grey was named as his successor on July 10th 1553. However, ten days later Lady Jane Grey was deposed and Mary I was proclaimed Queen.

During her reign Mary reversed the Protestant reforms which had been introduced by Edward. Over 280 Protestants were executed and many more went into exile. She died in London on November 17th 1558 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. She was succeeded by Elizabeth I who, when she died in 1603, was buried in the same tomb as Mary.

Mary I was proclaimed the first Queen of England and Ireland in the year 1553 On This Day.

Mary in an ornate dress

Mary I of England by Hans Eworth




18 July-Chartist Movement

Feargus O’Connor who was a native of Co Cork, Ireland, was one of the leaders of Chartism in England. Chartism, which took its name from the People’s Charter of 1838, was a working class movement which sought political reform in Great Britain. Other people from Ireland who became involved in Chartism at the time included James O’Brien, a lawyer from Longford and John Tyndall, a scientist from Carlow.

Feargus Edward O’Connor was born was born at Connerville, his family’s estate in west Cork in 1794. His father, Roderick O’Connor was an Irish Nationalist politician who traced his descent from the 11th century high king of Ireland, Roderick O’Connor. Feargus O’Connor was educated at Portarlington Grammar School and Trinity College Dublin. He was called to the Irish bar but became involved in politics. He was elected MP for Cork in 1832 as one of Daniel O’Connell’s supporters.

In 1835 O’Connor lost his seat and turned to agitation in England. He became the most popular and the most feared of the Chartist leaders. The reforms sought by the Chartists included, the secret ballot, a vote for every man over twenty-one years old and payment for members of parliament. Chartism, which existed from 1838 to 1868 did not immediately bring about reforms. However most of the reforms it sought were eventually implemented. Secret voting was introduced in 1872, payment for members of parliament was introduced in 1911 and every man over 21 and every woman over 30 was given the vote in the 1918 General Election.

Feargus O’Connor advocate for Irish rights, supporter of the Repeal movement and leader of the Chartist movement in England was born in Co Cork in the year 1794 On This Day.

Image from page 65 of “Mr. Punch’s history of modern England” (1921)




17 July-Tsar Nicholas II of Russia

Nicholas II was the last Emperor of Russia. He inherited the throne in 1894 when his father Tsar Alexander III died. Known as Tsar Nicholas II he reigned as Emperor of Russia for 23 years. He was forced to abdicate in 1917 following the Russian Revolution. The Romanov dynasty which had ruled Russia for three centuries had come to an end.

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia was born in Saint Petersburg in 1868. He was crowned Tsar of Russia on May 26th 1896. Frequent unrest occurred during his reign and there was violent suppression of the 1905 revolution. He was seen as a weak and incompetent leader. Russia was defeated by the Empire of Japan in 1905 and over 3 million Russian people died in World War I.

Following his abdication in 1917 Nicholas and his family were arrested. They were imprisoned in the town of Tobolsk east of the Ural Mountains. The family was moved 600km to the town of Yekaterinburg in April 1918 where they were later executed by the Bolsheviks.

Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and his family were executed by the Bolsheviks in the year 1918 On This Day.

Tsar Nicholas II and Family




16 July-Roald Amundsen

Roald Amundsen was a Norwegian explorer who led the first expedition to reach the South Pole in 1911. Just two years previously Ernest Shackleton from Kilkea in Co Kildare Ireland, led an expedition which came within 180km of the Pole (88° 23′S). Though Shackleton was forced to turn back, his team succeeded in reaching the South Magnetic Pole on January 16th 1909.

Roald Amundsen was born in Borge, Østfold near Oslo Norway in 1872. He studied medicine until he was 21 years old. He then left university for a life at sea. Amundsen made his first expedition to Antarctica as a member of the Belgian Antarctic Expedition in 1897. This became the first expedition to spend the winter in Antarctica and led Amundsen to the decision that he was ready to lead his own expedition.

Amundsen set about being the first to reach the North Pole but everything changed when the American Robert Peary got there first on April 6th 1909. Amundsen then decided that he would try to be the first to reach the South Pole. Amundsen headed for Antarctica and reached the South Pole on December 14th 1911, one month before British explorer Robert Scott’s second attempt.

Roald Amundsen, Norwegian explorer who in 1911 led the first Antarctic expedition to reach the South Pole, was born in the year 1872 On This Day.




15 July-Sean Lemass

Sean Lemass was an Irish statesman who served as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland from 1959 to 1966. He was one of the major political figures in Ireland during the 20th century. Lemass is widely credited with laying the foundations of economic development in Ireland.

Seán Francis Lemass was born in Dublin in 1899. He played an active part in the Easter Rising of 1916, the War of Independence and the Civil War. Lemass was first elected to Dáil Éireann in 1924 and in 1926 was a founding member of the Fianna Fáil Party. He was elected at each subsequent election until his retirement from politics in 1969.

During his time as an elected representative Lemass served as Minister for Industry and Commerce and also as Minister for Supplies during World War II. He served as Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) from 1945 until his election as Taoiseach in 1959. During his time as Taoiseach, Lemass introduced programmes of economic development and forged links with the European Community.

Sean Lemass, politician and statesman who served as Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland from 1959 to 1966, was born in the year 1899 On This Day.