24 December-Silent Night

Silent Night is one of the most popular of all Christmas carols. The carol dates back to the early 1800’s and has been translated into over 150 languages. It has been recorded by numerous singers including Bing Crosby, Elvis Presley, Mariah Carey and Justin Bieber. The recording of Silent Night by Bing Crosby is one of the best-selling records of all time.

The lyrics of Silent Night were written by Father Joseph Mohr in 1816 when he was serving as a priest in Mariapfarr in the state of Salzburg in Austria. The carol was written at a time of great upheaval in Europe following the Napoleonic Wars. In 1817 Fr Mohr was transferred as curate, over 130km away to the parish of St Nicholas in the town of Oberndorf. It is said that preparations for Christmas were disrupted due to flooding in the town in December 1818. During the flooding the church organ had been damaged.

On December 24th 1818 Fr Mohr brought the poem he had written to the home of the church organist Franz Gruber. Franz Gruber lived in the nearby village of Arnsdorf where he was the local schoolmaster. Since the church organ was not working, Fr Mohr asked Gruber to compose a melody which could be accompanied by a guitar in order that it could be sung later at midnight mass. Gruber composed the melody and later that evening Franz Gruber and Fr Mohr, backed by the church choir, sang silent night while Fr Mohr played the guitar.

Silent Night (Stille Nacht) was performed for the first time at midnight mass on Christmas Eve in St. Nicholas Church in Oberndorf, Austria in the year 1818 On This Day.

Silent Night

Silent-Night-Chapel in Oberndorf

by schun.oi on 2014-12-25 10:21:27



23 December-Mormon

Joseph Smith was the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Informally known as the Mormon Church it claims to have almost 70 million members worldwide. It has its headquarters in Salt lake City, Utah.

Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, USA in 1805. By 1817 he had moved with his family to Manchester, New York. Following claims that he began to see visions he translated one of his visions into the Book of Mormon. He founded the Latter Day Saints Church on April 6, 1830.

In 1831 Smith led his followers west to Ohio and later to Missouri, and Illinois. Violent clashes occurred with non-Mormons. Smith and his followers destroyed a newspaper which was critical of him. This, and the introduction of polygamy led to Smith being imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois. He was killed on June 27th 1844 when a mob stormed the prison. Following the death of Smith, Brigham Young was chosen as his successor.

Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, was born in the year 1805 On This Day.

Joseph Smith birthplace memorial




22 December-Patrick O’Donoghue

Patrick O’Donoghue from Clonegal, Co Carlow, Ireland was a member of the Young Ireland Movement. The Young Ireland Movement was an Irish nationalist, political and social movement which was active in the mid nineteenth century. The Movement had grown out a split with Daniel O’Connell over the methods being used by O’Connell to achieve the repeal of the Act of Union. The Young Irelanders were especially opposed to O’Connell’s attempts to form an alliance with the Whig Party in England.

Patrick O’Donoghue was born in 1810. He attended Trinity College Dublin and was working as law clerk in Dublin when he joined the Young Ireland Movement. Following the failure of the Young Ireland uprising at Ballingarry in Co Tipperary in 1848, O’Donoghue was found guilty of treason by a special commission in Clonmel Co Tipperary. He was sentenced to death. This sentence was later commuted to transportation for life to Van Diemen’s Land, now the island of Tasmania.

Shortly after arriving in Hobart, O’Donoghue established a weekly newspaper which he called the Irish Exile. The first edition was published on January 26th 1850. The paper was suppressed by the Governor and O’Donoghue was arrested. He was sentenced to hard labour for one year. On release he began publishing the Irish Exile again. He was arrested once more and sentenced again for a year to hard labour. He was released after a few months and sent to Launcetown in northern Tasmania in 1852. He escaped and in December 1852 boarded a ship bound for Melbourne.

From Melbourne O’Donoghue travelled via Sydney and Tahiti to San Francisco and from there to New York. By 1854 he was described as being often depressed, in poor health and estranged from many members of the Young Ireland movement who were also living in America. Following his arrival in America his wife and daughter and his brother sailed from Dublin to join him in New York. On arrival at New York however, they were unable to disembark immediately due to adverse weather conditions. O’Donoghue died on January 22nd 1854 shortly before his family were able to disembark.

Patrick O’Donoghue, native of Carlow, Ireland and member of the Young Ireland Movement, having escaped from Tasmania arrived in Melbourne en route to America in the year 1852 On This Day.

Plaque on the House in Clonegal, Carlow where Patrick O’Donoghue was born



21 December-Samuel Haughton

In August 2005 a plaque was unveiled in Carlow town, Ireland outside the house where polymath Samuel Haughton was born. Sponsored by An Bord Fáilte the plaque, which was unveiled by Professor David Spearman of the Royal Irish Academy. It records that Haughton was a mathematician, geologist and physiologist.

Samuel Haughton was born at Burrin Street, Carlow, Ireland in December 1821. He was educated locally. The school master had a special interest in nature and brought Haughton and other students on trips exploring nature along the valley of the river Barrow. Samuel Haughton entered Trinity College Dublin at the age of seventeen. He obtained a Foundation Scholarship called the Lloyd Exhibition in mathematics at the end of second year in 1843. The Foundation Scholarships are described as ‘the most prestigious and valuable awards’ at Trinity College. He won first place in mathematics in the following year and was successful in the fellowship examination in 1884.

During the following years Haughton worked in the mathematics department in Trinity College and was ordained a priest in 1847. In 1851 he was appointed Professor of Geology at the College. He held the post for 30 years and published up to fifty papers on geological subjects. He also carried out extensive studies on tides around the coast of Ireland. During his time as Professor of Geology Haughton studied medicine He was awarded the degree of MD in 1862 and was later appointed to the General Medical Council. He also served as President of the Royal Irish Academy and secretary and President of the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland. Haughton House at Dublin zoo was built in 1898 in memory of Samuel Haughton.

Haughton published a paper on hanging in 1866. At the time the person being hanged, died by slow strangulation which, we are told, could take several minutes. Haughton’s more humane method allowed the condemned person to drop far enough to snap the neck and cause instantaneous death. For example he determined that a person weighing 72.5kg needed a ‘drop’ of 4.5m. The method, which became known as ‘Haughton’s Drop’, became the accepted procedure for hanging. Samuel Haughton died in Dublin at the age of 77 on October 31st 1897. His body was returned to Carlow and he is buried in the family plot in Killeshin graveyard near Carlow town.

Samuel Haughton, mathematician, geologist and physiologist  was born Carlow town, Ireland in the year 1821 On This Day.

1898 The Hauchton House – Dublin Zoo by infomatique on 2012-08-29 13:11:18