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




20 November-Fidelio

Beethoven was a composer who was a native of Germany. He is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest composers. He produced many symphonies, concertos, piano sonatas, violin sonatas, masses, overtures and one opera. Beethoven was quite unable to hear during the latter part of his life. However it was during this time that he created some of his greatest works.

Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, Germany in December 1770. Beethoven’s father was his first music teacher. It is said that Beethoven senior was a harsh instructor and treated his son very cruelly when he made a mistake. He was also taught by other local music teachers. His father tried to make him a child prodigy but it was not until the age of 12 that he published his first composition. In school he was an average student and had difficulty with spelling and numeracy. He said ‘Music comes to me more readily than words’.

Though Beethoven lived briefly in Vienna in 1787 he moved there permanently in 1792. In Vienna he gained a reputation as a virtuoso pianist often playing in the salons of the Viennese nobility. As a composer he is one of the most important and influential figures in the history of music. Among his symphonies, concertos, sonatas, quartets and songs are famous pieces such as ‘Moonlight’ Sonata, Symphony No.5 and Ode to Joy from Symphony No. 9.

Beethoven composed one opera entitled Fidelio (Leonore, or The Triumph of Marital Love), which he worked on over a ten year period. It is set in a Spanish prison near Seville during the late 18th century. The opera tells the story of how Leonore, disguised as a prison guard named “Fidelio”, rescues her husband from death in a political prison.

Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, premiered at the Theater an der Wien, in Vienna in the year 1805 On This Day.





04 August-Willaim Rowan Hamilton

William Rowan Hamilton was a physicist and mathematician who was a native of Dublin, Ireland. He is best known as the inventor of Quaternions. On October 16th 1843 whilst walking with his wife along the banks of the Royal Canal in Dublin he realised that the solution to three-dimensional geometry was in quadruplets. He carved his equation (i2 = j2 = k2 = ijk = −1) onto a stone on Broom Bridge with his penknife. His invention is used in areas such as computer graphics and control theory.

William Rowan Hamilton was born in Dublin in 1805. At the age of 18 he entered Trinity College Dublin where he studied classics and mathematics. He was awarded an MA in 1837 and was appointed Professor of Astronomy. Following his appointment he resided at Dunsink Observatory in Castleknock, Dublin. He died aged 60 in 1865.

William Rowan Hamilton, mathematician and astronomer, was born in Dublin in the year 1805 On This Day.

William Rowan Hamilton portrait oval combined.png

William Rowan Hamilton


27 July-Brian Merriman and The Midnight Court

Brian Merriman, who wrote the poem ‘The Midnight Court’ (Cúirt an Mhéan Óiche), was a native of Co Clare, Ireland. ‘The Midnight Court’, probably the most famous poem in the Irish language has over 1,000 lines. It is widely regarded as the finest comic poem in Irish literature. Merriman was a farmer, poet and in later life, a teacher.

Brian Merriman was born in Ennistymon Co Clare on the west coast of Ireland in 1749. When he was a child his family moved to live near the town of Feakle about 55km from where the poet was born. Brian grew up there in the townland of Killanena near Lough Graney.

At the time education was usually provided in what were called ‘hedge schools’. It is thought that Merriman was educated at a hedge school. Hedge schools became a feature of rural Ireland during the 18th and 19th centuries. While classes were sometimes held outdoors, they were mostly held in barns and private houses. Irish, English and Mathematics were usually taught. Other subjects such as Latin, History and Music depended on the teacher available. The teacher was usually a local educated man or a poor travelling scholar and payment was by subject.

In 1787 at the age of 38 Merriman married Kathleen Collins in Feakle. The couple had two daughters. In 1797 he was awarded prize of two spinning wheels by the Royal Dublin Society for the flax he had grown on his farm. Shortly thereafter the family moved to Limerick in 1802 where Merriman had been appointed as a teacher of mathematics.

The Midnight Court, which he wrote around 1780 is set on the shores of Lough Graney. It runs to over a 1,000 lines and is full of humour and sarcasm. The poet in a dream is brought before the court of Queen Aoibheall, judge and queen of the Fairies. There the women of Ireland accuse the men of waiting until they are too old to marry. When they finally do marry they are unable to perform in the bedroom. An old man defends the attitude of the men but his young wife gives a derisive account of his performance as a husband.

Lady of Craiglea, you must assess

The extent of Irish women’s distress,

How, if the men continue with their ways,

Alas, women will have to make the plays

By the time the men are disposed to wed

They’re no longer worth our while to bed

And it’ll be no fun to lie below

Those old men who are so weak and slow

He is sentenced to be flogged but the poet awakens to realise it was all a nightmare.

Though the poem was written in around 1780 it was not published until 1850. It has been translated into English on many occasions. A translation by the author Frank O’Connor was banned by the Irish Censorship Board in 1946. The poem has also been translated into other languages including Japanese. The Merriman Summer School is held each year in County Clare, usually in the month of August.

Brian Merriman, author of ‘The Midnight Court’, died in Limerick in the year 1805 On This Day.

FF2015 – Runic Cult – Priestess (Gold) – Immateria Unseelie Court Midnight by Tigist Sapphire on 2015-05-02 11:10:31

Ennistymon photo

Main St. Ennistymon, Co Clare

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons