16 January-Frances Browne

Frances Browne was an author who was a native of Co Donegal, Ireland. Despite being blind from a young age she became a successful poet and novelist during the Victorian era. Her work appeared in several publications during her lifetime. She was awarded a civil pension of £100 by Sir Robert Peel.

Frances Browne was born in Stranorlar Co Donegal, Ireland in 1816. One of a family of twelve children she lost her sight before the age of two due to smallpox. She learned what she heard by heart especially the lessons which her brothers and sisters said aloud each evening.

Her first collection of poems, which included ‘Songs of Our Land’ was published in 1841 in the Irish Penny Journal and the London Athenauem. Her poems and short stories continued to be published and she became known as ‘The Blind Poetess of Ulster’.

Accompanied by her sister who was her reader and amanuensis, Frances Browne moved to Edinburgh in 1847. In Edinburgh she continued her literary work including making contributions to women’s magazines. She moved to London in 1852 where her most famous work, ‘Granny’s Wonderful Chair’ was published. In 1856 she published ‘Pictures and Songs of Home’, a volume of poetry about growing up in Donegal. Her final poem ‘The Children’s Day’ was published shortly before her death at the age of 63 on August 21st 1879.

Frances Browne, poet and novelist, was born in Stranorlar, Co Donegal, Ireland in the year 1816 On This Day.

Frances Browne photo

Image from page 36 of “Granny’s wonderful chair and its tales of fairy times” (1916) by Internet Archive Book Images




19 May-Ha’penny Bridge

The Ha’penny Bridge is a pedestrian bridge which spans the river Liffey close to Dublin city centre. It is one of twenty four road, rail and passenger bridges on the Liffey in the greater Dublin area. For over 180 years it was the only pedestrian bridge to span the river until the opening of the Millenium Bridge just over 100m upriver in 1999.The Ha’penny Bridge has become one of the symbols of Dublin.

The Ha’penny Bridge, which is made of cast iron, was manufactured at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire, England, shipped to Dublin and assembled on site. The village of Coalbrookdale was well known in the 19th century for its decorative ironwork. Apart from the Ha’penny Bridge items as far apart as the gates of Hyde Park in London and the Peacock Fountain in Christchurch New Zealand were made in Coalbrookdale.

Installed in 1816 the Ha’penny Bridge replaced a ferry service operated by a Mr William Walsh, an Alderman of Dublin city. He was given compensation of £3,000 and was granted a lease allowing him to charge each person a halfpenny to cross the bridge for the next 100 years. When the lease ended in 1916 the bridge became the property of Dublin Corporation. The corporation stopped charging to cross the bridge in 1919.

Initially known as the Wellington Bridge it was officially named the Liffey Bridge in 1922 but is commonly referred to as The Ha’penny Bridge. In 1816 the bridge was used by just 450 people per day. Today that number has increased to an average of 30,000 per day. An assessment carried out in 1998 led to a major refurbishment of the bridge, which took over a year to complete and cost €1.25 million. Much of the repair was carried out by Harland and Wolff in Belfast. While the bridge was being repaired a temporary bridge was erected. Following refurbishment the Ha’penny Bridge was officially reopened on December 21st 2001.

The Ha’penny Bridge was opened for the first time in the year 1816 On This Day.

The Ha’penny Bridge



04 October-Christopher Colles

Christopher Colles was an engineer and inventor. A native of Dublin, Ireland, he was involved in several major projects in Ireland and America. In Ireland he worked on projects on the river Nore and river Shannon. His projects in America included a water distribution system for New York and the first US road map.

Christopher Colles was born in Dublin in May 1739. He was educated at the Quaker school in Ballitore Co Kildare. In 1749 following the death of his father Richard, he moved to Kilkenny to live with his uncle William Colles.

In 1761 Christopher Colles began working as a clerk on the Nore Navigation. On the 14th of January 1764 he married Ann Keogh from Kilkenny. Shortly thereafter he moved to Limerick where he supervised the building of the Custom House. When the building was completed in 1769 he was appointed Director of Inland Navigation of the River Shannon. At the same time he became involved in the surveying and mapping of Limerick.

In 1771 Colles emigrated to the US with his wife and four children. He became involved in various projects including making one of the first steam engines in the country. He also produced what is considered the first road map of the U.S.

Christopher Colles died at his home in New York in the year 1816 On This Day.

Image from page 146 of “The Hudson, from the wilderness to the sea” (1866) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1866-01-01 00:00:00

Nore navigation photo

Image from page 651

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images