08 July-Zeppelin

Zeppelin is a type of rigid airship in which the structure is supported by a framework usually made of aluminium. They are named after Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin who was a native of Germany. He served as army officer from 1855 to 1890. He made his first flight in a ‘lighter than air’ aircraft over Lake Constance on July 2nd 1900. Over 100 Zeppelins were used during World War I. However the widespread use of Zeppelins came to an end with Hindenburg Disaster in 1939.

Ferdinand von Zeppelin, designer and manufacturer of airships, was born in the year 1838 On This Day.




10 May-John Wilkes Booth

John Wilkes Booth assassinated US President Abraham Lincoln on April 14th 1865. Booth was a well-known actor at the time. He was also a Confederate sympathiser who was strongly opposed to the abolition of slavery in the United States. He was a vehement opponent of Lincoln and in a desperate plan to save the confederacy he decided to shoot the President.

John Wilkes Booth was born in Bel Air, Maryland in May 1838. He made his stage debut at the age of 17. By the 1860’s he had become a wealthy, leading actor. The American Civil War had effectively ended when the Confederate, General Lee, surrendered to General Grant on April 9th 1865. Five days after the surrender President Lincoln attended the play ‘Our American Cousin’ at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C.

On the night of the attack on President Lincoln, Booth managed to enter the Presidential box in the theatre and lock the door from the inside. During a part of the play where there was loud laughter, Booth, using a small pistol, shot the President in the back of the head. President Lincoln died a few hours later. Booth attacked another occupant of the box and then jumped onto the stage, breaking one of his legs.

Booth escaped from the theatre and, with an accomplice, travelled south to Virginia. He was hiding in a barn on a tobacco farm when he was tracked down by the 16th New York Cavalry led by Captain Edward Doherty. Doherty’s parents was from Sligo, Ireland. Booth refused to surrender, was shot and died a short time later. His body was brought back to Washington. He is buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.

John Wilkes Booth was born in the year 1838 On This Day.

John Wilkes Booth

Captain Edward P. Doherty, John Wilkes Booth’s Captor




10 April-Fr Mathew

Fr Mathew (the temperance priest) was a Roman Catholic priest who was a native of Co Tipperary, Ireland. He was educated at St Canice’s Academy, Kilkenny City. With William Martin he led a campaign to promote temperance in Ireland and abroad during the 19th century.

Theobald Mathew was born at Thomastown Castle, near Cashel, Tipperary, Ireland on October 10th 1790. In 1807, at the age of seventeen, he entered the Royal College of Saint Patrick Maynooth to study for the priesthood. He left after a year and joined the Capuchin Order in Dublin where he was ordained a priest on April 17th 1813.

Father Mathew returned to Kilkenny city for his first assignment as a Capuchin. A year later he was transferred to the Capuchin Friary (South Friary) in the city of Cork. He became a well-known and popular figure in Cork where he organised schools, benefit societies and a library.

Drunkenness was a widespread and serious problem in Ireland at the time. Father Mathew had frequently spoken on the dangers and evils of excessive drinking and many temperance efforts had failed. A Quaker called William Martin had begun a campaign of total abstinence in 1835. Father Mathew joined the campaign by taking the Total Abstinence Pledge in 1838. What became known as ‘The Pledge’ was a commitment to refrain from taking alcohol for life.

The temperance movement spread quickly and Fr Mathew began to travel the country encouraging people to take the pledge. By the early 1840’s close to 3 million people had taken the pledge. James Haughton, father of Samuel Haughton of Burrin Street Carlow, became one of his greatest supporters. One of those to take the pledge was Frederick Douglass, the former slave, who was visiting Cork in 1845.

The temperance movement appears to have had a big influence on crime. It also caused the closure of many distilleries and breweries. The number of people committed to jail or sentenced to be transported fell by almost 50% between 1838 and 1845. Other crime rates also fell dramatically.

Fr Mathew took his campaign to Britain, beginning in Glasgow in 1842. He then went on to visit cities such as Liverpool, Manchester, and London. During the famine in Ireland he helped to organise societies for the collection and delivery of food. He also used his influence to raise funds in Britain and America for victims of the famine.

Fr Mathew went to the USA in 1849. He had dinner at the White House with President Zachary Taylor and was received in Congress with the highest honours. During the following two and half years he travelled widely in America encouraging people to take the pledge. When Fr Mathew visited The USA slave abolitionists hoped he would support their cause. They were hopeful because in 1841, with over 60,000 Irish people (including Daniel O Connell), Fr Mathew had signed a petition encouraging Irish people in the USA not to support slavery. However to the great disappointment of Douglass and the anti-slavery movement Fr Mathew failed to support them.

Having spent two and half years in the USA and suffering from ill-health Fr Mathew returned to Ireland in 1851. He died in Cork at the age of 66 on December 8th 1856. By the late 1800’s the temperance movement had begun to lose its influence. In Ireland it was replaced by the Pioneers Total Abstinence Association in 1898.

Fr Mathew took ‘The Pledge’ thus beginning the temperance movement in the year 1838 On This Day.

Fr Mathew statue in Cork





26 March-William Lecky

William Lecky was a historian and philosopher who was a native of Dublin, Ireland. He was also a politician and was elected as MP for Dublin University in 1895. Lecky was a supporter of the Catholic University scheme. He also supported the efforts of Horace Plunkett to establish the co-operative movement.

William Edward Hartpole Lecky was born in Newtown Park, Dublin in 1838. He was educated at various schools in Ireland and England before entering Trinity College Dublin. He graduated with a BA degree from Trinity College Dublin in 1859 and was awarded an MA in 1863.

Lecky was the author of several major works. These included ‘Leaders of Public Opinion in Ireland’, ‘A History of England during the Eighteenth Century’ and ‘A History of Ireland in the Eighteenth Century’. In 1904 a statue of Lecky was erected in the grounds of Trinity College Dublin. Shortly after his death on October 22nd 1903, the Lecky Chair of History in the TCD was endowed by his widow.

William Lecky was born in the year 1838 On This Day.

William Edward Hartpole Lecky, 1868





11 September-Archbishop John Ireland, St Paul Minnesota

John Ireland, who served as Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Paul, Minnesota from 1888 to 1918 was a native of Co Kilkenny Ireland. During his time as Bishop, Ireland promoted both the modernisation and Americanisation of the Catholic Church. Ireland became a leader in both the religious and civic life of St Paul. He established close friendships with US Presidents McKinley and Roosevelt.

John Ireland was born in Burnchurch, Co Kilkenny in 1838. When he was ten years old his family emigrated to America where they eventually settled in St Paul, Minnesota in 1852. Having studied for the priesthood he was ordained in 1861. Following ordination he served for a time as a chaplain in the army during the American Civil War. Ireland became the first Archbishop of St Paul in 1888.

Archbishop Ireland was a dominant and reforming figure in the American Catholic Church. He opposed racial inequality and promoted the integration of immigrants into the US church and society. Archbishop Ireland organised the settlement of over 4,000 families from deprived areas in Eastern US cities on over 1,500 square km of rural Minnesota. Names such as Avoca, Iona and Clontarf were given to the settlements. He helped establish the Catholic University of America, in Washington, D.C. in 1889. The John Ireland Boulevard in the city of St Paul is named in his honour.

John Ireland, Archbishop of St Paul Minnesota (1888-1819) was born in Burnchurch, Co Kilkenny Ireland in the year 1838 On This Day.

Cathedral of St. Paul, Mn by Northfielder on 2010-07-17 20:10:57

St Paul photo

Panorama of St Paul

Photo by kodiax2