20 August-Potato Blight

Potato blight (phytophthora infestans) is a fungus which invades the potato plant and causes rapid decay. It caused the failure of potato crops in Ireland and several parts of Europe during the 1840’s. Due to Ireland’s over dependency on one potato variety the crop failure caused what has become known as the Great Irish Famine.

The first recorded instances of potato blight were in the eastern United States in 1843. The disease travelled to Europe in 1845 in a shipment of seed potatoes for farmers in Belgium. The fungus devastated potato crops in European countries and in southern England. It was reported in Ireland at the Botanical Gardens in Dublin in August 1845. A short time later potato crop failure occurred in several areas of the country. The famine which ensued during the following years had a devastating impact on Ireland.

Potato blight was first reported in Ireland at the Botanical Gardens in Dublin by the curator David Moore in the year 1845 On This Day.

Blight Potato

Famine (1997) on the Custom House Quay in Dublin




17 June-Emily Lawless

Lyons Estate is located near Celbridge in Co Kildare, Ireland. The novelist and poet Emily Lawless was born there in 1845. The property consisted of a country house and estate of almost 500 hectares. It was the home of the Lawless family for generations. Today half the estate is owned by University College Dublin. The remainder of the estate and the country house was purchased by Tony Ryan of Ryanair. He restored the house and built a Georgian village nearby. It is now a popular wedding venue.

Emily Lawless grew up at Lyons Estate but spent the summers with her mother’s family in Co Galway. She moved to England in 1897. She lived in Surrey but grew Irish plants in her garden and maintained what she called a ‘corner of bog’. Her writings included works of fiction, history and nature studies. She also wrote poetry the most famous of which was ‘Wild Geese’ (1902), which was popular among nationalists.

Emily Lawless was born in the year 1845 On This Day.

Image taken from page 15 of ‘With Essex in Ireland, being extracts from a diary kept in Ireland during the year 1599 by Mr. Henry Harvey … edited by Hon. E. Lawless’







27 March-Wilhelm Röntgen

Wilhelm Röntgen was a German physicist who discovered X-rays. His discovery brought about a revolution in diagnostic medicine. For his discovery Röntgen was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901.

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen was born in Lennep (now Remscheid), Rhine Province, Germany in 1845. He was educated at technical school in Utrecht. Having failed to gain entry to the University of Utrecht he studied mechanical engineering at the Polytechnic Institute in Zurich. He graduated with a PhD in 1869.

In 1874 Röntgen was appointed as a lecturer at the Univesity of Stasbourg. He was appointed as Professor of Physics at the same institution in 1876. He later served as Professor of Physics at the Universities of Giessen (1879–88), Würzburg (1888–1900) and Munich (1900–20). Röntgen carried out research on various subjects including elasticity, the conduction of heat in crystals and the absorption of heat by various gases.

During 1895 Röntgen was observing what occurred when an electric current was passed through a gas of extremely low pressure. His experiments led him to discover new and different kind of rays. During an experiment in November 8th 1895 he discovered that the rays made certain objects seem transparent. He called the new rays, X-Rays because at the time their nature was not known. The first X-Ray he took was of his wife’s hand.

Wilhelm Röntgen, the man who discovered X-rays was born in the year 1845 On This Day.

 Wilhelm Conrad Roentgen looking into an X-ray screen