20 September-Michael Cusack GAA Founder

Michael Cusack, who was one of the founders of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), was a native of Co Clare, Ireland. The GAA is an Irish amateur sporting and cultural organisation whose primary focus is the promotion of the games of hurling, camogie, Gaelic football, handball and rounders. Cusack was also a teacher and newspaper editor.

Michael Cusack was born in the village of Carran in Co Clare in 1847. He was educated locally and trained as a teacher in Dublin. He taught for a time at Kilkenny College and at Blackrock College before establishing his own academy. Known as ‘Cusack’s Academy’ it prepared students for civil service examinations. Cusack played rugby football and his academy had its own rugby team.

Cusack met nationalist and athlete Patrick Nally from Mayo in 1879. Their friendship led Cusack to call a meeting to establish the GAA. On September 1st 1884 Cusack together with Maurice Davin, Joseph K. Bracken, Thomas St George McCarthy, P.J. Ryan, John Wise-Power, and John McKay founded the GAA at a meeting in Hayes’ Commercial Hotel, Thurles, Co Tipperary. The association grew rapidly and today has over a million members worldwide. It is a major influence in sporting and cultural life in Ireland and among the Irish diaspora.

Michael Cusack, founder of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), was born in Co Clare, Ireland in the year 1847 On This Day.

File:Michael cusack.gif

Michael Cusack

11 February-Edison

Thomas Edison was an inventor who was a native of America. He was responsible for inventions such as the light bulb, the phonograph, the first electric power plant and the motion picture camera. He was the holder of over 1,000 patens and his inventions have had a major impact on global industrial development.

Thomas Alva Edison was born in Milan, Ohio in 1847. He attended school for a brief time but received most of his education form his mother who was a teacher. Edison worked at various jobs including as telegraph operator in various locations. In 1868 he began working in Boston for the Western Union Telegraph Company.

Interested in inventions from an early age, Edison filed for his fist patent, an electric vote recorder, in 1869. He established an industrial research facility at Menlo Park, New Jersey in 1876. It was the first such facility of its type. The invention of the phonograph in 1877 gained Edison wide attention. He began research on the light bulb and in 1879 perfected a bulb which was capable of giving light for long period of time. As time went on his creations led him becoming known as ‘The Wizard of Menlo Park’.

Thomas Edison, inventor and businessman, was born in the year 1847 On This Day.

Thomas Edison, 1878

Thomas Edison in the Bulb



23 March-Choctaw Nation and The Irish Famine

Choctaw Nation Chief Gregory E. Pyle took part in the annual ‘Famine Walk’ between Louisburgh and Doolough in County Mayo Ireland in 1997. The walk, which takes place each year, commemorates the journey made by an estimated 600 men, women and children who were seeking assistance during the Irish famine of 1849. They failed to get assistance and many died on of starvation on the return journey.

Like many other parts of Ireland the famine had a devastating effect on the Louisburgh area. Word about the famine in Ireland quickly spread abroad. Collections were held and relief committees established to help the people affected by the famine. Millions in cash and goods were sent to Ireland in the following years. Despite having only meagre resources themselves the Choctaw people held a collection and sent $170 to a U.S. famine relief organisation in Ireland. They did this even though they themselves had a terrible history of deprivation.

The Choctaw Nation had supported Andrew Jackson in the war against the British in 1812. However on September 27th 1830 the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek was signed. Under the treaty the Choctaw Nation signed away their traditional homelands in Mississippi to the US Government. By the time the treaty was signed Andrew Jackson, who was the son of Irish immigrants, was President of the United States. He forced the Choctaw off their lands and sent them to a reservation in Oklahoma. The 500 mile trek became known as the ‘Trail of Tears’. More than half of the estimated 21,000 people, who started out, lost their lives on the journey.

The donation by the Choctaw is remembered in Ireland through a plaque on the Mansion House in Dublin. The plaque reads: “Their humanity calls us to remember the millions of human beings throughout our world today who die of hunger and hunger-related illness in a world of plenty.”

The Choctaw Nation at a meeting in Scullyville, Oklahoma gave a donation of $170 ($4,100 today’s value) to the Irish Nation for famine relief, in the year 1847 On This Day.

Doolough Tragedy photo

Doolough by National Library of Ireland on The Commons

Doolough Tragedy photo

Doolough Famine Tragedy memorial, Co. Mayo 1994 by sludgegulper






08 November-Bram Stoker

Irish author Bram Stoker is best known for his novel Dracula. His mother was a daughter of Eliza O’Donnell of the O’Donnell family of Newport House in County Mayo. Her name was Charlotte Matilda Blake Thornley who lived in Sligo during the cholera outbreak of 1832. The outbreak claimed thousands of lives. It is said that the vivid stories she told about the horrors of the cholera epidemic may have influenced the writings of her son Bram.

Charlotte Thornley married Abraham Stoker, a civil servant, in Dublin in 1844. They set up home at 15 Marino Crescent, Clontarf in Dublin. Their son Abraham (Bram), their third child of seven, was born in November 1847. As a child he suffered from unknown illnesses but when he started school at age seven he made a full recovery. Bram Stoker entered Trinity College Dublin in 1864. At University he became involved in athletics and served as President of the University Philosophical Society. He graduated with a BA honours degree in mathematics in 1870. Following graduation he worked in the civil service in Dublin for almost ten years. During his time in the civil service Stoker frequently acted as theatre critic for the Dublin Mail. He also visited Collooney in County Sligo which he described as the ‘most unbusy place in Ireland’.

In 1878 Bram Stoker married Florence Balcombe who lived at 1 Marino Crescent. Stoker and his wife moved to London in 1879 where he became manager for the actor Henry Irving and also manager of the Lyceum Theatre. As Irving’s manager Stoker travelled widely and was a frequent visitor to the United States where he met both President McKinley and President Roosevelt. However there is no record that he ever visited Transylvania or indeed any part of Eastern Europe.

Stoker wrote 12 novels, the most famous of which is the Gothic horror novel Dracula which was published on May 26th 1897. The book was a success following publication. The story, which has been the subject of several theatre and film productions, continues to be popular to this day. In later years Bram Stoker worked as a freelance writer for the Daily Telegraph in England. He died in London in 1912 at the age of 64.

Bram Stoker was born in Clontarf, Dublin in the year 1847 On This Day.

Bram Stoker photo

Bram Stoker by jcorrius on 2006-10-14 13:16:58

Photo by jcorrius

Bram Stoker photo

Dracula’s Castle (Bran Castle) by Boris Savluc on 2011-04-20 09:14:18

Photo by Boris Savluc


26 July-Liberia

Liberia is the oldest republic in Africa. The American Colonisation Society helped establish the country as a place for freed slaves. The capital city Monrovia is called after President Monroe of the USA who was a strong supporter of the society. Two civil wars have occurred in the country since 1985. The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the first female president in Africa. Today the country is suffering from an outbreak of the ebola virus. Liberia was proclaimed an independent Republic in the year 1847 On This Day.


Liberian flag photo

Photo by whiteafrican


Liberian flag photo

Photo by kippster