10 December-John O’Donovan

John O’Donovan, Irish language scholar and topographer, was a native of Co Kilkenny, Ireland. He carried out research on Irish place names for the Ordnance Survey of Ireland when the survey was being conducted during the 1830’s. He published several works including a grammar of the Irish language in 1845.

John O’Donovan was born in Atateenmore near Slieverue in South Kilkenny on July 25th 1806. He grew up on the family farm. In 1817, when he was eleven years old, his father died and John moved to live near his uncle who was an Irish speaker. He was educated at Hunt’s Academy in Waterford City.

O’Donovan moved to Dublin where he taught at a school on Arran Quay. In 1827 he was offered a teaching position at St Patrick’s College in Maynooth which he declined. Instead he accepted a post researching state papers at the Public Records Office. While working there he taught Irish to Thomas Larcom, an engineer from Gosport in Hampshire, England who had been transferred from the Ordnance Survey of England to the Irish Ordnance Survey. Larcom would later become Under-Secretary to the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

In 1824, the surveyor Thomas Colby, was appointed by Thomas Larcom to carry out the Survey of Ireland. In 1830 O’Donovan was recruited by Colby to research Irish place names for the Ordnance Survey of Ireland. The survey was the most detailed ever undertaken and was completed in 1846. During his time working on the survey O’Donovan travelled all over Ireland researching place names. When a townland was identified it was O’Donovan’s task to give it the correct Irish name. Following this however he Anglicized the name when it was being placed on the map.

Following his work with the Ordnance Survey, John O’Donovan was appointed professor of Celtic Languages at Queen’s University, Belfast. He was called to the bar in 1847. His many works include: Grammar of the Irish Language and a Translation of the Four Masters. He was awarded an honorary LL.D from Trinity College Dublin in 1850. In 1856 he was elected to membership of the Royal Prussian Academy. His election was on the recommendation of Jakob Grimm of the Brothers Grimm who were authors of fairy tales like Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin.

John O’Donovan, Irish language scholar and topographer who carried out research on Irish place names for the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, died at his home 36 Upper Buckingham Street, Dublin at the age of 55 in the year 1861 On This Day.

John O’Donovan (25 July 1806 – 10 December 1861)[Glasnevin Cemetery]-113434 by infomatique on 2016-03-31 15:39:25

John O’Donovan (25 July 1806 – 10 December 1861)[Glasnevin Cemetery]-113435 by infomatique on 2016-03-31 15:39:59

31 August-Francis McNamara

Francis McNamara was a native of Co Tipperary, Ireland. In Australia he is known as ‘Frank the Poet’. In 1832 he was found guilty of larceny and was deported to Australia. He was about 22 years old at the time. Frank McNamara lived in Australia for the remainder of his life dying in 1861.

Francis McNamara was born in Cashel Co Tipperary in 1810. Some accounts of his life say he was born in Co Clare. From his writings it is clear that he had a good education in English literature. His writings also show that he was familiar with the various Irish poetic forms.

In 1832 McNamara was working as a miner in the Castlecomer Mines in County Kilkenny. He was arrested for breaking a shop window and stealing some cloth. Having been found guilty of larceny McNamara was sentenced to seven years transportation. He sailed from Cork with 197 other prisoners aboard the Eliza on May 10th 1832. The prisoners were disembarked in Sydney on September 15th 1832.

McNamara had his sentence extended on several occasions for absconding and various other infringements. He eventually received his freedom in 1849. McNamara became well known in Australia for such poems as ‘A Convict’s Tour of Hell’ and ‘A Dialogue between Two Hibernians in Botany Bay’ which was published in the Sydney Gazette in 1840.

Francis McNamara from Tipperary, who is known as ‘Frank the Poet’ in Australia, died of ‘cold and inanition’ near Mudgee, NSW in the year 1861 On This Day.






18 June-Wellington Monument

In Altamont Gardens in County Carlow, Ireland there is a giant Wellingtonia surrounded by Portugal Laurel. It was planted to commemorate the defeat of Napoleon by Wellington at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. The Battle of Waterloo marked the final defeat of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French. Two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition, the British and Prussian defeated the French Army. It is estimated that over 8,000 Irish soldiers, some of them in Napoleon’s army, fought at Waterloo.

There are several monuments to Wellington in Ireland and Great Britain. In Ireland a statue of Wellington stands on a monumental column in his home town of Trim, County Meath. It was erected in 1817. The Wellington Testimonial, commonly known as the Wellington Monument stands in the Phoenix Park in Dublin. It was completed in 1861.

Construction of the Wellington Monument began in 1817. The monument, which is an obelisk, is 62m tall. It is the tallest obelisk in Europe. There are four bronze plaques representing Wellington’s career at the base of the obelisk. The plaques are cast from cannons captured at Waterloo. One of the plaques depicts ‘Civil and Religious Liberty’. It was made by John Hogan who was responsible for the monument to Bishop James Doyle (JKL, James Kildare and Leighlin) in Carlow Cathedral.

The Wellington Monument in the Phoenix Park, Dublin was opened to the public in the year 1861 On This Day.

Wellington Monument





18 March-John Lucas VC

John Lucas was a native of Co Carlow Ireland. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for Gallantry in 1862. He won the award at the age of 35 for his actions during Taranaki-Maori War in New Zealand. The Victoria Cross is awarded for ‘most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy’. The Victoria Cross has been awarded to 168 soldiers from Ireland, two of whom were born in County Carlow.

John Lucas who was born at Clashganny, Borris, Co Carlow in 1826. He was serving as a Colour Sergeant with the 40th Regiment of Foot of the British army in New Zealand in 1861. Colour Sergeant Lucas and his party were acting as skirmishers on the Western side of the North Island of New Zealand during the Taranaki-Maori War. They were ambushed at Huirangi Bush and three of the party were wounded. For his actions during the ambush Lucas was awarded the Victoria Cross.

The citation for the award read: Three men being wounded simultaneously, two of them mortally, assistance was called for in order to have them carried to the rear: a file was immediately sent, but had scarcely arrived, when one of them fell, and Lieutenant Rees was wounded at the same time. Colour-Sergeant Lucas, under heavy fire from Maori warriors, who were not more than thirty yards distant, immediately ran up to the assistance of this Officer, and sent one man with him to the rear. He then took charge of the arms belonging to the killed and wounded men, and maintained his position until the arrival of supports under Lieutenants Gibson and Whelan.

Lucas was presented with his Victoria Cross at Ellerslie Racecourse, Auckland, New Zealand on October 1st 1862. He was later promoted to the rank of Sergeant Major. When Sergeant Major Lucas retired from the British Army he returned to Ireland. He lived at ‘The Lodge’ Parkgate Street Dublin, the main entrance to the Phoenix Park, until he died on February 29th 1892 at the age of 66. He is buried at St James cemetery on James’s Street in Dublin. His Victoria Cross is held at the South Lancashire Regiment Museum in Warrington, England.

John Lucas was awarded the Victoria Cross for his gallantry during an engagement in New Zealand which occurred in the year 1861 On This Day.

Victoria Cross



06 March-P J McCall

P J McCall was a songwriter and poet who was a native of Dublin, Ireland. His father John was from Clonmore, Co Carlow and his mother Eliza May Newport was from Rathangan, Co Wexford. Apart from his writing McCall also collected several old Irish airs.

Patrick Joseph McCall was born and raised at 25 Patrick Street in Dublin. His father was a historian, folklorist, writer and patriot who ran a public house and grocery shop on Patrick Street. P J went to school in St Joseph’s Monastery, Harolds Cross and spent his summer holidays in Rathangan in Wexford. Living among the people of Rathangan he heard the ballads and music of the locality.

P J McCall would later become famous as the author of songs such as: ‘Follow Me Up to Carlow’, ‘The Boys of Wexford’, ‘Boolavogue’, ‘The Lowlands Low’, ‘Kelly the Boy from Killanne’ and many other ballads. ‘Follow me up to Carlow’ celebrates victory by Fiach McHugh O’Byrne over an English army of 3,000 soldiers at the Battle of Glenmalure in 1580 and ‘The Boys of Wexford’, ‘Boolavogue’ and ‘Kelly the Boy from Killanne’ were written to commemorate the 1798 Rising.

In 1900 P J McCall married Margaret Furlong, the sister of the poet Alice Furlong. In 1902 he took over his father’s business which included editing Old Moore’s Almanac. However he was able to organise his business affairs so well, he could concentrate on his literary and political activities. The McCall family home became a centre for writers and musicians.

In 1902 McCall was elected to represent the Wood Quay ward in Dublin and he became a Poor Law Guardian. He was a member of the Pan-Celtic Society, a literary association which had been founded in Dublin in 1888. When it later became the Irish National Literary Society McCall was its first Honorary Secretary. He died in Dublin at the age of 58 on March 8th 1919

P J McCall, the composer of songs such as, ‘Follow Me Up to Carlow’ was born in the year 1861 On This Day.

Gallery Zozimus