19 April-Boston Marathon

The Boston Marathon is the oldest annual marathon in the world. The summer Olympics of 1896 were the inspiration for the first Boston Marathon which was organised by the Boston Athletic Association. That organisation has been responsible for the running of the marathon every year since it was inaugurated. The race attracts runners from all over the world. However they must be 18 years or older and meet certain qualifying standards.

The first Boston Marathon was run in 1897 and attracted a field of 18 runners. On that occasion the winner was Irish-American athlete John J. McDermott. The event now attracts an average of around 30,000 registered participants every year. Millions of dollars are raised for many charities. In 1996 a record 36,748 people started the race. The race also attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators.

The men’s record for the fastest Boston Marathon was set by Geoffrey Mutai of Kenya in 2011. The women’s record was set in 2014 by Rita Jeptoo also from Kenya. Neil Cusack from Limerick, Ireland won the Boston Marathon in 1974 in a time of 2:13:39.

Though Roberta Gibb was the first woman to run the full Boston Marathon in 1966, women were not officially allowed to enter the race until 1972. That year eight women started the race and all eight successfully completed the course. For almost ninety years the winner of the race was awarded a wreath woven from olive branches. This changed in 1986 when the winner was awarded a cash prize.

Tragedy struck the 2013 Boston Marathon when two bombs were exploded close to the finish line almost three hours after the winners had finished the race. Three spectators were killed and over 200 were injured. The race, which was held on April 15th that year, was halted and several people were unable to finish the course.

The Boston Marathon was run for the first time in the year 1897 On This Day.

Boston Maratho




31 October-Samuel Haughton

A plaque was unveiled in Carlow town, Ireland in August 2005, on the wall outside the house where polymath Samuel Haughton was born. Sponsored by Bord Fáilte, the plaque was unveiled by Professor David Spearman of the Royal Irish Academy. It records that Haughton was a mathematician, geologist and physiologist.

Samuel Haughton was born at Burrin Street, Carlow, Ireland on December 21st 1821. He was educated locally. The school master had a special interest in nature and brought Haughton and other students on trips exploring nature along the valley of the river Barrow. Samuel Haughton entered Trinity College Dublin at the age of seventeen. He obtained a Foundation Scholarship called the Lloyd Exhibition in mathematics at the end of second year in 1843. The Foundation Scholarships are described as ‘the most prestigious and valuable awards’ at Trinity College. He won first place in mathematics in the following year and was successful in the fellowship examination in 1884.

During the following years Haughton worked in the mathematics department in Trinity College and was ordained a priest in 1847. In 1851 he was appointed Professor of Geology at the College. He held the post for a post 30 years and published up to fifty papers on geological subjects. He also carried out extensive studies on tides around the coast of Ireland. During his time as Professor of Geology, Haughton studied medicine. He was awarded the degree of MD in 1862 and was later appointed to the General Medical Council. He also served as President of the Royal Irish Academy and secretary and President of the Royal Zoological Society of Ireland. Haughton House at the zoo was built in 1898 in memory of Samuel Haughton.

Haughton published a paper on hanging in 1866. At the time the person being hanged, died by slow strangulation which, we are told, could take several minutes. Haughton’s more humane method allowed the condemned person to drop far enough to snap the neck and cause instantaneous death. For example he determined that a person weighing 72.5kg needed a ‘drop’ of 4.5m. The method, which became known as ‘Haughton’s Drop’, has become the accepted procedure for hanging.

Samuel Haughton, who is buried in Killeshin graveyard near Carlow town, died in the year 1897 On This Day.

1898 The Hauchton House – Dublin Zoo by infomatique on 2012-08-29 13:11:18

24 July-Amelia Earhart

Amelia Earhart became the first female pilot to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean when she flew from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1932. In January 1935 she became the first person to fly solo across the Pacific Ocean from Honolulu, Hawaii to Oakland, California. Earhart set several other aviation records and was awarded the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross.

Amelia Mary Earhart was born was born in Atchison, Kansas in July 1897. On a visit to and airfield in Long Beach, California on December 28th 1920 she took her first flight. She later said: ‘By the time I had got two or three hundred feet off the ground I knew I had to fly’. She took flying lessons and on May 15th 1923 she was issued with a pilot’s licence by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale.

During the early decades of the 19th century there was a fascination with aviation. Several aviators, including Earhart, set new records and many lost their lives in the process. Crossing the Atlantic Ocean had been undertaken by several aviators. On June 15th 1919 John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown landed their aircraft near Clifden, Connemara, Co Galway. They were the first people to fly across the Atlantic Ocean non-stop, having taken off from St John’s Newfoundland 16 hours earlier.

On April 16th 1927 José Manuel Sarmento de Beires, who was a Portuguese army officer and aviator, flew from Portuguese Guinea (now Guinea-Bissau) on the West coast of Africa to Brazil. He had named his plane ‘The Argos’. It was the first night-time flight across the Atlantic and took just over 18 hours. Just over a month later on May 20th 1927, American aviator Charles Lindbergh flew non-stop from Roosevelt Field in New York in ‘The Spirit of St Louis’ to Le Bourget Airport near Paris. It was the first solo crossing of the Atlantic from America to Continental Europe. The flight, which encountered many difficulties took over 33 hours.

All the non-stop flights across the north Atlantic had been from West to East. It was not until 1928 that the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight from East-to-West took place. The flight was in an aeroplane called, ‘The Bremen’, which took off from Baldonnel Airfield, Dublin on April 12th 1928. It had a crew of three made up of: pilot Captain Hermann Köhl from Germany, navigator Major James Fitzmaurice of the Irish Air Corps, and Ehrenfried Günther Freiherr von Hünefeld from Germany who was the owner of the aircraft. They landed on Greenly Island, Canada after a flight lasting 36 hours.

In 1932 Amelia Earhart set out to recreate the flight of ‘The Spirit of St Louis’. She took off from Harbour Grace, Newfoundland on May 20th 1932. After a flight lasting almost 15 hours, during which she encountered poor weather conditions and mechanical problems, Earhart landed in a field at Culmore, north of Derry City, Northern Ireland. Her landing was witnessed by Dan McCallion who is reported to have crossed himself as the plane came to a halt. In 1937, while attempting to circumnavigate the earth, Amelia Earhart disappeared near Howland Island over the central Pacific Ocean.

Amelia Earhart, American aviation pioneer, was born in born in Atchison, Kansas, USA in the year 1897 On This Day.

Amelia Earhart by George Eastman House on 2009-03-06 16:24:23

Amelia Earhart at Derry by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1932-05-21 09:12:20


19 June-Charles Boycott

Charles Boycott, was ostracised by the people of Ballinrobe and the Lough Mask area of Co Mayo, Ireland during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Their action gave the verb and common noun ‘boycott’ to the English language. The ostracism was part of a campaign by the Irish Land League

Charles Cunningham Boycott was born at Burgh St Peter, Norfolk, England on March 12th 1832. He came to Ireland whilst serving with the British Army. At the age of 20 he sold his commission in the army and decided to remain in Ireland where he leased a farm in Co Tipperary. Two years later he moved to Achill Island where he became a landlord having leased almost 1000 hectares for the Irish Church Missionary Society (Achill Mission).

Though Boycott had a difficult time on Achill Island and was involved in a number of disputes he did eventually become prosperous. He built a large house near Dooagh and stayed on the island for 19 years. He moved to Lough Mask House near Ballinrobe Co Mayo in 1873 as agent for Lord Erne. Lord Erne owned large estates in Ireland, most of it in Fermanagh where he lived. He owned almost 1,000 hectares in Co Mayo. Boycott’s role was to farm the land and collect rents from other tenants on the property. Boycott was involved in numerous disputes locally and gradually became an unpopular figure in the district. He became especially unpopular when he was appointed as a magistrate.

In 1880 there was a bad harvest and the tenants sought a rent reduction of 25%. Lord Erne would only allow a 10% reduction and his agent Charles Boycott sought to collect outstanding rents. He obtained eviction notices for those who would not pay. The Land League, which had been founded by Michael Davitt in 1878, had as its three main objectives fair rent, free trade and fixity of tenure. The Land League was very active in the Ballinrobe area and supported the tenants.

A policy of avoiding any communication with Boycott or having any dealings with him was adopted. This meant he was unable to bring in his own harvest and was facing a huge loss. The land League urged that there should be no violence in implementing the policy that was being adopted. However it is reported that intimidation of anyone who attempted to work with Boycott did occur. Eventually his crops were harvested by bringing in workers form outside, mostly from Ulster, but it required the presence of a large force of police and army personnel.

A short time later, on November 27th 1880, Charles Boycott left Mayo and returned to England where he eventually worked as a land agent for a landlord in Suffolk. He frequently returned to Ireland on holidays. In 1888 the word ‘boycott’ was first included in what would eventually become the Oxford English Dictionary.

Charles Boycott, from whose name the word ‘boycott’ is taken, died aged 67 at his home in Flixton, Suffolk, England in the year 1897 On This Day.

Image from page 518 of “Ontario High School History of England” (1912) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1912-01-01 00:00:00

Ballinrobe photo

Ballinrobe, Co Mayo

Photo by Matt J Newman


Image from page 30 of “Connaught” (1912) by Internet Archive Book Images on 1912-01-01 00:00:00



26 May-Ernie O’Malley

Ernie O’Malley, who was a native of Castelbar, Co Mayo, Ireland took part in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. He later served as an Irish officer during the War of Independence and the ensuing Civil War. O’Malley travelled to many parts of Ireland during the wars including Carlow and Kilkenny. He was wounded on several occasions.

Ernie O’Malley was born Ernest Bernard Malley at Ellison Street, Castlebar in 1897. O’Malley’s family moved to Dublin when he was nine years old. He was educated at O’Connell’s CBS before entering University College Dublin to study medicine. While his brother Frank joined the Royal Dublin Fusiliers to fight in World War 1, Ernie took the side of the rebels during the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin.

After the Rising O’Malley left UCD and went on to play a leading role in the War of Independence. When captured in Kilkenny in 1920 he was taken to Dublin Castle and interrogated. He was later sent to Kilmainham Jail from where he escaped with the assistance of a sympathetic British soldier.

In the civil war that followed the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, O’Malley supported the anti-treaty side. He was one of the officers who occupied the Four Courts in Dublin. In the ensuing battle to take the building the Four Courts were very badly damaged and records, including census, dating back to the 13th century were destroyed.

O’Malley surrendered the Four Courts and escaped, eventually making his way to Carlow. He was captured on November 4th 1922 and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail. Following the end of the Civil War and his eventual release from prison O’Malley went on an extended holiday in Europe before returning to UCD in 1926. He left before graduation and went to the USA where he helped raise funds to establish the Irish Press newspaper.

O’Malley spent much of the rest of his life involved in travelling, journalism and the compilation of the O’Malley Notebooks. The notebooks were his record of interviews with former colleagues of their experiences during the conflict. He wrote three books which were acclaimed by the critics and contemporary writers. His first book, ‘On Another man’s Wound’, which was published in 1936 was a commercial success. His two other books, The Singing Flame and Raids and Rallies were published posthumously.

Ernie O’Malley died at the age of 59 on March 25th 1957 and was given a state funeral. On the Mall in Castlebar, he is commemorated by a sculpture of Manannán mac Lir a mythical figure of Mayo.

Ernie O’Malley was born in Castlebar, Co Mayo in the year 1897 On This Day.

Castlebar, Ireland by Rambling Traveler on 2008-05-20 18:08:07

Sculpture (1798) in Castlebar by pedrofcuk on 2012-12-23 07:46:52