21 April-Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II has reigned for longer than any other monarch in British history. In February 2017 she celebrated 65 years on the throne. Together with a full programme of engagements the Queen has also undertook many historic overseas visits. In 2011 Queen Elizabeth II became the first British Monarch to visit Ireland in 100 years.

Queen Elizabeth II was born Elizabeth Alexandra Mary Windsor in London in 1926. She became Queen, on the death of her father George VI, on February 6th 1952. Her coronation took place on June 2nd 1953. She has reigned through a time of great change. Her personal popularity and public support for the monarchy remains high.

Queen Elizabeth II was born in the year 1926 On This Day.

Queen Elizabeth II



07 April-Violet Gibson

Violet Gibson from Dublin shot and injured the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini when she tried to assassinate him in Rome in 1926. Benito Mussolini was journalist and socialist politician who founded the Fascist party in Italy in 1919. By 1922 Italy was in political chaos and Mussolini was invited by King Victor Emmanuel to form a government. Mussolini took the title of ‘Il Duce’. He gradually dismantled the institutions of democratic government and appointed himself dictator.

The Honourable Violet Albina Gibson was born in Dublin on August 31st 1876. She was the daughter of Edward Gibson (Lord Ashbourne). He was the Lord Chancellor of Ireland for lengthy periods from 1885 to 1906. Violet Gibson had four brothers and three sisters and grew up in privileged circumstances. Her eldest brother Willie who succeeded his father as Lord Ashbourne was a member of the Gaelic League (Conradh na Gaeilge). He insisted on speaking in Irish even in the House of Lords.

Violet was described as frail. She suffered several serious illnesses, including pleurisy, by the time she reached the age of 20. When she was 26, like her brother Willie she became a catholic and a few years later moved to London. Following the death several members of her family and her fiancé, Gibson moved to Paris at the age of 33. There she became involved in the pacifist movement. She continued to suffer from ill-health and was hospitalised with a nervous breakdown in 1922 at the age of 46. During her recovery she moved with a nurse to Rome where they lived in a convent.

Mussolini at this time was at the height of his power. On the day Gibson attempted to assassinate him he had delivered a speech to the International Congress of Surgeons at their meeting in Rome. He was walking from the building when Gibson fired at him from a few feet. However, at the moment Gibson pulled the trigger, Mussolini moved his head to acknowledge the cheering crowds and the bullet grazed his nose. He staggered backwards with blood streaming down his face. The crowd attacked Gibson but she was rescued by the police. She was deported to England where she spent the remainder of her life in St Andrew’s Hospital in Northampton. She died there on May 2nd 1956.

Violet Gibson from Dublin, wounded Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, when she attempted to assassinate him in the year 1926 On This Day.

Mussolini photo

Photo by State Library of New South Wales collection





06 April-Ian Paisley

Ian Paisley was a pastor and politician who was a native of Northern Ireland. He was renowned for his strong Protestant and Unionist views. For most of his political career he espoused hard-line unionism. He opposed all attempts to resolve the conflict in Northern Ireland through power-sharing between unionists and Irish nationalists. However he eventually became First Minister of Northern Ireland when he agreed to a power sharing government with Nationalists.

Ian Richard Kyle Paisley was born in Armagh in 1926. He was ordained a minister by his father in 1946. Paisley founded the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster in 1951 and served as its leader until 2008. The Free Presbyterian Church is a fundamentalist, evangelical church which has its headquarters, and most of its members, in Northern Ireland.

In June 1970 Paisley was elected by the people of North Antrim to serve as a member of the UK Parliament. He retained his seat until 2010. Following his election to Parliament he founded the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). Paisley was also a member of the European Parliament from 1979 to 2004.

Ian Paisley was opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process and Good Friday Agreement. However when the DUP became the largest unionist party in Northern Ireland he agreed to a power sharing government with nationalists. He was elected first minister of Northern Ireland in 2007. He died at the age of 88 on September 12th 2014.

Ian Paisley was born in the year 1926 On This Day.




26 January-John Logie Baird

John Logie Baird was one of the inventors of the earliest television system known as mechanical television. His invention was a development of a system of image transmission which had been invented by German physicist Arthur Korn in 1907. Baird completed the first transmission of pictures of objects in motion on October 22nd 1925. He gave the first public demonstration of his invention in January 1926.

John Logie Baird was born in Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, Scotland on August 14th 1888. His engineering studies at Glasgow University were interrupted by the First World War. Unable to enlist in the British Army due to ill-health he worked in a munitions factory during the war. After the war he moved to England and began to experiment on the transmission of moving images along with sound.

Baird succeeded in transmitting a televised image of a ventriloquists dummy in 1925. In January 1926 he gave the first public demonstration of his invention at his laboratory in London. Baird demonstrated the first television colour transmission in July 1928. By 1937 the system which Baird had invented was surpassed by electronic television. Baird died aged 47 on June 14th 1946.

John Logie Baird gave the first public demonstration of the first Television in 1926 On This Day.

John Logie Baird

The inventor of the television


05 January-Carlow Sugar Factory

Carlow Sugar Factory was closed down by Irish Sugar on March 11th 2005. The factory had been in production for 80 years. The sugar industry in Ireland can be traced back to 1851. In that year the Royal Irish Beet-Root Sugar Factory was founded in Mountmellick Co Laois. The aim was to produce sufficient sugar to replace sugar imports to Ireland. However the factory failed after being in operation for just 10 years.

Following independence in 1922 the Irish Government set as one of its priorities the development of a Sugar Beet Industry. In 1924 the Government announced that Ireland’s first sugar factory was to be built. A strong local campaign was mounted by Carlow people to have the sugar factory located in Carlow town.

During the campaign it was emphasised that Carlow was a rich tillage area and had good rail and waterway connections. The campaign succeeded in winning government and investor approval to locate the factory in Carlow. The factory, which was opened in 1926, was constructed on a green-field site on the Athy Road on northern side of Carlow town.

By 1945 Ireland was almost self-sufficient in sugar. As time went on the sugar industry diversified into areas such a soil testing, lime production, food production and machinery manufacture. The industry gave rise to many downstream industries and produced many highly skilled workers. The Sugar Factory ceased production in 2005 and a campaign is underway to establish a similar industry in Carlow.

The sod was turned for the building of the Carlow Sugar Factory by the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, Patrick Foley in the year 1926 On This Day.

Tour of Inspection at Carlow Sugar factory (Taoiseach W T Cosgrove) by National Library of Ireland on The Commons on 1926-10-01 00:00:00