07 March-Stanley Kubrick

Stanley Kubrick chose the 15th century Huntington Castle in Clonegal, County Carlow, Ireland as the setting for some of the scenes in film ‘Barry Lyndon’. The film which tells the story of an 18th century Irish adventurer. It was the winner of four Oscars at the Academy Awards in 1975.

Stanley Kubrick was born in New York City on July 26th 1928. Though interested in literature he did not do well at school. He was later reported to have said that nothing about school interested him. Kubrick was taught to play chess by his father. He became a skilled player and chess played an important part in the making of his films.

Before taking up filmmaking in the 1950’s Kubrick worked initially as a photographer. He began by making documentaries and made his first feature film ‘Fear and Desire’ in 1953. During his lifetime Kubrick made 10 feature films apart from Barry Lyndon. Many of his films were influential and he came to be highly regarded as a director. Spartacus (1960), Lolita (1962), Dr. Strangelove (1964), Clockwork Orange (1971), 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), The Shining (1980), Full Metal Jacket (1987) and Eyes Wide Shut (1999) are some of his most famous films.

In 1962 Kubrick moved to England to make the film Lolita. He began to live permanently there after 1964. He died at his home in England shortly after a private screening of his final film, ‘Eyes Wide Shut’.

Stanley Kubrick died at the age of seventy at his home in Hertfordshire, England in the year 1999 On This Day.

Stanley Kubrick



19 February-Cainneach (St Cannice)

Cainneach is a sculpture located on Parliament Street in Kilkenny City, Ireland. Made of bronze and Kilkenny limestone the sculpture is by the Spanish born artist Saturio Alonso. Kilkenny City is named after Saint Canice (Cainneach), the patron saint of Kilkenny, who was born in 514 AD.

Though dating back to the 6th century Kilkenny (Cill Chainnigh) is first mentioned in The Annals of the Four Masters in 1085. The city, which is located in the Southeast of Ireland on the banks of the river Nore, has a population of almost 25,000. Including Lisburn (71,465), Newry (27,433) and Armagh (14,749), Kilkenny is one of just four inland cities on the island Ireland.

Settlement in Kilkenny can be traced back to early medieval times. Following the Norman invasion the Anglo-Norman Lord of Leinster William Marshall gave Kilkenny its first charter and the first Council was elected in 1231. The chief magistrate was called the Sovereign and the Kilkenny became the seat of the lordship of Leinster. Since 1231 Kilkenny has continued to have a municipal government.

Almost 400 years after the granting of its first charter Kilkenny sought to be elevated to the status of a ‘city’. Thomas Butler of Kilkenny Castle, a cousin of Queen Elizabeth I through Anne Boleyn, was at the time the 10th Earl of Ormonde. It was during his time that city status was obtained for Kilkenny. In 1609, six years after James I became King of England, Nicholas Langton was sent to London by Kilkenny Corporation to receive a Royal Charter creating Kilkenny a city.

Today Kilkenny is a thriving tourist and commercial centre. Together with Kilkenny Castle the city retains many of its historical buildings including the Round Tower at St Canice’s Cathedral, Rothe House and the Tholsel.

Cainneach (St Canice), a sculpture by Saturio Alonso, was unveiled by its sculptor on Parliament Street in Kilkenny City in the year 1999 On This Day.

Cainneach (St Canice)

St. Canice’s Cathedral

07 February-Altamont Gardens

Altamont House and Gardens are located just over 20km south of Carlow town, Ireland close to the village of Ballon. The Gardens, which are a major tourist attraction cover about 16 hectares. They have both formal and informal parts and have lake and riverside walks.

In the mid 1700’s, when the Altamont House and Gardens was known as Rose Hill, the St George family built the central portion of the house incorporating an earlier building. Lines of beech trees, which are still feature of Altamont, were planted. In a map dated 1770 the property is referred to as Soho but later changed to Altamont through a connection to Earl of Altamont in Westport County Mayo.

The Dawson-Borrer family later acquired the property, extended the house, terraced the gardens and created a central broad walk extending down to an artificial lake. The lake was dug during the 1840’s as a famine relief project. It was dug out by hand by over 100 men and took over two years to complete. Below the lake, a walk through ancient oak woods leading down to the river Slaney was installed. Leading back from the river to help negotiate the steep gradient, a hundred hand-cut granite steps were installed. The path across a field leading back to the house passes a Wellingtonia. It was planted to commemorate Wellington’s victory at Waterloo.

The Lecky Watson family from Fenagh acquired the property in the early 1920’s. Mr Lecky Watson is reported to have killed the last Irish wolf about 14km from Altamont. He had a special interest in rhododendrons and continuously extended the garden. Following his death in 1943 the gardens became gradually overgrown. His daughter Corona North instituted a programme of restoration which began in the 1970’s. The lake was dredged, weeds cleared, walks restored, new areas created and the Gardens were opened to the public. They became a major tourist attraction, attracting thousands of visitors annually.

Corona North devoted many years of her life to Altamont Gardens. When she died Altamont House and Gardens were handed over to the Irish State at her request. The formal handing over ceremony took place on January 17th 2014. Today the Gardens are administered by the Office of Public Works. They attract over 50,000 visitors annually and are often referred to as the jewel in the crown of Carlow tourism.

Altamont House and Gardens were bequeathed to the Irish State by Corona North, who died in the year 1999 On This Day.

A view of part of the lake at Altamont Gardens


01 December-Rural Electrification in Ireland

Paddy Dowling of Linkardstown, Tinryland County Carlow and William F. Roe of 25 Patrick Street Kilkenny, were among the first eleven employees of the ESB (Electricity Supply Board). They both played a leading role in the development of the ESB and in the rural electrification scheme in Ireland. The ESB is an electricity company operating in Ireland. The company which is 95% state owned was established in Ireland under Electricity Supply Act of 1927. It was one of the first major industrial undertakings of the newly established Irish state. Its purpose was take charge of existing electrical schemes in Ireland and take responsibility for Shannon Hydro-Electric Scheme then under construction.

Paddy Dowling was educated locally in Carlow and at Clongowes Wood College in Co Kildare. Following qualification as an engineer at the Royal College of Science for Ireland he began working with the ESB. William F Roe was educated locally in Kilkenny and also qualified as an engineer at the Royal College of Science for Ireland. He worked for a time with the Shannon Power Development Board before joining the newly established ESB. The Royal College of Science for Ireland became part of the faculty of Science and Engineering at University College Dublin in 1926.

When the Shannon Scheme was completed it supplied electricity to the cities and larger towns in Ireland. Smaller villages and rural areas were not connected to the grid. The rural electrification scheme commenced on November 5th 1946 at Killsallagahan in County Dublin. The scheme was led by William Roe and Paddy Dowling. Electricity was gradually brought to all parts of the country until 2003 when the islands of Inishturbot and Inishturk off the west coast were finally connected to the national grid.

Both Paddy Dowling and William Roe have been the recipients of several awards. A plaque commemorating the contribution of Paddy Dowling to the rural electrification scheme in Ireland was erected in his home village of Tinryland. A similar plaque commemorating the contribution of William Roe was erected at his birthplace in Patrick Street, Kilkenny City.

Paddy Dowling was awarded the ‘Carlow Person of the 20th Century’ by Carlow Historical & Archaeological Society in the year 1999 On This Day.

Evening Silhouette by Neil Tackaberry on 2013-04-06 19:10:19

Rural Electrification by Timitrius on 2011-03-14 14:07:15


28 November-Leighlinbridge Meteorite

Leighlinbridge is a picturesque and historic village located on the river Barrow about 10km south of Carlow town, Ireland. It is the location where the last meteorite to fall in Ireland was recovered. It is thought that it is the last known meteorite of the last millennium to have landed on earth and to have been recovered. The rock which is billions of years old was recovered by an elderly lady on December 12th 1999, a fortnight after it had fallen. The International Meteorite Nomenclature Committee has officially named the meteorite ‘Leighlinbridge’

Apart from the ‘Leighlinbridge’ at least eight other meteorites have been recovered in Ireland. Each one is named after the area in which it was found. The ‘Pettiswood’ landed in 1779 near Mullingar Co Westmeath. In 1810 the ‘Mooresoft’ landed near Lattin, Co Tipperary. The ‘Limerick’ fell to earth near Adare, Co Limerick in 1813. The ‘Killeter’ landed near the town of Castlederg Co Tyrone in 1844. In 1865 the ‘Dundrum’ fell near the village of Dundrum in Co Tipperary. The ‘Crumlin’ fell near Crumlin in Co Antrim in 1902 and in 1969 the ‘Bovedy’ fell near the town of Limavady in Co Derry. Parts of the meteorites are stored in the National Museum in Dublin and the Natural History Museum in London and the Smithsonian Institute in the US.

On the night the ‘Leighlinbridge’ fell to earth an exploding fireball lasting several seconds was observed over Carlow town. This was followed by a loud noise from the following sound waves, which were travelling more slowly and which caused houses to shake. Following the initial discovery on December 14th two more pieces of the meteorite were found later. A Scottish meteor dealer purchased the Leighlinbridge Meteor for £20,000. It was analysed at the National History Museum in London and a piece of the meteorite weighing about a gram was offered for sale in 2009 for £250.

The Leighlinbridge Meteorite lit up the night sky over Carlow as it fell to earth just after 10pm in the year 1999 On This Day.

Leighlinbridge by nilachseall on 2014-10-10 08:42:51

Awayland by David Bergin Photography on 2013-01-27 15:24:20

Barrow River at Leighlinbridge