25 November-George Best

George Best was a professional footballer who was a native of Belfast Northern Ireland. He began his professional career with Manchester United and stayed with the club for eleven years. Best also played international football with Northern Ireland. He was named European Footballer of the Year in 1968.

George Best was born in Belfast on May 22nd 1946. He joined Manchester United as a youth at the age of 15 having been spotted by the club’s scout Bob Bishop. Bishop told the club’s manager, Matt Busby: ‘I think I’ve found a genius’. Two years later, in September 1963, he began his senior career with Manchester United.

During the following 11 years Best made 470 appearances for Manchester United. He scored 179 goals for the club. Best left Manchester United in 1974. He played for several other clubs in various locations around the world until his retirement in 1983. He made 37 international appearances for Northern Ireland.

George Best died at the age of 59 in the year 2005 On This Day.

National Football Museum Manchester_5743 by David in Lisburn on 2014-05-09 12:02:59

George Best Action Man and nice Reflection of Best with tash, National Football Museum, Manchester, England by Gidzy on 2014-01-18 10:12:23


23 November-Liberia President Sirleaf

Liberia, a country on the West coast of Africa, has a population of just over 4.5 million. From about 1820 onwards the country was established by freed American slaves with the help of the American Colonization Society. Liberia was declared a republic in 1847, making it the oldest republic in Africa. Monrovia, the capital city of The Republic of Liberia, is named after US President Monroe who was a strong supporter of the colonization.

Though the colonists were a minority in Liberia, they ruled the country until 1980 when they were overthrown in a military coup. The instability which followed led to two civil wars resulting in the deaths of over a quarter of a million people and the devastation of Liberia’s economy. A peace agreement was signed in 2003.

The United Nations sent a mission (which included an Irish battalion) to Liberia to provide security and monitor the peace agreement. An interim government was established. Elections were held in 2005 which led to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf being installed as President of Liberia on January 16th 2006. Ms Sirleaf became the first elected female head of state on the continent of Africa

From 2006 onwards the Liberian economy began to improve but Liberia is still one of the poorest countries in the world. The deadly Ebola virus appeared in the country in March 2014 threatening economic recovery and leading to the deaths of over 3,000 people. However there was a dramatic fall in the number of deaths during the first months of 2015. Though the outbreak was declared officially at an end on May 8th 2015, new cases arose in the following months. The World health organisation declared that Liberia’s Ebola epidemic was over on January 14th 2016.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was declared the winner of the Liberian Presidential election in the year 2005 On This Day.

HE Ellen Johnson Sirleaf by Chatham House, London on 2011-06-13 17:40:50


22 November-Angela Merkel

Angela Merkel is the first woman to hold the office of Chancellor of Germany. She is also the first female leader of her political party, the Christian Democratic Union. In May 2015 Forbes named Angela Merkel the most powerful woman in the world.

Angela Merkel was born Angela Dorothea Kasner in Hamburg on July 17th 1954, but grew up in the former East Germany. Her family moved there in 1954 shortly after she was born. Her father, who was a Lutheran minister had been appointed as pastor in the town of Quitzow near Perleberg about 80km north of Berlin in what was then East Germany.

At school Angela Merkel was a prize winning student. She excelled at languages, became fluent in Russian and won a trip to Moscow. Following second level education Merkel studied Physics at the University of Leipzig from 1973 to 1978. After graduation she studied and worked at the Academy of Sciences in Berlin-Adlershof. She was awarded a doctorate in 1990 for her thesis on quantum chemistry.

Following the fall of the Berlin Wall and German reunification Angela Merkel was elected to the Bundestag for the constituency of Stralsund – Nordvorpommern – Rügen in north eastern Germany. She has been re-elected to serve for that constituency at every election since 1990. During the following years she was appointed to various ministries by the then Chancellor Helmut Kohl. Helmut Kohl was defeated in the general election of 1998 and Angela Merkel was appointed secretary general of the CDU (Christian Democratic Union of Germany). In 2000 she became leader of the CDU when she defeated Wolfgang Schäuble to become the first female leader of a political party in Germany.

Following the 2005 general election Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany. She was re-elected Chancellor in 2009 and again in 2013. During her time as Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel has had a consistently high rating in opinion polls. She is the recipient of numerous awards both in Germany and internationally.

Angela Merkel assumed office as Chancellor of Germany in the year 2005 On This Day.

Angela Merke

Angela Merkel photo

Angela Merke

Initiative D21

12 July-Prince Albert II of Monaco

Prince Albert II of Monaco and his fiancée Charlene Wittstock met relatives of the Prince at Newport House, Co Mayo, Ireland on April 6th 2011 while on a state visit to Ireland. The couple also visited the ancestral home of the prince’s great grandfather at Drimurla about 5km from Newport. They were following in the footsteps of Princess Grace and her husband Prince Rainier III Prince of Monaco who first visited Newport in 1961. Prince Albert and Princess Charlene were married in July 2011 shortly after their state visit to Ireland.

Prince Albert was born in Monaco on March 14th 1958. His birth ensured that France would not gain control of Monaco after the death of his father Prince Rainier as had been agreed in a treaty with France in 1918. He graduated from Amherst College in Massachusetts in 1977 with BA degree in political science. A keen sportsman he represented Monaco at the Winter Olympics at five consecutive games in the bobsleigh events. His maternal grandfather and his uncle were both winners of Olympic medals. Prince Albert is a member of the International Olympic Committee. His wife Princess Charlene is a former Olympic swimmer. She represented South Africa at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

Prince Albert’s mother Princess Grace died in a car accident on September 14th 1982. His father Prince Rainier became ill on March 7th 2005 and was admitted to hospital. When Prince Rainier was no longer able to carry out his duties Prince Albert took over as regent on March 31st 2005. On April 6th 2005, Prince Rainier III died and Prince Albert became Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco. Before Albert’s enthronement as ruler of Monaco there followed a three month mourning period for his father.

The enthronement of Prince Albert II (Albert Alexandre Louis Pierre Grimaldi) as ruler of the Principality of Monaco, marked with a Mass at Saint Nicholas Cathedral, took place in the year 2005 On This Day.

Albert II, Prince of Monaco, Territoire de Belfort, France, 06 Jun 2016 by ComputerHotline on 2016-06-06 10:40:53

Prince Albert II of Monaco (01311140w) by IAEA Imagebank on 2011-09-29 19:31:58

Railway Bridge, Newport County Mayo by Mark Waters on 2006-08-07 21:59:40

05 September-Duckett’s Grove, Carlow

Duckett’s Grove lies a few miles east of Carlow town, Ireland. Situated on what was once a 5,000 hectare estate it was the home of the Duckett family during the 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries. Duckett’s Grove House was destroyed in a fire on April 20th 1933. The ruined gothic style mansion, with its walled gardens and surrounding grounds were purchased by Carlow County Council in 2005. Though the house remains a ruin, extensive restoration has been carried out. The walled gardens and pleasure grounds are now open to the public and have become a major visitor attraction.

In the late 1600’s the Duckett family purchased land in Carlow, on which they later built a large two-storey house. In the early 1800’s John Duckett employed Thomas Cobden to update the house in Gothic style. Cobden designed many public buildings, private residences and churches in the Carlow/Wexford area including Carlow Cathedral. As a result of Cobden’s work Duckett’s Grove was transformed into a Gothic revival building. It has several towers and turrets varying in shape and size, which have recesses containing statues.

In 1908 William Duckett, the last male of the Duckett family died. His wife and her daughter lived at Duckett’s Grove until they moved to Dublin in 1916. The estate, for a time, was managed by an agent. It was eventually bought by the Land Commission and the land divided among local farmers. In 1931 the house and surrounding grounds, extending to about 5 hectares were bought by Frederick Thompson of Hanover Works (Thompson Engineering). Some of the buildings on the grounds of Duckett’s Grove were demolished and the granite ashlar was used in the building of Bishop Foley National School on Station Road in Carlow town.

For almost seventy years the buildings and grounds at Duckett’s Grove were largely neglected until purchased by Carlow County Council. Apart from the restoration work on the gardens and grounds, Carlow County Council has also installed various facilities in the stables to the rear of the house. These include, Tea Rooms and Ducketts Grove Design -Craft and Gift Emporium. Due to what were described as ‘unexplained phenomena’ a live broadcast of an episode of the paranormal television series Destination Truth was made from Duckett’s Grove on St Patrick’s day 2011. Killarney Paranormal Society has also carried out investigations at the castle.

Carlow County Council took possession of Duckett’s Grove near Carlow town, Ireland in the year 2005 On This Day.

Ducketts Grove photo

Duckett’s Grove

Photo by NedKinsella

Ducketts Grove photo

Walled garden entrance, Duckett’s Grove

Photo by NedKinsella