23 December-Mormon

Joseph Smith was the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Informally known as the Mormon Church it claims to have almost 70 million members worldwide. It has its headquarters in Salt lake City, Utah.

Joseph Smith was born in Sharon, Vermont, USA in 1805. By 1817 he had moved with his family to Manchester, New York. Following claims that he began to see visions he translated one of his visions into the Book of Mormon. He founded the Latter Day Saints Church on April 6, 1830.

In 1831 Smith led his followers west to Ohio and later to Missouri, and Illinois. Violent clashes occurred with non-Mormons. Smith and his followers destroyed a newspaper which was critical of him. This, and the introduction of polygamy led to Smith being imprisoned in Carthage, Illinois. He was killed on June 27th 1844 when a mob stormed the prison. Following the death of Smith, Brigham Young was chosen as his successor.

Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints, was born in the year 1805 On This Day.

Joseph Smith birthplace memorial




22 December-Patrick O’Donoghue

Patrick O’Donoghue from Clonegal, Co Carlow, Ireland was a member of the Young Ireland Movement. The Young Ireland Movement was an Irish nationalist, political and social movement which was active in the mid nineteenth century. The Movement had grown out a split with Daniel O’Connell over the methods being used by O’Connell to achieve the repeal of the Act of Union. The Young Irelanders were especially opposed to O’Connell’s attempts to form an alliance with the Whig Party in England.

Patrick O’Donoghue was born in 1810. He attended Trinity College Dublin and was working as law clerk in Dublin when he joined the Young Ireland Movement. Following the failure of the Young Ireland uprising at Ballingarry in Co Tipperary in 1848, O’Donoghue was found guilty of treason by a special commission in Clonmel Co Tipperary. He was sentenced to death. This sentence was later commuted to transportation for life to Van Diemen’s Land, now the island of Tasmania.

Shortly after arriving in Hobart, O’Donoghue established a weekly newspaper which he called the Irish Exile. The first edition was published on January 26th 1850. The paper was suppressed by the Governor and O’Donoghue was arrested. He was sentenced to hard labour for one year. On release he began publishing the Irish Exile again. He was arrested once more and sentenced again for a year to hard labour. He was released after a few months and sent to Launcetown in northern Tasmania in 1852. He escaped and in December 1852 boarded a ship bound for Melbourne.

From Melbourne O’Donoghue travelled via Sydney and Tahiti to San Francisco and from there to New York. By 1854 he was described as being often depressed, in poor health and estranged from many members of the Young Ireland movement who were also living in America. Following his arrival in America his wife and daughter and his brother sailed from Dublin to join him in New York. On arrival at New York however, they were unable to disembark immediately due to adverse weather conditions. O’Donoghue died on January 22nd 1854 shortly before his family were able to disembark.

Patrick O’Donoghue, native of Carlow, Ireland and member of the Young Ireland Movement, having escaped from Tasmania arrived in Melbourne en route to America in the year 1852 On This Day.

Plaque on the House in Clonegal, Carlow where Patrick O’Donoghue was born



21 December-Samuel Haughton

In August 2005 a plaque was unveiled in Carlow town, Ireland outside the house where polymath Samuel Haughton was born. Sponsored by An Bord Fáilte the plaque, which 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 in December 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 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 Dublin 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’, became the accepted procedure for hanging. Samuel Haughton died in Dublin at the age of 77 on October 31st 1897. His body was returned to Carlow and he is buried in the family plot in Killeshin graveyard near Carlow town.

Samuel Haughton, mathematician, geologist and physiologist  was born Carlow town, Ireland in the year 1821 On This Day.

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


20 December-Carlow Gaol

Carlow gaol in Carlow town, Ireland was built in 1800. It replaced an older gaol (bridewell) which was located nearby. It operated as a gaol until 1897 when it was closed and sold to Thomas Thompson. Thompson based his engineering business, Hanover Works in the gaol. Thompsons moved their manufacturing plant to a new premises about 5km north of Carlow town in 2005. The Hanover Works site is now Carlow Shopping Centre. The main gate to the gaol is the Barrack Street entrance to the shopping centre. This gate was the place where public hangings took place. Immediately inside the gate the original Governors House still stands.

In the eighteenth century each county in Ireland was obliged under the law to have its own prison. The prison was located in the main town in the county. By all accounts these prisons were desperate places. An English prison reformer John Howard visited jails in Great Britain, Ireland and Europe. He found prisons in general to be miserable, cruel and overcrowded institutions. He described Ireland ‘as savage as the inland parts of Russia’. In a report on the prisons he said he never saw abuses worse than those in Ireland. Beginning in 1775 Howard made five trips to Ireland and in 1786 the Regulation of Prisons Bill was passed which established an inspector of prisons. The inspector was obliged to carry out inspections every two years. The inspector also agreed budgets with the prison authorities for feeding the prisoners and for the maintenance of prisons.

Following their establishment, the Inspectors-General of Prisons carried out prescribed inspections of Carlow Gaol and issued a report. In the report for 1861 Inspector John Lentaigne noted the ‘remarkable and continued decrease in crime in the quiet and peaceable County of Carlow’. His report showed that only 13 male and 9 female prisoners were in custody in Carlow Gaol. Over 20 years previously the annual inspection was carried out by Inspector Major Palmer. At the time of his inspection the gaol had 66 prisoners in custody. The inspector expressed his pleasure with everything he observed.

Inspector of prisons Major Palmer carried out his inspection of Carlow gaol in the year 1837 On This Day.

Carlow Shopping Centre (Barrack Street Entrance), formerly Thompsons Hanover Works and previously Carlow Gaol