On this day: the Irish government stands up to the Catholic Church

On the 12th of March, 1985, the government of the Republic of Ireland finally stood up to the powerful Catholic Church and legalised contraception.


Women leave Dublin on their protest journey to Belfast.

The 1970s saw feminists travelling to Belfast in Northern Ireland and returning home with contraceptives, risking arrest for importing illegal products. They were met by protestors upon their arrival home.

Illegal in the Republic in all circumstances until 1980, a new law allowed some contraception to be dispensed by a pharmacist to people with a doctor’s prescription.

This highly restrictive law was finally changed five years later, despite conservative opposition.


Some Americans were so outraged that “Holy Ireland” now allowed contraception, they wrote to the Prime Minister to complain.

Even so, advertising of contraceptives was still banned, and Ireland continued to have one of the highest birth rates in the developed world.

On this day: the launch of the RMS Olympic

The RMS Olympic, sister-ship to the Titanic, was launched in Belfast, Ireland on the 20th of October, 1910.

As was common in the era of black and white photography, the hull of the ship was painted light grey so that the lines could be seen better when shown in pictures.



Sheila, Denise and the Belfast Blitz.


Belfast was heavily bombed by the Nazis in April and May of 1941, with some 900 people dying.

There were fears of animals at the zoo escaping and stampeding, so orders were given to shoot some of them.

A woman named Denise Weston Austin, one of the zoo’s first female zookeepers, decided to save a baby elephant named Sheila.

Baby elephant, Sheila, who was moved out of Belfast zoo because of fears of a hit from bombers during the Belfast Blitz of 1941.ele2

Because she had high walls around the back of her house, she knew she could hide the animal at night.

Every night after the zoo closed, she sneaked the elephant home on foot, and then returned her in the morning.

Belfast Blitz Sheila the Elepahnt Denise

Sheila survived the war, but died in 1966.

Austin died in 1997, but the identity of the “Elephant Angel” was not discovered until 2009, when a public appeal was launched to find her.

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On this day: Northern Ireland’s parliament opened in 1921

On the 22nd of June, 1921, Robinson and Cleaver Department Store in Belfast was photographed decorated for the State Opening of the first Northern Ireland parliament.


Ulster_Welcomes_Her_King_&_Queen_Robinson and Cleaver Department Store in Belfast, decorated for the State Opening of the first Northern Ireland parliament. June 22, 1921.