Archive for the 'Ireland' Category

It’s officially Halloween season and chances are you’ve already seen a considerable amount of Jack-o’-Lanterns. Perhaps you’ve even carved one yourself, taking part in a centuries old tradition. But where does this old Celtic custom come from? Today we explore the origins of Jack-o-Lanterns, discuss the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, and meet Stingy Jack, the cheeky character who just may be behind the origin of the term ‘Jack-o-Lantern’ itself. Wrap up and grab some cider, today’s history is served up with an extra side of spooky.

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Joe Carstairs is remembered for being the fastest woman on water in the 1920s. She raced power boats, won trophies, and loved adventure and speed. But her life was so much more than races and fast machines. Born in 1900, Joe was a British eccentric, an heiress, openly a lesbian, and shed many gender conformities of her day.

She served with the American Red Cross in France during WW1, established the X Garage, a chauffeuring business employing a staff of all female drivers and mechanics who had learned their skills while serving during the war, and after receiving some notoriety from racing, Joe bought Whale Cay, an Island in the Bahamas, which she ran almost as if it were her own country.

Her life was so full and colorful it became clear early on that this would have to be a two-part series. This is part one of a deep dive into the relentlessly fascinating life of Joe Carstairs, the fastest woman on water.

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In 1879 the Victorian world was shocked by one of the most sensational murders it would ever see. When Kate Webster killed, dismembered, and boiled her employer Julia Martha Thomas, she went down in history as one of the most notorious killers of the 19th century. Find out all the gory details and just what David Attenborough had to do with it 131 years later. Yes, that David Attenborough. 

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It’s a stone with many names--the Stone of Destiny, the Stone of Scone, the Coronation Stone, Lia Fáil-- and there are numerous legends and myths about its origins. For centuries it was used in the coronations of Scottish kings, that is, until it was taken to England by Edward 1st in 1296. From then on it was used in the coronations of English and subsequent British monarchs, symbolizing their rule over Scotland and its incorporation into the United Kingdom. For 700 years after it was taken by the English king, it remained in Westminster Abby under the Coronation Chair, until Christmas day, 1950, when four students from the University of Glasgow--Kay Matheson, Ian Hamilton, Gavin Vernon, and Alan Stuart--decided it was time for Scotland to take it back. This is the true story of one of the most famous and unlikely heists in history. The most remarkable part of this incredible true story isn't that these four students planned on breaking into Westminster Abby to steal back a symbol of Scottish nationalism…it's that they were going to get away with it.

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This episode is the first in a series highlighting extraordinary people doing extraordinary things in times of crises. This week we travel to Belfast during the Blitz of 1941 and meet Denise Weston Austin. She worked as one of the Belfast Zoo’s first female zookeepers, and the friendship she developed with Sheila, the zoo’s baby elephant, would become an inspirational part of Irish history. For decades, Denise’s identity remained a mystery until an old black and white photo of a woman and a baby elephant in a backyard surfaced from the zoo’s archives. Come hear the story of the woman who risked everything to save a small, plucky elephant, and why Denise has become known around the world as the Elephant Angel. 

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The finale is here! Come find out just how one of the most inspiring stories of human endurance ended. We head back to Antarctica and watch the crew of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition make history as Shackleton attempts one last desperate attempt at a rescue mission. This episode has all the answers you've been waiting for. 

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Join me on a tour of Père Lachaise Cemetery and explore the tombs of some of histories most incredible icons including Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, Isadora Duncan, Abelard and Heloise, and Chopin. We examine the cemetery's history, make a side tour to the catacombs beneath Paris, and explore the dark moments in history that have occurred in Père Lachaise since its establishment by Napoleon. Let's go to Paris! 

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