Ireland has a rich and complex history, as the country has been the subject to numerous invasions throughout the centuries, and fought for hundreds more years to regain its independence.
However, there is a brief period in the mid-18th century, when nothing at all happened. Literally nothing.
There are no records of any event or activity taking place from the 3rd September 1752 to 13th September 1752.
These days have been wiped from British and Irish history as it was the date that the authorities ceased to use the Julian Calendar, and switched to the more accurate Gregorian calendar. Of course, Ireland was still under British rule at this time so the decisions made in London would be applied across the whole of Britain and Ireland.
The British didn’t want to use the Pope’s calendar
The Julian Calendar had been in use for hundreds of years. However, as it was based on the solar year, the amount of time it takes the earth to rotate around the sun, it was 365.25 days long. This is actually fractionally too long and in time caused the date to fall out of sequence with the seasons.
The Gregorian Calendar had been developed by Pope Gregory XIII in the 1500s. It is the calendar that is used today, with 365 days in a year except for leap years when the 29th February is added. This is not actually every four years, but 97 times in every 400 years, correcting the slight inaccuracy of the Julian Calendar.
The British refused to implement this new system for more than a century, as they didn’t want to adopt the Pope’s calendar because of his Catholic religion.
However, they were forced to make the change in 1752, when Britain and Ireland were actually eleven days behind the rest of Europe. They made the decision to switch to the Gregorian Calendar, and September 2nd 1752 was followed by September 14th 1752. Eleven days were wiped from history. They never took place.
‘Give us our eleven days back!’
Historians have revealed that there was some discontent amongst some of the public as people felt their lives had been shortened. Protestors gathered in the streets crying: “Give us our eleven days back!”
The phrase became the signature-line of the changing of the calendar. William Hogarth, the English painter and satirist, made reference to it in An Election Entertainment, one of his four-painting series The Humours of an Election, which was a mockery of the British parliament at the time.
In truth, most of the public were not too upset about the fast-forwarding of the date, except when landlords started to demand their rent early, before people had worked enough days to earn their wages.
Pretty much every country in the world now use the Gregorian Calendar. Turkey was the last major nation to make the switch, in 1927 – losing their citizens 13 days.
Follow the Irish History Bitesize Facebook page