26 April-Catriona McKiernan

Catriona McKiernan is a native of Co Cavan, Ireland. She is the winner of numerous long distance and marathon races and is widely regarded as one of the best ever cross country runners. In 1998 McKiernan became the first Irish person to win the London Marathon.

Catriona McKiernan was born in Cornafean, about 13km west of Cavan town on November 30th 1969. Interested in sport from a young age she played Gaelic games before concentrating on athletics. She represented Ireland at the Olympics in 1992 and in 1996. In 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995 she was the winner of the silver medal at the World Cross Country Championships.

In 1997 McKiernan began competing in the Marathon, winning her first race in Berlin that year. In 1998 she was the winner of the marathon in both London and Amsterdam. Due to injury she was unable to compete in the 2000 Olympics in Sydney and the 2004 Olympics in Athens. She announced her retirement in 2004.

Catriona McKiernan became the first Irish person to win the London Marathon in the year 1998 On This Day.

London Marathon

 

26 April-Chernobyl

Raised levels of radioactive contamination from the Chernobyl Diasater were detected in Ireland in the early days of May 1986. The Chernobyl nuclear power plant is situated near the city of Pripyat in Ukraine about 100km north of Kiev near the border with Belarus. The explosion at the power plant led to the most disastrous single nuclear event in history.

The raised levels of fallout following the Chernobyl accident led to certain restrictions being imposed in Ireland. The slaughter of lambs from upland areas, which had suffered relatively high levels of fallout, was restricted. It was found that radiocaesium levels were above the limit which had been adopted by the EU following the accident. Within a 100km radius of Dublin increased levels of radioactive contamination in milk and milk products were also detected. However the level was well within the level at which intervention is recommended.

Chernobyl was chosen as the site for a nuclear power plant in 1964. The plant was intended to have six reactors. By 1986 four of the reactors had been completed and the other two were under construction. In April 1986 maintenance and testing was being undertaken when there was an explosion and meltdown at Reactor number 4.

The accident caused the death of 31 people and has an impact on the lives of millions. The entire population of 45,000 of the city of Pripyat was immediately evacuated. Altogether over 300,000 people have been relocated from the vicinity of Chernobyl. The radioactive cloud from the accident was carried westward affecting many European countries including Ireland. However Belarus, Russia and Ukraine were the areas which were most heavily affected where over 160,000 square kilometres of land has been contaminated.

It is generally accepted that there has been a massive impact on the health of the population in the worst affected areas. There is a high level of thyroid cancer, immune system disorders and many other diseases among those affected by the radiation. Those affected by the disaster are in need of on-going humanitarian aid including financial support and medical supplies. People also need wide ranging programmes of assistance including helping them overcome the psychological impact of being exposed to nuclear fallout

The Chernobyl disaster which was one of the worst nuclear power plant accidents in history happened at 1.00am in the year 1986 On This Day.

Chernobyl

Chernobyl Disaster photo

Reactor & Chernobyl Memorial

Photo by Timm Suess

 

 

25 April-Danoli

Danoli was a racehorse owned by Dan O’Neill of Myshall near Bagenalstown County Carlow, Ireland. Danoli was trained by Tom Foley at his stables nearby. The thoroughbred which was foaled on May 14th 1988 became one of the most popular racehorses in Ireland during the 1990’s. During his career he was often referred to as ‘the people’s champion’.

Dan O’Neill purchased Danoli in 1991 from Willie Austin of Cloughjordan Co Tipperary. The new owner’s first name and the first three letters of Olivia, his daughter’s name, were combined to give the horse his name.

Danoli began his racing career in National Hunt flat races, winning his first race at Naas in 1991. In 1993 he began racing over hurdles in Ireland. He won his first two races before going to Cheltenham in 1994 where he won the Sun Alliance Novices’ Hurdle. During 1994 he also won the Aintree Hurdle, the Morgiana Hurdle and the Hatton’s Grace Hurdle. In 1995 he won the Aintree Hurdle for the second time. However he was found to have fractured a bone in one of his legs and underwent surgery at Leahurst Veterinary College in the University of Liverpool. He returned to racing and following some failures won the Red Mills Trial Hurdle at Gowran Park, Kilkenny in February 1996.

In 1996 Danoli began his steeplechasing career with a win at Clonmel. In the same year he went on to win the Denny Gold Medal Chase at Leopardstown Racecourse in December. On February 2nd 1997 he won the prestigious Hennessy Gold Cup at Leopardstown. Plagued by injury during his racing career Danoli had his final win at Navan on March 25th 2000. His retirement was announced in August of the same year. In retirement he drew large crowds to visit him at the National Stud in Co Kildare.

Danoli was euthanised following a severe bout of colic in the year 2006 On This Day.

DCP04168

 

 

25 April-Thomas Traynor

On the Dublin Road in Tullow, Co Carlow, Ireland there is a monument to Thomas Traynor. Traynor was a member of the garrison at Boland’s Mills during the Easter rising of 1916. He was imprisoned following the Rising. Following his release from prison Traynor played an active part in the Irish War of Independence.

Thomas Traynor was born in in Cannon’s Quarter, Tullow on May 27th 1881. He was a boot maker by trade. He moved to Dublin from Carlow in 1916. Traynor was interned at Frongoch in Wales for his role in the Easter Rising of 1916. He was later imprisoned at the maximum security Wakefield Prison, West Yorkshire, England. In common with most of those interned and who had not received a prison sentence, Traynor was released in late December 1916 and returned to Dublin.

Following his return to Dublin, Traynor took part in the war of independence. He was captured during a shoot-out with police and auxiliaries while keeping watch outside 144 Brunswick Street (Pearse Street), Dublin, where a meeting of rebels was being held. Two members of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, Constable James O’Farrell and Cadet Bernard Beard together with rebel Leo Hogan died in the fighting.

Thomas Traynor was taken prisoner. He was put on trial, found guilty of murder and was sentenced to be hanged. At the time Traynor was the father of ten children ranging in age from 18 years down to five months. The day after Thomas Traynor was hanged a District Inspector in the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) in Tipperary, called Gilbert Potter, was shot in reprisal. In later years it emerged that a son of Thomas Traynor and a son of Gilbert Potter were commanders of destroyers in the same flotilla during World War II in the Far East. The monument to Thomas Traynor in Tullow was unveiled by his eldest son Frank Traynor on August 15th 1965.

Thomas Traynor was hanged in Mountjoy Jail at the age of 39 in the year 1921 On This Day.

24 April-Eamon Casey

Eamon Casey was appointed Roman Catholic bishop of Galway, Ireland in 1976. He had previously served as bishop of Kerry from 1969 until his appointment to the Galway diocese. Bishop Casey was a highly influential member of the Irish catholic hierarchy. He served as bishop of Galway until his resignation in highly controversial circumstances in 1992.

Eamon Casey was born in Firies, County Kerry, Ireland in 1927. Having studied at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth he was ordained a priest in 1951. He served as a priest in Limerick until he was appointed bishop of Kerry in 1969. He was appointed bishop of Galway on the retirement of Bishop Michael Browne in 1976.

In 1992 it was revealed that Bishop Casey had a relationship with Annie Murphy who was a native of America. They had a son Peter, who was born in 1974. Following the revelation Bishop Casey resigned. He moved to South America where he served as a missionary priest in Ecuador. Bishop Casey returned to Ireland in 2006. He died at the age of 89 on March 13th 2017.

Eamon Casey was born in the year 1927 On This Day.

Bishop Eamon Casey launching Trócaire’s campaign to boycott South African goods

Bishop Eamon Casey speaking to media after the assassination of Archbishop Romero