29 May-President Kennedy

President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was the 35th President of the United States of America. His ancestors on his father’s side came from Wexford and on his mother’s side from Limerick. During his time as President he had deal with events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the building of the Berlin Wall. He initiated the Apollo Programme which led eventually to the moon landings.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1917. He graduated from Harvard with Bachelor of Arts in government in 1940. Kennedy served in the US Navy during World War II and was decorated for heroism. After the war he served as a Democratic Congressman and in 1953 was elected to the US Senate. Following the Presidential election of 1960 Kennedy was inaugurated President of the USA in January 1961 at age 43. He was assassinated while on a visit to Dallas, Texas on November 22nd 1963 On This Day.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was born in the year 1917 On This Day.

John F. Kennedy, wife Jacqueline and daughter Caroline

 

 

 

19 November-Indira Ghandi

Indira Ghandi served as prime Minister of India from 1967 to 1977 and from 1978 until her assassination in 1984. Her father Jawaharlal Nehru was the first prime Minister of India. To date Indira Ghandi is the only female Prime Minister of India.

Indira Ghandi was born in Allahabad in north eastern India in 1917. She was educated in India, Switzerland and England. Following the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri in 1967, Ghandi became Prime Minister of India.

Despite opposition from within her own party Ghandi became a popular leader. She revitalised agriculture and in 1974 brought India into the nuclear age. In 1971 the war with Pakistan ended with the surrender of the Pakistani army. Ghandi met with the President of Pakistan and agreed that territorial disputes would in future, be resolved in a peaceful manner.

During her second term as Prime Minister Ghandi ordered a crackdown in 1984 on Sikh separatists in the Punjab. There was a large number of casualties at the Sikh Golden Temple in Amritsar. Ghandi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards on October 31st 1984.

Indira Ghandi was born in the year 1917 On This Day.

Schah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and Schahbanu Farah Pahlavi meet Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, state visit in India, 1970 by Saktishree on 2013-08-15 15:27:28

 

31 July-Francis Ledwidge

Francis Ledwidge was a poet and soldier who was a native of Co Meath, Ireland. He is often referred to as the ‘Poet of the Blackbirds’. During World War I Ledwidge served in both the Balkans and Western Europe. He was killed by a German shell at the Battle of Passchendaele in 1917.

Francis Edward Ledwidge was born at Janeville near Slane Co Meath on August 19th 1887. When he was five years old his father died. At the age of 13 Francis left school to work in support of his family. He worked at various jobs including farm labourer, road worker, miner and shop assistant. During this time he was writing poetry and his first poems were published in the Drogheda Independent when he was fourteen years old.

Lord Dunsany became his patron and helped Ledwidge publish his first poetry collection, ‘Songs of the Fields’. He also introduced him to poets of the day including Katharine Tynan and W B Yeats. Following the outbreak of World War I, Ledwidge enlisted in the 5th battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers. He was at the time a supporter of the Gaelic League, a nationalist and founder of the local branch of the Irish Volunteers. Despite this and against the advice of Lord Dunsany he decided to enlist. He later said: ‘I joined the British army because England stood between Ireland and an enemy common to our civilisation, and I would not have had it said that she defended us while we did nothing at home but pass resolutions.’

Ledwidge first served in The Balkans. He landed at Gallipoli in July 1915 and in August took part in the joint allied attack on Suvla Bay. Following the failure of the attack his regiment was transferred to Serbia where Ledwidge damaged his back and was transferred to Hospital in Manchester, England. Whilst in hospital Ledwidge heard about the 1916 Easter Rising. He was dismayed to learn about the execution of Thomas MacDonagh whom he had known before the war. His poem, ‘Lament for Thomas MacDonagh’ is one his best known compositions.

Ledwidge was given leave to return home. He was badly affected by the events in Dublin of 1916 and was disillusioned with the war. Following his period of leave he failed to report on time for duty and was arrested for being drunk. He was demoted and sent to the western front in France. In the spring of 1917 Ledwidge was involved in the Battle of Arras. He was later sent to Belgium where he was killed while involved in preparation for the battle of Passchendaele near the Belgian city of Ypres.

Francis Ledwidge, poet and soldier, was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I in the year 1917 On This Day.

Francis Ledwidge Cottage, Slane by OpenPlaques on 2012-03-28 00:44:29

Francis Ledwidge, Island of Ireland Peace Park by R/DV/RS on 2008-10-13 14:32:11

Francis Ledwidge, Slane Bridge by OpenPlaques on 2012-04-06 15:51:08

 

13 May-Our Lady of Fatima

Fatima is a town situated about 123km (76 miles) north of Lisbon, Portugal. The town, which has a population of almost 8,000 people, is visited by large crowds of pilgrims annually. Three shepherd children reported to have witnessed apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Our Lady of Fatima) over a six month period in 1917.

Ten year old Lúcia dos Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto reported the first apparition whilst herding sheep. They described seeing a woman ‘brighter than the sun, shedding rays of light clearer and stronger than a crystal ball filled with the most sparkling water and pierced by the burning rays of the sun’. Though at first regarded as a joke by their parents, word of the apparitions spread quickly. Over the following months reports of visions and miracles attracted thousands of people to Fatima.

The children reported that they had been given secrets during the apparitions. Prior to an apparition in August the children were imprisoned by the provincial administrator in an attempt to get them to divulge the secrets. A parent of one of the children hoped the children would admit they were lying and bring an end to the affair. However the children continued to experience apparitions and the final one occurred on October 13th 1917. 70,000 pilgrims attended the last apparition and witnessed what was called the ‘Miracle of the Sun’.

The apparitions at Fatima, which the children had reported, were eventually declared worthy of belief by the Catholic Church. Francisco and Jacinta Marto died during the Spanish Flu Epidemic. Jacinta died in 1919 and Francisco died in 1920. They were later beatified by Pope John Paul II. They were canonised by Pope Francis on May 13th 2017. Lúcia died in 2005 at the age 97. Her beatification process began in 2008. Today pilgrims are attracted to Fatima all year round. The largest pilgrimages take place in May and October when up to a million people attend to pray and take part in processions.

Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto reported their first vision of Our Lady of Fatima in the year 1917 On This Day.

Our Lady of Fatima by Pilgrim Fatima on 2011-06-20 09:37:41

 

16 August-Fr Willie Doyle

Fr Willie Doyle was born in Dalkey County Dublin. He was ordained a Jesuit priest in 1907. He was a chaplain to the 16th Irish Division during World War 1 and was awarded the Military Cross for bravery.

Fr Doyle died at the battle of Passchendaele in the year 1917 On This Day

Passchendaele photo

Photo by guano