17 November-Irish Hospitals Sweepstake

The Irish Government established a lottery called the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake in 1930. The aim was to provide funds for investment in hospitals and medical services. The lottery was established under the 1930 Public Charitable Hospitals (Temporary Provisions) Act.

The lottery, which became commonly known as The Irish Sweeps, was organised by Richard Duggan, Joe McGrath and Captain Spencer Freeman. Richard Duggan was a Dublin bookmaker who had previously organised lotteries. Joe McGrath was a former government minister and Captain Spencer Freeman was an engineer from Wales who had served in the British army. Together they established a private trust to run the lottery and market tickets in Ireland and around the world. Ticket stubs were returned to Dublin where the draw was held. At first the draw was held in the Mansion House but it was moved to a location in Ballsbridge in 1940. The Sweepstake ran for 56 years, raised millions for Ireland’s health infrastructure and made the three organisers very wealthy.

When the Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake was established it was the only legal sweepstake in the world. Ticket sales were initially confined to Ireland but it was soon realised that a lot of profits could be generated by selling tickets abroad. Though it was illegal to sell sweepstake tickets in Britain, the number of tickets sold there increased rapidly. The amount of money being invested in the Irish Sweepstake by British citizens led to the passing of the Betting and Lotteries Act in 1934. The act together with the later introduction of football pools led to a decline in sales in Britain.

As ticket sales declined in Britain the number of tickets being sold in North America increased dramatically. They were smuggled in and sold illegally in both the Unites States and Canada. By the late 1950’s almost eighty percent of all sweepstake tickets were being sold there. By the 1960’s lotteries had begun to be legalised in the United States. This led to a decline in the sale of tickets for the Irish Sweepstake. The final Sweepstake prize draw was held in 1986, the same year the Irish National Lottery was established. The first Sweepstake prize of £208,792 was won by three people from Belfast. Mr. J. G. Prescott, a civil servant, shared his winning ticket with Belfast barmen Mr. J Torney and F. Ward.

The first Irish Hospitals Sweepstake draw was held in the year 1930 On This Day.

Irish Hospital’s Sweepstake on the 1963 Grand National Booklet

1960 Irish Sweepstakes Horse Race – Irish Hospitals’ Sweepstake Derby Acknowledgement Form For Sales of Irish Sweepstakes Tickets

12 February-Censorship of Publications Board (Ireland)

The Censorship of Publications Board (Ireland) was first established in 1930. The Board consists of five members who are appointed under the Censorship of Publications Acts of 1929, 1946 and 1967. The selling or distribution of publications which the Board regards as obscene is illegal. Up until the early 1990’s large numbers of publications were banned. Today there are almost 300 books and magazines banned in Ireland. However it is only rarely that publications are now prohibited.

During the 1920’s the Minister for Justice, Mr Kevin O’Higgins felt the laws governing censorship did not need to be strengthened. Other politicians, such as Éamon de Valera felt that publications in Ireland should be censored unless they lived up to the ‘holiest traditions’. Under pressure from groups such as the Catholic Truth Society of Ireland (CTSI) the Minister established the Committee on Evil Literature. The report of the committee led to passing of the Censorship of Publications Act, 1929.

The Censorship of Publications Board was appointed in February 1930. In May of the same year the Board published, in Ireland’s State Gazette (Iris Oifigúil), a list of the first thirteen publications to be banned. In the following years large numbers of publications were banned, including works by respected international and Irish writers. These included F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Kate O’Brien and Seán O’Faoláin.

The Censorship of Publications Board (Ireland) was first appointed in the year 1930 On This Day.

Collected stories of Sean O’Faolain




31 December-Letitia Dunbar Harrison

Letitia Dunbar-Harrison was recommended for appointment as Librarian for County Mayo in the west of Ireland in July 1930 by the independent Local Appointments Commission. What should have been a routine appointment caused conflict between local and national government and between church and state. It became a famous public controversy which attracted national headlines. Reports about the controversy also appeared in newspapers in places such as London and Boston.

Letitia Dunbar-Harrison was born in Dublin on February 4th 1906. Her family were members of the Church of Ireland. Letitia was educated at Alexandra College in Dublin and entered Trinity College Dublin in 1924. She graduated with an honours degree in French and Spanish in 1928. Afterwards she trained as a librarian at University College Dublin and worked at the Rathmines Public Library in Dublin.

Following independence in 1922 the Local Appointments Commission had been established by the Irish Government. Its role was to prevent nepotism or corruption in recruitment to senior local government posts. The Commission advertised the Position of County Librarian for Mayo in early 1930. Following public competition Letitia Dunbar-Harrison was recommended for appointment by the Commission.

Under the law Mayo County Council was obliged to ratify her appointment. However the County Council backed by the Library Committee refused to do so. The reason given for refusing to ratify the appointment was that Ms Dunbar-Harrison was not proficient in the Irish language. However it is widely accepted that the Council refused to ratify her appointment because she was not a Roman Catholic and also that she was a graduate of Trinity College Dublin.

The Minister for Local Government, Richard Mulcahy, abolished the Council and appointed a Commissioner, PJ Bartley, to carry out its functions. One of his first acts was to appoint Letitia Dunbar Harrison as County Librarian for Mayo. Soon after her appointment clerics and conservative Catholics organised a boycott of the library services in Mayo. Monsignor D’Alton, a member of the library committee and Parish Priest of Ballinrobe, said at the time: ‘The only outstanding qualification she has is that she is a Protestant and was educated in Trinity College. Are these not peculiar qualifications for a Catholic county like Mayo? 99% of the people of Mayo are Catholic’.

The appointment of Ms Dunbar-Harrison caused political controversy. Mr Eamon de Valera, then leader of Fianna Fáil the main opposition party stated: ‘I say that if I had a vote on a local body, and there were two qualified people who had to deal with a Catholic community, and if one was a Catholic and the other a Protestant, I would unhesitatingly vote for the Catholic’.

In order to defuse the controversy Taoiseach W. T. Cosgrave held a meeting with Dr Thomas Gilmartin the Catholic Archbishop of Tuam. Following the meeting Ms Dunbar-Harrison was promoted to the Department of Defence Library in Dublin later that same year.

While she was living in Castlebar Ms Dunbar-Harrison met her future husband Rev. Robert Crawford, a Methodist Minister. They married a short time after she moved to Dublin in 1931. Letitia was forced to resign her position because at the time married women were not allowed to work in the civil service.

Mayo County Council was abolished for failing to carry out its statutory duty, namely the appointment of Ms Letitia Dunbar-Harrison as County Librarian, in the year 1930 On This Day.

Main Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo on 1880-01-01 00:00:00

Wynne’s, Castlebar, Co Mayo. 1989

Menawn Cliffs, Achill. County Mayo, Ireland] (LOC) on 1890-01-01 00:00:00

31 October-Astronaut Michael Collins

Michael Collins is a former Astronaut who in 1969 was the Command Module pilot of Apollo 11 for the first moon landing. While Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walked on the moon Collins kept the Command Module in orbit around the moon. He is one of 24 people who have flown to the moon.

Michael Collins was born in Rome, Italy in 1930 where his father, a US Army Major General was stationed. Having served as an Air Force pilot he was chosen to train as an astronaut in 1963. He made his first space flight in 1966. With Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin, Collins was launched into space to begin their journey to the Moon on July 16th 1969.

Following a 384,700km trip lasting four days, a record TV audience of over 520 million watched as the Lunar Module landed on the moon’s surface. In addition giant screens were erected in places such as Central Park in New York City where large crowds watched the event. Collins continued to orbit the moon while the other two astronauts spent two and a half hours collecting samples conducting experiments and taking photographs on the lunar surface. They returned safely to earth four days later.

Michael Collins, the Command Module pilot for the 1969 moon landing, was born in the year 1930 On This Day.

Michael Collins Hero by Anton Gorobets on 2009-06-23 12:34:28

Astronaut Quote by pschultz on 2008-09-26 11:20:01


17 September-Hoover Dam

The Hoover Dam is located on the Colorado River about 50km (30 miles) southeast of Las Vegas Nevada. The Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme in Ireland was the largest hydroelectric station in the world until the Hoover Dam was completed in 1935. Both dams continue to supply electricity in their respective countries. The Shannon Hydroelectric Scheme supplies 2% of Ireland’s power. The Hoover Dam supplies electricity to California, Nevada and Arizona.

Construction on the Hoover Dam began in the year 1930 On This Day.

Hoover Dam by tolomea on 2012-04-11 19:31:49

Hoover Dam photo

Photo by Synapse (Pixabay)