07 May-An Óige

The Irish Youth Hostel Association is known as An Óige. Colm Ó Lochlainn, Kilkenny; Thekla Beere, Westmeath; and Chalmers Trench, Galway were members of the founding committee of An Óige. An Óige was established with the aim of helping all, especially young people ‘to a love and appreciation of the countryside’. To help achieve this the organisation provides high quality hostel accommodation at various locations around Ireland. It is also a member of Hostelling International formerly known as the International Youth Hostel Federation.

Youth hostelling was begun in Germany in 1909 by schoolteacher Richard Schirrmann and conservationist Wilhelm Münker. It quickly grew in international popularity and the International Youth Hostel Federation was founded. It was founded by representatives from eleven countries, including Ireland, at a meeting in Amsterdam on October 20th 1932.

The Irish organising committee opened the first Irish hostel in Lough Dan near the scenic village of Roundwood in County Wicklow. Today An Óige has its headquarters at 61 Mountjoy Square in Dublin City. It operates twenty four youth hostels around Ireland and there are six youth hostels in Northern Ireland. Some hostels are open in the summer season only. Hostels located in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Mayo, Donegal and Wicklow are open all year round.

An Óige was founded at a meeting in Dublin in the year 1931 On This Day.

An Oige Hostel, Traenlaur Lodge, Lough Feeagh, Co. Mayo.

Old striped pole Signpost, Furnace,Co. Mayo, Apr 1989


16 February-National Ploughing Championships

The National Ploughing Championships is held annually at various locations around Ireland in September. From small beginnings the Championships is now one of the largest outdoor events in the world. In recent years the event has attracted around 280,000 visitors and over 1,000 exhibitors. It is held on upwards of 600 acres and costs over €3.5 million to organise.

The National Ploughing Championships has come a long way since the event was first held near Athy, County Kildare in 1931. At that first event, the competition was held on a 26 acre field belonging to Mr W.K. Hosie at Coursetown, Athy. There were 40 entries from nine counties and it cost just over £9 to organise. During its history the National Ploughing Championships has grown year on year and has become much more than just an inter-county ploughing competition.

On successive years the National Ploughing Championships have been held at venues all over Ireland. The first tractor ploughing class was introduced when it was held at Cloghran in County Dublin in 1942. The growth of mechanisation in farming brought an end ploughing by horse traction and the last competition for horses was held in Wexford in 1951.

During the 1980’s the event began to attract a more diverse visitor base and numbers attending grew rapidly. Trakway for internal site roadways was introduced and the event was extended to three days. New attractions such as a Fashion Show and Shopping & Business Arcades were introduced. Today the event caters for just about every member of the community with attractions which include a Tented Trade Village, a Food Fair, Craft Village, Livestock show, Forestry, Education, Motor Show, Financial Services, Competitions and Demonstrations, Outdoor Radio Broadcasts and visits by celebrities.

Down through the years the National Ploughing Championships has played a significant role in the promotion and development of Irish agriculture. In the process the event has had major impact on many aspects of Irish life.

The National Ploughing Association began when the first inter-county ploughing contest took place at Coursetown Athy, County Kildare in the year 1931 On This Day.

Anna May McHugh, Managing Director of the National Ploughing Association greeting Joan Burton



01 February-Boris Yeltsin

Boris Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation serving from 1991 to 1999. During his first term as President he made a stopover at Shannon Airport on September 30th 1994, while returning to Moscow from a visit to the US. He was due to hold talks with An Taoiseach Albert Reynolds. However the meeting had to be cancelled because the Russian President failed to emerge from his jet. It was reported that he was sleeping and was not wakened on medical advice.

Boris Yeltsin was born in Sverdlovsk [now Yekaterinburg], Russia on the border between Europe and Asia. Having studied at the Ural Polytechnic Institute he majored in construction and worked in the building industry. He became active in politics, eventually being appointed mayor of Moscow by Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. However he was critical of Gorbachev and the slow pace of reform and was forced to resign in 1987. He continued to campaign for reform and was elected President of the Russian Federation in June 1991.

In power Yeltsin rapidly introduced the reforms which Gorbachev had initiated. In the event, during the change from communism to capitalism, some people became very wealthy but many Russians experienced poverty. The fall in the standard of living led to a fall in popularity for Yeltsin but he was re-elected as President in July 1996. He served until December 31st 1999 when he resigned and named Prime Minister Vladimir Putin as acting president.

Boris Yeltsin paid a visit to the United States in late September 1994. During a busy schedule he gave an address to United Nations General Assembly and held a summit with President Clinton. He also held business meetings in cities such as New York, Washington and Seattle. On his return journey to Moscow the Russian President was due to hold a meeting with An Taoiseach Albert Reynolds at Shannon. The meeting was to be followed by a reception at nearby Drumoland Castle.

President Yeltsin’s plane circled Shannon Airport for an hour before landing. When it finally landed the red carpet was rolled out and Mr Reynolds, his officials and officials from the Russian Embassy waited for 15 minutes on the tarmac before being told that Mr Yeltsin was not available to meet them. The Russian Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets, who reported the President was asleep held a brief meeting with An Taoiseach. Later in Moscow Yeltsin said he had overslept and would punish the officials who had failed to wake him. Yeltsin returned to Ireland in 2006. He went shark fishing off the Cliffs of Moher and had lunch on Inis Oírr.

Boris Yeltsin was born in the year 1931 On This Day.

Boris Yeltsin monument


23 October-Peter de Loughry

Peter de Loughry was a politician who was a native of Kilkenny City Ireland. He was the man who made the key which enabled Michael Collins to liberate Eamon De Valera, Seán McGarry and Seán Milroy from Lincoln Prison in February 1919. The key was presented to de Loughry in Dáil Éireann by de Valera many years after the event.

Peter de Loughry was born in Kilkenny City on February 4th 1868. He took part in the 1916 rising and was imprisoned on several occasions for revolutionary activities. Following Independence in 1922 de Loughrey, who supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty, was elected to the Senate. He was elected to Dáil Eireann as Cumann na nGaedheal (which later became Fine Gael) TD for the constituency of Carlow-Kilkenny in 1927. De Loughry also served as Mayor of Kilkenny.

Peter de Loughry, revolutionary and politician who was a native of Kilkenny City, Ireland, died aged 52 in the year 1931 On This Day.

Lincoln Castle, Prison, Chapel by Martin Pettitt on 2012-10-06 10:49:28


07 October-Archbishop Desmond Tutu

South African cleric, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, played a leading role in drawing attention to the iniquities of apartheid at home and abroad. He was the first black Archbishop of Cape Town and Bishop of the Anglican Church of South Africa. A strong advocate of the nonviolent path to liberation, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984.

Desmond Mpilo Tutu was born in Klerksdorp, Transvaal, South Africa. When he was twelve years old, his family moved to Johannesburg. Following graduation from Johannesburg Bantu High School in 1950 he was accepted into medical school but his family were unable to afford the tuition. Tutu was awarded a scholarship to study education. He graduated with a teaching certificate from Pretoria Bantu Normal College in 1953 and was awarded BA degree from University of South Africa in 1954. Following graduation he returned to Johannesburg to teach English and History at Bantu High School.

Tutu became disillusioned with the system of education which had been devised by the apartheid regime for black South Africans. He resigned from his teaching position and, in 1958 began studying at St. Peter’s Theological College in Johannesburg. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1961. He moved to England where he was awarded an MA degree in theology from Kings College in 1966. Following various appointments in South Africa and England, Tutu in 1975, became the first black person to be appointed the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg.

In 1978 Desmond Tutu was selected as the General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches. The appointment put him in a powerful position to advocate for an end to apartheid. Apartheid finally came to an end in 1993 and Archbishop Tutu was given the honour of introducing the newly elected Nelson Mandela as President to the nation in 1994. President Mandela appointed Archbishop Tutu as head Truth and Reconciliation Commission investigating and reporting on the human rights violations of the previous 34 years in South Africa.

Desmond Tutu and his wife Leah Nomalizo have four children. They were educated at Waterford School as were the children of many leading South Africans who were opposed to apartheid. Now known as Waterford Kamhlaba United World College of Southern Africa it was founded by Englishman Michael Stern in opposition to the South African apartheid regime. Though Bishop Tutu has officially retired he continues to advocate for justice and equality.

The Most Revd Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, was born in the year 1931 On This Day.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu outside Tuto House, Soweto by wesselspj on 2011-10-15 11:54:36

Archbishop Desmond Tutu on his 80th birthday by DFAT photo library on 2013-11-04 20:17:41

Desmond Tutu photo

Photo by Brett Jordan