12 November-John McGahern

John McGahern was an award winning writer who was a native of Ireland. Regarded as one of the country’s most eminent writers he is best known for novels such as ‘The Barracks’, ‘The Dark’ and ‘Amongst Women’. McGahern also produced short stories and plays for radio, television, and the stage.

John McGahern was born near Ballinamore, Co Leitrim in 1934. Having qualified as teacher he was appointed to the staff of a primary school in Clontarf, Co Dublin. Following the publication of ‘The Dark’ in 1965 McGahern was dismissed from his teaching post on the order of John Charles McQuaid, Archbishop of Dublin. McGahern went on to have a successful writing career. He also worked as a visiting professor at several universities.

John McGahern, award winning writer best known for novels such as ‘The Barracks’, ‘The Dark’ and ‘Amongst Women’, was born in Co Leitrim in the year 1934 On This Day.

Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim Locomotive Yard



16 September-Ronnie Drew

Ronnie Drew was a singer and guitarist who was a native of Dublin. Founder of the successful Irish Folk band, ‘The Dubliners’, he achieved international fame during his career. Famous for his gravelly voice, Drew was honoured in 2006 with his handprints in the walk of fame at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre.

Ronnie Drew was born Joseph Ronald Drew in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin in 1934. Following education at the local Christian Brothers School he worked at various jobs before moving to Spain in the 1950’s to teach English. Drew returned to Dublin where he founded the Ronnie Drew Group in 1962. The group would later become ‘The Dubliners’.

During a career which spanned over fifty years Ronnie Drew had international hits with songs such as ‘Seven Drunken Nights’ and ‘The Irish Rover’. He left ‘The Dubliners’ for two periods during which time he pursued a successful solo career. He recorded with other artists and performed in a number of ‘one-man shows’. He died aged 73 in August 2003.

Ronnie Drew, singer, folk musician and founder of ‘The Dubliners’ was born in the year 1934 On This Day.

O’Donoghue’s Pub

The Dubliners




03 April-Cats’ Eyes

Percy Shaw was a native of England. He is best known as the inventor of the reflecting road-studs which are commonly known as cats’ eyes. The cats’ eyes are glass balls set into road surfaces which reflect a car’s headlights at night. Shaw was also a successful businessman.

Percy Shaw was born into a large family in Halifax, Yorkshire on April 15th 1890. He was educated locally and at the age of 13 left school to work as a labourer. He later worked in his father’s factory repairing machine tools during World War I.

In 1929, Shaw started his own business repairing roads. Several reasons were given for his invention of the cats’ eyes. These included seeing the lights of his car reflected in the eyes of a cat, reflective road signs, and seeing the lights of his car reflected on tram lines.

Shaw applied for a patent for his product in 1934. On March 15th 1935 he established Reflecting Roadstuds Limited in Halifax to manufacture the cat’s eyes. In a short time over one million cats’ eyes were being produced each year. The popular product was exported world-wide. Percy Shaw died aged 86 on September 1st 1976.

Percy Shaw, inventor of the reflecting road-studs which are commonly known as cats’ eyes was granted a patent for his invention in the year 1934 On This Day.






17 January-Volkswagen

Ferdinand Porsche who was the founder of the Porsche car company was a native of Austria. He is best known for creating the Volkswagen Beetle and the Porsche sports car. He was inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1999.

Ferdinand Porsche was born in Maffersdorf, which was then in the Austrian Empire, on September 3rd 1875. Today it is called Vratislavice nad Nisou and is located in the Czech Republic. Porsche was interested in technology, particularly electricity, from a young age. He developed the first electric car, the C2 Phaeton, in 1898.

Porsche worked for several companies before establishing the Porsche motor company in 1931. In 1934 he was given a contract by Adolf Hitler to develop the ‘people’s car’ (Volkswagen). During World War II he was involved in the production of tanks and weapon systems for the Third Reich. In 1950 Porsche introduced the Porsche sports car. He died on January 30th 1951.

Ferdinand Porsche, automotive engineer, submitted a design for a people’s car, a ‘Volkswagen’ to the new German Reich government in the year 1934 On This Day.







09 March-Yuri Gagarin

Yuri Gagarin was a Russian Cosmonaut who became the first human to journey into outer space. He successfully orbited the earth in a Vostok Spacecraft in April 1961. The flight which lasted 108 minutes brought Gagarin immediate worldwide fame.

Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was born near the city of Gzhatsk, now called Gagarin, about 160km west of Moscow in 1934. Following graduation from technical school in 1955 Gagarin was drafted into the Soviet Army. He was sent to Airforce Pilot School in Orenburg. Following graduation he served as a pilot at an airbase in Murmansk close to the Norwegian border.

In 1960 Gagarin was one of twenty pilots selected to train for the Soviet Space Programme. Following training he was chosen for the first space flight. The Vostok Spacecraft with Gagarin aboard was launched into space form the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, at 9:07 on April 12th 1961. Gagarin completed one orbit of the earth and landed safely at 10:55.

Following his successful space flight Yuri Gagarin became a national hero and a worldwide celebrity. He was awarded several honours including ‘Hero of the Soviet Union’. He continued to work on the Soviet space programme but later began to retrain as a fighter pilot. Yuri Gagarin died at the age of 34, when his plane crashed on a routine training flight on March 27th 1968. Monuments to Gagarin have been raised around the world and streets have been renamed in his honour.

Yuri Gagarin was born in the year 1934 On This Day.

Gagarin, Yuri A.