16 February-John McEnroe

John McEnroe is a former professional tennis player. He was World No. 1 between 1980 and 1985 on 14 occasions. McEnroe was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1999.

John Patrick McEnroe was born in Wiesbaden, Hessen, West Germany in 1959. His father was at the time serving in Germany with the United States Air Force. The McEnroe family moved to New York when John was a year old. Interested in sports from a young age McEnroe began playing tennis when he was eight years old.

At age 18 McEnroe reached the Wimbledon semi-finals in 1977. He went on to win several Grand Slam singles and doubles. He became famous for his sometimes volatile court behaviour. McEnroe retired in 1992 and began his career as a television commentator.

John McEnroe was born in the year 1959 On This Day.

John McEnroe



03 February-Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was a musician, singer and songwriter who was a native of the USA. In his short lifetime he made a major and lasting impact on popular music. Holly was a member of a musical family and he wrote his own material. His music was influenced by country and rhythm and blues music.

Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley, on September 7th 1936 in the city of Lubbock, north-western Texas. He learned to play musical instruments at an early age. By the age of 16 he and a friend had formed a group called Buddy and Bob. They regularly performed country and western music on a radio station in their home town and became an act in demand locally.

When Elvis Presley performed in Lubbock in 1955 Buddy and Bob were the opening act. Witnessing Elvis Presley perform was the beginning of the transition of Buddy Holly from ‘Country and Western’ music to ‘Rock and Roll’ music. He formed a band which eventually came to be called the Crickets and had his first hit with ‘That’ll Be the Day’ in 1957. By august 1958 Holly and The Crickets had had seven recordings in the Top 40 Charts.

Holly married Maria Elena Santiago in Lubbock on August 15, 1958. He split up with the Crickets and his manager in late 1958 and moved with Maria to live in Greenwich Village, New York. Due to legal problems over his split with his manager he was short of money. He agreed to go on a tour of 24 cities in the American Midwest beginning in January 1959.

Following a performance at Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly, accompanied by Richie Valens and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson, hired a small plane to take them to their next venue, over 500km away in Moorhead, Minnesota. The plane crashed shortly after take-off killing all on board. Buddy Holly was only 22 years old but the 32 songs he recorded made a major impact on popular music. The phrase ‘The Day the Music Died’ in the Don McLean song ‘American Pie’, refers to the death of Buddy Holly.

Buddy Holly died at the age of 22 in the year 1959 On This Day.


Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly’s gravestone

04 December-Female Gardaí

Ms Nóirín O’Sullivan assumed office as Commissioner of An Garda Síochána on November 25th 2014. She became the first woman to hold the most senior police position in Ireland since women were first recruited into the Gardaí in 1959. She is the 20th Garda Commissioner to be appointed since the force was established in 1922.

Following independence in 1922 the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) was replaced by a new police force called the Civic Guard, which was later renamed An Garda Síochána. Dublin was policed by the Dublin Metropolitan Police. That body employed four women who patrolled the streets of Dublin but were not allowed to be members of the police force. The women continued to be employed when the Dublin Metropolitan Police merged with An Garda Síochána in 1925. In 1910 the first female police officer Alice Wells was appointed in Los Angeles in the United States and Edith Smith was the first woman police constable appointed in England in August 1915.

The campaign for the introduction of women police officers in Ireland was led by The Joint Committee of Women’s Societies and Social Workers. The Committee made several representations to the Government. However in 1939 the then Minister for Justice P J Ruttledge dismissed the representations by the Joint Committee. The reason given was the extra financial costs and the perception that ‘he is advised that the agitation for women police is an artificial business without any real roots in the country’. The Committee continued to seek the appointment of female police officers and it was not until 1952 the first breakthrough occurred. That year a recommendation to recruit policewomen was made by a Committee of Inquiry into An Garda Síochána.

It would take another seven years before the recommendation was implemented. The first twelve female recruits were selected and began training on 9th July 1959 at the Garda training school which was then located in the Phoenix Park. The training which lasted for twenty two weeks, was under the direction a female police officer form England. Following training the new female Gardaí were at first stationed in Dublin but were later assigned to various locations around the country. Known as Ban Gardaí they were required to be on duty during daylight hours only unless a woman was arrested at night time.

At the time of their appointment the new female police officers, in common with all public servants, had to resign if they married. This rule, which remained in force until 1973, meant the number of women police remained at a low level. During the following decades the number of female police officers in An Garda Síochána gradually increased and today women members account for almost 25% of the force.

The first female Gardaí passed out of the training school at Garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park in Dublin in the year 1959 On This Day.

Garda Síochána photo

Garda Horse by leppre on 2014-03-17 12:11:31

Photo by leppre

25 November-Barrow Canal

The River Barrow rises at Glenbarrow in the Slieve Bloom mountains in Co Laois, Ireland, flows south through Co Carlow and enters the sea at Waterford Harbour. At 192km long it is the second longest river in Ireland. The Barrow, which is fully navigable, links with the Grand Canal at Athy making it a major part of Ireland’s inland waterway network.

It was first proposed in 1703 to make the River Barrow navigable. However it was not until 1785 that the first boats were able to travel upstream to the Grand Canal. By then seven locks had been installed but, because it was too shallow, only relatively small boats could navigate the river. The project was not economically viable

A new report in 1789 indicated that the Barrow navigation project could become viable with the building of extra locks and the construction of lateral canals. Eventually twenty three locks were built and some of the existing ones were widened. Five lateral canals with a total length of almost 18km were constructed to bypass the shallow areas. The last lock and bypass canal were built at Clogrennan near Carlow town in 1836. Boats carrying up to thirty tons could now navigate the river.

The opening of the Barrow canal had for time a significant impact on the development of towns along its route. Trade increased from 16,000 tons in 1790 to almost 60,000 tons by 1830. However from 1850 onwards competition from the railways led to a decline in traffic and the Barrow Navigation was bought by the Grand Canal Company in 1894. The canal continued to be used for commercial traffic until 1959 when it was closed by Ireland’s Transport Company (Coras Iompar Eirann) in 1959.

The Barrow Canal, which is open to navigation by pleasure craft, is now managed by Waterways Ireland. The towpath along the river is used by growing numbers of walkers and cyclists. Waterways Ireland intends to replace the grassy towpath with a new surface. The surface will provide a firm base for walkers and cyclists similar to the successful Greenway in Co Mayo.

The letter announcing the closure of the Barrow Canal to commercial traffic was issued by CIE (Coras Iompar Eireann) in the year 1959 On This Day.

River Barrow by Real Alan Dalton on 2010-05-09 13:27:12


Cathole Waterfall near source of River Barrow….On This Day

Courtesy: Joe Rattigan

25 August-Rose of Tralee

The Rose of Tralee festival is held each year in the month of August in the town of Tralee Co Kerry, Ireland. The festival was inspired by a song of the same name. It is claimed that the song was written by William Mulchinock about a woman called Mary O Connor with whom he was in love.

Today the festival is supported by Irish communities from all over the world.

The 2014 Rose of Tralee was Maria Walsh from Philadelphia USA.

The 2015 Rose of Tralee was Elysha Brennan from Co Meath

In 2016, the Chicago Rose Maggie McEldowney, was selected as the Rose of Tralee.

The first Rose of Tralee was Alice O’Sullivan from Dublin.

Alice O’Sullivan was selected as the first Rose of Tralee in the year 1959 On This Day

Rose of Tralee Statue by brookscl on 2015-09-12 18:16:11

“That was the ‘Rose of Tralee’. Did you like it?” by baldeaglebluff on 2002-07-08 06:36:48