28 July-Irish Army service in the Congo

Two Irish Army Infantry Battalions which included soldiers from Carlow and Kilkenny were deployed to the Congo to serve with the United Nations forces in 1960. It was the first large scale overseas mission undertaken by Irish troops since the establishment of the state in 1922. However it was not the first service overseas by Irish Army personnel with the United Nations. The first United Nations mission in which members of the Irish Army were involved began on June 27th 1958. On that occasion Lieutenant Colonel Justin MacCarthy and a group of 50 other officers served with the United Nations Observer Group in the Lebanon.

On June 30th 1960 the Belgian Congo became an independent republic. Independence was quickly followed by civil unrest. Within a week a mutiny broke out in the army and this was followed by the secession of two areas of the country, Katanga and South Kasai. An appeal was made by the Congolese Government to the United Nations to help restore order and preserve the territorial integrity of the country. The appeal was successful and on July 13th Ireland was requested to provide troops for the ONUC (Opération des Nations unies au Congo) mission.

Legislation enabling the mission to take place was passed by Dáil Eireann. As a result Ireland became one of thirty countries from around the world to provide soldiers for the mission. Just over two weeks later the 635-strong 32nd Infantry Battalion departed for the Congo. A month later the Irish contingent was brought to 1,000 troops with the arrival of the 33 Infantry Battalion. The Irish contingent was further boosted when an Armoured Car Group began operations in the Congo on January 15th 1961. They were using armoured cars which had been manufactured by Messers. Thompson & Son Limited, Hanover Works, Carlow.

The ONUC mission in the Congo lasted from 1960 to 1964 during which time 6,000 Irish soldiers served in the Congo. During that time twenty six Irish soldiers lost their lives. In one engagement called the ‘Niemba Ambush’ nine Irish soldiers, including Lt. Kevin Gleeson and Private Michael McGuinn of Carlow, were killed. Since their deployment in the Congo, members of the Irish Defence Forces have continuously served on UN missions in various parts of the world.

Irish Defence Forces began service with the United Nations in the Congo in the year 1960 On This Day.

ONUCsmall1 by Irish Defence Forces on 2009-11-16 17:14:15

ONUCsmall2 by Irish Defence Forces on 2008-06-24 15:41:17

ONUC photo

34th Battalion ONUC

Photo by Irish Defence Forces


08 November-John F Kennedy

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 on May 29th 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.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected 35th President of the USA when he defeated Richard Nixon by 303 Electoral College votes to 219 in the year 1960 On This Day.

President John F Kennedy



21 July-Sirimavo Bandaranaike

Sirimavo Bandaranaike was a Sri Lankan politician. In 1960 she became the world’s first woman Prime Minister upon her party’s victory in the 1960 Ceylon general election. Ceylon became a republic in 1972 and was named Sri Lanka. Sirimavo Bandaranaike served as Prime Minister three times, 1960–65, 1970–77 and 1994–2000.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike was born Sirima Ratwatte on April 17th 1916. Her husband Solomon Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister of Ceylon in 1956. He was assassinated in 1959 and Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the head of his party. She was elected Prime Minister of Ceylon in 1960 and served in the office until 1965. She was elected as Prime Minister on two further occasions.

Sirimavo Bandaranaike was elected Prime Minister of Sri Lanka (Ceylon), becoming the first woman to hold such a position, in the year 1960 On This Day.





08 April-Royal Showband

The Royal Showband was one of the most successful Irish bands of the showband era. The band which was founded in Waterford city was managed by T J Byrne from Upper Tullow Street, Carlow town. Though a band called the Clipper Carlton is regarded as the first of the Irish showbands, the Royal Showband became one of the most successful bands of the era. The Royal showband had a brief change of name to the Waterford Showband in 1960. The change occurred because two members of the British Royal Family were in attendance when the band made an appearance at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London.

Showbands were popular form of entertainment in Ireland from the mid 1950’s to the late 1970’s. The showband, which played dance music together with pop, rock and roll and country music of the time, usually consisted of six or seven members. They played in large venues all over Ireland and some bands toured with success in Britain, the United States and Canada.

The Royal Showband was founded in Waterford in 1957 by a group of young musicians which included Brendan Bowyer, Tom Dunphy, Michael Coppinger, Jim Conlan, Charlie Mathews and Gerry Cullen. The band was launched on September 27th 1957. As the band members all had day jobs they could only perform at the weekend and did not turn professional until 1959. During the following decade the band, with Brendan Bowyer as the lead singer, became the most popular band in Ireland.

By 1962 Brendan Bowyer and the Royal Showband were so successful that The Beatles were the supporting act for them at the Liverpool Empire Theatre. On the poster advertising the concert The Beatles were called ‘Liverpool’s own beat group’. The Royal Showband band toured extensively in Great Britain and the US and had several number one hits, the most popular of which was ‘The Hucklebuck’ in 1965.

In 1966 the Royal Showband played at a venue in Las Vegas, Nevada for a four week period. This led to the band performing in Las Vegas for up to six months each year during the following years. In 1970 Brendan Bowyer and Tom Dunphy left to form a new band called the ‘Big 8’. The Royal Showband gave its final performance on July 29th 1971 at the Stardust Hotel in Las Vegas.

The Royal Showband had to change its name due to members of the British Royal Family being in attendance at show in the Victoria Palace Theatre in London in the year 1960 On This Day.

Waterford photo

Waterford City

Photo by Hotelsireland






13 March-Adam Clayton

Adam Clayton is the bass guitarist with the Irish rock band U2. The award winning musician was a founding member of the famous band. Clayton was, for a time after it was established, the manager of U2.

Adam Charles Clayton was born in Chinnor, Oxfordshire, England in 1960. He moved to Kenya with his family in 1964 when he was four years old. A year later the family moved again this time to Ireland and settled in Malahide County Dublin. Clayton received his early education in private schools in Dublin but later attended Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Clontarf on the north side of the city.

Interested in music from a young age Clayton responded to a notice in Mount Temple looking for musicians to form a band. The band, which came to be called U2, eventually consisted of four members: Paul ‘Bono’ Hewson, Dave ‘The Edge’ Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen who had posted the notice. For a time Clayton served as manager of U2 until Paul McGuinness took over as manager in 1978.

With Clayton as the bass player the band became a top international act and to date have released thirteen studio albums. They have sold over 150 million records worldwide and are ranked one on the best-selling bands in the world. With his band mate Larry Mullen Adam Clayton composed the acclaimed theme music for the movie ‘Mission: Impossible’ starring Tom Cruise. In 1997 the theme music was nominated for the ‘Best Pop Instrumental Performance’ Grammy. To date Adam Clayton has won 22 Grammy Awards with U2.

Adam Clayton, bass guitar player with U2, was born in the year 1960 On This Day.

Adam Clayton