22 April-Walter Macken

Walter Macken was an author and actor who was a native of Galway City, Ireland. As an actor he performed on stage in Galway, Dublin and on Broadway in New York. He also acted in movies. As an author Macken wrote novels, plays and novels for children.

Walter Macken was born at St Joseph’s Terrace, Galway on May 3rd 1915. At the time of his birth his father was serving with British Army in Belgium during World War I. He was a member of the Connaught Rangers. Macken’s father returned to Galway on leave shortly after the birth of his son. Following his period of leave he returned to Belgium and was killed in action at the battle of St Eloi south of Ypres in 1916.

Having been educated locally, Walter Macken worked for a time as a clerk with Galway County Council. He left the County Council to join the newly established Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe (Galway Theatre) in 1933. He remained with the Galway Theatre until 1937 when he and his wife moved to London shortly after their marriage. They moved back to Galway at the outbreak of World War II where Macken was appointed director of An Taibhdhearc. He remained in Galway until 1947 at which time he moved to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin.

Macken had begun writing whilst working at An Taibhdhearc. His first big success as a writer came with his third novel Rain on the Wind which was published in 1950. The novel won the Literary Guild award in The United States. Following its success Macken lived near Galway City and was able to concentrate on full time writing.

Walter Macken died at the age of 51 in the year 1967 On This Day.




03 December-Louis Washkansky

Louis Washkansky was the first person in history on whom a successful heart transplant was performed. The operation was carried out in December 1966 at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa. The heart transplant was performed by a team of surgeons led by Dr Christiaan Barnard.

At the time of the transplant Louis Washkansky was 54. He had served as a soldier during World War II and was a keen sportsman. In later years however, he suffered from ill-health and developed incurable heart disease. Washkansky agreed to undergo a heart transplant operation.

Dr Christiaan Barnard was the senior cardiothoracic surgeon at Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town. For several years he had carried out extensive experimentation on heart transplantation in dogs. On December 2nd a heart became available from a young woman who had been fatally injured in a traffic accident. In a nine hour operation Barnard successfully transplanted the heart to Washkansky. Louis Washkansky survived for 18 days. He died of pneumonia as he was taking immunosuppressive drugs.

The first human heart transplant was performed on Louis Washkansky in Cape Town, South Africa in the year 1967 On This Day.

Groote Schuur Hospital photo

Groote Schuur Hospital by andryn2006 on 2016-09-07 09:27:12


02 December-Spellman Park, Kildavin, Carlow

Spellman Park is located in the south of County Carlow, in the foothills of the Blackstairs Mountains in Ireland. It is the location of Kildavin/Clonegal GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) Club. It is a most picturesque location and is often referred to as the Switzerland of Ireland. The villages of Kildavin and Clonegal are just 4km apart. Clonegal has several tourist attractions including Huntington Castle. The South Leinster Walking Trail begins in Kildavin. The name Spellman became associated with Kildavin/Clonegal through the area’s connection with Cardinal Spellman of New York.

Francis Joseph Spellman was Cardinal Archbishop of New York from 1939 to 1967. His grandmother Ellen Kehoe was a native of Kilbride, Clonegal, Co Carlow. Cardinal Spellman was born in Whitman, Massachusetts, USA on May 4th 1889. Following graduation from Fordham University in New York in 1911 he decided to study for the priesthood. He was ordained in Rome on May 4th 1916. Having served in numerous posts he was appointed Archbishop of New York in 1939. He was created Cardinal in 1946.

Cardinal Spellman visited Clonegal in 1953, met with local people and visited local schools. He also visited Ireland in 1954. He later contributed $2,000 towards the cost of the GAA pitch and the local community hall which were subsequently named in his honour.

Cardinal Francis Joseph Spellman died in the year 1967 On This Day.

Cardinal Spellman Garey Hall Groundbreaking 1956 by villanovalawlibrary on 2015-08-28 07:51:21


09 October-Che Guevara

Che Guevara visited the seaside town of Kilkee Co Clare, Ireland on the 13th of March 1965. He was then a Cuban Government Minister and was travelling home to Havana from Prague. He stayed as a guest at the Marine Hotel in Kilkee. It was one of several visits the Argentinian Marxist revolutionary paid to Ireland

Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was born in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina on June 14th 1928. Guevara Lynch was of Irish and Basque descent. His mother’s ancestors were Lynch’s who had emigrated from Galway to Argentina in the mid 1800’s. As a young medical student, Guevara was deeply affected by the poverty, hunger, and disease which he saw when he travelled by motorbike, with a friend, through many parts South America. His travels were documented in the book ‘The Motorcycle Diaries’.

In 1956 Che Guevara was working in the General Hospital in Mexico City and also as a news photographer for the Latina News Agency. It was at that time that he met Fidel and Raul Castro who were in Mexico preparing to invade Cuba. Che joined Fidel Castro’s guerrilla troops’ efforts to overthrow the Batista government in Cuba.

When Castro took power in 1959, Guevara was appointed a government minister. He was responsible for the institution of many industrial, agricultural and education reforms. However while he was in charge of La Cabana Fortress Prison it is reported that several hundred people were executed on his orders.

Che Guevara left Cuba in 1965 with the intention of spreading revolution in other parts of the world. In 1967, while leading a small band of guerrillas in Bolivia, he was captured and killed by the Bolivian Army in La Higuera, Vallegrande. He was 39 years old. In 1995 his body was exhumed and brought to Cuba where he was buried with full military honours in a specially built mausoleum.

Che Guevara died in Bolivia in the year 1967 On This Day.

Che Guevara Vector Illustration by spacedustdesign on 2009-04-11 14:16:44

Hasta siempre comandante by Vurter on 2008-12-16 05:12:40

04 September-School Transport Scheme Ireland

Second level schools in Ireland charged an annual student fee up until 1966. This resulted in a significant proportion of parents not being able to afford send their children to second level schools. As a result a relatively small proportion of children made the transition from primary to secondary education. On September 10th 1966 the Minister for Education Donogh O’Malley announced the introduction of free second level education in Ireland.

The introduction of free second level education resulted in an almost threefold increase in the number of secondary school students by 1970. In that year there were 35,900 Intermediate Certificate candidates and 19,000 Leaving Certificate candidates. Today almost 60,000 students sit the Leaving Certificate Examination annually in Ireland

One year after the introduction of free second level education Minister O’Malley announced a post-primary school transport scheme. The aim of the scheme was to provide transport for students from rural areas to the nearest second level school. School catchment areas were established and all students who lived more than 4.8km from their school were eligible to avail of school transport. The School Transport scheme has undergone major changes since its introduction. Today, through the scheme, roughly 115,000 students are transported to and from secondary school each school day.

The scheme to provide free school transport for post-primary students in Ireland was first introduced in the year 1967 On This Day.

CIE Bus photo

School Bus old CIE Depot Drogheda 1976

By desomurchu archive gallery

CIE Bus photo

General Automotive Co Bus. Bus Eireann KS189, XZV 189 at Scarriff Co Clare Ireland April 1989

Photo by sludgegulper