30 January-The Beatles

The Beatles were a world famous rock band, formed in Liverpool, England in 1960. The band became enormously popular and is regarded as the most influential act in popular music. The band, which consisted of four members, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, became one of the most commercially successful in music history. The Beatles disbanded in 1970.

John Lennon and Paul McCartney met at a church festival in Liverpool where they were both performing. Shortly thereafter McCartney joined Lennon’s band, The Quarrymen. They became the band’s songwriters. Together they went on to become one of the most celebrated song-writing partnerships of the 20th century. The Quarrymen would eventually become the Beatles in August 1960 and would be joined by George Harrison, and Ringo Starr.

Brian Epstein discovered the Beatles and then became the manager of the band. He first saw the Beatles performing at the Cavern Club in Liverpool in November 1961. He became the manager of the band in January 1962. The song, ‘Love Me Do’ which was written by Lennon and McCartney became the Beatles first single. It was recorded in September 1962.

The Beatles made their last public appearance together, on the roof of their Apple Studios in London in the year 1969 On This Day.





30 November-Catherina McKiernan

Catherina McKiernan is an award winning long-distance runner who is a native of Cavan, Ireland. During her international athletics career she has successfully competed in World Cross Country Championships and Marathons. McKiernan retired from professional athletics in 2004 and now works as a running instructor.

Catherina McKiernan was born in Cornafean near Killashandra, Co Cavan in 1960. She was educated locally and at Loreto College Cavan. Interested in sport from a young age McKiernan won a silver medal at the World Cross Country Championships in Boston in 1992. She went on to win silver medals at the World Cross Country Championships in 1993, 1994 and 1995.

In 1997 McKiernan won the Belin Marathon. In the following year she won the London Marathon and the Amsterdam Marathon. She has won several half marathons and mini-marathons and holds the Irish national record of 2 hours 22 mins for the marathon distance.

Catherina McKiernan, award winning cross-country and marathon athlete, was born in Co Cavan in the year 1969 On This Day.





29 June-Artist’s Income Tax Exemption


In Ireland creators of works of ‘cultural or artistic merit’ are exempt from income tax in certain circumstances. The exemption applies to writers, composers, visual artists and sculptors. The exemption was introduced under the Taxes Consolidation Act, 1997. It was enacted in 1969.

According to the 1977 Act, artistic work under the following headings may qualify for exemption from income tax: (a) a book or other writing; (b) a play; (c) a musical composition; (d) a painting or other like picture; (e) a sculpture.

The artist must be resident in an EU or EEA state. Payments form government bodies such as the Arts Council and advance royalties are exempt from income tax.

Ireland enacted an exemption from income tax for creators of works of ‘cultural or artistic merit’ in the year 1969 On This Day.




31 January-Castlecomer Coalmines

The town of Castlecomer is located about 16km to the north of Kilkenny City, Ireland. High quality anthracite coal with a low sulphur content has been mined in the Castlecomer region since the mid 1600’s. The coal mining took place initially in conjunction with the mining and smelting of iron-ore.

The Wandesforde family came to Castlecomer in the mid-17th century. They were responsible for opening up a number the coal seams in the Leinster Coalfield. Though the seams were centred in Castlecomer they stretched into surrounding areas in Carlow and Laois. The mining technology being used was archaic until the introduction of English colliers from the Durham coalfields in the late 1820s. Deeper mines were sunk and mechanical coal mining machines were introduced. The coal was sold locally, was distributed all over Ireland and was exported to England.

Richard Henry Prior-Wandesforde, who was born in 1870, inherited Castlecomer Demesne and other family lands from his grandmother. He invested heavily in the development of the coal mines. Wandesforde also played a central role in the development of industry in Castlecomer. He founded The Castlecomer Agricultural Bank, the Castlecomer Basket Factory. A railway line from Castlecomer to Kilkenny was constructed with money from Wandesforde and with Government grants. The railway line which had a depot at Deerpark in the coalfield was of great significance in the development of the mines.

The Deerpark depot was fed by aerial ropeways from the other collieries. Employment grew rapidly and it is estimated that over 2,000 people were employed in the mines and associated industry when the mines were at peak production. During the 1950’s three trains carrying 90 metric tonnes of coal left Castlecomer for Kilkenny each day. However coal production began to decline as seams ran out or became uneconomic to mine. Numbers employed began to drop and for a time the mines continued to operate with the aid of Government subsidies.

Castlecomer Coalmines were finally forced to close in the year 1969 On This Day.

Old Mining Wheel





16 December-Michelle de Bruin

Michelle de Bruin (née Smith) is, to date the most successful Olympian in Ireland. She won three Gold Medals and one Bronze Medal in swimming competitions at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, Georgia. She also won four Gold and three Silver European Championship Medals. She won her last medal at the European Championships in 1997.

Michelle Smith was born in Rathcoole Co Dublin in 1969. She began her swimming training in 1998 at the age of nine. In that year she won the All-Ireland Community Games competition. She won her first Gold Medals at a novice competition, and at the age of 14, she became National Junior and Senior Irish Champion.

Smith moved to the United States to study Communications (film and television) at the University of Houston. At the university she was able to avail of advanced training techniques. Her times improved and she qualified for the Irish team to compete in the Seoul Olympics in 1988. She was eliminated in the qualifying rounds.

Having graduated with a degree in Communications from the University of Houston, Smith again qualified for the Irish team to compete in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Despite injury she competed but again was eliminated in the qualifying rounds. After the 1992 Olympics Smith moved to Holland where she trained with Erik de Bruin whom she had met in Barcelona.

At the European Championships in Vienna in 1995 Michelle Smith won Gold Medals in both the 200m butterfly and 200m individual medley. She qualified for the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996. She won three Gold Medals (400m freestyle, 200m individual medley and 400m individual medley). She also won a Bronze Medal in the 200m butterfly. Her success caused controversy and a disappointed American swimmer, Janet Evans, highlighted accusations that Smith had been accused of doping. The accusations however were never proven and Evans later apologised to Smith. Smith competed in the European Championships in Seville in 1997 where she won two Gold and one Silver medal.

In 1998 Michelle who was now married to Erik de Bruin was accused by FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) of tampering with a urine sample and was banned from competition for four years. She denies any wrongdoing and retains her Olympic Medals. She retired from swimming in 1999 and began studying law at University College Dublin. She was conferred with the degree of Barrister at Law of King’s Inns in 2005. She now lives in Kells, Co Kilkenny with her family and practises as a barrister.

Michelle de Bruin (née Smith) winner of three Olympic Gold Medals was born in Dublin in the year 1969 On This Day.

Atlanta swimmimg photo

Photo by disavian