The unlikely Irish contributions during D-Day.

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Ireland remained neutral throughout World War II, but that is not to say there was no contribution from the Irish during the war. Many young Irish men did join the British army and also  partook in Operation Overlord, more common;y known as D-Day.

However this blog is not about any of those troops but about 2 less likely participants in Operation Overlord.

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When Maureen Flavin took on a job as postmistress at the Blacksod light house in Co. Mayo in Ireland she had not anticipated the other job which was bestowed on her.The job was taking barometer and thermometer readings(basically weather forecasting) at the remote Blacksod weather station on Ireland’s west coast. But she did do her job and it made a global impact.

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On her 21st birthday, June 3 1944, she took the barometer readings and noticed a sudden drop, indicating bad weather was coming. Maureen gave the report to Ted Sweeney who was the lighthouse keeper and they sent it in and, Maureen , quickly received a call from a British woman asking them to check and confirm the report.

The report was send again and an hour later, she received a call from the same British woman, asking her to check and confirm again, which she did.

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Unbeknownst to Maureen the Allied leaders who were  in London were relying on her weather reports to judge whether they should proceed with the D-Day launch as planned. The chief meteorologist, a Scottish man named James Scagg, was giving General Eisenhower regular weather updates.

He advised Eisenhower that based on Maureen’s report Operation Overlord, which was planned for June 5,1944, should be postponed. Scagg knew that the weather forcasted by  Maureen would hit the UK and France after it hit Ireland.Eisenhower took the advice and postponed the planned invasion by a day. So D-Day happened on June 6 because of young Irish woman. Maureen later married the lighthouse keeper Ted Sweeney. Their son Vincent is currently the lighthouse keeper at Blacksod light house.

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The other unlikely Irish D-Day hero was born and raised in the village of Carnlough on the Antrim Coast in Northern Ireland. He joined the RAF as a messenger, and although he wasn’t a pilot nor did he have a plane he still flew a dangerous mission.

You see Paddy was a messenger pigeon who served with the RAF during the Normandy operations in June 1944,

Paddy

He was the fastest pigeon to reach England with a coded message from the battle-front beaches of Normandy.

The brave bird brought back vital information about the Allies’ progress, flying 230 miles in four hours 50 minutes – the fastest time of any of the messenger pigeons involved in the mission with an average speed of 56 mph.

In the face of poor weather conditions and the threat of German falcons, deployed to intercept Paddy and his comrades, he delivered his message to his home loft at RAF Hurn.

He was the only Irish pigeon to have been awarded the Dicken Medal for bravery. Paddy was trained for his specialist role in Northern Ireland and England.

Prior to the D-Day Normandy landings on June 6, 1944, the bird was delivered to RAF Hurn in Hampshire. Two days later he was among 30 pigeons taken to France by a unit of the 1st US Army. Paddy was released at 8.15 a.m. on June 12, carrying coded information on the Allied advance.

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Sources

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The curse

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Don’t worry I have suddenly turned by page into some paranormal or horror blog site. But today was an important day in the Irish sporting agenda.It was the day of the All Ireland GAA senior Gaelic Football final between Mayo and Dublin(again).

Mayo did not win the final since 1951,and today was no exception, this is believed to be due to a curse.

The Curse of ’51 allegedly prevents Mayo from winning the Sam Maguire Cup(picture above} ever again, or at least until the death has occurred of every member of the last winning team from 1951.

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It remains unbroken—despite the team reaching the final on eight occasions since then, they have either completely collapsed on the day or been undone by a series of other unfortunate events.

The legend tells us that while the boisterous Mayo team were passing through Foxford on the victorious journey home, the team failed to wait quietly for a funeral cortège to pass by on its way to the graveyard. The presiding priest consequently put a curse on Mayo football to never win a subsequent All-Ireland Final until all members of the 1951 team are dead.

In 1989, Mayo reached their first All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final since their last victory in 1951 only to lose to Cork. In 1996, a freak point by Meath at the end of the final forced a replay, which saw Mayo concede another late score that would deny them victory. Kerry bridged an 11-year title gap against them in 1997 with a three-point win, before torturing them by eight points in 2004 and thirteen points in 2006

Mayo returned to the All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final in 2012. Even with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Rome seeking divine intervention through Pope Benedict XVI the day before,

the “Kafkaesque black farce”continued from where it had left off—with Donegal allowed bridge a 20-year gap between titles, helped in no small part by a nightmare opening quarter for Mayo as Michael Murphy—whose father is from Mayo—launched a rocket of a shot into the goal after three minutes. Then, in the eleventh minute, Colm McFadden seized the ball from the grasp of Kevin Keane and slid it into the net for a second Donegal goal. Mayo only got on the score sheet after sixteen minutes and never led at any point during the match. They eventually lost with thirteen points to Donegal’s two goals and eleven.

They lost again in 2013, this time by a single point to Dublin.

They qualified for the 2016 Final on 18 September 2016 where they faced Dublin the curse seemingly struck again when they scored two own goals in the opening half before drawing with Dublin in the last few minutes of the game. They faced Dublin again in a rematch on the 1st October 2016 but lost by a point.

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Following the death of Fr Peter Quinn in January 2016, there now only remains 3 living members of the 1951 All Ireland winning team, Pádraig Carney, Paddy Prendergast and Dr Micky Loftus of Crossmolina.

Today they lost again to Dublin by 1 point. So the curse has not yet been lifted.

Mayo however is not the only team to be cursed, following are a few more examples.

The Boston Red Sox

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Some allege that there was a curse placed on the Boston Red Sox, who failed to win a World Series after 1918, apparently due to the selling of Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees.

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Before the sale, the Red Sox had won four titles in seven years (1912–1918). After the sale, the Yankees went on to win 27 World Series Championships. The “curse” was broken when, after 86 seasons, the Red Sox defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 0 in the 2004 World Series

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Hibernian F.C

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Scottish football side Hibernian endured a 114-year wait to win their third Scottish Cup, eventually doing so against Rangers in the 2016 final.

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Prior to this success, Hibs had lost an agonising ten straight Scottish Cup finals in a drought stretching back to 1902. Hibernian’s hoodoo was made all the more noteworthy by their relative success in other major Scottish footballing honours – the Leith side won four league titles and three league cups whilst remaining fruitless in their search for Scottish Cup glory. In spite of remaining a prominent force within Scottish football and building notoriously excellent sides such as the Famous Five and Turnbull’s Tornadoes, Hibs were for so long unable to lift the oldest trophy in world football.

Some Hibs fans attributed the absence of Scottish Cup success to a curse which a gypsy woman allegedly placed upon the club during the chairmanship of Harry Swan.Whilst renovation works were being carried out at Hibernian’s Easter Road stadium in the 1950s, a harp crest – which had been displayed on the South Stand symbolising Hibernian’s founding Irish roots – was removed and subsequently did not reappear when work had finished.During the 2015-16 season, Hibs’ modern day badge (which includes the harp) was placed upon the facade of the West Stand at Easter Road.Less than eight months after the harp had been reinstated onto the walls of Easter Road, Hibernian were once again Scottish Cup winners after more than a century in the making.

Birmingham City F.C

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English football side Birmingham City F.C. played 100 years under an alleged curse from 1906 to 2006.As the legend goes, the club moved from nearby Muntz Street into its current location at St Andrew’s, building the stadium on land that was being used by the Romani people.

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After they were forced to move, the angry Romani people put an 100-year hex on the stadium.

Throughout the years many Birmingham City managers would try to remove the curse but with little success. Former manager Ron Saunders tried to banish the curse in the 1980s by placing crucifixes on floodlights and painting the bottom of his players’ boots red. Another manager, Barry Fry, in charge from 1993 to 1996, urinated in all four corners of the pitch after a clairvoyant said it would break the spell. On Boxing Day 2006 the curse was finally lifted and on that day Birmingham City celebrated a 2–1 win over Queens Park Rangers F.C,and would eventually win a place in the Premiership. Just over four years after the alleged curse ended, Birmingham City finally won the first major final in their history – beating Arsenal 2–1 to win the League Cup at Wembley.

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Hill 65-Irish Vietnam Hero;Patrick Gallagher.

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I don’t often listen to RTE Radio 1 documentaries,because they are usually about subjects I have no interest in. But today in the car stuck in traffic I listened to a documentary and it broke my heart.

Among the 58,000 names inscribed on the Vietnam war memorial wall in Washington DC is that of corporal Patrick ‘Bob’ Gallagher.

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Patrick grew up near Ballyhaunis in rural county Mayo before emigrating to the United States in the early 1960s. Patrick joined the US Marine Corps and was stationed in Vietnam during some of the most intense fighting of the war. Patrick was just  23 years old and a Marine Corporal when he was killed on duty in southeast Asia. Just before he died, Patrick was awarded a Navy Cross, the second highest honor in the US military. Like many war dead, Patrick is remembered by his family in Ireland and his friends and comrades who served with him in combat.

In 1962 Gallagher had traveled from Derrintogher, near Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo to stay with his aunt in New York. He worked in real estate and studied law. He also campaigned for Senator Robert Kennedy, in 1964.

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In February 1966 Gallagher returned home for three weeks. He did not tell his family that he had been drafted and joined the Marine Corps. In April 1966 he was deployed to Vietnam.

According to the petition, Gallagher and three others were “manning a defense post” when they came under attack. “Patrick kicked a grenade out of their position before it exploded” and then, according to the Navy Cross citation, “… another enemy grenade followed and landed in the position between two of his comrades. Without hesitation, in a valiant act of self-sacrifice, Corporal Gallagher threw himself upon the deadly grenade in order to absorb the explosion and save the lives of his comrades.

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“As the three other marines ran to safety two further grenades landed in the position and exploded, ‘miraculously injuring nobody.’ Patrick’s squad leader ordered him to throw the grenade he was lying on into a nearby river. It exploded on hitting the water. ‘Through his extraordinary heroism and inspiring valor in the face of almost certain death, he saved his comrades from probable injury and possible loss of life.'”

On the 30th of March his platoon was ambushed near Hill 65 by the Vietcong

 

Seven of the men were killed,including Gallagher,were killed that day and 2 others died the following day from their injuries.

The people of Ballyhaunis heard of his bravery and planned great celebrations for his homecoming. However, instead of celebrating his valor they buried him.

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Bobby Kennedy wrote to Gallagher’s family after his death. He quoted Winston Churchill saying “courage is rightly esteemed as the first of all human qualities because it is the one that guarantees all others.”

“This courage Corporal Gallagher gave to all of us. To him and to his family are due the thanks of a humbly grateful nation.”

According to a report in the Irish Times, in 2013 a group of Irishmen were discussing Gallagher’s tale at Marius Donnelly’s Trinity Hall pub, in Dallas, Texas. Pilot Martin Durkan, from Ballyhaunis, was present and supplied details of Patrick Gallagher’s story. Marius Donnelly, who owns the pub, launched the campaign to have the ship named in Gallagher’s honor. The New York Daily News adds that former Marine Donald O’Keefe from the Bronx is campaigning for Gallagher to get the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The online petition which can be found at www.patrickgallagherusmc.info and is titled “Help Us Honor A Marine Corps Hero”.

Donation

I am passionate about my site and I know a you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2 ,however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thanks To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the paypal link. Many thanks

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