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    Gardening advice with our resident expert, Aileen Atcheson

    June is the month when many of the flowers are at their best. Roses have long stems, sweetpea are coming out; lupins, peonies, they are all coming into bloom. Dead heading is very important at this time of year. Flowers will stop unless you refuse to allow them seed. Pick sweetpea nearly every day.

    June rose petals are the best for pot pourri. Mignonette, tobacco plants, sweetpeas, should all be gathered after dusk. The Californian poppy is a fast grower. You should have sown seed where you wanted it to grow in mid-spring, but if not maybe some body will give you a bit. Self-seeding year after year, they grow well in poor soil with a bit of grit added. Dead head regularly.

    If you have steps in your garden line up pots of low set grasses and cacti. For a good performance all season, easy care succulents need bright sunlight, top dressing with real grit and not too much water or rain.

    ‘Rosa pimpinellifolia Mrs. Colville’ has vivid pink blooms with white centres. It grows well in late spring and early summer and has nice hips for autumn. It makes a good hedge or ground cover in shady places so well worth having, Make a note to get a bit soon.

    If you are lucky enough to be starting a new garden, check the soil PH first. If it is alkaline then some plants – rhododendrons, pieris, camellias – are unsuitable. And many of the heathers are too.

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      The first female veterinary surgeon to be recognised by the Royal College of
      Veterinary Surgeons was Irish and was born 150 years ago on February 7th. By her achievement, Aleen Cust not only overcame barriers of tradition and sexism but she courageously opened up a career path for women that had been previously closed to them, writes Pauline Murphy.


      This year marks the centenary of women winning the right to vote after a long battle for equal rights by the Suffragette movement. Although not recognised in the same vein as the Suffragettes, Aleen Cust made her own mark on the history of women’s struggle for equal recognition when she became the first female to qualify as a veterinary surgeon in Ireland and Britain.

      This trailblazer was born 150 years ago on the 7th of February 1868 at Cordangan Manor on the outskirts of Tipperary town. Aleen Isobel Cust was the daughter of Leopold Cust who served as land agent for the Smith-Barry family and for the first ten years of her life Aleen enjoyed a childhood spent on the banks of the River Ara where she developed a grá for nature.

      In March 1878 Aleen’s idyllic childhood in Tipperary came to a cruel end when her father died suddenly and the family moved to England.

      Aleen first enrolled in medical school to study nursing, but she had a greater empathy with animals and decided – much against her family’s wishes – to quit nursing and head to Edinburgh to enroll at the Royal Veterinarian College.

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        Rwanda – Displaced people June 1994 Concern 50th Anniversary


        By Mary Rose McCarthy

        In 1967, just a few short years after gaining independence, Nigeria was embroiled in civil war. The oil rich eastern province, Biafra, wanted to take control of its own affairs and reap the benefits from the oil industry. The government of Nigeria refused to concede and a very bloody civil war ensued. The Nigerian government blockaded the ports of the Eastern province thus cutting off the route of medical and food supplies. The result was devastating poverty and famine.

        The Holy Ghost Fathers, today known as Spiritans, had been on mission in Nigeria since the early 1900s. The order, founded in France, opened a large house in Kimmage, Dublin. Here a large number of young Irish men were ‘formed’ in the Noviciate and prepared for the Missions. Many of them were sent to Nigeria, some in the Eastern province of Biafra. These men saw at first hand the plight of the people due to the civil war.

        What became known as the Biafran war was the first humanitarian disaster to be beamed into the homes of Irish people. Television was widespread by the late 1960s. Black and white pictures of starving women and children with swollen bellies were seen daily in livingrooms across the country.

        In December 1967, Fr. Raymond Kennedy was on leave from Biafra and gave first-hand accounts of the crisis there. His brother, John O’Loughlin Kennedy, wanted to do something in response to requests from the Bishops in Nigeria. They asked for flour for altar bread and wine for altar wine. He called a press conference in the Shelbourne Hotel and a bank account was set up for donations. At the same time, medics in Nigeria requested medical supplies to treat the increasing numbers of people affected by the conflict.

        A mercy flight, named ‘Peace One’ was immediately dispatched by air, with medical supplies, dried milk, and flour. The situation in Nigeria continued to deteriorate and the number of people made homeless by the conflict necessitated the setting up of refugee camps. As well as medical supplies, these camps also needed food, especially high protein foods.

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          John F. Kennedy is shown in this undated photo. (AP Photo)

          In June 1963, John F. Kennedy became the first serving President of the USA to visit Ireland. He came to visit the land of his ancestors while on a European tour, flying to Dublin from Berlin. Fionnuala McNicholl was just 3 years old at the time, but the events of that June – and subsequently those of November 1963 – left a lasting impression.


          June 26th marks 55 years since the visit of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy to Ireland. Anticipation and enthusiasm for the four-day visit swept the entire country.

          President Kennedy was held in the highest esteem among most Irish households at the time, and our house was no exception. Amid family photographs, pictures of The Holy Family and Pope John XXlll, sat a framed black-and-white head and shoulder picture of a smiling John. F. Kennedy. A pretty picture chocolate box, devoid of sweet contents, housed newspaper cuttings of his political journey to the White House.


          I was a child in June 1963 when J.F.K. made his historic visit. News of the American dignitary’s visit went well and truly over my young head. What didn’t go over my head however, was the fateful day five months later, on November 22nd, 1963, when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

          It was the first time I saw my mother cry.

          Rose, our neighbour, called into our house, where both women sobbed as they talked of, “the terrible news.” Not to be outdone, I wept too. What else would a three-year-old do?

          Later, there was a great hush as my parents and older sibling’s gathered around the wireless with red, welled-up eyes, listening to news bulletins. We didn’t have television then, so we all went next door to watch the evening news.

          Again tears streamed, watching Telefís Éireann broadcast reports of the assassination via Telstar satellite, as pictures from Dallas filtered across the small, snowy, hissing screen. Two days later, we returned next door to watch the funeral.

          Throughout Ireland and across the world, poets and singer-songwriters such as Bob Dylan, put pen to paper in tribute to President Kennedy. My early memory of such tributes came shortly after we got our new record player, in the summer of 1966.

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            Con McGrath’s Role of the Irish in WW2 Series

            Perhaps the one ‘science’ that most people ‘give out about’ is meteorology.  If the weather service forecasts a ‘dry day’ and instead it ‘rains down’ on our planned schedule, we are not happy to say the least. Incredibly, despite all the satellites and computer technology today, predictions can still often be mistaken. 


            Back in the days of World War Two the science of meteorology was incredibly less precise. Yet it was never more vitally needed than in June of 1944, for that was the month when it was hoped that the invasion of Europe might be successfully launched.
            It should never be forgotten that in the days leading up to the actual attack, despite all the planning, the leaders knew that the Allied invasion would depend on one crucial and uncontrollable factor–the weather. With good reason too, for in the annals of history, many of the best laid plans came to ruin on account of the weather.

            So when Irish Coast Guardsman and lighthouse keeper Ted Sweeney sent his hourly weather observation, just after 2am on June 3, little did he realise that the lives of more than 150,000 Allied troops would hang on his words.

            Although Eire was officially neutral during the war, Ireland continued to send meteorological reports to Britain under an arrangement which had been agreed since Independence.  (Irish weather reports, however, were not passed on to Germany.) Blacksod, so placed, was the first land-based observation station in Europe where weather readings could be professionally taken on the prevailing European Atlantic westerly weather systems.

            In 1943 British meteorologist, James Martin Stagg, was commissioned a Group Captain in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve and appointed the chief meteorological officer for ‘Operation Overlord’ as the invasion of Normandy was codenamed.

            Interestingly, in August of 1940 Stagg, then representing the British Met Office, had visited Irish met observation stations. Then in early 1944, with planning well advanced for D-Day, a Captain Robert Bundgaard, a meteorologist with the United States Army Air Force, reputedly visited Valencia Weather Station in Co Kerry.

            The Normandy invasion was originally planned for June 5. On that day this enterprise would involve 5,000 ships and landing craft; 11,000 aircraft; and 156,000 troops going into battle across a 60-mile beachfront.

            However, British and American forecasters could not agree on the likely weather conditions for the planned date.

            According to the memoirs of Scotsman James Stagg, by June 2, the Americans were optimistic to ‘go’ on June 5, whilst the British were “unmitigatedly pessimistic”. An agreement could not be reached.

            Then at Blacksod, in the early morning hours of June 3, as Ted Sweeney watched the barometer fall precipitously, he sent his weather observation report which contained the warning of “a Force 6 wind and a rapidly falling barometer”.

            Group Captain Stagg, stationed at Southwick House outside Portsmouth, on England’s south coast, studied the Blacksod report and advised General Dwight D Eisenhower to postpone for 24 hours. Eisenhower heeded the advice and postponed to Tuesday, the 6th of June.

            Eisenhower also faced the strong possibility of having to postpone the invasion altogether until July when moon and tide conditions might once again be suitable but, as he later reminisced, that was an option “too bitter to contemplate”.

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              With the news that the famous musical group ABBA are bringing out two new songs after thirty five years, Liam Power takes a trip down memory lane incorporating the songs of ABBA in the form of a tall tale.


              I Have a Dream about Money, Money, Money.

              Well, I had one many times about landing the lotto or even Winning Streak. Alas, it takes more than a dream, it takes luck, lots of luck. Being an unlucky sod, the only thing I ever won in a raffle was an ornamental delph teapot, even my mother never used. Oh, Mamma Mia.

              But what about those scratch cards? Sure I’d get better satisfaction from a good decent itch. And don’t talk to me about those blessed three stars, I got so many, I could have been mistaken I was on the Milky Way galaxy. Instead, I was glued to the game-show Winning Streak on a Saturday night and waited, and waited for my name to be drawn, but all was drawn was my very long face. No joy, no loot.

              What about Plan B? I was in this restaurant when one of those old fashioned jute-box machines blared out The Winner Takes it All. My immediate response for such a brilliant brainwave was to say Thank You for the Music.

              Yes, I could possibly be the next millionaire – or at least the Kilkenny version – the skinned-cat type.

              On impulse, I rang up Ulster Television and said excitedly to the lady researcher, Take a Chance on Me. It takes more than chance, she replied, you need to answer a qualifying question: That’s the Name of the Game. Her question: Name the Abba song with a French title? To which I blurted out: Voulez Vous. Bingo.

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                An occasional series on Irish horse and pony breeds by Patricia M. Jenkins

                The Connemara is a powerful all-purpose pony. The breed takes their name from Connemara in Galway on Ireland’s wild, west Atlantic coast. A wind and rain swept place of bogs, boulders and magnificent mountains.

                This makes for a terrain that is rough, rocky and uneven. It is here that these hardy ponies have long eked out an existence. Such an environment has undoubtedly contributed to the Connemara pony’s much admired qualities of strength, stamina and resilience.

                One story tells of a wild Connemara named Windy Day swimming three and a half miles through five foot waves.

                They were originally employed as pack ponies carrying corn, seaweed, peat and potatoes along Connaught’s craggy country roads. Their calm temperament and forbearance allowed them to stand for hours on bumpy bog land.

                Along with their great capacity for hard work and their ability to endure sparse grazing solely on grass and gorse. In this way they maintained control of the vegetation by using their forefeet to break down the prickles thus making them edible.

                The ponies are intelligent too with a great aptitude for jumping, even into old age. At a horse show in London in 1935 a twenty-two year old Connemara named ‘The Nugget’ jumped a seven feet hurdle.

                Such versatility derives directly from their conformation. Standing at thirteen to fourteen hands high with a well-proportioned head, big kindly eyes and slanting shoulders, coupled with strong muscular hindquarters, big boned legs and hardy hooves.

                These power their driving force thus enabling them to cover ground well with their clear and natural paces. This makes them ideal for a variety of equestrian disciplines including carriage driving, dressage, hunting and show jumping.

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                  By David Flynn

                  An imaginative tv series of separate stories about the unusual started on US tv in 1959, and whenever its title is uttered, it conjures up memories of the strange and extraordinary.

                  The Twilight Zone had an unforgettable theme tune that opens the black and white introduction of the programme into a space scene. A door appears in space followed by a window which breaks, followed by other objects such as an eye and a clock.

                  The creator and narrator of the series, Rod Serling, did a voiceover at the introduction when the door appeared onscreen. It went like this: “You unlock this door with the key of imagination, beyond it is another dimension, a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind, you are moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas, you’ve just crossed over, into the Twilight Zone,” said Serling at the introduction.

                  There were other such introductions by Serling as the series progressed.

                  The black and white half-hour show ran on the CBS network at the late time of 10pm on Friday nights. It had no great competition in that time slot, only a drama series called The Detectives, which starred top movie actor of the time, Robert Taylor. Reviews in the media across America were kind to Twilight Zone, which helped keep it on the air beyond the first season.

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                    James Connolly, a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising, was born on 5 June, 1868, to Irish parents in Edinburgh’s Cowgate, an area then known as ‘Little Ireland’. Pauline Murphy marks the sesquicentennial of his birth by looking at two songs associated with the executed leader.

                    June 5th marked the 150th anniversary of the birth of James Connolly, the Scottish Socialist who died for Ireland’s freedom in 1916. He was born at 107 Cowgate, Edinburgh, the son of Monaghan natives John Connolly and Mary McGinn.

                    Cowgate was known locally as ‘Little Ireland’ due to the mass population of Irish immigrants in what was a slum area of Edinburgh’s old town. Connolly was born a bright summer’s day in 1868 into the dark slums where unemployment was high and illiteracy was rife but, the Connollys were different from other families as both parents had jobs and all in the family could read and write.

                    Connollys mother was a domestic servant and his father worked as a manure carter for the Edinburgh corporation. One of his brothers joined the British army, while his other brother worked in the Edinburgh Evening Post.

                    The Connolly family enjoyed employment but they, like the many other Irish immigrants in Edinburgh, suffered from hardships.

                    A hostile anti-Irish sentiment tainted society while the over-crowded slums resulted in health issues. Connollys mother suffered greatly from bronchitis and, at the age of 58, she succumbed to it.

                    As a young child growing up in the Irish ghetto Connolly developed rickets and in later life Sean O’Casey remarked how the trade union leader sported “a rather awkward carriage….with bow legs which gave a saddle to his walk.”

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                      Eighty years ago this month, Dr. Douglas Hyde was formally installed as the first President of Ireland. To many people this son of an Anglo-Irish Church of Ireland minister had seemed an unlikely source of the ideas he expressed in his speech in 1892 on de-Anglicisation, and an even more unlikely candidate for the role of defender of the Irish language and Irish culture, writes Ray Cleere.


                      In 1891 a tall, handsome, broad-chested young man with black hair, flashing eyes, and a drooping moustac he stood on a lecture platform in Dublin and startled his audience with an idea that would affect the course of Irish history.

                      The man was Dr. Douglas Hyde, bilingual scholar, folklorist, poet and essayist. The occasion was Hyde’s inaugural lecture as President of the National Literary Society.
                      Described by An Seabhac as “the first real folklorist, Hyde was a pioneer, in the tradition of Iain Campbell and John McKenzie of Scotland, in the “Scientific” collecting and scholarly presentation of Irish folklore. His collection of tales Leabhar Sgeulaighéachta in 1889 was a significant landmark in the history folklore in Ireland. It added a new dimension to the work of his predecessors in the field, including Thomas Crofton Croker, Patrick Kennedy, Lady Wilde and Jeremiah Curtin.

                      His subsequent works, Beside the Fire in 1890, Love Songs of Connaught in 1893 and Legends of Saints and Sinners in 1916, were acknowledged by William Butler Yeats (1865 – 1939) as major sources of the Irish Literary Renaissance. He later joined with Yeats, Lady Gregory and John Millington Synge to create an Irish theatre. His work with Milicete Indians in Canada in 1891 and his remarkable song collections confirmed his reputation.

                      One of the founders of the Folklore of Ireland Society in 1927, he was the first Treasurer and later Patron of the Society, and was appointed Chairman of the Irish Folklore Institute in 1930.

                      In his address, entitled On the Necessity for De-Anglicising the Irish People, Hyde argued that a first step towards finding a solution to the problems of Ireland was to restore its sense of national identity.

                      “To do this” he declared, “Ireland’s people must stop imitating England, revive the use of Irish personal names and place names, rediscover the pleasures of traditional Irish music and dancing, promote Irish games, give new life to Irish customs, and keep alive for generations yet unborn that the most important repository of and key to Irish history and culture: the Irish language”.

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