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The extraordinary stories of two Achill men, Pat Burke and Tommy Patten, who volunteered to join the fight against fascism in the Spanish Civil War, are to be remembered in two seperate ceremonies on the island on Sunday.
At 11.15am on September 3 1939, Neville Chamberlain went on radio to announce that Britain had declared war on Germany. Hitler was still hopeful of a diplomatic resolution and to this end, he issued strict orders for U-boats to follow the Prize Regulations under which attacks on passenger liners were prohibited. Unfortunately, the first ship that was sunk by a U-boat was the SS Athenia, which was carrying 1,418 passengers and crew. She was about 200 miles off the west coast of Ireland at the time.
Early morning July 17 1938, Douglas Corrigan, a young aviator, climbed into a small and rather battered nine-year old Curtiss Robin monoplane, at Brooklyn airfield New York. He was cleared to fly to California. It was a misty overcast morning. Instead of turning east, he headed out over the Atlantic. Twenty-eight hours later, surviving on two chocolate bars, two boxes of fig bars, and a few gallons of water, he landed in Baldonnel airport, Dublin, to everyone’s amazement. He was immediately christened ‘Wrong Way’ Corrigan, and the world press loved him. The New York Post printed its headline back to front to join in the fun. Especially as it emerged that Corrigan’s plane had many modifications made to it, including two large petrol tanks strapped in front of the cockpit, allowing him to only see out sideways. One of the tanks leaked on the way over. He had to slash a hole in the floor to allow the fuel out.
HOW TO perpetrate a theatrical get-rich-quick scheme: Find the worst play ever written; hire the worst director and worst actors in town; raise $2 million, officially to ‘stage the show’, but in reality for the producers to pocket; see the play close after opening night; then take the money and run for Brazil.
Members of a Galway Facebook site were shocked and concerned by racist comments which appeared on their page recently, leading to fears that internet racism may be a growing phenomenon.
The SS, Nazi Germany’s most feared elite regiment, responsible for some of the most appalling crime against humanity in WWII, will be the subject of a public lecture in Galway next week.
Last year was a good one for Galway author Kevin Brophy with his Cold War thriller The Berlin Crossing garnering considerable critical acclaim. Now he follows that novel with a further foray into the murky world of East-West skulduggery and intrigue, in the newly published Another Kind Of Country.
Some 42,000 Irishmen fought for the Allies and against the Nazis in WWII - including a number of Galwaymen - and their stories are contained in a new book.
Last September I wrote a number of Diary entries on the wonderful reception that Galway extended to the survivors of the SS Athenia, torpedoed off the Donegal coast on September 3 1939, the very first day of the war. The ship was sunk by Fritz Julius Lemp, the commander of the U-30. The Athenia was obviously a passenger boat on its way with refugees from Europe to Canada. This wasn’t the start to the war that the German government wanted. Initially it denied that any of its submarines sank the Athenia, and suggested that it was sunk by the British on orders from Winston Churchill in the hope of getting America into the war.
On December 7 1941 Japan launched a devastating surprise attack on the US naval base of Pearl Harbour. America declared war on Japan, and Germany declared war on the United States four days later. This was no longer just a war in Europe. It had leapt onto the worldwide stage