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The battle for Normandy June-August 1944, launched on D-Day exactly 75 years ago, marked, after Stalingrad, the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany. It was a major battle. The Allies suffered 209,672 casualties of whom 36,796 were killed. Some 28,000 Allied airman were lost in the months preceding and during the campaign.
Over 220 people have presented themselves as homeless to Mayo County Council already this year.
It is not surprising that any child with imagination, and an interest in the sea, would spend time at the city’s harbour watching the ships come and go, and the men who worked there as they talked and unloaded fish or cargo. As a child Kathleen Curran, once the home chores were done, would run down the back paths from her home on College Road and along Lough Atalia to the docks. ‘There she would stand and gaze in wonder at the ships, boats and trawlers, hookers and gleoteóigs tied up or coming and going about their business.’
“Upwards of seven thousand people took part in the annual Eucharistic Procession through the streets of Galway on Sunday, when one of the greatest demonstrations of faith in recent years was seen. Practically all of that part of the city’s population which did not take part, thronged the footpaths, and when the procession arrived at Eyre Square at six o’clock, upwards of ten thousand people knelt on the green sward in front of the specially constructed high altar for the final Benediction, which was imparted by his Lordship, Most Rev Dr Browne.
"People in the country in a position to know have stated that a national emergency may arise any moment, and an attack on the country may be imminent", so warned MJ Egan, County Commissioner for Mayo at a public meeting in Ballyhaunis in August 1940. An official state of emergency had already been in place since being proclaimed in the Dáil on September 2 1939, the day after Nazi Germany invaded Poland. Egan was principally Mayo County Secretary, but as County Commissioner his role was to create a network of parish councils that would maintain services in the event of an invasion and the possible incapacitation of central government. The Ballyhaunis meeting created its own council, bringing the figure to over 100 councils formed in 76 Mayo parishes. Since the fall of France to the Nazis in mid-1940, Britain was forced to tighten its own rationing programme. This had knock-on effects for Ireland. A key function of the parish councils would be the securing and distribution of food in a post-invasion scenario. Egan reported to, and received instruction from the new Department of Supplies under Minister Seán Lemass. It was through Egan as County Commissioner that a series of emergency precautions and directions were issued to the Mayo public.
Claremorris hosted one of the biggest held duathlons in the west, with nearly 400 taking part, it was also round one of the Bridge Signs Ireland West Duathlon series.
Mayor of Athlone John Dolan is calling on the Irish Red Cross to take urgent steps to resolve a dispute with its Athlone branch, which led to the bank account of the local branch being frozen.
Claremorris will host the Land of the Giants Duathlon for the sixth time on Wednesday December 28. Last year saw a bumper crowd of more than 250 participants, and organisers are expecting even bigger numbers this Christmas.
In only a matter of days, the first of 86 weary, desperate, human beings will arrive in Mayo as refugees from war ravaged Syria. That figure is made up of 20 families, of which sadly, more than 40 are young children forced to live a life that no child should ever know. They are escaping a complex war being fought by President Bashar al-Assad's government, Syrian rebel groups, ISIL, and foreign allies on both sides. That Mayo is one of only eight counties taking part in this resettlement programme should come as no surprise. Our county's history of reaching out to and accommodating suffering populations is a trait of which we can be proud.