seamus dubhghaill

Promoting Irish Culture and History from Little Rock, Arkansas, USA


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Founding of An Óige, the Irish Youth Hostel Association

An Óige, or the Irish Youth Hostel Association (IYHA), a non-profit organisation providing youth hostel accommodation across the Republic of Ireland, is established on May 7, 1931.

An Óige is founded by an organising committee which includes Thekla Beere, Shane Bodkin, and Chalmers (Terry) Trench. Its first youth hostel is opened at Lough Dan, near Roundwood, in County Wicklow. An Óige is formed as a membership-based organisation and is now a member of Hostelling International.

An Óige, the Irish Youth Hostel Association, has a number of charitable aims. These include to support a “love and appreciation of the countryside” by providing “simple hostel accommodation for [people] whilst on their travels,” to foster an appreciation of Irish culture and heritage, to co-operate with Irish organisations which seek to preserve the countryside and walking routes, and to foster associations with similar organisations in other countries.

As of 2017, the organisation operates 24 youth hostels in the Republic of Ireland. In May 2019, An Oige closes the Dublin International Youth Hostel, which is then its main/headquarters facility and reportedly accounts for 60% of its revenue at the time. By late 2019, An Óige is running eighteen hostels, with franchise rights to a further ten. During 2020, all hostels remain closed as part of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ireland.

An Óige is a registered charitable organization in Ireland.

(Pictured: An Óige’s headquarters hostel, on Mountjoy Street in Dublin, closed in 2019)


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Birth of Katherine Zappone, American-Irish Independent Politician

Katherine Zappone, American-Irish independent politician who serves as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs from May 2016 to June 2020, is born in Seattle, Washington, on November 25, 1953. She is a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Dublin South-West constituency from 2016 to 2020. She previously served as a Senator from 2011 to 2016, after being nominated by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny.

Zappone is educated at Boston College (PhD), the Catholic University of America (MA) and University College Dublin (MBA). She becomes an Irish citizen in 1995. She and her wife, Ann Louise Gilligan, found An Cosán which supports individuals and communities to actively engage in the process of social change through transformative education. In Zappone and Gilligan v. Revenue Commissioners (2006), they unsuccessfully seek recognition in the High Court, for their Canadian marriage in Ireland. Zappone is a member of the Irish Human Rights Commission, chief executive of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, and a lecturer in the fields of ethics, theology, and education at Trinity College, Dublin. Though they are already married in Canada, she proposes to Gilligan on air as the positive result in the same-sex marriage referendum becomes known. Gilligan dies in June 2017.

Zappone is nominated by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the 24th Seanad in 2011, having been recommended by Eamon Gilmore, the then leader of Fine Gael‘s coalition partners, the Labour Party. With her Seanad nomination, she becomes the first openly lesbian member of the Oireachtas and the first member in a recognised same-sex relationship.

Zappone is elected to the Dáil for the Dublin South-West constituency at the 2016 Irish general election, becoming the first openly lesbian TD and, by her own reckoning, the world’s 32nd lesbian to be elected to a national parliament. In May 2016, after a delay in government formation, due to prolonged talks, she becomes Ireland’s first openly lesbian government Minister and the first Minister to have been openly gay at the time of appointment to cabinet, when Taoiseach Enda Kenny appoints her as the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. She loses her seat at the February 2020 Irish general election and continues to serve as a minister until June 2020 on the election of a new government.

Following the loss of her seat at the 2020 Irish general election, Zappone moves back to Seattle to work as a full-time volunteer for Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in the 2020 United States presidential election, then to New York.

In July 2021, it is announced that Zappone is to be appointed to the newly created position of Special Envoy to the UN for Freedom of Opinion and Expression. It subsequently emerges that the proposed appointment had not been flagged in advance of the Cabinet meeting where it was proposed by Minister Simon Coveney, raising the concerns of the Taoiseach, Micheál Martin. However, he does not block the appointment, attracting criticism from within government, the opposition and the public, with Sinn Féin describing the appointment as “cronyism.”

In the following days it is reported that Zappone had lobbied for the creation of and appointment to the part-time position, which was not openly advertised or subject to a competition. Further controversy arises when it is reported that shortly prior to the announcement of her appointment, she had hosted a party for 50 guests, including politicians such as Leo Varadkar, at the Merrion Hotel, while the COVID-19 pandemic in the Republic of Ireland was ongoing. Comparisons are made between the party and the Oireachtas Golf Society scandal from earlier in the pandemic. On August 4, 2021, she announces that she will not take up the envoy role, saying “While I am honoured to have been appointed by the Government to be the Special Envoy on Freedom of Opinion and Expression, it is clear that criticism of the appointment process has impacted the legitimacy of the role itself. It is my conviction that a Special Envoy role can only be of real value to Ireland and to the global community if the appointment is acceptable to all parties.”

In September 2021, Zappone is invited to appear before the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, but chooses not to attend. As a U.S. citizen and resident, the committee has no power to compel her attendance.


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Record Number of Participants Take Part in the 2017 Dublin Marathon

A record 20,000 people take part in the Dublin Marathon on October 29, 2017, making it the fifth largest marathon in Europe. The first Dublin Marathon takes place in 1980 with just over 2,000 runners participating.

The Dublin Marathon is an annual 26.2 mile (42.2 km) road marathon in Dublin held on the last Sunday in October. Prior to 2016, the race takes place on the last Monday in October, which is a public holiday in Ireland. In October 2015, it is announced that from 2016 the marathon will be held on Sunday rather than the October Bank Holiday Monday to attract more overseas runners. Held each year since 1980, the marathon has a record 22,500 registrants for the 2019 race, including over 5,000 entrants from outside Ireland.

The race is founded in 1980 by a group led by Noel Carroll, who persuades the Business Houses Athletic Association (BHAA) to take up the idea. In the first year, 2,100 take part, of whom 1,420 finish. Dick Hooper of Raheny club Raheny Shamrock Athletic Club claims first place, in a time of 2:16:14. The women’s winner is Carey May who finishes in 2:42:11. That year’s runner-up is Neil Cusack, who returns in 1981 to post a winning time of 2:13:59.

Jerry Kiernan‘s 1982 time of 2:13:45 is a long-standing men’s course record. This is finally improved upon by Lezan Kipkosgei Kimutai over twenty years later in 2004, but Russian runner Aleksey Sokolov twice breaks the record with consecutive wins in 2006 and 2007, running 2:11:39 and 2:09:07 respectively. Moses Kangogo Kibet becomes the first man under 2:09 in Dublin with his win in 2:08:58. The current men’s record is 2:08:06 set by Othmane El Goumri in 2019.

Moira O’Neill is the first woman under two hours and forty minutes with her win of 2:37:06 in 1988 and home athlete Christine Kennedy improves this with a run of 2:35:56 three years later. Kenyan Ruth Kutol‘s win in 2:27:22 in 2003 is the first sub-2:30 time and Russian Tatyana Aryasova breaks this record in 2010 with her current women’s record of 2:26:13.

The participation level of the race has followed an upward trend: by 1988 the number of participants increases to 8,700 – up from 4,000 the previous year. It is not until 2000 that the 1988 participation record is finally broken when 8,900 take part. An increasing number of people take part every year in the late 2000s, with 11,000 at the 2007 edition. Entry levels have since increased significantly year-on-year with 19,500 completing the 2016 event.

In 2001 the marathon becomes part of the Dublin Race Series, which includes pre-marathon events of 5 miles, 10 kilometres, 10 miles and half marathon distance over the preceding months, run in the Phoenix Park and Swords, Dublin.

The 2020 and 2021 editions of the race are canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, with all entries made valid for the following year and all registrants given the option of obtaining a full refund.