Irish flag

Donnybrook: D-Day Maureen

The Fate of the Western World may have hinged on a young woman working at the Irish Post Office adjacent to Blacksod Lighthouse at Blacksod Point, County Mayo in the month of June 1944.  Maureen Flavin Sweeney took a job in a very remote part of the Belmullet Peninsula, County Mayo, at the entrance to Blacksod Bay, directly north, and in distant view of Achill Island.

The site is almost as far northwest as Ireland goes, reaching out into the North Atlantic Ocean. One of Maureen’s tasks was to take meteorological data every hour and transmit this information to Dublin.

While Ireland was officially neutral during WWII, it was a very one-sided neutrality in favor of The Allied efforts. Unbeknownst to Maureen, her weather reports were transmitted from Dublin to the chief weather forecasters of the Allied forces.

Operation Overlord
Operation Overlord was the code name for the Allied invasion plans of Hitler’s fortress Europe; it had been in the planning for years. Allied planning had chosen June 5th, 1944, as D-Day, a day the presence of a full moon and good morning tides would maximize the landing efforts.

Good weather was crucial to the hoped success of the invasion, calm seas for our soldiers to get ashore, and clear skies to allow Allied planes to provide air cover. Weather reporting is challenging for our local news in the twenty first century, even with all its electronic equipment; but in 1944, meteorology was very primitive. Each hour Maureen reported the barometric pressure, temperature, wind direction, wind speed and cloud cover.

On June 3rd, Maureen reported a sudden drop in barometric pressure and heavy cloud cover, a likely indication of foul weather. Other Allied weather stations were observing and predicting good weather for June 5th.

Allied weather HQ called Maureen twice that morning to repeat her earlier observations. She double and triple checked her data and reported so to the unknown voice calling her. She wondered why her report would attract two review calls.

Little did she know that Dwight Eisenhower, The Supreme Commander of the Allied war effort, was relying on Maureen’s weather report to delay the storming of Normandy’s beaches by one day. Ike received much push back, but relying on the early weather warning, he gambled on moving the date on the overall biggest gamble of the war. As the invasion was a success, history sometimes forgets how this could have gone another way.

The weather on June 5th was very rough and may have altered the outcome of the D-Day Invasion. June 6th weather was good enough. Any further delay would have pushed the invasion back further to late June, when Nazi forces were anticipating Allied action. It was not till years later that Maureen learned of the significance of her weather reporting.  Maureen recently died in Belmullet at age 100.  

Irish flag

Time for Irish Unity

Time for Irish Unity The Theme of the Cleveland St. Patrick’s Day Parade this year will be the familiar ‘One Island, One Nation.’ But what does that mean? A framing of the policy principles that Sinn Fein, Ireland’s oldest political party, outline for Irish Unity are as follows: “In 1998 the Good Friday Agreement set out the context for a referendum on unity. The Agreement asserts that it is for the people of the island of Ireland alone to shape our future and to exercise our right of self-determination on the “basis of consent, freely and concurrently given, North and South.”

This democratic and peaceful mechanism to achieve Irish Unity is a game changer that was not available to previous generations. The Brexit crisis, and electoral, social and demographic changes in the North have increased discourse on Irish Unity. A new and united Ireland must be a place for all, if you are Irish, British or both or neither.

The Orange and British identity is important to a section of the community who share this island. It is therefore important to us all. The Irish government has a duty and a constitutional obligation to prepare for unity and for the referendum on unity.

This means the Irish government must:

1) Ensure the full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement, including the all-island institutions.

2) Establish a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Irish Unity.

3) Set up an all-island representative Citizens’ Assembly or appropriate forum to discuss and plan for Irish Unity.

4) Publish a White Paper on Irish Unity.

5) Secure a referendum, north and south, on Irish Unity as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

A referendum on Irish Unity is achievable and winnable. It’s time to set a date for the referendum and to let the people have their say.

Irish Unity is now a do-able project. The current government sitting in Dublin refuses to stand up to its obligations to fully implement the Good Friday accord and continue to fail to prepare the nation for a border poll and inevitable reunification.

Dead Man Walking
This should be the name of U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunyak; the polls consistently show little hope for his Tory government being reelected, unemployment is much higher than the United States, inflation is significantly higher than the rest of the E.U. and the U.S., financial institutions continue to look to relocate to Dublin, Amsterdam or Paris as the reality of Brexit slows the British economy. 

A general election was anticipated in May of 2024, but Sunyak recently said more likely in the Fall, probably looking to extend his free lodging at No. 10 Downing Street for a few more months. Sunyak’s Conservative Party continues to be divided by immigration and fiscal policy, leaving no interest or motivation to tackle the failure of their colleagues in Northern Ireland, the DUP, from entering government.

Sunyak is so weak he cannot govern. This will  likely mean the DUP will continue to avoid any consequences from its failure to represent its own voters, pathetic. We have failure of leadership in Dublin and London. 

The statue of Saint Brigid

Feast of St. Brigid of Kildare

Feast of St. Brigid February 1st os the Fest of St. Brigid, who, along with St. Columcille and St. Patrick, are the patron saints of Ireland. Brigid of Kildare was a contemporary of St. Patrick, and was ordained by St. Mel as the first woman Bishop in Ireland. This is why her picture is often shown with a Bishops Staff. She was a powerful Abbess of her monastery in Kildare.

Find this and other John Myer’s Donnybrook and other columns  HERE!

John Myers

John Myers

*John is an attorney in Cleveland. He can be reached at [email protected]


Donnybrook tear sheet
Donneybrook tear sheet 2
Click on icons below to share articles to social.

Recent issues

E-Bulletin Signup

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive news and event emails from: iIrish. You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.
New to Cleveland Ad

Explore other topics