Saturday, January 14, 2023

Michael Hennigan's year of 1953 and 70 years later

"Tour Bus made a short stop here. A small village near Galway. May 14, 1953"
Photo by Martin J. Walsh Jr on a trip to Ireland in 1953, from Minnesota

The Irish Times newspaper reported on Saturday 17 January 1953 that weather conditions would be good and this was the day my mother gave birth at St Anthony's Hospital, in the southwest Irish town of Dunmanway, County Cork. I was named Michael Anthony Hennigan with the first name after my father. I had two older brothers and Maurice the eldest had been named after his paternal grandfather while Thomas was named after his maternal grandfather.

My parents had a farm east of the town and the quality of the land was not good.

On 16 January, a resolution in the US Senate called for the end of Irish partition. The future Irish American president co-sponsored the resolution.

On 18 January 1953, a political group calling itself Sinn Féin, (Irish: 'We Ourselves' or 'Ourselves Alone') said it would contest all 12 constituencies in the next Westminster elections in Northern Ireland (this Sinn Féin was a separate entity from the Provisional IRA and its political wing called Sinn Féin, that were created in Belfast in January 1970).

On 31 January, Dublin Airport's weather station showed a jump in rain and high gusts of 61.9 knots per hour. However, the Republic of Ireland escaped the massive storm damage that day, and into 1 February. The MV Princess Victoria ferry sailing between Stranraer, Scotland and Larne, Northern Ireland, sank during a storm with 133 lives lost, including every woman and child aboard while 44 men survived. In the North Sea, the storm caused extensive flooding. There were 19 deaths in Scotland; 307 in England; 28 in Belgium, and 1,836 in The Netherlands where the dykes were breached.

This event resulted in the greatest storm surge in the North Sea, on record.