The Mayo village of Blacksod will host a day-long commemoration honoring the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings and celebrating the crucial role that the village played in the successful invasion. 

Allied Forces landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944, kickstarting the liberation of France from Nazi occupation. 

However, the invasion was initially due to commence on June 5, only for a critical intervention from Blacksod Lighthouse. 

A weather report, made by 21-year-old Maureen Sweeney, predicted bad weather, leading to the landings being postponed by 24 hours. 

Historians believe that this weather report was crucial to the success of the D-Day landings.

The local Blacksod community, led by Fergus Sweeney of the Solas Visitor Experience and Tourism Hub, has organized a day-long program to honor the village's contribution to D-Day. 

Fergus, who is Maureen Sweeney's grandson, said events will kickstart with a Dawn Remembrance Ceremony at Blacksod Lighthouse at 5 a.m. on June 6. 

"This sunrise event marks the first hour the troops landed at Normandy," Fergus said. 

Exhibits will be open to the public throughout the day, showcasing the role that An Post, Met Éireann, and the Defence Forces played during the Second World War. Other exhibits will offer insights into Maureen Sweeney's life and Blacksod's crucial involvement during the war. 

Highlights from the day's exhibits include displays from Met Éireann, An Post, Irish Lights, and movie props from Stephen Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan", which was partially shot in Ireland. 

Guest speakers, including US Army veteran Ron Howko and retired Irish Army officer Donal Buckley, will provide talks on topics such as "US Forces on D-Day" and "Irish Neutrality, Then and Now".

Bridget McMahon will provide musical entertainment during the day, while there will also be an aircraft flyover dedicated to the men of the lookout posts. 

Ironically, the flyover remains weather dependent. 

The day's events will conclude at the newly opened SOLAS Visitor Centre at Eachléim with a panel discussion chaired by Michael Kennedy, author of "Guarding Neutral Ireland," at 5 p.m. 

Mairead Melody Carr, Manager of Mayo North Tourism, noted that the commemorative events honor Blacksod's history while also enriching the village's cultural tourism. 

"Blacksod’s unique history, particularly its impact on D-Day, is a key part of North Mayo’s heritage," Carr said. "Commemorating this anniversary not only honors the past but also enriches our cultural tourism, drawing visitors who are keen to learn about the pivotal moments and figures such as Maureen Sweeney and all others who helped to shape history." 

The commemorative event will also serve as a tribute to Maureen Sweeney, who died last December aged 100.

"This is a time for us all to celebrate Maureen's role properly and remember her remarkable life and contribution," Fergus Sweeney said in a statement. 

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