MONAGHAN ARMY MEMORIAL

Defence Forces memorial at the former Monaghan military barracks site

Corporal Ernie Carter was like myself a Dubliner who lived in Tydavnet. He was one of the original members of the 29th Infantry Battalion Association in Monaghan.

One of the wreaths from the 29th Infantry Battalion Association

One of his tasks as Secretary of the Association was to help organise a memorial stone at the site of the former military barracks (now the education campus) beside the Garage Theatre on the Armagh Road.

Colour party at the memorial stone

He died in June last year. The third annual commemoration took place this afternoon, with prayers led by a former army chaplain from Co. Cavan. I was asked to read out the poem for veterans ‘A Soldier’.

Michael Fisher reads the poem ‘A Soldier’. Pic. © Denis Barry

There were 79 names of the deceased listed on a framed sheet beside the memorial. They were soldiers who served in Dún Uí Neill Cavan, the Tanagh outpost in Cootehill and the barracks in Monaghan. We will remember them. REST IN PEACE.

The names of the deceased from 29th Infantry Battalion

Paying respect to deceased members of the 29th Infantry Battalion

Standing to attention during the ceremony

One of the wreaths laid by Denis Barry

Paying respect at the memorial stone

MONAGHAN ARMY MEMORIAL

Commemorative stone for DF members who served in Monaghan Barracks 1976-2009, designed by Marc Kelly, Emyvale. Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Commemorative stone for DF members who served in Monaghan Barracks 1976-2009, designed by Marc Kelly, Emyvale. Photo: © Michael Fisher

ARMY’S CONTRIBUTION TO MONAGHAN COMMEMORATED AT FORMER BARRACKS SITE

MICHAEL FISHER  The Northern Standard  Thursday March 26th p.

Blessing of commemorative stone by army chaplain Fr Bernard McKay Morrissey, CF Dundalk  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Blessing of commemorative stone by army chaplain Fr Bernard McKay Morrissey, CF Dundalk Photo: © Michael Fisher

The tricolour was lowered for the last time at Monaghan Army Barracks in January 2009 and the gates were closed as the Defence Forces moved out. It was one of four army posts put up for sale by the government. Most of the soldiers based there transferred to the Headquarters of the 27th Infantry Battalion at Aiken Barracks in Dundalk.

Former Sgt Dennis Barry (centre), Monaghan Barracks Association with colour party: Mick Donoghue IUNVA Post 15 Cavan (left) and Wally Barry ONE Tanagh Branch (right) Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Former Sgt Dennis Barry (centre), Monaghan Barracks Association with colour party: Mick Donoghue IUNVA Post 15 Cavan (left) and Wally Barry ONE Tanagh Branch (right) Photo: © Michael Fisher

It might have remained a derelict site for many years. But it has since been transformed into an Education Campus that includes a new Garage Theatre, as well as two schools and the Monaghan Institute. The complex which was developed by the Cavan Monaghan Education Board under its Chief Executive Martin O’Brien was officially opened last month by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Dennis Barry presents sculptor Marc Kelly with a DF crest to mark the occasion Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Organiser Dennis Barry presents sculptor Marc Kelly with a DF cap badge crest to mark the occasion Photo: © Michael Fisher

In order to remember the contribution of thousands of army personnel who passed through the post, a Monaghan Barracks Association was formed by a former Sergeant, Dennis Barry. A native of Clonmel in County Tipperary, he was stationed at the Armagh Road complex for many years. Their way of marking the contribution of the military and their colleagues from the Air Corps and Navy was to commission a stone from Emyvale sculptor Marc Kelly.

Piper Kevin Murphy, 27 Inf Bn Dundalk, who played a lament as the stone was unveiled Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Piper Kevin Murphy, 27 Inf Bn Dundalk, who played a lament as the stone was unveiled Photo: © Michael Fisher

Last Saturday (March 21st) former army colleagues including UN veterans joined serving members of the 27th Infantry Battalion and the Reserve, along with their families and friends, at the unveiling of the stone.

It was blessed by former Monaghan barracks chaplain, Fr Seán McDermott from Ballinagh, Co. Cavan, Canon Ian Berry, Rector of Monaghan, and Fr Bernard McCay-Morrissey, chaplain of the 27th Infantry Battalion in Dundalk.

Nathan Healy, Castleshane, unveiled the commemorative stone  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Nathan Healy, Castleshane, unveiled the commemorative stone Photo: © Michael Fisher

The honour of unveiling the stone was given to 10 year-old Nathan Healy from Cavancreevy, Castleshane. His father Private John Healy of the 27th Infantry Battalion came from Dublin and joined the army when he was 19. Private Healy died in October and was given military honours at his funeral in Monaghan.

Flags on the stage during the Mass Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Flags on the stage during the Mass Photo: © Michael Fisher

The memorial stone is dedicated to all members of the Defence Forces who served on the site 1976-2009.

Army Chaplain Fr Bernard McKay Morrissey, CF Dundalk celebrated Mass at the Garage Theatre, Monaghan  Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Army Chaplain Fr Bernard McKay Morrissey, CF Dundalk celebrated Mass at the Garage Theatre, Monaghan Photo: © Michael Fisher

At the start of the commemoration, a Mass was held in the Garage Theatre, celebrated by Fr McCay-Morrissey. He said when the announcement of the closure of the barracks came, it was unexpected. It was a time of anxiety and uncertainty for those affected. But good things had eventually emerged from it, although some were still adapting to the move to Dundalk. Prayers were said for all those who had worked in the barracks, the NCOs and officers and the staff.

Reflection during Mass by John Wilson, remembering all who had been stationed at Monaghan Barracks Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Reflection during Mass by John Wilson, remembering all who had been stationed at Monaghan Barracks Photo: © Michael Fisher

Fr Seán McDermott was chaplain when the barracks closure was announced and recalls that he was with some members of the unit serving overseas at the time.

Colour Party escorting the tricolour Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Colour Party escorting the tricolour Photo: © Michael Fisher

The decision to construct a barracks in Monaghan was made in November 1973 and the complex was opened in December 1976 by then Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave at the height of the troubles in the North. The soldiers who were then part of the 29th Infantry Battalion operated border patrols and served in aid of the civil power (Gardaí). They often found themselves called out to monitor unnapproved border crossings where local residents were filling in craters that had been caused by the British Army. The troops also supported the Department of Agriculture during the foot and mouth, BSE and poultry disease crises.

Not many local people signed up for military service initially, but as the years went by, more recruits came from the Monaghan area. Soldiers of the 27th Infantry Battalion have served in numerous peacekeeping missions around the world, most notably in Lebanon.

Colour party marches off at end of unveiling and blessing Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Colour party marches off at end of unveiling and blessing Photo: © Michael Fisher

UN veterans were among those who paraded from the Garage theatre to the site of the memorial stone in what was once the transport yard of the barracks.

Parade from Garage Theatre to memorial stone in former transport yard Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Parade from Garage Theatre to memorial stone in former transport yard Photo: © Michael Fisher

Following the ceremony, refreshments were served in the school canteen and young Nathan Healy from Castleshane was given the task of cutting the special cake that had been made for the occasion.

Nathan Healy, Castleshane, cuts the Monaghan Barracks Association cake Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Nathan Healy, Castleshane, cuts the Monaghan Barracks Association cake Photo: © Michael Fisher

TAOISEACH OPENS MONAGHAN CAMPUS

Taoiseach's car passes anti-water tax protestors outside Campus gates  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Taoiseach’s car passes anti-water tax protestors outside Campus gates Photo: © Michael Fisher

There was a small protest by a group of around two dozen demonstraors from the Monaghan Anti-Water Tax group as the Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD arrived to open officially the Monaghan Educational Campus. It was constructed on the site of the former army barracks at Knockaconny, which was decommissioned in 2009. Owing to the protest, the newly installed plaque at the entrance gates was not unveiled by Mr Kenny, as originally planned.

Plaque at entrance gates to Monaghan Educational Campus  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Plaque at entrance gates to Monaghan Educational Campus Photo: © Michael Fisher

The new campus opened its doors in 2013 and was the brainchild of the Cavan and Monaghan Education and Training Board under the leadership of Martin O’Brien. It includes two Irish language schools, Gaelscoil Ultain for primary level and Coláiste Oiriall for secondary level. It also houses a gym, named in honour of Barry McGuigan, sports facilities, the purpose-built Garage Theatre, replacing the small and cramped premises at the old St Davnet’s Hospital, and a building for the Monaghan Institute.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD talking to Brendan Ó Dufaigh Principal Coláiste Oiriall and Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD talking to Brendan Ó Dufaigh Principal Coláiste Oiriall and Arts Minister Heather Humphreys TD Photo: © Michael Fisher

Mr Kenny was shown an audiovisual presentation about how the campus had been developed since his previous visit in October 2011, when construction was starting. On that occasion the Taoiseach described it as a brilliant concept and a great decision for the people of County Monaghan.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD unveils plaque at Monaghan Educational campus with CEO of CMETB Martin O'Brien and local politicians  Photo: © Michael Fisher

Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD unveils plaque at Monaghan Educational campus with CEO of CMETB Martin O’Brien and local politicians Photo: © Michael Fisher

The campus was officially blessed in an ecumenical service that included the two Bishops of Clogher, Dr Liam MacDaid and Most Reverent John McDowell, along with Monaghan Presbytery Moderator Reverend Ronnie Agnew and Methodist District Superintendent Reverend Ken Robinson from Portadown (pictured saying a prayer).

Ecumenical Blessing of Monaghan Educational Campus Photo:  © Michael Fisher

Ecumenical Blessing of Monaghan Educational Campus Photo: © Michael Fisher

Today was an even bigger day for County Monaghan as it coincided with an announcement by local company Combilift that it was moving to new premises beside the Monaghan by-pass and in a €40 million investment creating 200 new jobs over the next five years at what will be its global headquarters. Mr Kenny visited the plant and said the investment would make a profound difference to the local economy and the national export economy. combilogolarge