LEINSTER REGIMENT MEMORIAL BIRR

Leinster Regiment Memorial in Birr Photo: © Ray Hayden

Leinster Regiment Memorial in Birr Photo: © Ray Hayden

Having written yesterday about the Menin Gate I am continuing the theme of the involvement of the British Army in the First World War. Courtesy of Ray Hayden who was honouring the memory of relatives, I am publishing these pictures from the ecumenical service in County Offaly where a new memorial was unveiled to the members of the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) based at the former Crinkill Barracks near Birr.

Irish & British Army veterans on parade at Crinkill Photo: © Ray Hayden

Irish & British Army veterans on parade at Crinkill Photo: © Ray Hayden

The regiment was formed in 1881 and their depot was based at Crinkill barracks. The Leinsters occupied one square of the barracks whilst the second square was occupied by visiting regiments. The average length of stay was one year. During the first world war recruitment in Birr resulted in a constant flow of recruits from the surrounding area for the first eighteen months. After that there was a steady decline. Nearly 6.000 men in total were recruited. In 1917 an aerodrome was built on the 14 acres site and three planes were kept there.

Irish & British Army veterans on parade at Crinkill Photo: © Ray Hayden

Irish & British Army veterans on parade at Crinkill Photo: © Ray Hayden

Leinster Regiment Cap Badge

Leinster Regiment Cap Badge

The Regiment raised seven battalions for service with the British Army during World War I, which saw action on the Western Front and in the Middle East. The 1st Battalion served with the 27th Division and the 10th (Irish) Division. The 2nd Battalion with the 6th Division, 24th Division, 16th (Irish) Division and the 29th Division. The 6th Battalion served with the 10th (Irish) Division, 14th (Light) Division, 34th Division and 66th Division. The 7th Battalion with the 16th (Irish) Division.

Leinster Regiment soldiers prepare to set off for WWI Archive Photo via Ray Hayden ©

Leinster Regiment soldiers prepare to set off for WWI Archive Photo via Ray Hayden ©

The Anglo-Irish treaty was signed in December 1921 and on March 11th 1922 the British Army issued orders for the disbandment of the Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment along with five other corps and infantry battalions. The regimental colours were laid up at St George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. Soon afterwards the IRA 3rd Southern Division took control of the barracks and on 14th July 1922 they set fire to the barracks.

Paul Kehoe TD and Maj Gen The O'Morchoe at the unveiling Photo: © Ray Hayden

Paul Kehoe TD and Maj Gen The O’Morchoe at the unveiling Photo: © Ray Hayden

The ruins became dangerous and in 1985 all internal buildings were demolished, including the landmark clock tower. All that remains today are the perimeter walls and gates. The new memorial is situated beside one of the walls. Among those who attended the ceremony at Crinkill were the government Chief Whip Paul Kehoe TD and Major General The O’Morchoe CB CBE, President of the Leinster Regiment Association and President of the Royal British Legion (Ireland) and local Fine Gael TD Marcella Corcoran Kennedy.

Stained Glass Window at St Brendan's Church Birr for Leinster Regiment Photo: © Andreas F. Borchert

Stained Glass Window at St Brendan’s Church Birr for Leinster Regiment Photo: © Andreas F. Borchert

This was part of a weekend of events in the Birr area marking the connection with the Leinsters. In Birr there is a memorial window for the Leinster Regiment at St Brendan’s church. A delegation from the Belgian town of Ledegem in Flanders came to Offaly and laid a wreath at the new memorial. On October 14th 1918 in a fierce engagement resulting in the award of two Victoria Crosses to Leinster Soldiers,  the 2nd battalion Leinster Regiment led the advance into Ledegem on the  first day of what is now known as the Battle of Courtrai. In that advance the  Leinsters, supported by the 4/Worcesters, cleared the town of enemy forces and  in so doing ended the four year occupation of a community that had become a  major supply depot for the German occupation in West Flanders.

Lord Rosse of Birr Castle and Kevin Myers Photo: © Ray Hayden

Lord Rosse of Birr Castle and Kevin Myers Photo: © Ray Hayden

MONAGHAN IN LOURDES

Fr Jerry Caroll, Carrickmacross, Air Corps chaplain in Baldonnel

Fr Jerry Caroll, Carrickmacross, Air Corps chaplain in Baldonnel

NORTHERN STANDARD Thursday 6th June 2013

With around 30,000 pilgrims in Lourdes last weekend most of them attending the 55th annual international military pilgrimage, Michael Fisher managed to find several Monaghan connections among the Defence Forces contingent that travelled from Dublin……
Among the six chaplains with the 300-strong party was Fr Jerry Carroll from Carrickmacross. He is chaplain to the Air Corps at Baldonnel in Co. Dublin.

Stations of the Cross at Lourdes

Stations of the Cross at Lourdes

He led the group in making the Stations of the Cross. During the procession Evelyn Fisher from Drumcoo Woods, Tydavnet, was asked to carry the cross at the eighth station (Jesus meets the women of Jerusalem) to the next one (Jesus falls the third time).

Naval Cadet and former member of the Reserve Defence Force in Monaghan, Aron Nutley, was among the 51st cadet class who travelled overland from Haulbowline in Cork with their chaplain Fr Des Campion to take part in the visit to the shrine of Our Lady and to the Grotto.

Naval Cadet Aron Nutley, Monaghan

Naval Cadet Aron Nutley, Monaghan

Mass for English-speaking countries including Ireland, the UK, USA and Norway was concelebrated by Bishop Richard Moth, Chaplain to the British forces along with the Defence Forces Head Chaplain Monsignor Eoin Thynne and a number of other priests. Aron from Coolshannagh is a former pupil of Beech Hill College in Monaghan. Accompanying the party from the 89th Army Cadet Class at the Curragh, the Air Corps and Navy cadets was a group of nineteen from the Civil Defence drawn from eight counties.

They included a number from Westmeath, based in Mullingar. One of them was Siobhan Courtney from Clones, a former pupil at Largy College. The Civil Defence have been accompanying the military on the pilgrimage since 1994 and for three of them, this was their 20th trip.

Siobhan Courtney & Civil Defence group from Co.Westmeath

Siobhan Courtney & Civil Defence group from Co.Westmeath

Paddy Reilly, Monaghan

Paddy Reilly, Monaghan

A number of former soldiers took part in the pilgrimage, including Paddy Reilly from Glenview Drive in Monaghan. He is a UN Veteran who served in Monaghan town and for a number of years was in charge of the local FCÁ unit (now the Reserve Defence Force). He was also active with the Civil Defence. The final Monaghan connection was through one of the Joe Walsh Tours guides, Carmel Power (McGinty). She lives in Skerries, Co. Dublin and is a former pupil of Clochar Lughaidh Muineachain, where she was a boarder for a number of years.

Former St Louis Monaghan pupil Carmel Power (McGinty), JWT travel rep in Lourdes

Former St Louis Monaghan pupil Carmel Power (McGinty), JWT travel rep in Lourdes

Groups from the Dioceses of Raphoe (Donegal) and Ossory (Kilkenny) were in Lourdes at the same time as the military pilgrimage. The Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe TD joined the group and read one of the lessons at the International Mass on Sunday in the underground basilica of St Pius X. He also laid a wreath at the Irish memorial at the town cemetery in Lourdes which commemorates all those Irish pilgrims who died there, including Monsignor James Horan from Knock and Cardinal O Fiaich.

Minister of State Paul Kehoe TD lays wreath at Irish memorial in Lourdes

Minister of State Paul Kehoe TD lays wreath at Irish memorial in Lourdes