Poppy-wearing people of all ages attended the annual Armistice Day ceremony which was revived in 1990 after a lapse of many years. The War Memorial, erected in 1928 in honour of the 17 officers and 160 NCOs and men of the Fourth Battalion killed in WW1, fell into neglect as the old soldiers faded away.
Refurbished and relocated to Millview, it is now once again recognized as an important historic feature of the town’s architecture.
At Sunday’s ceremony were descendants of men who fought in The Great War. Unable to be present was Bob Mulhall, of Marian Avenue, Portlaoise, but he was there in spirit.
Commemoration Committee Chairperson Cllr Kathleen O’Brien, who was also representing the Town Council, welcomed the attendance and thanked all who had helped organize the event. She laid a wreath at the Memorial, as did Archie Raeside, President of Post 27, United Nations Veterans.
Michael Coyle, also of Post 27, and Cllr Jerry Lodge did the readings, while Rev Stanley Monkhouse, Rector, Portlaoise, and Fr Paddy Byrne, CC, recited the prayers. Sean Scannel sounded the Last Post. Noel Ryan distributed the poppies.
Parade commander of the Post 27 veterans was Joe McEvoy, and present too was its Chairman, Tony Flanagan. In charge of amplification was Malcolm Smith. Cllr James Deegan, who takes a particular interest in WW1, was there, as was regular attender Frank Sheehan who, incidentally, has retired from the ESB to which he gave 46 years’ service.
Cllr O’Brien recalled deceased members of the Commemoration Committee, Fr Gregory Brophy, Canon Philp Day, Tom Keenan and Pat O’Brien.
Deputy Charles Flanagan, delivering the oration, cautioned: “As remember those who died in the Great War of 1914 and in other wars we do well to remember this. Peace, security and the ordinary pleasures of decent life should never be under-estimated.
“The history of Europe in the last century teaches us that civilisation is only a thin veneer. We must never take it for graned. The life that we have in Ireland and the life that we share with our fellow Europeans are worth having and worth preserving.”
He insisted that the European Union was “particularly good for Ireland,” allowing us to “free ourselves from the dominant and sometimes suffocating influence of our much larger neighbour.”
Deputy Flanagan added: “So I reject any kind of Euro bashing or any kind of lazy recial stereotyping.
He declared: “Germany is not Ireland’s enemy. In fact, there is a strong fund of goodwill in Germany towards Ireland.”
Nothing that almost 50,000 Irishmen had died in WW1, he warned: “Let us never forget this important lesson--when the dogs of war are unleashed they are very difficult to put back in their cages.”