Monday 24 November 2014

Crash-landing monkey immortalised

Published 07/04/2013 | 16:16

US Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel Sean Cosden stands in the garden of O'Donovan's Hotel in Cork during the unveiling of the Tojo statue
US Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel Sean Cosden stands in the garden of O'Donovan's Hotel in Cork during the unveiling of the Tojo statue

A war mascot monkey who died 70 years ago in a suspected booze-fuelled army lockdown in the Irish Republic has been immortalised.

A statue of Tojo the monkey was erected in Clonakilty, west Cork, where he and a US Air Force crew made an emergency landing in a war plane in 1943.

A plaque marking the site at White's Marsh was also unveiled, as the anniversary of the local legend was celebrated.

Dena O'Donovan, who runs O'Donovan's Hotel where Tojo was buried, said his arrival and time in Clonakilty is one of the town's most-loved historical tales.

"It's a bizarre story, you couldn't make it up," she said.

Tojo, named after the Japanese prime minister of the time, was plied with food and drink - alien to a monkey diet - as the locals welcomed him and the crew into the community.

The crew was being held at the hotel, which was used as a temporary army barracks during the Second World War, until their identities were verified.

When Tojo died a number of days after their arrival, he was given a traditional Irish wake and funeral with military honours.

"Before his burial, Tojo was laid on a bed in one of the rooms upstairs and people queued throughout the hotel to see his body," Ms O'Donovan said.

"People were genuinely devastated when he died. Some say his little body couldn't handle the cold in Ireland, others say it was the food - monkeys have not been known to eat black pudding. But others have said he was given quite a bit to drink."

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