Thursday 23 May 2019

Memorial unveiled to men who died in the line of duty

Cllr Edward Timmins and Cllr Tommy Cullen unveiling the monument
Cllr Edward Timmins and Cllr Tommy Cullen unveiling the monument
Bridie Curran from ONE, Billy Cullen, ex-member of the Defence Forces, and former Baltinglass garda Seamus Kelly lay wreaths at the monument in Baltinglass. Photos: Joe Byrne

A memorial stone was unveiled in Baltinglass on Sunday in honour of two men who died in the course of their duties with the Gardaí and Defence Forces.

The commemoration ceremony took place in the square to honour Garda Patrick O'Halloran and Private Michael McGuinn.

Garda O'Halloran was stationed in Baltinglass in 1924 when he was shot by raiders at the National Bank, which is today Bank of Ireland. He was fatally wounded as he gave chase to the raiders who shot him at point blank range, just two years after he joined the force.

Private McGuinn was a native of Parkmore in Baltinglass and was part of the 33rd Infantry Battalion that was sent on a peace-keeping mission with the United Nations to the Congo in August of 1960. On November 8, 1960, the patrol that Private McGuinn was part of came to a bridge that had been destroyed near Niemba. The patrol halted and some of the patrol crossed the river to investigate how to progress. It was at this point that they were attacked by local Luba militia and Private McGuinn was killed alongside nine of his battalion, the greatest loss of life of Irish soldiers on UN peacekeeping duties.

The ceremony was organised by Superintendent Frank Ferry and Sgt Aidan McDermott from Baltinglass Garda Station; Baltinglass Municipal District officials Seamus O'Halloran, Dermot Graham, Dionne Dixon, and Derek Cullen and Billy Timmins who liaised with the Defence Forces.

The event was attended by relatives and friends of the deceased who laid wreaths, created by Laura Donegan Flowers, in their memories. Also present was the cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council Pat Vance, the council's Chief Executive Frank Curran, Colonel Brendan Daly of the Defence Forces and Assistant Garda Commissioner Fintan Fanning.

Local councillors Edward Timmins and Tommy Cullen had the honour of unveiling the memorial stone which was designed by Byrne's of Aughrim. The Defence Forces provided a Colour Parade for the ceremony while the Garda Band provided music.

Wicklow People