Responses flood in following publication of old gort photo
Last week the Pages from the Past section of the Westmeath Examiner included a photo of four soldiers helping with the Gort flood relief in April 1995.
We put out the call to help name those soldiers and it resulted in a huge response from our readers. Phone calls to our office and Facebook messages flooded in to name the four men – the late Cpl Aidan Gibney, Pte Paul Carr, Capt Rodney McAuliff and Pte Liam Smyth.
They were part of the 4th Field Supply and Transport Company based in Columb Barracks in Mullingar.
One man who took particular interest in the photo was Jim Dalton, a fitter with the same unit, who recognised those men and dropped in to tell us all about the photograph.
“The photo was taken in the Renmore Barracks in Galway. There was fierce flooding down in Galway at the time and what they were doing was helping farmers get fodder to cattle, bringing people to shop and kids to school. They were generally helping out where roads were impassable, the trucks could go in,” explains Jim.
“There was heavy rain and the Corrib River had burst its banks and all Gort had flooded. It’s even still the same today, they’re still talking about flood relief.
“People would be living in isolated areas. The trucks were well able for it. Them trucks were only after being introduced. The army were only after buying them a few weeks prior to that.
"They were a new fleet they had, they were a great machine. (Denis O’Neill commented on Facebook to say: “MAN 14.240 Truck 4X4, reg number 421 or 422 DZI.”)
“Anyway, how I come to know all that, I happened to be there at the time. I was a fitter with the unit.
“Aidan Gibney was a wonderful organiser and had a cool head no matter what the situation. Paul Carr and Liam Smyth were two of the best drivers in the country. And Rodney McAuliff was the boss, the top man.
“The army was great at helping out, during bus strikes, petrol strikes, hospitals... the army was always involved in them things. It was part of your role.
“That unit later disbanded. All the equipment was moved to Athlone. It was a pity it was disbanded. The SNT corps was part of Mullingar from the ’30s or ’40s. I left at that time.
"I didn’t fancy going to Athlone, or playing soldier and starting all over again. I took up a job coaching with the GAA until three years ago, until the mileage was up.
"I’m still doing a bit here and there, it keeps the head right. It’s not good for the soul to be doing nothing.”