Surviving members of the Siege of Jadotville, Paddy Hogan, Joseph O’Kane, Tom Gunn, Billy Keane, Joe Bracken, Geoffrey Cuffe and James Feery, DSM at the unveiling of a Siege Of Jadotville Memorial in Assumption Road, Athlone last September. Photo: Paul Molloy

MKMD backs plan for Jadotville monument in Mullingar

The heroes of Jadotville look set to be honoured through erection of a commemorative work in Mullingar, following a proposal at the January meeting of the Municipal District of Mullingar Kinnegad by Cllr Ken Glynn.

There was widespread support for Cllr Glynn’s motion proposing that the district erect a stone monument “in a prime location” in Mullingar.

The executive also responded favourably to the proposal, stating that the district was willing to engage with the relevant group to examine a “suitable commemorative piece and appropriate location” as well as a potential funding source.

“This has been mooted quite a number of times,” Cllr Glynn said, adding that Athlone has in recent months made such a move, and he felt it was important that Mullingar did likewise.

“Mullingar was a garrison town; we were proud of our barracks, and while it’s no longer occupied, it’s still a huge part of Mullingar and 13 soldiers who served at Jadotville were connected to Mullingar, either through military or family connections.

“The majority of soldiers of A Company, 35th Irish Infantry Battalion were Westmeath connected, many having origins in towns and villages in the hinterlands of Mullingar, so the story of Jadotville is very much a Mullingar story,” he stated.

Cllr Glynn reminded the chamber that a book by local man Declan Power about Jadotville had been turned into a film.

“I do think that we need to some sort of a memorial in a public place in Mullingar, he said, adding that this would be something for the families and friends of those involved.

Support for the proposal came from Cllr Mick Dollard, who said that only three of those Jadotville soldiers from Mullingar survive – Billy Keane, Tom Gunn and James Scally.

“There was actually in the region of 25 people from the greater Mullingar area,” he said, adding that many of the others were from Moate and Athlone.

Many have now passed to their eternal reward, he said.

“Tom Cunningham from St Anthony’s Cottages was the most recent one to pass on to his eternal reward,” he continued, going on to stress that it would be important to proceed with the plan in consultation with Mr Kane and Mr Dunne, and also with the families of soldiers who have since died.

Cllr Aoife Davitt also supported Cllr Glynn’s motion, saying a monument would be both a fantastic addition to the town, and a fitting tribute to the servicemen.

Also in support of the motion was the mayor, Cllr Hazel Smyth, who said the town could feel proud of the soldiers, who had shown such bravery in challenging circumstances.

Cllr Andrew Duncan also supported Cllr Glynn’s call, describing it as “a very worthwhile motion”.

“Those particular men who went to Jadotville were treated poorly,” he said.

Stating that the soldiers were not getting any younger, he felt it was imperative that the monument should be provided sooner rather than later

Director of services David Jones said the executive would be happy to work with all to provide recognition to the soldiers.