THE CONGO 1961, and 155 Irish soldiers are surrounded by more than 3,000 soldiers of the Katanga insurgency, heavily armed with artillery, heavy machine guns, and a fighter bomber.
This was the Siege of Jadotville, where the Irish company, commanded by Commandant Pat Quinlan - who was also formerly based in the Ist Battalion in Galway - held out for five days until they ran out of food, water, and most of their ammunition. A ceasefire was arranged and the Irish became POWs for six weeks until there was an exchange of prisoners.
The Irish had four wounded, while the Katangans suffered 300 dead and more than 700 wounded. It was a classic perimeter defence, brilliantly and bravely executed by Irish soldiers who had never been in combat before – against an enemy who outnumbered them by 20 to one, and who were better armed and led by mercenaries who were veterans of WWII and the Korean War.
This extraordinary feat by Irish soldiers, which last year was turned into a critically acclaimed Netflix film starring Jamie Dornan as Patrick Quinlan. It will also be the subject of a public lecture given by Patrick Quinlan's son, Comdt (ret ) Leo Quinlan, to the Renmore History Society. He will examine the background to, progress of, and aftermath of the siege.
Comdt Quinlan served in the army for 25 years, and in addition to being a member of the elite Special Assault Group, he served overseas in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, and Cyprus. For the last 22 years he worked as an adviser for the European Commission in human resource development and the EU Accession Process in 43 countries. He has worked extensively in Europe, USA, as a team leader, HRD adviser and trainer.
The talk will be held in the lecture hall in the military barracks, Renmore, at 8pm on Thursday January 19. Early booking is advised as places are limited and must be reserved in advance via www.eventbrite.ie/e/the-seige-of-jadotville-tickets-31092093288 Admission is free for members, €5 for non-members.