Jadotville Tigers honoured at commemorative ceremony

Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, is pictured with Jim Cleary and Frank O’Brien at the Jadotville Tigers commemorative ceremony which took place in Athlone IT on Saturday

Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, is pictured with Jim Cleary and Frank O’Brien at the Jadotville Tigers commemorative ceremony which took place in Athlone IT on Saturday

A ceremony to commemorate the honour of the Jadotville Tigers and family representatives took place in Athlone Institute of Technology on Saturday afternoon.

The Siege of Jadotville took place in September 1961, during the United Nations intervention in the Katanga conflict in the Congo.

Addressing those present, Town Mayor, Cllr. Frankie Keena, spoke of his privilege at being present in such esteemed company.

“As Mayor of Athlone, it is a great honour for me to be in the company of members and family representatives of the deceased members of A Coy 35th Infantry Battalion, Defence Force veterans and distinguished guests.

“You have all been on an incredible journey, having experienced at first hand the trials and dangers that our peacekeepers face, albeit 58 years ago. I am sure you can recount your experiences as if it was yesterday,” Cllr. Keena remarked.

The Town Mayor noted the heightened camaraderie that is most prevalent amongst members of the military family, adding that the venue chosen for the ceremony was of particular significance.

“Today again, you are rightly being honoured by your comrades. I am aware of the fantastic camaraderie that exists among the ‘Military Family’ and I am sure they will do your honour and bravery justice. At the ceremony today, the deceased members of your Company will be remembered in a special way and I am sure it will be an emotional time remembering your loved ones.

It is so fitting that this event is held in Athlone Institute of Technology today, because in 2018, the AIT awarded the Highest Academic Honour, a Distinguished Fellowship to John Gorman. That ceremony recognised and marked the immense contribution made by John through his life’s work in fighting for justice and recognition for his friends and colleagues from A Coy, 35th Battalion. It took John many years during hard times and a lot of family heartache, sorrows and bereavements, but he had one goal, and that was to clear their reputation.

“Unfortunately for many years they were classed as cowards, but now history has revealed that they were quite the opposite, these brave men fought to the end when many others would have surrendered. Many Jadotville Tigers did not live to see their names being cleared and receive their just reward, the medal that is ‘An Bonn Jadotville’.

Two years ago I was delighted to have been instrumental in getting the Council to erect a memorial plaque in John Count McCormack Square in honour of the brave men of A Coy, 35th Battalion. This is in place as a reminder of the bravery of these great men for present and future generations,” Cllr. Keena concluded.

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