Hundreds of family members, friends, schoolchildren, and supporters of the troops from Columb Barracks are to line the streets of Mullingar this Wednesday to bid a final farewell to the soldiers as they leave the town for their new base in Athlone.
The 4th Field Artillery Regiment will parade through the streets of Mullingar for the last time after the gates of Columb Barracks are closed and locked behind them at noon on Wednesday.
Hundreds of local primary and secondary schoolchildren will be let out of classes to line the streets from Grand Parade all the way to Austin Friar Street to show their appreciation for the Army which has had a strong presence in the town all their lives.
Mullingar Town Band will lead the parade, which will feature the 200-plus troops from Columb Barracks as well as up to 40 Army vehicles.
The closing down ceremony on Wednesday March 28 will begin with a reception for soldiers’ families in the barracks at 9am, after which an ecumenical service will be held. At 11am the national flag will be lowered, and the convoy will then depart Columb Barracks, locking the main gate behind them at 12 noon sharp. They will parade through the town via Green Bridge to Dublin Bridge, before travelling to Athlone, where they are due to arrive at Custume Barracks at 3.15pm.
Friends of the barracks say the parade will give the people of Mullingar an opportunity to say ‘Thank you and farewell’ to the troops.
“On this historic yet very sad day, we will have our opportunity to express our gratitude and good wishes. if you would like to show your appreciation and wish the troops well on their last journey, please come to the main streets of Mullingar on Wednesday March 28,” say the organisers.
“This is the very last time that the members of the 4th Field Artillery Regiment, Columb Barracks, Mullingar will march and parade through the town of Mullingar. We can have only one message for them: Go raibh míle math agaibh. Slán agus beannacht Dé. Thank you for the memories.”
On Tuesday this week, phones and computers in the barracks were shut down as preparations continued for the move to Athlone.
Mullingar has been a garrison town for over a thousand years, with the current barracks built 200 years ago. The 4th Field Artillery Regiment, established in Mullingar in 1943, will now have its headquarters in Custume Barracks in Athlone.