PARTY FOR THE LATE SIR JACK

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Monaghan County Museum Curator Liam Bradley with Antonia Leslie, Eimear Quinn and Tarka Leslie-King  Pic. Michael Fisher

TRIBUTE TO SIR JACK LESLIE ON WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN HIS 100th BIRTHDAY

Michael Fisher   Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December 2016 p.14

It was just what Sir Jack ordered. A party, not a wake, with champagne (prosecco) and orange, tea and coffee, sandwiches and cake. A time to remember this remarkable character who died just eight months short of his 100th birthday, after a colourful life of 36,305 days. He passed away in April aged 99 a few months after he had received France’s highest honour, the Légion d’honneur, for his part in the defence of that country in the Second World War. Four generations of the Leslie family were around him when he passed away peacefully. The magnolia trees were in bloom as the horse-drawn hearse carrying his remains made its way along the driveway at Castle Leslie to his final resting place outside the walls of St Salvator’s church, where Catholic members of the Leslie family are buried.

At Monaghan Museum video footage of the funeral was shown. Mark and Antonia Leslie helped to carry the remains. Tarka King read a message of sympathy from the Brigade of Guards. On Monday night the family members gathered again for what Curator Liam Bradley said was an evening of remembrance and celebration. He described Sir Jack as a very wonderful man and said he had got to know him well in the last few years.

Tuesday 6th December would have been Sir Jack’s 100th birthday. Before he died he had asked for an evening to remember him in a cheerful way and definitely not a sombre mood. His was a life well lived. Liam Bradley then introduced Sir Jack’s niece and two nephews to share their memories of the fourth Baronet of Glaslough and Pettigo. They were followed by former Eurovision Eimear Quinn from Carrickmacross, who sang a medley of songs chosen from different times of the past one hundred years marking different events in Jack’s life.

Tarka Leslie King said his uncle Jack was an example of bravery. From his mother (Anita) he learned that Jack had a really bad start in life when at the age of three he developed an ear mastoid that meant he sometimes screamed with the pain. Anita and Jack became very close. He was younger than her.

Tarka recalled: “When mother died in 1985 he (Jack) was bereft because he had lost his main pillar of support who was always there for him even when he was in the prisoner of war camp (during the Second World War) and they corresponding with letters. Then when she died he was alone in Italy and did not quite know where he was going with himself. He came home and he was given another start and became the Jack the Boyo that we all got to know from the 1990s onwards. He had an inner strength from that really tough start.”

Antonia Leslie said in the last five months of her uncle’s life she had the privilege of being his full time carer. She got to know him as he deteriorated. “Being with him 24/7 over that time as he went downhill he really opened up to me in a way that touched me”, she said. He was great with people telling stories. She went on: “I realised he was a special gorgeous man which he really didn’t know he was. He was one of the sweetest individuals I have ever come across.”

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Mark Leslie with Eimear Quinn and Monaghan County Museum Curator Liam Bradley  Pic. Michael Fisher

Mark Leslie curated the exhibition on ‘Castle Leslie: Between Two Worlds’ which is now at the Castle in Glaslough. He also redesigned the Monaghan Museum displays in 2004. He told the gathering it was a great honour and an opportunity to thank the people of the county for the wonderful role they had played in Jack’s life. “He was bereft when complications meant he had to abandon his wonderful home in Italy. When he returned here his sister who he adored had died.”

He went on: “Everyone in the room has their own personal Jack story. He knew so much about people. But how did he stay so young and keep his mind so clear? The secret was he never did all the things that trammel our brains like a 9-5 job or got married or rear children. He had his whole hard drive clear for people. He just collected them and filed them away and would remember everything about those he met and their genealogy. We always called him Jack-apedia. When he returned to Ireland he had come back to die. He had lost his purpose in life, his sister and his house in Rome. The craic and fun he got out of the people of Monaghan gave him another 25 rip-roaring years, the best years of his life, whether it was at a disco at The Squealing Pig or supporting Glaslough Villa FC. Monaghan people are great craic and they kept him endlessly amused with a whole supply of stories about the past because he would remember your great grandmother or great aunt or whatever. Well done and thank you to the people of Monaghan for making the last 25 years of his life such a laugh.”

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Miniature of Lt John (Jack) Leslie in Irish Guards uniform (courtesy of Mark Leslie)

Eimear Quinn’s Medley consisted of eight songs that reflected different periods in Jack’s life. A beautiful note on which to finish the evening.

1. The West’s Asleep by Thomas Davis

When all beside a vigil keep,

The West’s asleep, the West’s asleep-

Alas! and well may Erin weep,

When Connaught lies in slumber deep.

There lake and plain smile fair and free,

‘Mid rocks-their guardian chivalry-

Sing oh! let man learn liberty

From crashing wind and lashing sea…

And if, when all a vigil keep,

The West’s; asleep, the West’s asleep-

Alas! and well may Erin weep,

That Connaught lies in slumber deep.

But-hark! -some voice like thunder spake:

“The West’s awake, the West’s awake’-

Sing oh! hurra! let England quake,

We’ll watch till death for Erin’s sake!”

2. Rossmore’s Demesne (Dúchas Schools Collection Threemilehouse Vol. 0593 p.358-90)

“As I went a-walking

And for pleasure did rove

Down by Rossmore’s castle

And down by the grove

I s[ied a wee charmer

So neatly stepped she,

On the banks of yon river

Near the weeping ash tree.”

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Eimear Quinn  Pic. Michael Fisher

3. Abide with Me (sung at times of sympathy)

“Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me…

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;

Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;

Change and decay in all around I see—

O Thou who changest not, abide with me…

I need Thy presence every passing hour;

What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?

Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?

Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.”

4. Someone to Watch Over Me (Gershwin)

“I’m a little lamb who’s lost in a wood

I know I could always be good

To one who’ll watch over me

Although I/he may not be the man some girls think of

As handsome to my heart

She/he carries the key

Won’t you tell her/him please to put on some speed

Follow my lead, oh how I need

Someone to watch over me.”

5. Lili Marlene (made popular by Vera Lynn during WWII and sung by Eimear against a WWI backdrop from the current exhibition at the Museum)

“Underneath the lantern

By the barrack gate

Darling I remember

The way you used to wait

‘Twas there that you whispered tenderly

That you loved me

You’d always be

My Lili of the lamplight

My own Lili Marlene…

Resting in our billet

Just behind the line

Even though we’re parted

Your lips are close to mine

You wait where that lantern softly gleamed

Your sweet face seems

To haunt my dreams

My Lili of the lamplight

My own Lili Marlene

My Lili of the lamplight

My own Lili Marlene.”

6. Libiamo from La Traviata

“Let’s enjoy the wine and the singing,

the beautiful night, and the laughter.

Let the new day find us in this paradise.”

7. I Feel Love (reflecting Jack;s love of ‘boom-boom’ music)

Ooh it’s so good, it’s so good

It’s so good, it’s so good

It’s so good

Ooh I’m in love, I’m in love,

I’m in love, I’m in love

I’m in love

Ooh I feel love, I feel love

I feel love, I feel love

I feel love.

8. O Holy Night!

“O Holy Night!

The stars are brightly shining

It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth!

Long lay the world in sin and error pining

Till he appear’d and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees

Oh hear the angel voices

Oh night divine

Oh night when Christ was born

Oh night divine

Oh night divine”.

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Eimear Quinn   Pic. Michael Fisher

SIR JOHN LESLIE Bart born December 6th 1916, died April 8th 2016 (extracts from a Daily Telegraph obituary)

John Norman Ide Leslie, always known as Jack, was born on December 6th 1916 in New York where his father Shane, a writer, diplomat, convert to Rome, and supporter of John Redmond’s moderate nationalist party had gone to counter Irish-Americans trying to keep the United States out of the war. Jack’s mother, born Marjorie Ide, was a well-connected American whose father had been governor general of the Philippines.

Young Jack caught the Spanish Flu in the epidemic of 1918 and was given up for dead when his temperature reached 106. His father, he recalled, asked the nuns next door to pray for him; that night his mother woke with a start to find his temperature had returned to normal. Soon afterwards, however, he developed a mastoid that left him deaf in his left ear.

Jack was almost three when in 1919 he and his elder sister Anita were brought back by their parents to Castle Leslie, to be received by his grandfather, Sir John Leslie, 2nd Bt, and his American wife Leonie, whose sister Jennie was the mother of Winston Churchill. The Leslies had lost their eldest son Norman in the Great War, making Jack the ultimate heir apparent to the title and the vast estates that went with it. But his parents were based in London and, apart from blissful holidays in Ireland, it was there that Jack was brought up.

“My world was populated by lords and ladies,” he recalled, “and naturally I believed that they were the people who ruled England and the enormous British Empire. Although our cousin Winston Churchill was Chancellor of the Exchequer, I thought the House of Commons was a purely advisory committee.” By this time (aged 15) he was at school at Downside. At Magdalene College, Cambridge, he rowed in the college VIII and joined the officer training corps. On graduation in 1938 he was commissioned in the Irish Guards and enjoyed a short period as a “Deb’s delight” before war intervened.

 Ordered to cross to Boulogne after the German invasion of Holland in May 1940, Leslie’s platoon were rendered helpless when their bullets bounced off the advancing German tanks. They surrendered and were marched across Germany to a prisoner of war camp in Bavaria, Leslie spent the rest of the war in captivity.

On release, he returned to civilian life. His grandparents had died and he found himself the major shareholder in the company that owned Castle Leslie. Having planted thousands of trees on the demesne, he embarked on a peripatetic life in Britain, continental Europe and the United States.

In 1953 Leslie settled in Rome in a 16th century house he had restored in Trastevere. As a connoisseur of art, Leslie found much to enjoy in Rome, and as a devout Catholic he relished its religious life and was a pillar of the Order of Malta. He restored an ancient monastery and was rewarded with a papal knighthood.

He returned in 1994 to live in Castle Leslie, which was by then being run by his niece Sammy. In 2001 he celebrated his 85th birthday by travelling to Ibiza to party at Privilege, then the world’s biggest nightclub. In 2006 at the age of 90 Leslie drew on his great memory to write his autobiography, ‘Never a Dull Moment’. In November last year he was among Irish veterans of the Second World War whom the French government appointed to the Légion d’ honneur at a ceremony at the French embassy in Dublin.

 

 

 

GYPROC PLASTERBOARD RECYCLING

PLASTERBOARD RECYCLING SERVICE LAUNCHED BY GYPROC AT KINGSCOURT PLANT

INVESTMENT OF €1.5m IN MAJOR SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE

Michael Fisher  Northern Standard  Thursday 8th December  p.6

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Dick Clerkin, Health Safety Environment & Quality Manager, Gyproc Kingscourt  Pic. Michael Fisher

Plasterboard manufacturer Gyproc has announced Ireland’s first plasterboard recycling service for its construction industry customers. In a major sustainability initiative involving an investment of €1.5 million, Gyproc will recover leftover plasterboard waste from across the island for recycling at its plant outside Kingscourt, Co. Cavan. The new service will offer customers a legal and cost-effective means of disposing of their plasterboard waste. Currently the dumping of such waste at landfill sites is illegal.

Gyproc is the market leader in plaster, plasterboard and drylining systems. Over the next ten years it hopes to recycle half a million tonnes of plasterboard, enough to fill Croke Park one and a half times over. The investment will bring the number of people employed at Kingscourt to 220, a 20% expansion over the past two years. The company is the only manufacturer of plaster and plasterboard in Ireland. The majority of employees live in the surrounding area.

On arrival at the plant it is clear that the top priority in all areas is safety. The company has an excellent record. Vigilance ensures that around 5000 days have passed with no accidents. One of the people who helps them ensure that regulations are adhered to such as the wearing of protective equipment, high-vizibility jackets and shoes is former Monaghan county footballer Dick Clerkin, who is Environmental, Health Safety and Quality Manager. The profitability of the company and the quality of the product are the other main concerns.

Brian Dolan, Managing Director of Gyproc, explained: “We’re very proud to be the first and only plasterboard manufacturer in the country to offer recycling of our products on the island. As a market leader in this sector we are determined to be at the forefront of innovation in new products and services, and in the sustainability and environmental benefits of those services.”

“The new recycling service we’re launching will help to secure local employment into the future by providing additional supplies of a diminishing raw material, namely gypsum rock. All our plasterboard is manufactured in Kingscourt, and we source gypsum from our Drummond mine in Magheracloone, Co. Monaghan, so the connection to the local economy and community is very important to us.”

Manufacturing Manager Fergus Robinson and Operations Manager Darragh Monaghan explained how Gyproc had developed a cost-effective process to take back and recycle the plasterboard waste in the manufacturing process.

They said waste management was a priority for Gyproc in Ireland. From initial design to on-site testing, through to manufacturing and installation the company always believed that effective waste management made good environmental and business sense. A plasterboard recycling service (PRS) customer team is available to set up new accounts, order additional services and answer questions about the service.

The company is part of the St Gobain group, based in France. As a manufacturing company, Gyproc helps to build the environments that are an essential part of everyday life, from schools to hospitals, businesses to homes. Minimising the impact construction projects have on the environment is an important part of the firm’s activities. According to the management, the most effective way to encourage best practice, is to make the building process sustainable for business and sustainable for the environment.

Fergus Robinson said that over many years, Gyproc have committed significant time and resources to ensure they achieve high standards of environmental sustainability, to the point where they now recycle over 97% of the waste produced from their own manufacturing process. To match this internal commitment, the plasterboard off-cut recycling service will help the construction industry reduce its impact on the environment.

The process has been designed from the contractor’s perspective, to minimise processing time and maximise simplicity. Depending on preference, the company through its sub-contractor Allied Recycling can provide a number of different size blue skips to collect the plasterboard off-cuts (14, 25 & 40 yard skips) and collect them from a building site at convenient times. The process is flexible and reliable, and can be scaled up or down to suit any construction project.

The Gyproc system records the total tonnage of waste of plasterboard off-cuts for a project and the average weight per skip, allowing builders to see the financial savings compared to less environmentally sound options. The company stresses that the collected skips must contain only Gyproc plasterboard off-cuts. Any other materials such as metal, timber or non Gyproc manufactured materials will result in a contamination charge being levied at a rate of €160 a tonne.

With over 12,000 employees across 135 sites in 56 countries, St Gobain has an extensive global network combined with in-depth knowledge of local markets. This gives clients immediate access to international best practice in their interior building systems and solutions. They say they value and invest in long-term customer relationships and train 20,000 staff each year, so that building contractors can continue to rely on the integrity of their people, products and processes.

At Kingscourt there is a purpose-built Academy where quality controls can be carried out and where dry liners and plasterers can be trained in working with the latest products. The St Gobain Academy along with one in Dublin offers courses to up-skill and educate trade professionals, merchant staff and customers in all aspects of Gyproc’s range of products and their application in accordance with current construction techniques and standards. All courses are presented by experienced personnel. The facilities include dedicated product display areas and working areas for hands-on practical plastering and plasterboard system demonstrations.

Gypsum board, commonly known as drywall, is the technical product name used by manufacturers for a specific board with a gypsum core and a paper facing. It is the premier building material for wall, ceiling, and partition systems in residential, institutional, and commercial structures and is designed to provide a monolithic surface when joints and fastener heads are covered with a joint treatment system. One principal advantage of gypsum board over plywood, hardboard, and fiberboard is its strong fire resistance.

To produce gypsum board, calcined gypsum is mixed with water and additives to form a slurry which is fed between continuous layers of paper on a board machine. As the board moves down a conveyor line, the calcium sulfate recrystallizes or rehydrates, reverting to its original rock state. The paper becomes chemically and mechanically bonded to the core. The board is then cut to length and conveyed through dryers to remove any free moisture.

Gyproc has been manufacturing in Ireland since 1936. Their products have been used in many of the biggest and most prestigious commercial building projects on the island of Ireland including the National Convention Centre, Titanic Belfast, the Bord Gais Energy Theatre and the landmark Terminal Two at Dublin Airport.

Minister Heather Humphreys said she was delighted to see Gyproc’s new recycling service being launched. “It will deliver economic and environmental benefits both for the sector and for the local community in Cavan and Monaghan. The company has gone from strength to strength, and it’s great to see a local business success story that is leading the way in sustainability and environmental innovation”, she said.

Caoimghín Ó Caoláin TD of Sinn Féin said: “I very much welcome the announcement by Gyproc Kingscourt of the new plaster board off-cut recycling service. This represents a significant investment, is job creative and environmentally important. Well done to all concerned.”

Fianna Fáil Deputy Niamh Smyth also congratulated the company and said the investment would create much needed jobs in Kingscourt. “I know it will see the company recover leftover plasterboard, before recycling it in its Kingscourt facility. The dumping of plasterboard in landfills is illegal. This too can only benefit the environment, in my view”, she said.

Deputy Smyth concluded: “This is a very exciting day for Kingscourt and Drummond and the local economy in general. It follows the opening of a major SuperValu store in Kingscourt a few weeks ago which, will also create and sustain much need employment in the town.”

 

UK AMBASSADOR AT MUSEUM

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Carmel Thornton (Monaghan Co. Council) with Ambassador Robin Barnett, Eamonn O’Sullivan CEO Monaghan Co. Council and Museum Curator Liam Bradley

British Ambassador visits Monaghan County Museum

The British Ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett CMG, paid a visit to Monaghan County Museum recently. The Ambassador was met by the Curator, Liam Bradley, Monaghan County Council Chief Executive Eamonn O¹Sullivan and Administrative Officer Carmel Thornton. The Ambassador was taken on a tour of the museum¹s current exhibition, “From a Whisper to a Roar: Exploring the Untold Story of Monaghan 1916.” Liam Bradley explained what life was like in the county directly before the Easter 1916 Rising politically, economically and socially and how that changed so dramatically following the bombshell of the historic events in Dublin and around the country.

The other focus of the display is the Battle of the Somme. The Curator noted it was estimated that nearly one hundred Monaghan men died during that terrible battle which took place from July 1st to November 18th 1916. Ambassador Barnett noted that this year of commemorations was an opportunity to explore the full story of this period in Irish history. He remarked on the recent event at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, where a Castleblayney man, Thomas Hughes, was commemorated for receiving the Victoria Cross during the Battle of the Somme. Private Hughes VC is one of the key characters explored in the museum¹s exhibition on the historic year of Monaghan 1916.

At the end of his visit the Ambassador thanked the Museum Curator and the staff of the museum for developing such a fascinating display. He expressed a keen interest to return when he had more time to view all of the museum displays. Chief Executive of Monaghan County Council Eamonn O’Sullivan thanked Ambassador Barnett for taking time out of his busy schedule to visit the museum and also thanked the museum staff. The exhibition formed the backdrop for the special celebration marking what would have been the 100th birthday of Sir Jack Leslie of Castle Leslie, Glaslough.

SIEGE OF JADOTVILLE

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Poster for The Siege of Jadotville Netflix film starring Jamie Dornan

Michael Fisher

The launch of the Netflix film “The Siege of Jadotville” last week marked the 55th anniversary of an important event in Irish military history. The bravery of the unit involved, ‘A’ company, 35th Battalion which was serving on United Nations peacekeeping duties in the Congo, has only now been acknowledged by the authorities.

Over the years, this group of men under the leadership of Commandant Patrick Quinlan was never given proper recognition for the courage they showed in Jadotville. The Irish soldiers resisted the secessionist Katangese forces for six days as they waited for reinforcements to reach them, but had to surrender after their supplies were exhausted. The men were then taken as prisoners of war for close to a month, but none of the 155-strong contingent was killed. 

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Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe TD accompanied by Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett presents the unit citation to Sergeant Harry Dixon 35th Infantry Battalion     Pic: Merrionstreet.ie

Last Saturday 17th September the Minister with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe T.D. hosted an event at Custume Barracks, Athlone marking the collective actions of the men of ‘A’ Company, 35th Infantry Battalion and its attachments at the Siege. The Minister presented a unit citation to the Company in recognition of their bravery and heroism. A copy of the citation was presented to each member or next-of-kin of the unit. This was the first time a unit citation had been awarded within the Irish Defence Forces. In marking this unique occasion, Minister Kehoe also commissioned an insignia recognising the professional performance of the men of ‘A’ company.

Speaking at the event the Minister said: “I am very pleased to present this Unit Citation which recognises the bravery and courage of ‘A’ Company during the Siege of Jadotville whilst cut-off from support and reinforcements. The United Nations Operation in Congo was the first peacekeeping mission in which significant numbers of Irish soldiers took part. A total of 6,000 Irish soldiers served in the Congo from 1960 until 1964 and I want to take the opportunity to recall the contribution of all who served in the various Irish contingents over the course of this long Mission.”

The Minister concluded by saying “Ireland can be justifiably proud of all our brave men and women who have contributed to the cause of peace and security. Our continued participation in United Nations missions illustrates the very positive and practical difference that small countries, like Ireland, can make in the world’s trouble spots.”

Jadotville was an event that occurred during Ireland’s peacekeeping mission in the Congo in September 1961. ‘A’ Company of the 35th Infantry Battalion took responsibility for the UN post at Jadotville on the 3rd of September. On the 9th of September they were surrounded by a large force supporting the breakaway province of Katanga. Early on the morning of the 13th September the Company came under attack from this force. Over the coming days until 17th September they endured almost continuous attacks from ground and air.

Despite their courageous resistance and the sustained efforts of 35 Infantry Battalion HQ to provide assistance, ‘A’ Company was taken into captivity on 17th September. By this time ‘A’ Company had no water and several men had been wounded. ‘A’ Company remained in captivity until finally released on 25th October 1961.

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Group of Jadotville Soldiers Picture: RTE

The men of ‘A’ Company were drawn mostly from Custume Barracks, Athlone and what was the Western Command. The Citation is as follows:-

UNIT CITATION AWARDED TO ‘A’ COMPANY, 35TH INFANTRY BATTALION

“This Citation recognises the leadership, courage, bravery and professional performance of “A” Company 35th Infantry Battalion and its attachments who, under challenging circumstances at Jadotville, while besieged by overwhelming numbers of Katanganese Gendarmerie and cut-off from support and reinforcements, did valiantly defend their position from the 13th September 1961 to 17th September 1961.”

IRISH JOURNALISTS VISIT THE SOLDIERS HELD PRISONER IN JADOTVILLE

My father the late Desmond Fisher was one of three leading Irish journalists who managed to visit the soldiers when they were held prisoners. He was accompanied on the trip by Raymond ‘Congo’ Smith from the Irish Independent and John Ross from RTE. In the accompanying article my father does not admit that he was the person who was driving the hired car that failed to stop at a gendarmerie checkpoint, but luckily they all survived to tell the tale. Nor does he mention what apparently became of the ballot papers that the journalists brought with them to hand out to the troops, who were experiencing a shortage of modern domestic essentials in their confinement. The story ends with my father’s memory of the soldiers cheering them after their one-hour visit and singing as the reporters departed: “It’s a long way to Tipperary…”

The Irish Press October 2nd 961 p.1

AN 80 M.P.H. DASH TO CAMP . . .AND THE PRISONERS CHEERED

I meet the men of Jadotville siege

(From Desmond Fisher)

JADOTVILLE, Sunday —- Today I became one of the first Irishmen since the fighting in Katanga to drive down the famous Jadotville Road, across the Lufira Bridge — which two relief columns could not pass — into the town itself to meet the 181 Irish prisoners there. The outstanding impression from our visit was that all the boys were in the best form and delighted to get the bag of mail we brought to them.

Special permission for our trip was given by President Tshombe. General Muke, head of the Katangese gendarmerie, provided an escort of a gendarmerie adjutant and a paracommando officer to ensure our safe conduct.

 Our trip had minor historic significance — with us we brought ballot papers which, if inevitable Congolese differences are straightened out in time, may enable the prisoners to vote in the General Election.

The ballot papers arrived by air from Leopoldville (a) half hour before we left. They were handed over to us at a heavily-guarded Indian roadblock outside Elizabethville by Lt.-Col. Jock Casserley, who was accompanied by Col. McNamee, O.C. of the 35th.

 The trip began at gendarmerie headquarters in Avenue de La Reine, Elizabethville, where we picked up the escort. For eighty miles we drove at eighty miles an hour in a large hired American car which, after crashing through a gendarmerie roadblock, we discovered had no brakes. By the time we had pulled up on the dead straight road the gendarmerie were out of sight and the paracommando with us laughed — and waved us on.

But we made sure to pull up at Lafira Bridge, where a strong guard and roadblocks were still maintained round the clock. We got out of the car to inspect the bridge, which has now gone into Irish history, on account of the two gallant rescue efforts to relieve the Jadotville garrison.

It was very easy to see why the rescue columns could not get through. Steep banks lead down to muddy waters and on both sides of the river is swampy ground. Upstream, about fifty yards, is the wreck of a concrete bridge blown up during the fighting.

Warning call

Clambering down the embankment to get a closer view of the bridge, we clutched for support to a strong yellow cable. Gendarmerie called out a warning that the cable was a trip-wire for the mined bridge.

On arrival at the sunbaked mining town of Jadotville, fuller of soldiers than of miners, and with boarded sidewalks closely

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The Jadotville story (p.3)

From page 1

resembling the scene for a Western film, we drove to gendarmerie headquarters. Here there was more red tape for an hour, while we drank ice-cold Simba beer and gave diplomatic pats to a naked toddler tumbling on the dusty floor of the guardroom.

In true Congolese manner the Colonel in charge demonstrated authority, but a hesitant mention of President Tshombe, whose picture hung on the wall (as on every wall) proved an open sesame.

On the steps

Finally we reached the camp, not the prison camp, but a hotel in the middle of the town which was ringed off with barbed wire and blocks across the road. Across the street from the hotel, sitting at tables in a pavement café, were Katangese gendarmerie, while others were at the road blocks.

There, sitting on the steps of the verandah of the hotel, were the Irish prisoners. When they saw us they could hardly believe we were Irish too. Then we greeted them and they were all around us, smiling and laughing.

Soon we were swapping news — we giving them the latest from the free world while they told us about their heroic four-day stand and how they felt about being prisoners. On one point they reassured us — and through us the people at home — that they are being treated very well indeed.

Best of food

They get the best of food. They also get a fry for breakfast and also have a light lunch and a good dinner. On the menu is meat, soup, cheese, vegetables, fruit and jam.

The gendarmerie do the shopping for them in the town. While it is true that they are confined to the hotel, the building is large and airy. They do physical exercises on the roof and “play games of cards, chess and so on”.

The chaplain, Father Fagan, said: “The boys also do a lot of praying”.

Co-operation

The uppermost thought in everyman’s mind is — “when will I be free?” We were able to assure them that the peace talks are going well and that there should be good news for them soon. Our own observation showed us what seemed to be genuine co-operation between the Irish prisoners and the gendarmerie.

The spirit of goodwill between the Katangans and the Irish prisoners was expressed to us in another way by our guard on the way home. “Irish, our friends,” he said. “During the fighting we could have wiped them out altogether but we bore them no (ill-will)”.

The only civilian in the camp is the interpreter with the 35th Battalion, Mike Nolan. He is a great help to the prisoners because he understands French, Swahili and other African dialects.

Heroic stand

The medical officer, Commandant J.J. Clune, said that he examined all the men and they were in the best of form. The wounded were not seriously injured and they were all responding well to treatment.

The men crowded round us for the full hour we were allowed to stay there, telling us about themselves, recording interviews and being photographed for papers, television and army records.

Of the many battles in which the Irish distinguished themselves in the Katanga fighting, none was more heroic in the face of overwhelming odds than the Jadotville garrison, and we can bear this out after our visit here.  (NOTE THIS PARAGRAPH IN PARTICULAR)

Most of the men were at Mass and those manning trenches found their positions there being rushed, and the shooting started.

4-day attacks

Commandant Quinlan thought at first that it was a local incident and told the men not to use maximum fire, though they could have mown down the gendarmerie who were moving up. For four days the Irish were under heavy attack.

First came heavy mortar barrage and Irish mortar replied with good effect. As positions spread out, Commandant Quinlan decided to withdraw after dark to stronger positions astride the main road about a mile from the town.

The men holding the forward positions fought with great courage under fire while new positions were being dug. All the troops fell back safely to the new strong positions, but they were completely surrounded on all sides. It is estimated that the gendarmerie had 3,000 in the area.

Jet attacks

The Irish were being fire at from the front, rear and sides. They had laid in water supplies when the fighting started but this became putrid. They could not leave the trenches during those four days of fierce fighting.

There were flies all over the place. The jet plane joined in the attacks and bombs fell very near the trenches where the Irish were. The jet also machine-gunned them. The Irish fired back with small arms and the jet did not come in as low afterwards.

More jet attacks followed on the Thursday, Friday and Saturday and there was also heavy mortar fire. Propaganda warfare too.

‘Indigestion’

A man purporting to be from the Red Cross rang up the Irish to say that tribesmen were coming in to attack them and would eat them. Commandant Quinlan replied “If you come and try and eat us, we will give you indigestion.”

Commandant Quinlan warned too that if there were any more mob attacks the Irish would mow them down mercilessly. Convoys were heard at night moving on to Lufira Bridge to meet the breakthrough attempt by the first relief column.

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Commandant Pat Quinlan, Commanding Officer ‘A’ Coy 35 Inf Bn

Commandant Quinlan told me of the ceasefire arranged on Saturday evening, a condition that the jet would be grounded and that the men would get water and hold their positions.

But the jet came over again on Sunday morning and the water was still not turned on. Commandant Quinlan protested about the jet and he was assured it would not happen again.

Delaying game

After the big breakthrough attempt at Lufira Bridge had been repulsed on Saturday — and Irish and Indians withdrew to Elizabethville — Katangans pulled back paracommando elite troops from the bridge to Jadotville for an all-out final attack on the Irish.

Gendarmeries were now infiltrating Irish positions on all sides and a big force was massed.

“My men were now utterly exhausted,” Commandant Quinlan said. On Sunday, he said, they played a delaying game, holding out for a ceasefire and hoping against hope that reinforcements would get through.

“When I finally realised there was no hope of relief and that if I continued the fight all my men would be massacred by vastly superior forces, I decided to save the lives of the men by parleying with Munongo, Minister of the Interior, who arrived in the late afternoon,” said Commandant Quinlan.

Signed terms

The terms signed by Commandant Quinlan were as follows “I, Commandant Patrick Quinlan, Officer Commanding Irish United Nations Troops in Jadotville, do hereby agree to the terms of surrender of Minister Munongo because the Irish force is here on a peaceful police role and any further action would result in the loss of African and Irish lives.

“I also wish to state that my troops fought only in self-defence having been fired on while attending Mass on the morning of 13th September 1961. It is also agreed that the Irish troops will have their arms stored.”

Thus ended the glorious stand which would otherwise have surely resulted in heavy loss of life on the Irish side.

As we left Jadotville after the short hour with the prisoners they gave us three rousing cheers and sang cheerfully, though rather wistfully, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.”

THIEPVAL COMMEMORATION

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Ulster Tower, Thiepval  Pic. IRFU Charitable Trust

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO DIED AT THE SOMME 100 YEARS AGO

 Michael Fisher in Thiepval  Northern Standard  Thursday 7th July 2016

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Northern Standard, Thursday 7th July 2016

As she laid a wreath at the Ulster Tower in France last week, Minister Heather Humphreys stepped back and reflected on the carnage that had taken place on the battlefields of the Somme exactly one hundred years ago. She thought of the young men, including those from Ulster and other parts of Ireland, who had joined the British Army and had gone out to fight for their country and what they believed in. Some had written home to their mothers days before the offensive began and would die in the conflict.

The memorial which is similar to Helen’s Tower at Clandeboye, Co. Down, is beside Thiepval Wood where soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division including some Monaghan men left the trenches at 7.30am on July 1st 1916 to advance towards the German lines. Heather Humphreys laid a wreath along with the North’s First Minister Arlene Foster MLA, the Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers MP and Britain’s Prince Charles.

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NI Secretary of State Theresa Villiers M.P. at the Thiepval Memorial commemoration #Somme16

The service included representatives of the four main churches in Ireland. For the first 6time, the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh, Dr Eamon Martin, was present at Thiepval along with his Church of Ireland counterpart, Archbishop Richard Clarke. The Presbyterian Moderator Dr Frank Sellar and the Methodist President Reverend Bill Mullally joined them.

They jointly called for Christians of all traditions in Ireland to pray for peace in these challenging times.  The Church leaders said: “Let us put our faith into action: love our neighbours, reach out to the stranger, care for the vulnerable, build community and be agents for peace, forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Addressing the service Archbishop Clarke referred to how the Somme and Ulster had belonged together in the imagination of succeeding generations over the last century. He noted that the Somme represented “a connectedness for all time with many men and women, and not only in Ulster nor only for one Christian tradition.”

He also recalled the recent pilgrimage to the Somme last month which he jointly led alongside Archbishop Martin, and which included a cross-community group of young people from across the island of Ireland. Archbishop Clarke encouraged the present generation to relate the sacrifice of the Somme to its hopes, prayers and aspirations for the future. “We must believe in a hope of the future for our young people, as they must believe in it for themselves”, he said.

The Presbyterian Moderator, Dr Frank Sellar, spoke afterwards of how for many families like his own, the Battle of the Somme was still personal. He said the Great War had changed the course of human history and a century later the world is still living with the consequences of its aftermath. The Somme, as a particularly poignant part of that conflict, changed the lives of countless thousands and indelibly shaped whole communities in Ulster and throughout the island of Ireland. It was a time of terrible carnage and incredible heroism, he added.

“For us today, 100 years on, it is difficult to imagine, or even contemplate, the shear scale of the loss of life and the impact that it had then. My grandfather lost two of his brothers on the battlefield, while a third, who survived, received the Military Medal for his bravery,” Dr Sellar said.

“For many families, like my own, the events of 1916 are still personal. It is however an enormous privilege and honour to represent the Presbyterian Church in Ireland at such an historic occasion, as we pause and remember those who died and reflect on their loss.”

“I am also reminded of our own fractured society and troubled world we live in and the vital importance of critical reflection and inclusive remembering. I am also very conscious of the necessity to always search for true reconciliation and for the creative reimagining of a civil society humbly modeled on Christ Jesus for the common good,” he said.

The objective of the 36th Ulster division was to dominate the area between Beaucourt to the north and Thiepval to the south, necessitating the capture of all German trench systems in front of them, particularly the strongly defended Schwaben Redoubt. In addition to its twelve battalions, there were four battalions of Tyneside Irish and seven regular Irish battalions distributed in other divisions, giving a total of twenty-three Irish infantry battalions involved on this front.

The Somme campaign lasted 147 days, from 1st July to 24th November 1916. The Allies captured 120 square miles of land, and advanced six miles. They suffered 419,654 casualties: forty men killed or wounded for every yard advanced.

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Wreaths Laid at the Memorial Stone, Thiepval Memorial

At the start of her visit last Thursday, the Minister laid a wreath at the Ginchy Cross in Guillemont. It remembers the sacrifice of the 16th Irish Division of the British Army, which entered the Battle of the Somme in September 1916. Minister Humphreys will return there for a separate ceremony to mark the centenary in September.

She then visited one of the many cemeteries in the Picardy area maintained by the Commonwealth Graves Commission. Delville Wood contains the graves of over 5,500 servicemen, of whom 3,500 remain unidentified. They include some Irish casualties.

Heather Humphreys also attended a special Abbey Theatre production of ‘Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme’, which was supported by her Department, at the Maison de la Culture in Amiens. It was attended by the playwright, Frank McGuinness.

On Friday morning the Cavan/Monaghan TD accompanied President Higgins at the Thiepval Memorial for an international service marking the start of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st 1916. This ceremony was attended by a number of senior members of the British royal family, the British Prime Minister David Cameron, and the North’s First Minister Arlene Foster MLA along with her counterparts from Scotland and Wales.

The Minister said it was very important that the Irish Defence Forces led by Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett had been included in the ceremony along with British and Commonwealth servicemen and women.

CQMS Gerry White from Cork read from the last letter of Lt Tom Kettle, journalist and soldier with the 16th Irish Division. Students from St Paul’s community college in Waterford also played a role at the service, which was attended by 10,000 guests, mainly from the United Kingdom. Solicitor Brendan O’Reilly from Cootehill and his son Aoghan from Dernakesh National School travelled from Co. Cavan. They saw the grave of Mr O’Reilly’s grand uncle Rifleman J.P. O’Reilly. He served in the Royal Irish Rifles and was killed in September 1916. He is buried at the nearby Lonsdale Cemetery.

Speaking about her visit to France Minister Humphreys said:

“The Battle of the Somme was a seismic event, which had a huge impact on the island of Ireland. The Somme has particular resonance in my own province of Ulster, due to the very heavy losses suffered by the 36th Ulster Division on the first day of the battle. There were more than 5,500 casualties in the 36th on July 1st 1916, including 2,000 deaths. Over the four years of World War One, it is estimated that 50,000 Irish men were killed while serving in the British, Commonwealth or United States armies.”

“This had a profound effect on the island of Ireland, and almost certainly had an impact on every community across the country. For decades, the stories of these men went largely untold, and many of those who returned home from the Somme and other battles, felt forced to conceal their own experiences. The Decade of Commemorations has allowed us to explore some of these stories for the first time, giving those who fought and those who died their rightful place in Irish history.”

“During 2016, our centenary year, it has been incredibly important to me that we remember those who died fighting abroad, as well as those who died fighting during the Rising here at home. One hundred years on from both the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme, we are hearing a more complete narrative on the Irish experience in 1916, and the impact the events of that year had on our culture, our society and our psyche.”

HRH CHARLES LIKED DONEGAL

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Prince Charles at the Somme Centenary Service at the Thiepval Memorial  Pic. PA

PRINCE CHARLES HOPES TO MAKE ANOTHER VISIT TO IRELAND

President and Minister Humphreys Participate in Battle of Somme Centenary

Michael Fisher  NORTHERN STANDARD Thursday 7th July 2016 p.1

Britain’s Prince Charles has told Minister Heather Humphreys during an informal meeting at the Somme Centenary in France he would be happy to return to Ireland on another visit. The Minister who chairs the consultation group on commemorations said the Prince of Wales told her he had been very impressed with Glenveagh National Park in County Donegal.

Six weeks ago Minister Humphreys welcomed Prince Charles and his wife Camilla Duchess of Cornwall to Glenveagh. The Minister described it as one of the jewels of Ireland’s natural heritage. It is one of six national parks in Ireland and is run by the National Parks and Wildlife Service, which comes under the brief of Minister Humphreys.

The Cavan/Monaghan TD accompanied President Higgins at the Thiepval Memorial last Friday for a service marking the start of the Battle of the Somme on July 1st 1916. The Minister said it was very important that the Irish Defence Forces led by Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett had been included in the ceremony along with British and Commonwealth servicemen and women.

ULSTER TOWER

Following the poignant service attended by 10,000 guests Minister Humphreys represented the government at a wreath-laying ceremony at the nearby Ulster Tower. It is beside Thiepval Wood where soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division including some Monaghan men left the trenches at 7.30am on July 1st 1916 to advance towards the German lines. She laid a wreath along with the North’s First Minister Arlene Foster MLA and the Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers MP.

The previous day Heather Humphreys paid tribute to the 16th Irish Division who had entered the battle two months later at Guillemont and also sustained heavy losses. The Minister attended a special performance in Amiens by the Abbey Theatre of the play “Observe the Sons of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme”.

STATE COMMEMORATION

On Saturday, the Minister will attend the main state event to commemorate the Somme Centenary, which is being held in conjunction with the Royal British Legion. It will take place in the Irish National War Memorial Gardens at Islandbridge in Dublin at 12 noon and will be televised live by RTÉ.

Invited guests will include members of the government, Council of State, elected representatives, members of the diplomatic corps and judiciary, and representatives of a large number of veterans’ organisations. It will involve a wreath-laying by the President Higgins. Ambassadors of the countries that fought at the Somme and the Presidents of the Royal British Legion from the Republic and Northern Ireland will also lay wreaths.

Speaking to the Northern Standard on her return from France, Minister Humphreys said the services in Thiepval had been very moving. She said the representation of the Irish government and Defence Forces at the Ulster Tower had been very much appreciated. She met representatives of the Orange Order there, building on contacts developed when she attended the visit by Prince Charles in May to a new Museum of Orange Heritage at Loughgall, Co. Armagh, which had been part-funded by the Irish government.

The Minister said she had wanted the programme of events for the centenary commemorations to be inclusive and respectful and it had been. It had opened up our understanding of events in 1916. It was not about one narrative, but concerned all the narratives and it was important to hear all the personal accounts from that era. People like 18 year-old Katie McGrane from Magheracloone, who in a letter to her mother dated May 2nd, 1916 had described the streets of Dublin city centre in the aftermath of the Easter Rising.

We had matured as a nation in our ability to accept and hear about the events and stories of one hundred years ago, the Minister said. We had reconnected with our history and there was now a great sense of pride, she said. She felt there had been great community engagement for the commemorative programme, including in County Monaghan. This included the distribution of the national flag to national schools with talks on civic duty and citizenship.

She believed it was important to keep the momentum going. She complimented the great work done for the 1916 Centenary by Monaghan County Council, the County Museum, the library service as well as local arts and heritage groups.

MOORE STREET SITE

Minister Humphreys also responded to criticism she was failing to protect buildings at Moore Street in Dublin city centre connected with the Easter Rising. Last month the government decided to bring an appeal to the Supreme Court over a High Court ruling which declared Moore Street to be a 1916 “battlefield site” and was therefore due to be protected. Earlier this year, a court action had been successfully taken by the 1916 Relatives Group which sought to prevent the destruction of buildings on the street.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams TD condemned the decision by the government to appeal the High Court judgement. He said it was scandalous that in the centenary year of the Rising the government would refuse to uphold a court judgement that would protect Moore Street and its environs that were part of the legacy of 1916. Instead of defending and protecting the historical legacy of the Rising the government was putting the rights of developers and profiteers first, Mr Adams claimed.

Minister Humphreys said she was the first Minister to do anything about purchasing the site at 14-17 Moore Street last year. They had then embarked on a programme of conservation for the four buildings, to show what they were like in 1916 with the holes between the houses used by the rebels to move from one room to another. This site was where the Rising’s leaders held their last council of war and decided to surrender.

The Minister argued that other buildings on the street had been constructed after 1916 and were not historically significant. The vast bulk of the surrounding properties were privately owned. Her remit extended to the National Monument, which was being preserved. These houses retained significant 18th-century elements, including staircases, partitions, plasterwork, doors, floors, fittings and fixtures. The development of the wider street was a matter for Dublin City Council, she said.

However in his High Court judgment, Mr Justice Max Barrett said the wealth of evidence before the court pointed to historical significance in some of the other buildings. These included number 10, a portion of the parting wall at number 13 and number 18, as well as the building at 20-21 Moore Street.

Minister Humphreys said owing to the potential widespread implications of the “battlefield” judgement for planning and development nationally, the government had decided to appeal the decision. If the whole street was a national monument, then how would this translate to other historical sites, she asked. She said she fully understood that Moore Street was a location that held great importance for many people.

The Minister said she intended to establish a consultative group on Moore Street with an independent Chair as a means to make positive progress in relation to the future of the street. The group would include cross-party Oireachtas members and other relevant stakeholders including the 1916 relatives. She hoped they would sit down and see how they could progress the situation and make sure the four precious buildings were restored.

The completed project would be a permanent legacy to the leaders of 1916. She hoped the group could chart a way forward. The government was committed to looking after the four buildings with their original fabric, she said.

 

INTERCONNECTOR DAY23

MARTIN MCGARRELL from Cashel, Annyalla, explained he was acting as spokesperson for the Co. Monaghan landowner group consisting of 115 landowners who were totally opposed to pylons on their lands. This represented 92% of landowners in the area stretching from border at Lemgare to S. Monaghan almost to Cavan border.

As had already been pointed out, 99% of people who attended three open days in Monaghan in May 2013 indicated they had no acceptance of the current project. This remained the case despite the vast amount of money EirGrid had spent trying to infiltrate our communities by way of sponsorship of local radio stations and the GAA.

This advertising in the local media which had been ongoing since the application was lodged in June 2015 and particularly intense since this oral hearing began is prejudicial to a fair outcome and totally contrary to natural justice, not to mention a complete waste of taxpayers’ money.

They may be here to talk but the talk had been of rebuttal, denial, stonewalling, constant changing of evidence, filibustering, legalistic and technical jargon and point blank refusal to supply reasonable information that was requested.

EirGrid say that 25% of the lands have been accessed and surveyed but yet no maps have been produced to prove this. We firmly believe that nowhere near 25% of lands were accessed in Monaghan and if they were then it was done by trespass without the knowledge of the owner.

The landowners are full supportive of the stance taken by both CMAPC and NEPPC when they withdrew from part one of the hearing. Both the Cavan/Meath landowners and Monaghan landowners unanimously endorsed this stance at hugely attended meetings in Navan on Holy Thursday and Aughnamullen on Easter Monday.

What EirGrid was allowed to do by way of submitting maps in the EIS without firstly informing the landowners concerned was a total insult to not only the 25 affected landowners but to all the landowners in general. An insult to one is an insult to all.

To compound this insult the amended maps were delivered some days and indeed weeks later in the case of the first six by courier on Good Friday and Easter Tuesday, after they had been presented to this oral hearing, without any consultation with the landowners whatsoever.

MARIA FITZPATRICK from Lemgare claimed people in Monaghan were not being given the same treatment as the rest of the country where partial undergrounding of electricity lines was being allowed. She expressed concerns about the access route EirGrid proposed to use to get to the proposed pylon site. She said it would bring construction traffic along a laneway lines with hawthorn hedges and it was not suitable for that. She also wanted to know what would happen to the horses she kept when work on the towers was taking place. They would not have access to water if the laneway was blocked. They were also sensitive animals and she was concerned for their safety. She said it would also affect her husband’s business. 

MARTIN TRAYNOR from Lemgare said the power line would have a devastating impact as it would split his farm in two. He would have no choice but to travel under the lines several times daily to carry out his work. His elderly mother lived next door and her residence would be about 44m from the outer conductor of the line. He had a shed that was less than 30m away from the outer conductor of the line.

Mr Traynor claimed that the construction of the foundations for one of the towers had the potential to ruin the spring well from which he drew his water supply. There would be knock-on impacts for his farming enterprise and suckler cow herd, depriving him of earning a living from the land.

PHILIP AND ANNA COLLINS, Lisdrumgormley, had their submission presented by Jim McNally. They had expanded their our poultry house egg production in 2011 to accomodate 32,000 laying hens. However this new poultry house had not been included on the developer’s maps in the planning application.

EirGrid had admitted their property was very highly sensitive in the EIS, but had made no attempt to change the route, or to actively engage with, or accommodate them at any time in a positive or constructive manner. NIE in the North had redirected the line in South Tyrone near the Moy to avoid poultry housing.

No great effort was made by the developer to look at putting this powerline underground using DC technology along national roadways which would have avoided a very high sensitive poultry egg producing unit such as theirs. The omission of the new poultry unit from the EirGrid maps in their view rendered the EIS and the planning application incomplete, given that their poultry business should be classified as “very highly sensitive” in line with EirGrid’s own parameters.

Mr Mc Nally also presented a submission for KATHLEEN HUGHES of Lisdrumgormley. She expressed concerned about the real potential disturbance to the animals on the family farm and the access restrictions to the land in real terms during construction. She was concerned about the ongoing interruption to farming work and the potential for the spread of disease among animals. The access route for proposed pylon 109 was near a bend, off a local road, and would require the removal of wire fencing and hedgerow and bulldozing, to level off high ground and uneven surfaces in the field. No clarification on how each of these issues would be addressed had ever been explained to her.