Photos by Pat Shortall
As settings go, this was picture perfect.
Commandant Larry Scallan (retired) hoisted The Irish flag to full mast and Reveille echoed from the Great War memorial at The Peace Park in Kilkenny city.
Representatives of the Army, O.N.E., and Gardai stood to attention and saluted the Tri-colour.
Blowing gently in the dawn April breeze the flags of New Zealand and Australia waved in approval.
The 0.600 gathering on John’s quay was to commemorate ANZAC day, a national day of remembrance in Australia and New Zealand that broadly commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders “who served and died in all wars, conflicts, and peacekeeping operations” and “the contribution and suffering of all those who have served”.
The thirty plus gathering saw representatives from Kilkenny County Council,(Fideles Doherty, Andrew McGuinness, Eugene McGuinness as well as Kilkenny Fire brigade( John Collins) , Kilkenny Gardaí,( Sgt David Gorman) Army Barracks, (Commandant Stephen McEoin) Scouting Ireland ( Aidan Brennan) as well as guests from both the Australian and New Zealand diaspora.
Guest of honour, and speaker on the day was Mr Daryl Owens representing the New Zealand Embassy in Ireland.
Apologies were received from Mr Tim Millikan, deputy head of missions at the Australian embassy.
A TIME TO REFLECT
Speaking with the Kilkenny Observer , Daryl Owens said that it was a great privilege and honour for him to speak at the service organised to honour those who took part in the conflicts.
Addressing the thirty plus attendance Mr Owens said: “Each Anzac Day we take time to reflect and remember the impact of conflict and war in our history. And although the name ANZAC Day specifically refers to the Kiwis / New Zealanders and Australians who landed in Gallipoli, it also serves as a day to remember those who fought and served in all conflicts, from all countries.
We acknowledge their service and honour their contribution, while not forgetting the huge amount of sacrifice and personal cost to these people and their families.”
Turning to his fellow New Zealanders Mr. Owens said:
“Ka maumahara tonu tatou ki a ratou”
(We will remember them)
The New Zealand representative went on to specifically remember those Irish who fought and served together with the Anzacs. While people have often heard of the Anzacs, less known is the fact that as many Irish soldiers died at Gallipoli as Kiwis did.
3000 people – with 15,000 Irish soldiers serving there in total.
Some of whom were from Kilkenny.
This year in New Zealand and Australia the theme for Anzac day is Acts of Service. This not only covers all those from around the world giving their service in conflicts of war, but all acts of service.
Daryl Owens asked those in attendance to spare a thought for those in Ukraine. “Cities laid to waste, homes destroyed, men, women, children – families separated are images that greet us on a daily basis, and we hope and pray for an end to all this bloodshed”
CANDLES REPRESENT THE ETERNAL FLAME
On behalf of the Great War memorial committee, chairman Donal Croghan welcomed the attendance and expressed his delight at being able to host this special ceremony.
Candles were lit and placed at the memorial by Fideles Doherty ( chair of the County Council) Andrew McGuinness ( Mayor of Kilkenny), Bernie Bass (New Zealand), Trudy Buckett (Australia) .
The Flame is a symbol of eternal life. The Flame of Remembrance at the Anzac Memorial burns to symbolise the gratitude of the Australian people to those who gave their lives in the service of their country in time of war.
A prayer to remember those who died was read by Berni Egan while the names of Kilkenny soldiers who are listed on the Peace Park monument were read by Tony Parker ( Australia) and Rob Brown (New Zealand) and Larry Scallan ( Kilkenny).
Wreaths to honour fallen soldiers were laid by Donal Croughan, Daryl Owens, Tony Parker, Stephen McEoin, Fideles Doherty, Andrew McGuinness, Bobby Kearney, Gus Hennessy and John Collins.
Following a minute’s silence an ‘Ode of Remembrance’ was read by Ronan Bass.
The Francis Ledwidge poem ‘The Irish in Gallipoli’ was read to the gathering .
His poem ‘The Irish in Gallipoli’ paints a picture synonymous with the poets work.
‘The Irish in Gallipoli’
Where Aegean cliffs with bristling menace front
The Threatening splendour of that isley sea
Lighted by Troy’s last shadow, where the first
Hero kept watch and the last Mystery
Shook with dark thunder. Hark! The battle brunt!
A nation speaks, old Silences are burst.
‘Tis not for lust of glory, nor new throne
This thunder and this lightning of our wrath
Wakens those frantic echoes, not for these
Our Cross with England’s mingle, to be blown
on Mammon’s threshold. We but war when war
Serves Liberty and justice Love and peace.
Who said that such an emprise could be vain?
Were they not one with Christ, who fought and died?
Let Ireland weep: but not for sorrow.
Weep – That by her sons a land is sanctified
For Christ arisen, and angels once again
Come back, like exile birds, and guard their sleep.
The national anthems of New Zealand, Australia and Ireland were played before Donal Croghan concluded the ceremony by thanking all for their attendance.