Lt Eoin Harrington, OC of the 6th Infantry Battalion, Custume Barracks, Athlone was at Merrion Square earlier this month for a special service to commemorate fallen members of the Irish Defence Forces.
“We are here today presenting a ceremonial guard on the monument in Merrion Square, to commemorate members of the defence forces that have died in service,” said Lt Harrington.
It’s an initiative that’s been going on for the summer, and will continue every Saturday morning at 10am and 12am for 1 hour during the month of August.
“The drill that is done is the military drill that would be executed for fallen comrades, we would do it at funerals…it’s also a tribute and a guard for people who have passed away,” said Lt Harrington.
The guard comprises eight soldiers, four on guard at the monument and four at the memorial gate. The entrance guards do what is called a beat in slow time, where they march in a sombre, methodical manner. All defence force orders are given in Irish, so if you want to brush up on your cupla focal, head along to Merrion square for a very unique historical and thoughtful spectacle.
According to Lt Harrington, the defence forces will be heading to the Golan Heights in Israel in September on a peace-keeping mission with the United Nations, and at present there are Irish troops in Kosovo and the Ivory Coast, among other areas.
“Irish troops are very well respected: all the peace keeping missions would like to have Irish troops with them. We have a good history and record of peace keeping. We always seem to get on well with the local communities when we go into new countries, as seen in Liberia and Chad in the recent past, and in Lebanon too,” said Lt Harrington.