Mayo Peace Park
MAYO PEACE PARK GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE
In 1999, Castlebar man Michael Feeney, who is now the Chairman of the Mayo Peace Park committee, wrote a letter to a local newspaper hoping to get in touch with other people who would be interested in developing a Mayo War Memorial, to commemorate all those from the County who served and died overseas in wars and Peacekeeping operations in the 20th Century.
Nine long years later his dream was fulfilled and the county town of Castlebar now hosts the finest war memorial in Ireland. It contains the names of over 1,100 Mayo officers and enlisted ranks and civilians who fell overseas on United Nations operations (UNIFIL), World War 1, World War 2, Vietnam, Korea etc. in a multitude of uniforms.
Because of our unique and troubled history, these fallen were never commemmorated and attempts to do so would have been hindered until very recent years. Now because of the Peace Process and because of the realisation in the Republic, Northern Ireland and in Britain that the history we all were presented was slanted in whatever direction a new and positive relationship has evolved. This has allowed us to commemmorate all of our war dead.
The President of Ireland and Supreme Commander of the Defence Forces, President McAleese opened this Memorial on 7 October 2008. The President was accompanied by Lt Gen Earley Chief-of-Staff, 2i/c 4 Bde Col Kilbride and HE's ADC Col Carbury. Prior to the arrival of the President a parade of ex-Servicemens' and Regimental Associations from the Republic and the UK marched through Castlebar to the Memorial. On arrival, an interdenominational drumhead service was held.
The occasion was unique in many ways. Nine ambassadors or embassy officials attended as did GOC Northern Ireland. Also, in a spirit of reconciliation, and because the majority of the fallen fell in British uniform, 10% of which were Irish Guards, Drummers and Pipers from that Regiment attended.
The President inspected a Guard of Honour drawn from the 1st Battalion, 4th Brigade. While all Defence Forces units use words of command in Irish, this unit is unique in that it conducts all of it's business in Irish. President McAleese then addressed the gathering and layed a wreath on behalf of the people of Ireland. Following the wreath laying ceremony an Irish Guards Bugler, sounded the Last Post and reveille on a 1850's Connaugt Rangers bugle. Her Excellency was introduced to a selection of veterans before she departed.