The game of spoon bashing was brought back to 21Bn by Gerry Paley who first saw it on rugby trips to Edinburgh.
We set up in the men’s mess and offered a prize to anyone who could beat the reigning champion – Sgt Paley.
The 2 protagonists would set up opposite each other, straddling a bench. In order to avoid anyone cheating they had to hold each other’s hands, and with a dessert spoon held between their teeth they would take turns to bash each other on the head. The guy being hit had to put his head down to allow his opponent to strike, but this also meant he could not see what was going on while he was being struck.
In the spirit of fair play (!) the challenger would be allowed go first and so Paley would lower his head, and the guy would try and hit him as hard as he could. It was then that the challenger realised that no one can get enough leverage with a spoon held between your teeth to hurt your opponent. Much to the challenger’s surprise when he lifted his head he would see Paley rubbing his crown and gritting his teeth as though he had been seriously injured.
The challenger then lowered his head in turn, and Gerry’s assistant (Mick O’Toole), who had retrieved a soup ladle from the kitchen, would give him a fair sized “BOP” on the head. Your man at this stage would look very bemused and when Gerry lowered his head in turn the challenger would try all his might to inflict a telling blow – but knew in his heart that the spoon just moved in his mouth and no injury was inflicted. When he had received a second “Whack” from the ladle our man would cop on that there was a fix and get very upset much to the amusement of the gathered multitude who, of course, could see what was going on all the time.
So one night after the Paley challenge a second match took place which is the one pictured above. In this photo we can see my hand with the ladle coming in from the left to “bop” the guy on the head. This fellow however was not for giving up and took quite a few heavy blows before we took pity on him and declared him the winner.
The next morning I was the orderly sergeant when I spotted a soldier with no cap on. “Where is your beret, soldier!”, I roared to be told that it no longer fitted his head such was the size of the lump that had come up from the bashing he took the night before. We had to excuse him from the parade and hide him during morning inspection. I think the swelling had gone down enough by the next day for him to parade as normal and I don’t know if, or when, he ever found out that he was victim of a set up.
Words and pictures by Des Fitzgerald
On the day of the Christmas party in the late 1980’s (I think it might have been 1987) we got to do riot training in ‘The Brugha’ before we headed off to the Hotel Pierre (as it then was) for the customary meal and feed of drink.
It was one of the better ‘Christmas events’ we enjoyed in the 1980’s; up there with the fund raising gun pull (tow) from Dalkey to Cathal Brugha in aid of the Children’s hospital in Crumlin.
The 2nd Battalion lent the equipment, while we provided our own rioters most of whom were recruits who relished the opportunity to legitimately throw things at us. The Barracks provided a suitable battleground in the form of a street like location in the laneway behind our stores and an ample supply of turf as ammunition for the mob to use.
I recall Noel Lyster and Sammy Campbell instructed us in the drills. Advancing; strategically repositioning to the rear; and opening the front rank for a snatch squad to charge out and come back with the prisoners. I remember somebody querying a statement that “…you drive everybody off the street”, with a question “..and what about innocent bystanders”? “Son”, came the reply, “by the time you get on the streets there will be no innocent bystanders”.
That set the mood for the afternoon.
The Platoon gets ready. The front rank was made up of the cream of B Company Left to right Kev Phelan dresses the front rank “number two, left foot forward slightly, STEADY… number three back slightly…STEADY’. Des FitzGerald wonders if the shield is the right way up or not and what would happen if it was upside down. The Colonel worries that this is all going to end badly in a personal liability claim that will drag on for ages and make loads of money for some lawyer. Kev Connolly crouches behind the shield to ensure his famous good looks are not damaged by somebody breaking his nose. Eamon Timlin adopts a casual poise while wondering if it is time for a smoke yet.
The Platoon advances towards the very naughty boys. The snatch squads, who carried short shields, were behind the first rank of long shields. They must have been incredibly short or lying down because they cannot be seen in the photo.
The rioters. They entered into the spirit of the occasion with great gusto…it was much nicer to flinging things at the NCO’s (mainly making up the front rank) and the trained men than being marched around the square.
Peter O’Brien and Alan Kavanagh show off the style of clothing and latest colours in Irish military fashion that year…big shoulders and Green. No change there then.
Rossa Lyons poses like some war-tourist in Beirut or Belfast getting a picture for the album. He took the photos with my camera although some of us in the Platoon below were not convinced that he hadn’t brought a personal stock of turf up on the roof to join in…
Another shot of the front rank but with Des FitzGerald missing as he takes the photo and tries to get clear instructions from Noel Lyster as to which way was up on the big shields.
Admin edit: The author of this memoir is Dermot Bradley, who is sadly no longer with us. Dermot went on to be a highly respected historian and decorated civilian in Germany. His honours included the Verdienstkreuz 1st Class of the Federal Republic of Germany, Bundeswehr Cross of Honour in Gold (1993) and Honorary President of the Association of Defence and Security Policy in Nordrhein-Westfalen.
It was a great day for our “army”, having used tank operations of the German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Colonel General Heinz Guderian. After 24 hours of “fighting” we had won the day. This was in September 1959. The eldest of our “soldiers” was just under 16 years of age. We were well (-self) trained soldiers, having read everything available about the First and Second World Wars and Ireland’s policy of neutrality. We were the born soldiers, divided into two groups. All the local boys played our War Games. It was clear that we decided things so that our “German” group should win more frequently than the “Allied” group.
This is a photo taken in the early 1940s of the regular officers who founded the North Wicklow Battalion LDF. Jim Hynes was the local Garda inspector who was associated with the LSF, the predecessor of the LDF. All are carrying gas masks. Jim was also the father of 21Bn’s own John Hynes.
Jim Hynes is wearing a cap and is standing at top left. I do not know any of the others in the photo. Would anybody else?
Maybe you might also know of some other Historical groups we could ask?
A post which has it all – a photo, a story and “where are they now?”. The photo is from Cpl Duggan P 1044876, who is now active in US politics!
Paul takes up the story: This photo was taken early 80s Rock-brae House . Its been a long journey from Rock Brae house to the political state house. I suppose its been the indelible memories of many great NCOs, Officers and Men that made monumental impressions on me in my early and mid twenties. From my old classmates Cpl Walsh at Kilmacud national school to Alan Kavanagh who sat in front of me in Oatlands college. My first induction by Capt Rochford in 1971 in B Coy and my second coming in 1979/80 in A Coy in Rockbrae house The Doyle brothers, Lt Bigley, so many names to mention and my dear old friend JG Doyle RIP ( who always had a smile and a story to tell) . You need a sense of humor when getting involved with US politics. To cut a long story short I landed the position of Deputy Chief of QC at V CORPS US Army Transportation in the mid 80s and moved Gen Colin Powell to Washington DC the rest of the story you can track on my background on one of the political web sites www.pauldugganfornjsenate.com
When I came to the USA the first thing I did after getting my permits was to get myself a #4 .303 enfield so I could clean it myself without anyone yelling at me. I graduated then to the BAP and the FN to my collection and I try to keep my marksmanship skills up to TOET levels LOL
Paul is third from the right in the back row.
June 1968: FCA Guard of Honour for Corpus Christi parade. Officer in charge was/is Lt. Patrick Rochford. This FCA unit, part of ‘B’ Company, 21st Infantry Battalion, operated out of Oatlands College, Stillorgan. The ceremony took place on the green at Merville Road. The location alternated with Dale Road on a yearly basis. If memory serves me correctly, the priest pictured kneeling could be Fr. Callan (cannot be positive of that last fact).