The Ghost of Christmas Past

While going through various photos I have collected during recent years I found these ones of Christmas parties. Generally the drill for B Company was a field day for Christmas competitions and then back to the Hotel Pierre or the Elphin for food and drink. In later years we would sometimes repair to the Coastguard Station where, following the tradition of Roman Saturnalia, the officers would serve the men. As everybody in the FCA had once been a G1 – there being no cadet school, Sandhurst or West Point – this was no big deal!

Santa’s Grotto

During one of Rossa’s(?) more inspired recruiting drives, a sandbag emplacement was constructed on the top floor of Dun Laoghaire Shopping Centre. It was located just about where Santa’s Grotto used to be set up. It was probably best that any potential recruits did not have to sit on the CO’s knee during the process though.

The photos from the occasions show a visiting mairnéalach as well as Deccy in his alternate Shopping Centre security uniform. Things are so bad in Dun Laoghaire now that the security staff are dragging people INTO the centre!

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Exterminate!, Exterminate!


A group of us met up with Des Fitzgerald last evening in McKennas, where many a story was exchanged, scandal re-visited and calumny perpetrated. Des was visiting from his home in Belgium and we got a reasonable group of old “Come-Raids” to show up for a few scoops. Des has been diagnosed with MS, but as we can see from the attached photo his FCA skills are put to good use as he can “iompraigh” his crutches, dó, trí…. Picture by Rossa Lyons taken beside the Bn plaque.








I posted this picture on Facebook and although a few old comrades were (just a little) taken aback when Des walked into McKenna’s on crutches, Kevin Phelan (who was away on holiday at the time) thought he would treat Des’s condition with the respect it deserves and posted this:


Remember we should laugh at life … otherwise life might just laugh at us!

I predict a riot!

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.



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.

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Where are they now?

A coy 21st

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

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.

Corpus Christi June 1968

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).

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Glen of Imaal October 1976

Yet again, we have no details of the actual training which took place during this overnight. The location of the photos is, I believe, The Glen Inn, as the officers would have gone to Fentons.

Dick Haughton standing down parade

I got the following photographs from Dickie’s family via my Dad this week. Dick joined the FCA on the same day as my father – they went down together to sign up. Jack Haughton, Dick’s brother was already a member before them. That was in 1955 and Dick was to have 34 years service in the South County and later the 21st Battalion ahead of him.

Dick’s original standing down parade in 1988 was due to be held in Kilworth Camp but was cancelled as a mark of respect following the death of Arthur Plunkett. This parade was then held opposite the Royal Irish Yacht Club and on to the Coastguard Station.

I have already related many stories of Dick’s legendary wit in this blog and he will also go down in the history of 21st Battalion as whenever the order to “size” was given – “Pat Holohan on the right, Dickie Haughton on the left – single rank… SIZE!”