Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Book on Irish military medals to be launched in Mullingar

A new book examining the many medals issued to commemorate key moments in Ireland’s military history is to be launched in Mullingar in the coming weeks.

Irish State Awards – Emergency & Commemorative Medals was curated by Mullingar man Ger O’Connor.

This will be Ger’s second publication. His first book was launched nationally in 2011 at McKee Barracks in Dublin, followed by a local launch in Columb Barracks.Following 35 years of service with An Post, Ger posted his last letter in February of this year. It was while approaching retirement that he began working on his second publication.

Packed with in-depth information on Irish military medals issued from the revolutionary period of 1916 and 1921 to the the present, Irish State Awards – Emergency & Commemorative Medals has been in the works for the past number of years.

“We’re in a decade of centenary since 2016, so it seemed like the right time to record the various medals which have been issued since 1916. To my knowledge, there’s no book in any Irish museums on Irish medals. You’ll find British medals and French medals but no Irish medals.”

A keen collector of military medals, Ger’s book examines in detail the his- tory of Irish military medals.

“The 1916 and 1921 medals were not produced until 1942. Up until 1942, men who had fought in both 1916 and 1921 would wear sleeve armbands to

the funerals of former comrades. It took over 20 years for them to receive a medal.”
One section of Ger’s book exam- ines the medals produced in 2016 to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. One organisation he speaks highly of in his book on 2016 medals is the fire service.

“The fire service produced two medals, which was unique. They pro- duced a medal with an extinguished flame, which was presented to the family of members who would have been qualified to be in service at the time, however they had passed away prior to the issuing of the medal.

“A second medal was produced with a live flame for actual serving members. It was well thought out and unique.”

With many medals issued over the past century, Ger has goneto great lengths to get his hands on a medal. “You try and get to know in some- one in all of the organisations!” he enthuses. “In the case of one of the garda medals, one particular man I knew was aware I had an interest in medals. He said: ‘I’ll give you my own one, I have no interest in it!’. It’s all about doing a bit of detective work, but now that I’m retired it keeps me occupied.”

Irish State Awards – Emergency & Commemorative Medals was printed by Topic Print & Design, Mullingar.

The book with be launched by former Irish Army soldier and defence analyst Declan Power on Thursday, 29 June at 6pm in The Atrium at Westmeath County Buildings.

The book will be on sale at Just Books, Pearse Street, and Rochforts Superstore, Dominick Street.

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