PRIVATE MICHAEL MCNEELA IS HONOURED IN HIS HOMETOWN OF DUNDALK
PRIVATE MICHAEL MC NEELA IS HONOURED IN HIS HOMETOWN OF DUNDALK
On a dull day in Dundalk, the memory of one of Ireland’s fallen soldiers was brightened up by the naming of Riverside Walkway in his honour.
On the 20th of September 2021, Riverside Walkway was renamed Pte Michael Mc Neela Riverside Walkway.
The walkway is situated north side of Newry Bridge over the Castletown River and flows out into Dundalk Bay.
Michael Mc Neela was born in 1967 and raised on the Lisdoo Road close to this very walkway. Michael enlisted in the Defence Forces in November 1986 and served with the 27 Infantry Battalion in Aikens Barracks, Dundalk.
Two years later Michael was serving in South Lebanon as a UN peacekeeper with the 64th Infantry Battalion and part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) mission. Sadly, on the 24th of February 1989, aged only 21 years and 7 months, Michael was killed at UN Post 6-38 Alpha, in Haddatha village in South Lebanon. Michael had paid the ultimate sacrifice in service of peace.
In a short renaming ceremony on the 20th of September 2021, Jim Mc Eneaney, Chairman of Michael Mc Neela Branch of Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann or ONE as it is known said,
“This dedication is to honour and remember the life and service of Pte Michael Mc Neela.”
Jim Mc Eneaney had welcomed all those present at the riverside, including Michael’s family John, Kathleen, and Julie Mc Neela. Other invited guests included local TDs and senators, officer commanding 27 Inf Bn Lt Col David O’Shaughnessy and BSM John Doyle, ONE’s CEO Ollie O’Connor and ONE National President Jim Fay.
In thanking those responsible for making this renaming happen, Jim thanked Louth County Council and councillors, Michael Mc Neela Branch members, and extended a special thanks to Senator John Mc Gahan “for his help in making this happen today”.
“I believe this ceremony is a first, in that it is the first time outside of a military installation that a location has been given the name of a fallen veteran of the Defence Forces. Michael Mc Neela gave his life on active service with the United Nations on the 24th February 1989 he was 21 years old, and on his second tour of duty in South Lebanon. So it is appropriate that this walkway is named the Pte Michael Mc Neela walkway, because this is his home ground.”
Jim then asked Michael’s family John, Kathleen and Julie to unveil the signs, with heartfelt applause from those present. 27 lnf Bn piper Pte Paddy Mc Sorley then played a lovely lament to bring some sounds to the quiet concluding moments.
Many of Michael’s recruit platoon were present including Sgt Riccardo Lucchesi, who is still serving in the 27 Inf Bn.
We also remember Michael’s recruit platoon friend and comrade Pte Peter Mc Guinness, 27 Inf Bn who sadly passed away earlier this year.\
The event was concluded with those present being invited to the Privates Mess in Aiken Barracks for light refreshments and to catch up with old comrades.
‘Cuimhnímis’ – ‘Remember Those Who Served’
Words/Photos By Wayne Fitzgerald
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