Peace-Keeping in The Congo – Antelope Sparks Stand-off on Tralee Road

Surviving Congo Veterans, from left: Matt Murphy, Killarney; Des Keegan, Fermoy; Tom Twomey, Castleisland and Paddy Flynn, Tralee. Photograph: Michael Guerin.

The Irish United Nations Veterans Association Post 2 recently awarded certificates of appreciation to three surviving Kerry soldiers who served in the Congo in the years from 1960 to 1964.

Held in Scartaglen, presentations were also made to family members from Kerry and West Limerick on behalf of their loved ones who served there at that time. .

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the termination of Operation des Nations Unies au Congo.

Peacekeeping in the Congo – Stand-Off on Tralee Road 

Tralee Road, Castleisland native Tom Twomey was among those honoured at the 60th anniversary ceremony in Scartaglen. As a neighbour’s child I remember my grandmother praying during the nightly rosary for Tom Twomey and Sean O’Shea of Kilbanivane both of whom left the employment of local farmers and, together, they joined the Irish army.

They may well have been on peacekeeping duties abroad but Tom soon caused a stand-off back home on Tralee Road.

He sent home, among other items, a beautifully carved antelope like deer to his parents. God be good to them all, Mrs. Twomey brought the deer back the road to my father’s workshop and asked him to paint it green which, she said, would then match some recent wall-papering she had done in the kitchen.

While having a cup of tea with my mother and grandmother, Mrs. Twomey believed that she’d see her green antelope before she left.

However, my father tried to talk her away from painting the golden, native wood-carving and there was a bit of a stand-off between two good neighbours for a while.

Thankfully, no military intervention was deemed necessary and I doubt if the peacekeeper was even aware of the tensions he caused by his well intended home thoughts from abroad.

Veterans Praised in Messages

The Scartaglen awards ceremony was also attended by representatives from ONE Thomas Ashe Branch Kerry, Post officers: Con Roche, chairman; John Wade, secretary and Bobby Woods, treasurer conducted the ceremony.

Messages from an Tánaiste Michael Martin, Minister for Defence and Chief of Staff Lt General Sean Clancy were read at the awards ceremony.

The messages praised the veterans for their loyalty, professionalism and their steadfastness throughout the 1960 to 1964 mission which proved a pathfinder for all subsequent overseas deployments.

Kerry award recipients: Matt Murphy Killarney; Paddy Flynn, Tralee and Tom Twomey Castleisland.

Family Members Accept Awards

Family members accepted the awards on behalf of deceased members: Dick Fitzgerald, Killarney for his father Sgt. John Fitzgerald; John Geoghegan, Athea for his father Corporal John Geoghegan; Cynthia Kelly, Listowel for her Uncle Sgt. Noel Brick and Kathleen Quinn, Abbeyfeale for her husband Tadgh Quinn.

A certificate of appreciation was presented by Chairman Roche to Michael Guerin, secretary ONE Thomas Ashe Branch for services and military history research in Kerry.

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