Report  Decades’ Reunion – 27 September 2023

Following the Artillery Club’s inaugural Decades’ Reunion in 2016, this annual event took place in 2017 and 2018 in The Cadet School.  Unfortunately, on account of the prevailing Covid-19 restrictions, the Artillery Club was unable to host Decades’ Reunions in 2019, 2020 and 2021.

This year’s Annual Artillery Club’s Decades’ Reunion, with the approval of
Brigadier-General Brendan McGuinness, GOC Defence Forces Training Centre, took place on Wednesday, 27 September in The Cadet School, with 18 retired or serving Gunner Officers attending the event.

Col Michael Smyth (Retd) coordinated the Reunion on behalf of the Artillery Committee.

The intent of the 2023 Reunion was to focus on Gunner Officers from the Permanent Defence Force, An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil and the Army Reserve, commissioned in 1943, 53, 63, 73, 83, 93, 2003, 2013, and 2023.

Retired and serving Gunner Officers commissioned in 1983, 1993, and 2023, and representatives of the Club’s Committee, Took Post on the day.

The presence of Lt John Walsh, 2 Brigade Artillery Regiment, and Lt Cillian Moran, Artillery School of the 98 Cadet Class commissioned in 2023, represented a spectrum of seventy-seven Cadet Classes, from the 20 Cadet Class through to the 98. Cadet Class, spanning the period from 1953 through 2023.

Despite the best efforts of Storm Aengus, attendees arrived in The Military College, and were formally welcomed in Dunne Hall by the Cadet School Commandant, Lieutenant-Colonel James O’Shea, the Chief Instructor, Commandant Siobhán O’Sullivan, and Cadets Paavalili Soline (Finland), Sive Byrne (Wicklow) and Jack Brennan (Mayo).

On arrival in the Cadets’ Mess, the Group was received by the Cadet Captain, Cadet Conor O’Brian (Kerry), the Mess President, Cadet Eboney Masuka (Kerry), and members of the 99 Cadet Class, including Cadet Jeremy Cotter-Vazquez (Dublin), Cadet Emilia Mleczko (Galway), Cadet Conall Gallagher (Kildare), Cadet Kieran Kilbane (Kildare), Cadet Nathan Martin (Dublin) and Cadet Fiona McDonnell (Dublin).  Commandant Garry Ryan is the Class Officer, 99 Cadet Class.

During Coffee, participants were able to view memorabilia from their cadetship and visit the mess facilities, bringing back nostalgic memories to all.  Thereafter, Cadet Philip O’Brien (Meath), Cadet Michael Devine (Waterford), Cadet Brian McDonagh (Dublin), Cadet Kallum Fahy (Galway), Cadet Caimin Phillips (Galway) and Cadet Orla Whelan (Offaly displayed current equipment on issue to Cadets.

During a comprehensive briefing in Pearse Hall, Lieutenant-Colonel Jim O’Shea provided an insight into key areas pertaining to cadet training and education.  Finally, the Group adjourned to Pearse Officers’ Mess for a most enjoyable lunch.

The Artillery Club remains grateful to The College Commandant Colonel John Whittaker, to Lieutenant-Colonel O’Shea, supported by Commandant Siobhán O’Sullivan, for making the resources of The Cadet School available throughout the day, and to the Mess President Pearse Officers’ Mess, Commandant Shane Quinlan.

Pending the approval of the appropriate authorities, it is envisaged that the 2024 Decades’ Reunion will be held in The Cadet School during the month of September for Gunner Officers commissioned in 1954, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1994, 2004, 2014 and 2024.

Photographs courtesy of Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retd)

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