Saint Barbara: Artillery School’s Annual Prayer Service

‘Be at the bursting doors of doom and in the dark deliver us’

As Saint Barbara’s Day falls on a Saturday, The Artillery School’s annual Prayer Service in honour of Saint Barbara, Patron Saint of The Artillery Corps and Gunners worldwide, took place on Thursday 02 December.  The School Commandant is Lieutenant-Colonel Damian Power and Regimental Sergeant-Major Eric Byrne is the Regimental Sergeant-Major for The Artillery Corps and The Artillery School.  Personnel of The Artillery School, including members of the 56 Artillery Young Officers’ Course were on parade.

Commandant Jamie Troy, Acting School Commandant welcomed all attendees which included Colonel Paul Whelan representing GOC Defence Forces Training Centre, Lieutenant-Colonel Oliver O’Dwyer (P) Director of Artillery and Combat Support, and numerous retired Gunners of all ranks.  Members of the Artillery Club were also in attendance including its President, Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retd).

Fr P.J. Somers CF conducted the Prayer Service at St Barbara’s Monument, which was followed by an overview of Saint Barbara presented by 2/Lieutenant Nathan Larkin.  The ceremony concluded with the firing of the two Miniature Guns.

Both serving and retired Gunners of all ranks adjourned to the Gun Parks for an enjoyable reception hosted by The Artillery School.

Presentation of QF 17 Pounder Shell-Case

During the reception, Mr Paddy O’Carroll and his wife Stella presented a QF 17 Pounder Mk 1 brass shell-case to The Artillery School.  Paddy is the third son of Battery-Sergeant Louis O’ Carroll who gave the shell case to Paddy for safe keeping. This particular shell-case is unique in that it is one of a set of four 17-pdr shell-cases, three of which are retained in the O’Carroll family.  These four shell-cases are likely to be the only remining 17-pdr shell-cases existing in Ireland.

The Legacy of 53408 Battery-Sergeant Louis O’Carroll

Battery-Sergeant O’Carroll was born on 10 November 1901 on the Falls Rd in Belfast.  On 01 July 1922, he enlisted in the army and retired from The Depot Artillery, Magee Barracks, Kildare on 03 March 1963.  On 26 November 1968, he was awarded the 1917 – 1921 War of Independence Medal.  Louis and his wife Rita, who he met at a house party hosted by Regimental Sergeant-Major Davy Scott, were blessed with five sons and two daughters.

Two of their sons served in the Defence Forces:

Seán who retired from the Engineer Corps as an electrician on 19 August 1986, served with the 33 and 35 Infantry Battalions (ONUC – Congo), and with the 3 and 6 Infantry Groups (UNFICYP – Cyprus); and

Michael who enlisted on 01 September 1970, retired on 01 September 1970, having served with The Depot Artillery in Magee Barracks, Kildare.

Michael’s youngest son Robin, enlisted in the Defence Forces on 23 May 2005 and is currently posted to Headquarters Support Group, Defence Forces Training Centre. He previously served with the 1 Air Defence Regiment until 2013.

QF 17 Pounder Mark 1 Anti-Tank Gun

Twelve British 17-pdr anti-tank guns were purchased between 1949 – 1950 and initially assigned to the anti-tank batteries of the three Field Artillery Brigades.  They were later assigned to the anti-tank troops of the reserve batteries of the Anti-Aircraft Regiment. The guns were phased out of service around 1962, (Vide pages 120 – 122 of ‘The Irish Artillery Corps Since 1922‘ by Ralph A. Riccio).  According to oral history, only five rounds were actually fired from these anti-tank guns in Glen Imall.  Hence the historical and legacy significance of the shell case kindly presented by Mr Paddy O’Carroll to The Artillery School on 02 December.

Photographs courtesy of Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retd) and Colonel Tom Carter (Retd)

To view slideshow, please click on first photograph