Proposals for Honorary Membership shall in the first instance be formally considered by the Club’s Committee. Thereafter, the Annual General Meeting of the Club may elect to Honorary Membership as a distinction to those whom it deems worthy to honour.
Honorary members, with the exception of those who were ordinary members, shall not have the right to vote at Annual General Meetings, or to be elected as officers of the Club. Honorary members are exempt from the annual subscription.
To date,four officers have been elected as Honorary Members: Commandant John D. Curtin (Retd) in 2013, and Commandant Paddy Gillen (Retd) in 2014, Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Dawson in 2018 and Commandant John O’Brian in 2018.
Commandant John D. Curtin (Retd)
During the Artillery Club’s 2013 Annual General Meeting, Commandant John D. Curtin (Retd), 41 Battery and 14 Battery, 2 Field Artillery Regiment, was unanimously elected as the Club’s first Honorary Member. His Honorary Membership was proposed by Captain Peter Murray (Retd.).
John enlisted in the Local Defence Force on 13 October 1940. He completed his reserve service as Battery Commander 14 Battery, 7 Field Artillery Regiment (FCA). As an Ack Ack gunner, John engaged German aircraft with 3 inch guns during the Second World War. During the course of his distinguished career, he fired the following Artillery weapons: 60th Pounder, 4.5 Howitzer, French 75s and the 25 Pounder.
He was elected the third President of the Artillery Club in 1975 in recognition of his service to the Artillery Corps. John was also a former President of McKee Officers Club (1989 and 1990). With a service spanning 36 years and 110 days, John had the unique distinction of being retired longer than being in uniform. John was retired 37 years and 132 days, when he died peacefully on 12 June 2014, at the age of 94.
Commandant Paddy Gillen (Retd)
The second Honorary Member was unanimously elected during the Club’s Annual General Meeting held on 4 December 2014 – Commandant Paddy Gillen (Retd), 8 Field Artillery Regiment (FCA). His Honorary Membership was proposed by Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Dawson (Retd) and seconded by Commandant Derek Coulter (Retd)
During a ceremony on 8 December in Cork, H.E. Jean-Pierre Thébault, French Ambassador to Ireland presented Commandant Pat Gillen (Retd) (89) with the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur, in recognition of his role in liberating France, in Normandy, during the Second World War. 2014 marked the 70th Anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, a military operation commonly known as D-Day. Sadly, Pat who was one of the last surviving Irish veterans of D-Day, died on 27 December 2014.
Interviewed by the media, Paddy dedicated the award to his fellow countrymen saying
“In accepting this award, other brave Irish men, thousands of young men, who lost their lives in pursuit of peace remain in my memory. This award is as much theirs as mine.”
Residing in Galway, Paddy served in the 50 Infantry Battalion LDF from 1940 through 1943, when he enlisted in the 6 Commando. With the rank of Corporal, on 6 June 1944, Paddy landed on Sword Beach, Normandy, as part of the D-Day Landings. Subsequently, his unit was involved in numerous river crossings including the Rhine which was accomplished on
23 March 1945. On 29 April 1945, Paddy’s unit was given pride and place in being the first unit to cross the Elbe. As Staff Sergeant, Paddy encountered Russian personnel in May 1945 in Berlin. Following the conclusion of hostilities on the European Front, Paddy served in Greece, Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon.
Working with Henry Ford & Son Ltd in Cork, Paddy joined the 44 Field Artillery Battery in May 1950. In 1970, Paddy was promoted to the rank of Commandant and appointed as Battery Commander (FCA), 1 Field Artillery Battery, which subsequently became an organic Battery in the 8 Field Artillery Regiment (FCA) on reorganisation in 1979. On
7 March 1982, Paddy officiated at his Stand Down Parade in Murphy’s Barracks, Ballincollig, with 42 years service “under two flags” in the profession of arms.
Lieutanant-Colonel Jim Dawson (Retd)
During the 2018 Annual General Meeting held in McKee Barracks Dublin, on Friday 07 December, Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Dawson (Retd) was unanimously elected as Honorary Members of the Artillery Club.
Arising from Paragraph 8 of the Club’s Rules, on 27 September, the Committee considered the election at the 2018 AGM of ordinary members to the honorary membership. Having merited the provision of “exceptional circumstances” under the parameter of length of active service to the Artillery Club, on the proposal of the President and seconded by Captain Peter Murray (Retd), the Committee authorised the President to invite Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Dawson (Retd) to become honorary members of the Artillery Club.
At the 2018 Annual General Meeting, as President of the Artillery Club, Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retd) proposed Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Dawson (Retd) to Honorary Membership of the Club, Lieutenant-Colonel Cormas Lalor (Retd) seconded the proposal.
As part of the Defence Forces “Eldest Veteran Interview Series” run in conjunction with Military Archives, the Irish Military Story and the National Museum of Ireland, the September 2018 edition of An Cosantóir included an interview with Lieutenant-Colonel Jim Dawson (Retd).
Jim was born in Callan, County Kilkenny, on 12th April 1926, three years after the establishment of the Artillery Corps. Taking the advantage of having a Garda Superintendent as a father, he enlisted in the Local Security Force at the age of 14.
On commissioning, he was appointed to the Artillery Corps, completed his YO’s course, and was posted to the 2 Fd Arty Regt in McKee Barracks. Following service with the 1 Fd Arty Regt in Ballincollig, Jim with his first wife Nellie, moved to Spike Island, where he developed his renowned and legendary expertise in the art and science of Coast Defence Artillery.
Lieutenant-Colonel Dawson served overseas with the 1 Infantry Group in the Congo, and in the Force Headquarters in Cyprus. Retiring in 1986, Jim kept a close eye on his nephews Colonel Mick who hosted the Club’s Decades’ Reunion in 2017, and Michael’s brother Jim..
Commandant John O’Brien (Retd)
During the 2018 Annual General Meeting held in McKee Barracks Dublin, on Friday 07 December, Commandant John O’Brien Retd) was unanimously elected as Honorary Members of the Artillery Club.
Arising from Paragraph 8 of the Club’s Rules, on 27 September, the Committee considered the election at the 2018 AGM of ordinary members to the honorary membership. Having merited the provision of “exceptional circumstances” under the parameter of length of active service to the Artillery Club, on the proposal of the President and seconded by Captain Peter Murray (Retd), the Committee authorised the President to invite Commandant John O’Brien (Retd) to become honorary members of the Artillery Club.
As President of the Artillery Club, Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retd) proposed Commandant John O’Brien (Retd) to Honorary Membership of the Club, Commandant Michael Flood (Retd) seconded the proposal.
In 1927, an Army purchasing mission to Britain bought four 3” 20 cwt Medium Anti-Aircraft guns. Coincidentally, John was born on 30 January 2017. Some years later, these two events became intertwined.
Residing in Bray, in 1944, John enlisted in the Local Security Force and transferred to the An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil on its establishment in 1947. Serving in the North Wicklow Battalion, John was commissioned in 1955. In 1959, as part of the Defence Forces reorganisation which included the integration of FCA subunits within Artillery Regiments, Lieutenant O’Brien was one of ten FCA officers posted to Griffith Barracks to establish the 2 Ack-Ack Bty (FCA), a sub unit of the 1 AA Regiment. Promoted Commandant in 1989, John was appointed as Battery Commander of the 2 Air Defence Battery. John retired in 1984, after 40 commendable years service in the Defence Forces.
Serving and retired officers of the disbanded 2 Air Defence Battery (FCA) assembled in the Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club on Thursday, 10 February 2017, to mark the 90th birthday of Commandant John O’Brien (Retd). Attendance included four of the founding officers of the 2 Ack Ack Battery, the President of the Artillery Club and other officers who served with John during his distinguished career in the Defence Forces.
The occasion on 10 February was notable in that An Taoiseach Mr Enda Kenny T.D. sent a letter congratulating John on his service to the Defence Forces and to the ESB from which he retired as Company Secretary.