heroes of the Korean War
The ceremony took place in the village of Lixnaw, in Co.
Kerry, last month to honour the Irish soldiers who died
in the Korean War. A total of twenty-nine Irishmen died
while serving under the conscription in the US Army under
the banner of the UN from 1950-1953.
Each of the men emigrated to America in the 1950s to escape
impoverished Ireland and find a new life. However this new
life took the form of military service as they were conscripted
into the US Army shortly after they arrived in America.
Following a short period of basic training, they were sent
to combat zones in South Korea. According to Frank Quilter,
the Chairman of the Lixnaw Korean Project, military service
was compulsory at the time, and often both American nationals
and foreign immigrants would flee to avoid being sent to
fight in the war.
The project was initially undertaken to enhance the physical
face of Lixnaw for the upcoming Tidy Towns competition.
Mr Quilter felt that it would be both topical and symbolical
to erect a monument in the town to honour the memory of
the men who fought and died in the Korean War. "We
decided about the time of the beginning of the War in Iraq
that it would be a contemporary issue to focus on Irish
soldiers who previously fought for America, and of course
to pay tribute to their memory."
The Mayo soldiers who were conscripted and consequently
killed in the war included: Mark James Brennan from Ballinamore,
Kiltimagh, Michael Fitzpatrick from Claremorris and Micheal
Gannon from Achill. There were also four soldiers from Roscommon,
two from Leitrim, one from Galway and a Colomban priest,
Fr. Frank Canavan from Headford in Co. Galway.
In 2004, the Korean War veterans hit the headlines when
a campaign was launched to grant posthumous American citizenship
to the Irish soldiers killed in the Korean War.
A website has been set up to honour these heroes and on
it can be found a letter from one Corporal Partrick Sheahan,
from Newtown Sands, Co. Kerry, in which he alludes to the
reality of the war and the doubts for their presence in
"None of the GIs are a bit pleased with what Truman,
the Government, or the UN are doing for us. I think they
could do a lot better and a lot of us think that the UN
didn't want peace at all; it certainly looks like it over
The monument had taken the form of a stone arch, 12 feet
high and 17 feet wide with three granite slabs on which
all 35 names, addresses and dates of death are inscribed.
Several guests including the United States Ambassador the
Honourable James C. Kenny, and the Ambassador of the Republic
of Korea, the Honourable Kwon Jong Rak, performed the unveiling
of the monument.
Mr Quilter estimated that a crowd of about 150 people attended
the event, including a large contingent from the Columban
Order, to remember the five Columban priests killed in the
war. Speaking to the Western People, Eugene Gannon from
Achill, brother of Michael Gannon who was killed in the
war, expressed his delight at the public recognition of
his brother's efforts.
He said "It was a great honour to be invited to this
service which venerates the soldiers who were killed in
the name of freedom. It is a very important event for my
Courtesy of Alanna OMalley and the Western People