FCA were ready for action
They could not be described as war veterans. But the young
men who joined the Local Security Force in the early 'forties
were prepared to give their lives for their country. Kilkenyman
Dick Broderick recalls the days when the reserve army was
on stand-by in case of an invasion.
There are no monuments to them, no commemorative plaques
but a proud Kilkennyman speaks with warmth and admiration
about colleagues he describes as forgotten men.
Retired city painting contractor Dick Broderick has fond
memories of the years he spent in the Local Security Force,
later the local Defence Force today the FCA, Fórsa
He was in the engineering platoon of No. 1 Company of the
LSF. He remembers his old comrades, many of whom have passed
to their eternal reward but he would love to meet any of
his mates who are still alive.
At 86, Dick is in good fettle. He lived to tell the tale
after a tough battle with serious illness and he lost his
wife after a long fight with sickness.
His living quarters are at New Building Lane, Kilkenny,
just a brief march from what was once Brodericks Painting
Contractors, a highly regarded city firm which had a reputation
for giving apprentices the best training with the bucket
He was an award-winning marksman in the LSF, but he had
many strings to his bow.
He was a master fisherman, he played handball and boxed,
he was president of the now defunct Workmans Club
and he followed all sports.
But his happiest memories are perhaps of the days he spent
in uniform, a decade or so when he and some 40,000 like
him around Ireland were prepared to face any enemy that
might invade the shores of their beloved Ireland.
He recalls marching and drilling with Professor Darcy, Tom
Treacy of Treacys Garage, Irishtown, Kilkenny, CBS
teacher Alfie Cullen and he speaks highly of county comrades
such as Nixie Boran of Castlecomer, Johnny Quigley of Kells
and Jimmy Breen of Gowran.
No. 1 Company had four platoons. Captain was local man Tom
Deloughry. Each platoon had a lieutenant and a sergeant
and there were ten men in each of four sections. Each section
had a corporal.
On their first marches in the Market Yard, Kilkenny, now
the home of Dunnes Stores, in 1939, the volunteers
had no rifles.
They were called to arms in 1941/42 when President Eamon
de Valera visited Waterford to review a parade.
A cache of Springfield 300 rifles came from the United States
and for the first time the volunteers took part in an armed
They truly were a defence force now. Then they had to learn
how to use the guns.
There were weekly visits to Ballydaniel Rifle Range in Threecastles
where Army Sergeant Jim Moran was the instructor, along
with Army Quartermaster Joe Merrins, who also issued uniforms
and boots from the stock at Kilkenny Military Baracks.
Co-incidentally both men were to become Fatima Place, Kilkenny
neighbours. Members of the late Mr Merrins family
still live in Kilkenny while the late Jim Morans son,
Gerry is a columnist with the Kilkenny People.
Other instructors were Batt OConnor, Ambrose McKenna
and Peter Graham.
Rifle training was intense, three evenings a week, plus
all day Sunday.
Top marksman were one Dick Broderick and the late Seamus
Dunlop of Kennyswell.
We had bow and arrow badges on the sleeve of our uniform
to prove our skills.
Dick Broderick smiled. And we won many army titles
with our marksmanship.
The No. 1 Company had an engineering platoon and there were
also sections for combat, signals, intelligence and observation.
After intensive training, it was down to the nitty gritty
of war, well not exactly war but preparing for the eventuality
In the engineers our job was explosives. The general
idea was that if there was an invasion the regular army
would take on the enemy before retreating.
Our job was to join the volunteers from Ballycallan
in knocking trees and blowing up bridges, anything that
would hamper the enemy.
Dick Broderick and Geoff Leahy, an employee at DeLoughrys
Foundry in the city, would be the key men in any explosives
They would lead their men into the country, knock a tree
and drill holes which they filled with gelignite.
The men would be shown a safe way of knocking a tree, setting
explosives, and wiring up a detonator and safety fuse.
The bridge which crosses the River Nore at Greensbridge
was wired for blasting.
In an emergency the fuse would be lit and the bridge would
drop into the river.
Johns Bridge in the city was much sturdier. Despite
many suggestions and consultations with army expert Colonel
Bellew no plan could be devised to blow up what was at the
time one of the longest single span bridges in Europe.
At the time, the bridge was bomb-proof. Even an enemy
bomb from above would have done no damage, claimed
The years rolled on and there was no sign of an invading
But the volunteers, now members of the FCA, remained resolute.
Springfield Rifles were recalled by the Government and the
men were issued with Enfield Rifles which used 303 ammunition.
They now carried the same arms as regular soldiers.
Training now was at Kilkenny Military Barracks. Headquarters
was the FCA Hall in Parliament Street, a former RIC Barracks,
a former technical school, home to the St Vincent de Paul
Society and Connradh na Gaeilge and now the offices of the
Agricultural Credit Corporation.
Dick Broderick continued to serve until 1950 when he retired.
In some respects he never really left the FCA. He believes
that the FCA is a fine body of men which continues to do
the country proud.
He speaks with respect of the LSF, the LDF and the FCA,
a body which had several names, but which for Dick Broderick
had achieved one marvellous aim.
In the forties it united the young men of Ireland.
Men of different persuasions marched and drilled together
respecting each others views but never trying to preach
the gospel of Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil.
It was wonderful to see men of different views putting
any differences aside for the sake of
Today Dick Broderick spends much of his time reading newspapers
and western novels.
He is happy to be among his children and loves his own home,
sweet home, a stones throw from a city centre where
he plied his painting trade for a lifetime.
He watches sport on television and keeps in touch with current
affairs but never far from his reach are photographic reminders
of the days when he gave his time, energy and expertise
to his country.
He salutes his colleagues and longs for the day when surviving
volunteers will come together for what he believes would
be a very special veterans day.
Courtesy of Jim Rhatigan and the Kilkenny People