On Saturday last November 5th 2005 E Coy. 19 Inf. Bn. FCA held a stand down ceremony in Castlerea. The event consisted of a Mass for deceased members, a tree planting ceremony and a monument unveiling followed by a photographic display and some light refreshments. Major General Dermot Earley Deputy Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence forces attended.
The day started with members of the company marching from the old company headquarters to St. Patrick’s church. The parade was led by a colour party carrying the National Flag and the company marched behind.
Major General Earley was welcomed to Castlerea by Lt. Col. Mick O Grady O.C. RDF West, Comdt. John Picard O.C 56 Inf. Bn. RDF, Capt. Mark Davern 2 I/c E Coy 19 Inf. Bn. And 2/Lt. Hugh Lynn E Coy.
In a beautiful military style Mass the symbols of the FCA were presented at the start of the Mass when the Battalion crest, a service medal, two berets one black and one green and the company pennant were brought to the top of the church and placed on the altar. Members and retired members brought up the gifts, said the prayers of the faithful and read the lesson in a well attended Mass. At the consecration the colour party marched to the top of the church and the Tri-colour was dipped while a trumpet salute was given by Patsy Haugh a former member and the O.N.E bugler in Boyle.
In his homily Canon Fitzgerald spoke of the contribution the F.C.A made to life in Castlerea and the great work for peace carried out by the defence forces at home and abroad. He also spoke of the great role model Dermot Earley was for young people from his sporting feats to his position in the Irish Army. Music in the church was provided by Mrs. Enna Conroy and the soloist was Ms. Aisling Mackin.
After mass the group again marched to the Demesne and former members and family marched behind among the marchers was Mr. Paddy Downes who was proudly wearing his service medal and marched to the demesne no mean feat for a man of his years and great testament to his longstanding loyalty to the FCA.
A fine oak tree was planted by Dermot Earley who remarked on the significance of the oak tree saying “it signalled strength and steadfastness”. Then he unveiled the commemorative stone which was sculpted by E Coy. Company Sgt. Declan Hawthorne. The huge gathering in the Demesne posed for photographs with Major General Earley and then proceeded to St. Paul’s N.S for a photographic display of FCA pictures. Tea and sandwiches were served by members of the FCA.
The final event of the day was a number of presentations and the M.C 2/Lt. Hugh Lynn welcomed everybody to the hall and especially welcomed former Company Commanders P.J Browne, Mickey Kelly, and John Mac Nabola and the family of the late Paddy Dowd the first company commander from 1959 until 1980. 2/lt. Lynn then called on Mr. Tommy Murray a retired member of the F.C.A and the first Company Sgt. of the company to make a presentation to Major General Earley. Dermot Earley remarked that Tommy Murray was his first instructor in the FCA. A further Presentation was made by C.S Declan Hawthorne to Cpl. Martin Clifford P.D.F Cadre staff and Cpl. Clifford in an excellent speech spoke of the changes and opportunities that will exist for Reservists in the future and reflecting on changes he said that he was saddened by the fact that the flag no longer flies in Castlerea saying it had flown from 1959 until September 2005 the closing of a chapter. Major General Early spoke of the contribution of the F.C.A had made to the state and also all that he had gained, from comradery to discipline he spoke of the fine people who were involved such as Billy Doyle, Tommy Murray, Phil McKinney and Paddy Foxe to name a few. He said they had a lasting impression on him and also he remarked on the fact that change was dawning and the reserve had new challenges which they would meet. He spoke passionately of west Roscommon and all the great people form this area. This reporter noted two all-stars at mass in Castlerea,( Mickey Fraine and Dermot Earley ) both former members of the F.C.A in Castlerea. Is this a record for an F.C.A company? 2/LT Lynn in concluding thanked everyone for coming and especially thanked all who had helped, Declan Hawthorne of Hawthorne Bros Sculptors, The Sonas Group Athlone, Castlerea town’s trust, Board of Management, St. Paul’s National School, members of the former 19th BN. and the organising committee made up of Sgt. Peter Murray, Sgt. Marty Neary, Sgt. John Fahy, Captain Mark Davern, 2/LT Hugh Lynn and Coy Sgt. Declan Hawthorne.
A Proud FCA man.