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Journeys with TheJournal.ie: Honouring the veterans of Jadotville

Our second winner of a free Irish Rail trip is a group of Irish military veterans of the siege of Jadotville, who are headed for Dublin for a parade in their honour.

Pic 8 The veterans pictured at the recent premiere of The Siege of Jadotville in Dublin

YOU MAY HAVE heard of the siege of Jadotville – it’s been in the news a lot lately due to the release of a major cinematic retelling of the story starring Jamie Dornan.

Now the living Irish survivors of the 1961 siege of the town, in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are to be honoured at a military ceremony in Dublin – and we’ll be taking them there.

We are delighted to announce our second winner, in the Irish Rail partnership with TheJournal.ie to provide free rail trips for deserving community groups, is the Irish Army veterans group Friends of Jadotville.

The group, in the words of retired Sergeant Paul Clarke, exists to “honour the heroics and bravery” of the Irish soldiers involved in the siege.

155 Irish troops were sent to the Congo in central Africa on a peacekeeping mission as the United Nations intervened in the Katanga conflict in the country in 1961.

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That company of Irish soldiers subsequently fought (and, remarkably, all survived) a six-day assault in the town of Jadotville at the hands of forces loyal to Katangese prime minister Moise Tshombe.

Friends of Jadotville, an offshoot of the Irish Army Veterans’ Association, was established “in support of their story” according to Paul.

“We’re all veterans ourselves. The story has been reinvigorated. Now we’re bringing the survivors up to Dublin to give them a big parade, and a big cheer, and to show that we support them,” he says.

As Paul indicates, the Friends of Jadotville will be taking an Irish Rail journey, from Athlone to Dublin on 22 October, for a parade and ceremony in their honour at Collins Barracks, near Arbour Hill.

“There are 49 of the veterans still alive,” Paul explains.

200 will be travelling in a huge group up to Dublin, and we’ll have anything up to 600 veterans on parade.

Paul, an army veteran himself who served four tours in Lebanon and one in Bosnia, says the veterans of Jadotville are “very excited” for the coming trip.

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“It’s the right thing for us to do to honour them, to h0nour those who have passed away,” he says.

Of the Irish Rail trip itself he says that “all the veterans were so happy to win”.

It’s a great community thing that Irish Rail do, and it’s ideal for community groups like ours. And it has all been run so professionally.

So, on the 22nd of this month the veterans of Jadotville will have a pipe band parade at Collins Barracks in their honour, together with a 21 gun salute, and a wreath-laying ceremony, with the Lord Mayor of Dublin in attendance.

“That’s the thing when you join the army,” adds Paul.

When you join you become a member of the military family. Everyone in that family has a certain comradeship. And that’s a worldwide thing.

TheJournal.ie is announcing one winner a week, over four weeks, but there are 100 round trips to be won – for up to 50 people in a group at a time, so a whopping 5,000 tickets – and you can apply until 28 October 2016.

Read: “A fabulous, happy day” – 100 reasons to get on board TheJournal.ie Journeys >

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