Firefighters honoured with 1916 medals for their work

By Aideen O'Flaherty

A GROUP of 30 firefighters from the Dolphin’s Barn and Tallaght fire stations received 1916 commemorative medals on earlier this month.

The medals were given to the firefighters in Dolphin’s Barn Fire Station in recognition of the work that the fire service has done between 1916 and 2016, after a number of other organisations in the State received recognition for their work during the Easter Rising.

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‘D’ Watch firefighters and family members from Tallaght and Dolphin’s Barn with their medals (Images: Trevor Hunt)

“After the 1916 commemorations all organisations in the State were given commemorative medals,” explained John Keogh, a third officer with special responsibility for operations in Dublin Fire Brigade, “but the fire services didn’t receive any medals.”

Mr Keogh added that the only two organisations that existed at the time and who still operate under the same name today were Dublin Fire Brigade and St John Ambulance.

A number of firemen from Dublin Fire Brigade took part in the Easter Rising, including Joe Connolly, who left Tara Street Fire Station on the day of the Rising, April 24, to fight with the volunteers, and later became the chief officer of Dublin Fire Brigade.

“The whole history of Dublin Fire Brigade and 1916 is completely intertwined,” added Mr Keogh. “Every fire and ambulance case [during the Rising], Dublin Fire Brigade were at it, within the confines of martial law.”

The medals gave serving and retired members of Dublin Fire Brigade who served during 2016 the opportunity to reflect on the history of the organisation, and to receive recognition for their work.

Adrian O’Grady, who was a popular firefighter and station officer for Tallaght Fire Station, was posthumously awarded the commemoration medal, which was accepted by his wife, Helen, and his children.

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Peter Navan, District Officer, Dublin Fire Brigade, presenting a medal to Helen O’Grady, wife of the late Adrian O’Grady

Mr O’Grady, who was a resident of Castle Riada in Lucan, died suddenly last October and is fondly remembered by his colleagues.

His funeral received full ceremonial honours from Dublin Fire Brigade.

“Adrian’s family were [at the medal ceremony], they were delighted,” said Mr Keogh. “It was an opportunity for us to reintroduce ourselves to his family, and to thank all of the people who were involved on the day of the funeral.”

The recipients of the medals at the ceremony over the weekend were all from D Watch in the Bravo District, which consists of the fire stations in Tallaght and Dolphin’s Barn.

“The guys in Dublin Fire Brigade are very proud of the tradition the fire brigade has, and they want to keep that tradition going,” said Mr Keogh.

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Members of ‘D’ Watch proudly show off their medals

“We’ve been delivering this service for over 150 years, and for the new guys who are joining the service, we want them to know that we’re part of a bigger picture.”

He added: “The event was a solemn kind of thing, there was a bit of militaristic organisation – everyone was in their full firefighting gear and they were all doing the call to attention and things like that.

“It was a nice feeling though, because it’s recognition of what happened in the past, and the medals are being accepted on behalf of those firefighters who were there in 1916.”

In January last year the government ordered 3,500 commemorative medals to be presented to members of the Irish fire services around the country, and Dublin Fire Brigade has been presenting their members with some of these medals at ceremonies at varying points through the year.

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