Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 41
"A Blessing for All"
I was reminded of this story while at a Coffee morning in Sarsfield Barracks.
While on a 60 Hour Tour of the Holy Land organised by Des Campion. A Priest that once you meet him, you will never forget him.
Frosty McCormack, Scotty Scott, Dusty OReilly, Peter Coppinger RIP and myself were on the tour. Some of the antics were outstsanding, Peter dancing on the tables in the Rock Bar Jerusalem, falling off and still holding his pint. I got food poisoning, which had Frosty in great mood as he slagged me for the 2 days.
Anyway back to Des, He served mass to us at the Sea of Galilee and after a visit to Bethlehem where we all bought souvenirs including Rosary Beads and Books.
One of the lads approached Des on the Bus and asked him to bless his purchases.
Des stood up and said, "If you think I am going to bless all these individually, you have another think coming to you. I will give a general Blessing which will include all the items you have got including in the storage area".
Another story from Des relating to travelling overseas.
At the traditional Midnight Mass, prior to departing, Des was saying mass in Gormanstown.
Before beginning Mass Des said "If anyone here might be offended by Adult Jokes, I suggest you leave now".
I can tell you no one left as we waited for Des to crack his Jokes.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 40
"Not enough water, Sir"
DJ Cronin was S&T officer and it was hard getting any time off, when he was in a mood. On this occasion Tony ODonnell and Cyril McSweeny Jnr, were looking for a half day. DJ insisted on them cleaning the saloon as Larry OConnor needed it later in the day. He told the 2 lads to clean the car if the wanted their half day. They got stuck into the job but it was taking up too much time. So they only cleaned the side that DJ could see from his office window. As Larry OConnor was getting in to the Saloon, he spotted the dirt on the one side and gave the driver a piece of his mind. Next morning DJ sent for the 2 lads and asked them why the car was not cleaned, they replied together, "we did not have enough water, Sir". Needless to say their punishment was much of the same as they were given the task of cleaning all the vehicles in the yard.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 39
"Ju Ju Man"
This story was taken from the Facebook page of Pai O Coilean.
His story started with a photo from the 69th Bn Pipe Band, playing prior to the start of a Tug of war Tournament, at the Pitch in Total, just below Tibnine.
The previous summer, the Irish 67th Battalion made it to the finals of the UNIFIL inter-contingent soccer cup against a very skilled and acrobatic Nigerian side. Every foreign contingent attended this much awaited game and organised themselves so that their armoured cars and tanks formed the boundary of the pitch perimeter. The vehicles acted as a type of Stand, whereby soldiers could climb up on, to have an excellent and unobstructed view of the final. The build-up to the event was electric. Tri-colours and green jerseys flooded the area and Nigerian colours and tribal war songs filled the air. Local Lebanese shop owners made their way through the crowd, selling chocolate, soft drinks and anything else that they could sell, and for a while at least, the war stood still.
Just before kick-off, an Irish soldier named Finbar Reilly, unexpectedly ran onto the pitch dressed as a Leprechaun, complete with hat, fake beard, waistcoat and buckle shoes. He ran over to the ball and sprinkled Talcum Powder on it and as quick as he had arrived, he vanished back into the sea of green jerseys.
What ensued in the following moments, can only be described as a mini war. The Nigerians ran off to one side of the pitch and demanded that the Swedish referee halt the game until their Witchdoctor was summoned to take the spell away. The Witchdoctor arrived from 10 miles away, surveyed the area and deemed the spell too potent to deal with alone. He needed at least another four Witchdoctors to deal with this 'powerful spell'. Another hour passed before the remaining Witchdoctors arrived. Some of them had to be relieved off duty so that they could get into costume and mix some magic potions. A total of six Witchdoctors, four qualified and two interns, were sent.
The Witchdoctors got together, amid the cheers of the Irish, and performed a powerful, and to be perfectly honest, wonderful display of tribal dance, as they moved to the four corners of the pitch, spraying concoctions from their mouths at the flags, then to the goal and sidelines, before moving to the ball, (still on the spot covered with Talc), and shouting orders at it to frighten the demons away. The ritual took a whole hour, and one Witchdoctor went unconscious from the strain. He was rushed to the Irish Medical Aid Post and later made a full recovery. Eventually the chief Witchdoctor gave the 'go ahead' and the game commenced. The match itself was second to none, played with brilliant skill worthy of a World Cup game.
Later, some said the Chief Witchdoctor must have been drunk because Ireland went on to win the game 2-1. True Story.
Thanks Pai, any other stories to add.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 38
This takes Army Rations to a new level.
I met with John Sweeney, who gave me this story.
John was recently passed out as an NCO and was proudly showing off his stripes.
Sgt Major Bill Dollard called him over and John thought he was in trouble.
Bill then said, "Cpl, there are civilian Horses in the camp field availing of army grass. Remove them immediately".
We cannot comment on how John managed this as he could possibly be in trouble with the Civilian Authorities.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 37
" The Dak and his Salute"
After completing our 2/3 Star Course in Murphy Barracks, Ballincollig
Tommy (Dak) Doyle and myself, were assigned to the Command Training Depot in Collins Barracks Cork, after our initial brief by the Sergeant Major we were detailed to meet Capt Power known as the Clot who was a remould (Came up through the Ranks) in 11 Block the following morning.
We met the Clot, he detailed the two of us to paint all the rooms, he gave us 2 small brushes and a bucket of paint.
I said to the Clot, "itís going to take us months to paint this block with only 2 brushes", he said "shut your mouth Private and get the job done".
The following morning and practically every day the Clot
would arrive into 11 Block to check on our progress.
One particular morning he arrived in, he asked me "where was Pte Doyle (The Dak)". I said "he is in one of the other rooms". He looked at me and said come with me and we will check if Pte Doyle is painting or am I covering up for him.
We checked every room, no sign of the Dak, the Clot went into one of the toilets to see was the Dak hiding in there.
The Clot knocked on the cubicle doors in the toilet and when he got no answer he would look under the door to see if anyone was in
the cubicle when he saw no feet he would push in the door, after checking all the cubicles he pushed in a cubicle door, there was the Dak standing on the toilet bowl hiding and when the Dak saw it was the Clot he stood to Attention and Saluted him, the Clot went Ballistic I had to leave the toilet as I was in stitches.
I can still hear the Clot giving the Dak a bottling.
Thanks again to John Thompson, for this story from Cork
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 36
"Have you 50p" from John Thompson
Back in the early 80's, when you were on duty in Cork, either Guard or Stand Too. You were not allowed to have any TV or Radio etc, when the Orderly Officer would visit the Duty Rooms, he or she would tear the Duty Rooms apart to try and find a TV or Radio. Eventually in the late 80's, they allowed TV's into the Duty Rooms, but on one condition, personnel on Duty, would pay the Bill daily. So they decided to attach a 50p coin slot to the TV. When the 50p ran out, you would insert another 50p and so on for the 24 Hour duty. At the end of the Month the Company that had installed the TV, would arrive to the Duty Rooms to empty the Coin Slots.
One day an Old Sweat Private, from the Engineers Coy, who was an electrician decided, rather than have the lads putting 50p in all day, he would hot wire the Coin Slot, it worked perfectly, until the Guy from the TV Company came to the Guard Room to empty the Coin Slot.
When he went to open the box, he was nearly blown out of the Guard Room, with a massive bolt of electricity.
This shows that it was not much different in any of the Barracks, or even overseas, when a Soldier wants something, he will find a way to get it, especially when he does not wish to pay for it.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 35
" Overshoot report"
On Duty with B Coy 58Th Bn, I was duty signaller from Midnight to 8am in Haddathah, on this occasion a young Officer with the Curragh Pln, ( I think it was Lt Farrelly, a runner of some distinction, if I am correct) was Duty Officer.
About 2oc I heard the sound of about 10 to 12, . 5 rounds.
I waited for the various Posts to call in, after a few minutes with no one reporting, I started to phone around. "No" was the reply from all the Posts including the Guard Room just across the road.
I went in and got the Officer and explained the situation to him. Unsure of what to do, I suggested that I send in an overshoot report, because any firing in the AO would be heard in Shamrock as well.
He agreed to this and again using what cuteness I had, I phoned it in to HQ.
At this point I was pleased with myself. So much for Smugness.
About 10 minutes later the phone rang it was the Duty Officer in HQ, he had heard the rounds being fired, he asked to speak to the Duty Officer, as I listened to the call, I had visions to Rusty Keane tearing pieces from me the following day.
But in fairness, Lt Farrelly spoke up and asked the Duty Officer if he was doubting his integrity. (Where did he come from). He explained that both he and the radio operator (Me) had prepared the report.
Great off to bed at 8oc, only to be woke up by Lt Farrelly standing at my bedside at 10oc.
The Coy Commander Rusty Keane wanted to see us both. We were in trouble now. Reporting over to the Coy HQ, Rusty was redder than his hair. "Come with me" he said.
We went outside the building and he pointed up to the side of the house, "What is that", there in a nice row over both the Comcen and his room, were 10 holes from the overshoot.
I said, "If you look at them you will see most of them are over your room and you heard nothing, just like all the Posts that I contacted, before discussing the matter with Lt Farrelly, we had nothing to go on, only that I had heard rounds being fired".
If he was happy with that, I wished to head back to bed.
An overshoot report, usually related to fire that was more than 100 Feet above a Post, Patrol or vehicle, while a firing close report was anything under 100 feet above or to the side of a Post.
Those of you who have been to Haddathah, will be aware the wall over the COs room and the comcen is about 18 Inches high. Good shooting in the dark, but if it had been 18 inches lower, I doubt if Rusty and I would have had that conversation the following morning.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 34
" Army Nicknames and their consequences"
The passing of Joe Touchstone and Billy McNamara this week, had many talking about the following tale, regarding nicknames,
Billy McNamara, was better known as Bushmills or Billy Bush, this coming from his fondness for the drop of Bushmills.
On one occasion he was up on orders and was marched in to the COs office.
The CO read out the charge stating Bush's number and Pte Bushmills,
"Pte Bushmills how do you plead, guilty or not".
With no reply from the Bush, the CO pushed him for an answer, where he replied, "I am Pte McNamara sir not Pte Bushmills"
Where upon the CO dismissed the charge and sent him out of the office.
A similar one to this was Jimmy OCallaghan, a cook who was known as Swivvel, he was charged under the name Pte Swivvel.
Nicknames and numbers played a big part in identifying individuals in the Army. As in the case of the OConnor brothers, 890, 990 and 99.
If you have any stories like this, why not contact me so I can add them.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: N0 33,
"Take the Photo"
I took photos at a get together organised by Mattie Gardiner for retired soldiers, who waited at the end of each month for their pensions. Unfotunately at this time the Army were hit and miss with payments. Sometimes you could be waiting over a week for the monthly payment.
But Mattie persuaded us to go ahead and organise the night. Over 120 were invited but yet again the late pensions struck and only half of those invited turned up.
But what a night it turned out to be, I had used up the film and Cyr Thompson struck again.
Cyr took the Flash and went around the room asking lads to sit together so he could get their photo.
He approached a group of 5, who were having a laugh about past experiences.
Cyr asked Tucker Tully to "sit in closer to the chap next to him", but Tucker replied "no way".
Cyr asked "why".
Tucker then had the place in stitches with his second reply. "I was at his funeral 12 months ago".
This is the Group Photo from that night.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 32,
Stand Too Duty was seen by many as boring Duty, but most of those on Stand Too were usually employed in different locations in the Barracks. As such as soon as the Stand Too Commander had gone through the orders most departed to their jobs. There was always a need to have at least two in the stand too room. So someone usually got caught to stay.
On this occasion Barney Ryan was a little seedy going on duty as Stand Too commander. Peter Mac decided he was going to stir things up, so he got his word in ahead of Joe Kennelly and Christy Delaney.
Joe worked in the Orderly Room, Christy worked in the Officers Mess. Joe was covering the door as Peter was leaving and Peter quipped up, "what are you sniggering about Kennelly, are you not listening to the Sergeant".
Barney turned on Joe and told him he would be staying in the Stand Too room all day. Barney turned to Christy and told him to get a bag of turf for the Stand Too, before he could go to the Officers Mess.
Peter was going down the stairs and Christy came down complaining that he could not get his hands dirty.
Peter suggested that he go back and tell the Sergeant that. Christy turned and went back while Peter headed to the other side of the Barracks. Christy ended up replacing Joe, after been torn apart by Barney.
Christy Delaney ended up as Cook.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 31,
At the best of times Rations going on Duty were poor enough.
This story shows that it was not a good idea to complain.
Johnny Cantillon, was the Commander heading to the Silvermines and Sgt Howard had issued the Rations.
Johnny felt they were a bit short and went in to the Cookhouse, to complain.
Bring them back in says Sgt Howard, who then produced a scales and as he weighed each item, those he found overweight he cut off the extra and gave Johnny back the shortened rations.
Needless to say that was Johnny's last time complaining.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 30,
"Where' the Video"
When Videos were at their Height, The Guardrooms and Stand Too Rooms rushed to get a Video so as to break the boredom that was usually associated with these Duties.
The Stand Too room in Limerick had one, that had been got through Welfare, with each member of the Stand Too party asked to contribute to the cost and rental of videos
The Stand Too commander was responsible for its safety.
On this occasion over a Christmas Period, Blondie Fitzpatrick took over as Stand Too commander and found that the video was missing.
The MPs were called and Mick Glancy arrived to investigate. He asked Blondie "did he know when it went missing",
"No" said Blondie "but you can check back through the Stand Too rosters, to see who was on when it went missing".
"Okay" said Mick, "but would you have any leads".
"No" said Blondie, "they were taken with the video".
"Toes and Teeth"
Peter Mac was in Cork for a check up,which meant he had to stay in overnight, he went upstairs to see if there was anyone in from Limerick.
The first one he saw, was Horse Carmody, lying in the Bed with his Toes poking out. They were all marked with an X. Peter asked why and the Horse said "he had ingrowing toenails".
The following day after getting his check up, he was getting ready to leave, so he paid the horse another visit.
Peter said, "well how are your Toes now". "Fuck my Toes" says the Horse, "but all my teeth are missing".
"A 100 watt Bulb and the Wrap"
Tom Dower had taken over as Orderly Room Sgt.
The Bulb had gone and he wanted a brighter bulb.
He called in Eddie Coady and sent him off to the BK Acct Stores to get a 100 Watt Bulb.
Eddie arrived back about 20 minutes later with 2 Bulbs.
Tom asked him why he had 2 bulbs.
Eddie said, "they did not have a 100 Watt Bulb so I got 2 50 Watt Bulbs".
Most of us are aware of the wrap, a bonus for those employed in the Kitchens. On this occasion Pakie ODonoghue RIP and Stan Harte had finished after the Tea, and were heading for the Gate. Cpl Hunt was on and he pulled the 2 lads for a bag check. He found a loaf of Bread and a Pint of Milk in each bag and was in the process of charging them. Martin Kennelly was due on at 6oc and arrived in as Hunt started to write his reports. Martin asked what was he doing. When he replied that he was charging the lads. Martin said what about when we need a bit extra on duty, where will we get it. Hunt did not care and the 2 lads ended up on orders. There were thin servings at the gate for a while after that.
"Pranks and High Jinks"
Every Barracks has a story of the prankster who just cannot go through the day without pulling some prank. The individuals that come to mind in Sarsfield Barracks are Davey Finn and Cyril Thompson. There are others, but this is one from an unusual source.
Vinny Lyons was the Barrack Tailor, on this occasion with a GOC's coming up, he was particularly busy.
Kevin Walsh needed his uniform trousers taken up as the GOC would be visiting the NCOs Mess. He handed in the trousers to Vinny and asked "when they would be ready". Vinny said "about 3 hours". Kevin was not known for hanging around Barracks for a minute longer than necessary.
Kevin was not happy with that as he was finished in 20 minutes.
Vinny said "he would hand the trousers into the Mess for him". Kevin said "great" and headed off.
The following morning Kevin collected his package and headed off to get changed. He opened the package and started screaming abuse about Vinny.
Vinny had made a short pants for Kevin. There was no way he could go on Parade now. Terry Punch told him to go hide somewhere.
Terry had the pants mounted over the Bar for a few months.
Any other stories like this, send them in
"Our New Cups"
A Cpl who shall remain nameless, was struggling to make ends meet as he had a large family. So now and then he would pick up a few pieces in the Barracks.
It got to the point that a lot of the ware in his house had ONC printed on it.
One day his son, who was about 7 asked what ONC stood for on all the Cups.
The Cpl replied, "That stands for, Our New Cups son, so don't ask anymore".
Anyone that has returned from the Leb, will know all about getting cigarettes home.
Some of us were caught by Isreali Customs or at Customs in Dublin, where duty on the cigarettes was usually far higher than what we paid for the fags.
I was charged for sending cigarettes home in the post, while the best one that I heard of was the tech Sgt who stripped down the speakers of his ghetto blaster. They were quite big and he managed to store a fair amount in them.
At Dublin he was pulled and the Customs Officer asked why he was bringing home 2 big speakers and no unit. He replied "the Unit is in the other case and it is easy to replace the speakers, if they get lost".
He was left through with about 30 cartons in each speaker.
"A Fishy Bayonet"
The late 60's early 70's saw the Defence Forces, required to protect vital Installations. Ardnacrusha Power Station, was one of those locations.
On this occasion Murty Hanley was the guard commander, having handed over to the oncoming guard, Murty checked that all his guard were in the mini bus.
Just after leaving the compound, one of the Privates said, "I seem to be missing my Bayonet". Murty told the driver to head back to the compound.
Following a complete search, Murty took the Guard to Barracks, where he reported the missing Bayonet.
Following the completion of a number of reports and a Military Police investigation. Murty went off duty.
About 6 weeks later Murty was again the Guard commander in Ardnacrusha. He met one of the ESB workers who was carrying out a check along the bank of the river.
The worker asked Murty what had happened about the missing Bayonet. Murty asked "what do you know about the Bayonet. Do you know where it is."
The worker replied,"yes, it's in a Salmon." He explained that, "the soldier in question had tied his Bayonet to the handle of a brush and speared the Salmon. As the salmon wriggled, the Bayonet came free from the handle and the Salmon swam away with the Bayonet in him"
Having asked around, we have come up with the name, it was Emmet McInerney from Ballynanty.
"Johnjo and the Ceili Band"
Bill Dollard RIP and Johnjo Culhane RIP, usually sat together for meals, in the old NCO's Mess.
On this occasion, Johnjo came in and sat down.
Bill said "I heard you had a bit of bad luck".
Johnjo replied "Yes I had some money stolen from my room".
Bill asked "how much". "£80 pounds" said Johnjo.
Bill asked "how did that happen".
Johnjo replied " I wanted to listen to a Ceili Band on the radio, so I went down to listen to them on the car radio, I must have left my door and locker open, When I got back I realised the money was gone".
Bill piped up " For fucks sake Johnjo, you could have had the band in the room for that amount"
This story previously credited John Jo White as the main character, I am happy to correct this following a discussion with a reliable source.
This story relates to a Range Practise for the shooting Teams.
Willie OConnell, Pat Deedigan and Gerry Hall were on the range firing the Gustav.
Pat Deedigan had shot off 12 rounds zeroing and all were within the white patch.
Gerry Hall came over and said that his, holding was off and he would get better results if he changed his stance and reset his sights.
Gerry reset the sights and Pat proceeded to fire his second 12 rounds, which all missed the white patch.
Willie OConnell was watching this and said "Idiots, what are you doing", he asked Gerry Hall how many clicks had he moved the sights and Gerry said "3 to the right".
"Well move them back to the left" Willie quipped.
The Range Officer asked was everything okay.
Willie replied, "No we are dealing with idiots, the idiot changing the sights and the Idiot who gave him the gun".
"Tanks, Tanks, more Tanks"
All that have served overseas or at Home.
Will be aware of Who, What, Where and When.
This story is from the 47th Bn UNIFIL. Foncie Franklin was CS with B Coy and on this day was Duty Officer in Brashit, I was Company Radio Operator and things were nice and quiet.
Terry Harris RIP, was on duty and I think it was in Rashaf. He called in that 3 tanks were moving across the ridge in front of him from right to left. I was writing this down prior to contacting Bn HQ, when Terry said there were now 7 Tanks on the ridge,
Foncie came in and asked what was up as I was telling him, Terry reported that there were 13 Tanks on the ridge. Things were looking serious when Terry said that there were over 30 Tanks on the Ridge.
Foncie asked what was he going to do, I quipped up that Terry had only a rifle and he would be better off waving them through.
Having sent in our report we were informed that the action was an Isreali manoeuvres display.
"2 playing, 1 marking"
Matthew Fitzgerald, was Orderly Room Sgt and Michael Treacy (lived in Borrisokane as far as I remember) had recently joined the Orderly Room staff.
Mathew asked him to go find, Gerry Leo, Joe Kenneally and Eddie Coady, who were missing.
Off went Treacy and returned about a half hour later, without the lads.
When Matthew asked where they were, he replied, "In the alley, two playing, one marking, Sarge"
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 19 "Director of Signals Visit"
The Director of Signals Staff usually visited about every 5 Years, but ED Doyle had taken over as Director of Signals and he wanted everything in tip top fashion.
Dessie Hyde said to me "make sure that all the history books and invoices are up to date". We had been getting everything ready, but a major problem arose with a kit box full of damaged antennas and handsets.
As we had not got them boarded, we were looking to hide therm, Dessie said "stick them under the counter, he won't look there".
On the day Mick Egan met him at the end of the steps and introduced Sgt Hyde and Private OBrien to him.
He went through everything and was giving us a hard time, it did not look good for a final report. Then he spotted the Kit Box and asked me what was in it, "I said nothing Sir". He said "open it" and I replied, "you really do not want to see what's in it". He made me open it and went ballistic, asking "why this stuff had not been boarded". Dessie said "that we had applied for a board, but we were not granted one by the Dir of Signals Office".
As a result we had another inspection, a few years later. Lt Healy had to stand in for Mick Egan and waited at the bottom of the stairs for the Director. When the Director arrived, he saluted and was trying to introduce Dessie and me to him, when the Director turned and said to him, "do not mention those two, I have past experience of them".
This occasion also saw Peter Daly, Coy Commander HQ, lose it, when the Director kept calling me Corporal.
I pointed out that I was only a Private, I did not have any rank markings on my Jumper.
Peter Daly issued instructions that all ranks were to display rank marking on their Jumpers from the following morning.
Lt Healy came back into to us and asked "how had he got caught for that, you two told me there would be no problem".
"Burgers and Chips "
B Coy the 47th were based in Sultiniyah, just 6 weeks in there was talk that the UN mandate was not being signed and we might be heading home. Consequently the rations were poor as there was no contract signed. All the company Cooks were trying to work miracles serving Salami and Eggs, even the Patrols were happy to just get eggs, as everybody was sick to the teeth with Salami.
When we were queuing up for meals most people hung back so as to avoid been served Salami. On this day Blackie Lysaght, Willie Keane and Ray Frawley RIP, were at the back.
But the first lad out, had a Burger and Chip on his plate, so the 3 Boyos, moved to the front and a couple of minutes later came out with big smiles on their faces as they contemplated their Burgers.
They moved into the Dining Hall and all was quite for less than a minute, as Blackie cut into his Burger and discovered that the Cooks had camouflaged the Salami.
The noise of the plate hitting the wall and the shouts of "fuck those Cooks", could be heard in Tibnin.
"A Small Paddy, please"
In the late 70s and Early 80s, there was a group of serving NCOs and Men who frequently headed to Durty Nellie's for a few Drinks. Usually dressed in their Best Greens, in order to get the American Tourists to call a round of drinks when they started a sing song.
On this day, Joe Duggan, Ray "the Para" Frawley RIP, Johnny Barry RIP, Christy "Happy" ODwyer RIP and Joe Curtin, were among the group in attendance.
Ray Frawley was calling a round of drinks at the high bar and Johnny Barry went up to help him.
Just then an American Tourist came to the bar and asked for a "small Paddy, please".
Johnny Barry, turned around and picked up Happy, who happened to be passing, and put him on the counter stating "there you are Sir, a small Paddy".
With Happy struggling to get back down, the rest of the lads were in uproar laughing at him, those of us that remember Happy will be aware that this did not go down well at the time
"Where is the Water"
"Having met up again with Joe ONeill, this story came to mind.
Joe was one of the water truck drivers with the 47th Bn.
And they were among the most important members of the Bn.
They delivered to the posts as often as they could sometimes working late into the evening.
We were in Brashit when this occurred.
Joe arrived with the water truck and I went onto the roof of the COs house and pulled up the hose to fill the tanks. When they were full, Joe loaded up and sped out the gate. Two days later an MP jeep arrived with the 2 MP's looking for Private OBrien. I met them and they asked "had I seen Joe ONeill recently", I told them "he had delivered water 2 days ago".
It turns out Joe was missing.
After a long search, he turned up 3 days later
I was showing the film in the canteen, when Joe arrived in, supported by 2 Ghan Batt Officers. Seeing me he shouted "OBrien this is what an Officer looks like".
The Military Police were sent for and Joe was taken to Camp Shamrock.
Later that week, Joe found himself up on orders.
The Bn CO, I think it was Lt Col Wright, gave him CB.
As luck would have it, the BN CO was carrying out his weekly inspection of the camp a few days later. Passing through the cookhouse he saw Joe, with his arms up to his elbows, in the water, washing the pots and pans. He said "that will teach you ONeill", Joe replied "It will Sir".
As soon as the CO had left, Joe withdrew his hands from the water and proceeded to open and drink the can of beer he had been holding, when the CO entered
Pat Deedigan had a game of poker going and on this occasion Spoon Ryan was having a bit of luck.
Pat dealt the cards and Spoon opened and bought 2. There was another, watching the game and he made some noises as Spoon bought his cards.
The next player saw Spoon and as the hand developed, it was down to the 2, Spoon saw his opponent and declared a trip but the other player had a house and won the hand.
The observer asked Spoon why did he throw away the pair as he would have had the best hand.
Spoon replied "I was hoping to get the fourth one".
Poker, Don and 45 were the usual games to break the monotony of Barrack Life.
Another couple of Characters make their debut in this tale. Harry Ryan and Willie OConnell. Willie was well known for his stories about Barrack life.
On this occasion. Harry was due on duty the following day, but was in Albie Carroll's with Peter Mac and Willie OConnell. After a few pints they headed home.
The following morning Paddy Kelly saw Willie and Peter together, he went over and asked had they seen Harry Ryan. Willie replied, "no".
Paddy Kelly said," its all your fault that he did not show up for duty".
Willie asked how and Paddy said "you were drinking with him yesterday".
Willie said," yes but we all went home, when Harry got home, he beat up his wife and stuck his head in the oven".
Paddy Kelly began to panic and asked" why did he do that". Willie as quick as possible replied "he was looking for his dinner".
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 13 "Banishment to the Curragh"
Phoncie Franklin was the CS in A Coy and Eoin McCarthy and Peter MacNamara got on his wrong side and as there was a requirement for 2 personnel in the Curragh. They got the gig.
On Monday Peter and Eoin were sent off to Curragh as orderlies. They were working away for weeks and no sign of being called back.
After 6 Months, another Private arrived in and asked, were Ptes MacNamara and McCarthy around. Peter said over here.
The Private said "there is a call for either of you". Eoin went over to answer the call.
When he returned, Peter asked what was up. Eoin replied that Phoncie was on the phone and wanted to know where we were.
Peter expecting to be called back to Limerick, was delighted, but Eoin said, "when I told him which Barracks we were in",
Phoncie said "you are in the wrong Barracks".
I do not know how log more they were left there.
But over the years, there were many sent and some stayed there.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 12 "Sleeping on Duty" Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 11
Paddy "the Krull" McCormack RIP, was reading the A Coy, duty roster and was upset, to see his name up for duty on the coming Sunday.
The first NCO he ran into was Pa Hogan, Krull told him "this was the fourth Sunday Duty in the past 5 weeks that he was up for". Pa, told him "that the duties came out from the major's office and he should get onto them".
Krull duly headed to the Major's office and having knocked on the door, waited to be called in.
The Major said, "what do you want McCormack".
"Major I am up for duty again this Sunday, the fourth time in 5 weeks.
"And what do you suggest I do about it" replied the Major.
Well Sir, "someone else could do it, my wife said that I may as well bring my bed with me, if I am on duty this weekend"
The Major replied, " McCormack, tell your wife, there is no sleeping on duty".
"Rice by another name"
Eamon Siggins had taken over as Bn Q.
He was serious about his job and would check on the food being served up regularly in the Dinning Hall.
He introduced a Large Menu Board where the lads could see what was been served.
A few days in a row the dessert was Rice.
He approached the cooks and asked why was there only rice being offered, surely they could prepare something else. The Sgt piped up "no problem Sir, we will sort that out".
The following day Eamon arrived to check the menu. He called out the Sgt and asked "what is Tapioca", "another name for Rice, Sir", came the reply.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 10
"Thats my Bike"
Mark Anthony makes another return in this story of a stolen Bike.
Mark Anthony reported that his Bike had been stolen.
He was duly up on orders and fined 5/-(Five Shillings) for neglect.
Mark was brooding over this fine and was not great company over the following months.
He was always on the lookout and about 6 months later waking home from work, he saw this fellow approaching him on a Bike. Not being in a pleasant mood he waited until the Bike was level with him and dived onto the Bloke's back dragging him to the ground. With the civvy looking up at him, Mark said "that's my bike you fucker you cost me 5/-".
The following day Mark rode in on his bike and asked the Company Commander could he get his fine back as he had found his Bike.
This time Mark Anthony won out as his fine was returned a couple of months later
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 9
"Inagh 2, Mark Anthony and the Bull"
Mark Anthony and the Bull OCallaghan RIP, are the main players in this story of pre automation phone calls.
The Bull was commander of the 22nd Bn and he sent Mark Anthony to Lahinch to carry out a stock check.
Mark and the Driver headed off and on the way stopped off for liquid refreshment in Inagh.
After a couple of pints, Mark Anthony was not in the mood for travelling on to Lahinch, so he called the operator to get him the HQ in Ennis.
The Bull answered the phone and Mark Anthony said "I am very sorry Sir I cannot go to Lahinch as I got word the wife is not well, I will go down tomorrow if that is okay".
The Bull replied "Cpl you will get out of the fucking pub or I will be down to make sure you go to Lahinch".
When the operator rang the HQ, she said "please hold for a call from Inagh 2", and at that time everyone knew that Inagh 2 was the local pub.
This is my second story with Mark Anthony and his apparent aversion to Lahinch, does anyone know why.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 8
"Dessie and the Guardroom"
Dessie Hyde RIP, was liked by all and fondly remembered.
Having worked with Dessie in the Signal Stores for a number of years, it is with some fondness that I recall this story.
Dessie was want to visit the NCOs Mess at lunch time. On this occasion I went to collect the keys of the stores from him having gone to married quarters for my lunch.
With nothing much happening I was drawn in to conversation with him and a few others. I left the Mess at about 2.15 only to see Brian Reade standing outside the Adjutants Office.
As I approached he called me over and told me "I was keeping in with poor company", I told him "I had just collected the keys".
At about 3oc with Dessie comfortably installed behind his desk the phone rang, when I answered, Brian Reade asked me to send Sgt Hyde to the ops office.
At the best of times this was not a good idea. I took it on myself to go see what he wanted. When I entered the Ops Office, Brian Reade asked where was Sgt Hyde, I told him "he was busy and could I help". He said there was an escort the following morning leaving at 6.30. I replied "no problem Sir, I will arrange a signaller and I will open the stores in the morning"
I departed feeling pleased with myself. But things were only hotting up. I told Dessie what was required and he asked me what else was said. I told him that I had told Brian Reade that the Sgt was busy.
Dessie could not let that lie as he felt that the officer had it in for him. He duly rang the Ops Office and after exchanging words with the officer, he put the phone down.
10 minutes later, CS Cyril Shanahan backed up by Ned Long and Mick Glancy arrived and I was told to get out. Shortly after Dessie was marched to the Guardroom under escort.
Dessie rang me from the guardroom to collect his stereo and bring it down to him, not wanting to join him I asked Brian Reade for permission, which he gave me.
At about half four, I knocked on the ops door looking for Brian Reade, he asked me what was up and when I asked had he arranged to have Sgt Hyde taken to his meals, he swore.
He then turned to me and told me he would release Sgt Hyde to me if I agreed to take him out of Barracks and make sure he did not return until the following day. As the lowly Private in this I knew there was no way out. Brian Reade rang the Guardroom and informed the Commander that he was to release Dessie to me.
Having got Dessie and heading to his room to get changed, a returning CIT escort decided to arrive at this point and Brian Reade came down to dismount the escort. Dessie seeing his opportunity, wanted to have a word with Brain Reade.
So while the escort was dismounting, I was pulling Dessie towards the nearest gate to get him away.
My brother-in-law Mike Keane, was on the escort and he rushed up to help me get Dessie in his car to take him home.
We left the Barracks and only made it to the Mountain Dew when Dessie demanded that Mike stop and let him out.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 7
"New switchboard operator"
Cyr Thompson got many a man in trouble with his antics, but this must be the shortest time he ever took. I do not know of too many, who can claim that Cyr never caught them.
The old Switchboard was situated under the clock and also housed the Stand too room.
Two legends of the switchboard had moved on, they were Whacker Collopy and EoghanTimmors McCarthy.
So Sam Browne was sent up to train with Cyr.
For those that remember the old switch, the handset had a button that you needed to press if you were replying to a caller.
Following a short run through. Cyr went to the window and when looking down, he saw the BQ Noel Pearse RIP, in a heated argument with a CQ.
Cyr saw a great opportunity in this and told Sam that the BQ would be in a bad mood after that, but he was not going to put up with his bullshit if he phoned up.
Shortly after the BQ rang looking for a number, Cyr said that he was not the BQ's servant and did not have to put up with his bullshit and then laid down the phone.
He then told Sam that he was not answering anymore calls from the BQ and he should not take any of his nonsense.
When the BQ rang again for another number, Sam answered and duly told the BQ that he would not put up with any of his bullshit on the phone.
Needless to say Sam had pressed the button on the handset, where Cyr had not.
What followed was not for the fainthearted as the BQ arrived to find out who was giving him the abuse.
Of course when he saw that Cyr had set up poor Sam, he did relax a little.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 6 "All your deadly sins"
This story is about one to the greatest characters to grace the Barrack Square, Davey Finn RIP.
Most of us will remember his antics around the square when he was the BFW, but this story, is of a time when he was Cpl Finn.
Davey, was given a work party of 4 to clean the Church and polish the floor with the good old leadswingers. Included in this work party was Peter Mac.
The lads were working away when they heard a door banging and when they looked around there was a person at the lectern dressed in the Priest's clothes. It was Davey and he started to lecture from the pulpit.
With the lads in stitches, laughing at his antics, Peter quipped up that he better put the clothes back as Gerry Benson would be here in a couple of minutes to check things out.
Davey saw a great opportunity and rushed into the confessional, he switched on the light and waited.
Sure as night follows day Gerry Benson arrived, seeing the light on he assumed that the priest was present.
Entering, he told the priest all his sins. Davey could not resist and shouted out "liar, none of that is true"
Gerry Benson duly had Davey locked in the guardroom and following COs orders he was demoted to Pte.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 5
Peter Mac was in all his glory with the Pipe Band on the square in Collins Barracks Cork.
There was a major parade on and a number of personnel were sent down from Limerick for the occasion.
The Sgt Major came out to inspect all those on parade. Walter Sullivan was not known for favouring anyone.
He approached the Band first and went up to Peter Mac, "if you so much as snigger on this parade Mac, you will not leave Cork alive"
Peter was unsure what was happening, but waited to see.
Walter started to inspect the parade and he reached two characters, who he did not take a like to.
To the first one he asked for his name and where he was from," Pte Lysaght sir from Limerick", approaching the next man he asked him his name and where he was from,"Cpl Hynes sir also from Limerick".
Walter then asked "how did you get here".
Both replied that they "came by train".
Walter then said, "Did you both come as the stokers by any chance".
Joe Lysaght RIP and Paddy Hynes RIP.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 4 "Unusual Incident"
Duty in the Silvermines has ruined many a good NCO.
On this occasion Jim Deveraux, had the good fortune to get Johnny Carroll, Muddy Mescal and John Cremmins for his guard.
Having taken over from the offgoing Guard.
The lads all settled in and Jim then began, by reading out the standing orders, Johnny Carroll was already on sentry duty and Jim had the window open.
He called out "Pte Carroll, what would you consider an unusual incident".
With a short pause Johnny replied " A person with 2 heads coming to the gate, Sarge"
Tall tales from the Barrack Square: No 3 "Promotion and promises"
The 22 Bn, based in Ennis were having problems, filling a vacancy in Lahinch.
The Company Commander, Fintan Molowney called Cpl Kieran Ryan in for an interview for the position.
Just in case you are trying to figure out who, Kieran was, we all knew him as Mark Anthony.
Fintan began, "now Cpl if you get this promotion, you will have to move to Lahinch". Mark Anthony replied " no problem there sir"
A few days later, Fintan called Mark Anthony in again to tell him he had got the promotion and he was to move to Lahinch.
"Ok Sir" replied the newly promoted Sgt.
A few days later Fintan spotted Mark Anthony in the office and called him in. " I told you, that you had to go to Lahinch", "yes Sir, I am going" replied Mark Anthony. A couple of weeks later, Mark Anthony having settled in to his new rank was again stopped by the Company Commander, " You promised when you were interviewed, that you would go to Lahinch".
"Yes Sir", replied Mark Anthony, "but, you would say anything to get a promotion".
Tall tales from the Barrack Square: No 2
"Boil the Kettle"
In the late 60's early 70's, those on Parade, paraded in No1's, following parade they got in to work wear and were detailed for tasks around the Barracks.
On this particular morning Peter Mac was detailed to draw turf for the Orderly Room.
Approaching the Orderly Room from the back door. Peter heard raised voices arguing in the orderly room.
Not one to miss out on a good story Peter rushed in to find, Gerry Leo, Mick Dundon, Paddy Morgan, Tommy Houlihan RIP and John Fitz in a heated argument.
Just then Gerry Benson entered from the front and told them to keep it down.
He asked what it was all about and was told that "they were trying to decide whose turn it was to plug in the Kettle to make the tea.
Tall Tales from the Barrack Square: No 1, "Where's me Bike"
This story relates to a time when the gate down Barrack Hill was in use. Tony Quilty RIP was the PA on duty and Peter McNamara was on stand too assisting him. Tony needed to use the facilities so he left Peter to man the gate.
Peter was approached by an unfortunate Soldier, (cannot remember his name), but he wanted to report that his Bike had been taken. At this time all the Bikes in Barracks were green in colour.
Tony came back and Peter told him, that this lad wished to report that his Bike had been taken.
Tony, not known for his fondness to write out reports, immediately rang the PA's office and Ned Long came down. He took the poor unfortunate away and started to question him.
Ned "Can you describe the Bike"
Soldier " Yes it was green"
Ned "Have you the serial number"
Soldier "No, but I would know it anywhere"
Soldier "My rifle was strapped to it"