We have been asked about the artillery pieces that took part in gun salute during the 75th anniversary of the Naval Service on 1 September. The guns are a QF 12-pounder 12-cwt. The Irish Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann) operate two saluting batteries: one on Dún Laoghaire East Pier and one on Spike Island in Cork Harbour.
The photograph by John O’Byrne shows 2nd Brigade Artillery Regiment firing a 21-gun salute to L.É. Samuel Beckett (P61) as she leaves Dún Laoghaire Harbour in honour of 75 years of the Irish Naval Service. The 3-inch QF 12-pounder 12-cwt were originally a naval gun produced by Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick in 1894. They served with several navies around the world on vessels and as part of coastal defence emplacements. The guns looked after by the gunners of the Defence Forces are in pristine condition for 100-year-old guns.
The photograph by John O’Byrne shows 2nd Brigade Artillery Regiment firing a 21-gun salute to L.É. Samuel Beckett (P61) as she leaves Dún Laoghaire Harbour in honour of 75 years of the Irish Naval Service. The Naval Gun Salute has a long tradition dating back centuries. The salute has evolved from when foreign naval vessels entered a foreign port or passed a foreign naval vessel and needed to demonstrate they were not hostile. Vessels would ‘clear their guns’ with blank charges to indicate they were empty and posed no threat. In return the saluted vessel or shore defence battery would do the same. By the 18th century a 21 round salute had become common with Royal Navy. The figure 21 comes from the ratio of 1:3 by 7. Naval vessels could only fire off one round compared to the 3 rounds a shore battery could. There are several citations for seven. Some state biblical reference while other state astronomical origins. Gun salutes consist of an odd number of rounds; the firing of an even number of rounds in the past was reserved for occasions of mourning. The 21-gun salute is the highest honour.
A famous incident involving a naval gun salute misunderstood is recorded during the Spanish-American War 1898. On 20 June, the USS Charleston and three transport vessels approached Guam with the intention of capturing the island. Officials and the people of Guam took no notice and went about their business. The Charleston fired 13 rounds at the Spanish fort. Officials on the island believed the U.S. Navy had just rendered honours and prepared to return the salute. Little did they know they the USS Charleston was actually firing on them with live rounds. They had no knowledge the Spanish-American War had started on 21 April; some two months prior. They and Guam were soon guests of the United States.
75 years ago today – 1 September 1946 – the Irish Naval Service was formally established as an arm of the Irish Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann). The Naval Service is the Irish State’s principal seagoing agency with a general responsibility to meet contingent and actual maritime defence requirements. From the early days of the three lonely Flower-class corvettes – L.É. Cliona, Maev and Macha – the Irish Naval Service has evolved to a modern sophisticated national maritime defence and security agency with a responsibility for an area of some 141,000 square nautical miles. Over its 75 years’ service, the Naval Service has carried out such duties as arms and drug interdiction, search and rescue, and fishery protection. Naval Service personnel have deployed on overseas missions with their Army and Air Corps counterparts, not to mention its recent deployment to the Mediterranean as part of the European Union humanitarian response to African migration.
To mark the 75th anniversary today, L.É. Samuel Beckett (P61) – led a ceremony at Carlisle Pier in Dún Laoghaire. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, Simon Coveney T.D., Óglaigh na hÉireann / Irish Defence Forces Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Mark Mellett DSM, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Cllr Alison Gilliland, and An Cathaoirleach of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, Cllr Lettie McCarthy attended the ceremony receiving military honours from a Sub Lieutenants Guard of Honour (55 personnel all ranks) on Carlisle Pier. The L.É. Samuel Beckett then transited to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin for the remainder of the ceremony. As the ship exited Dún Laoghaire harbour, she was honoured with an Artillery Gun Salute provided by Gunners from 2nd Brigade Artillery Regiment.
At Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, the P61 received a helicopter flypast by two Irish Air Corps helicopters before receiving salutes from the crews of L.É. George Bernard Shaw (P64), L.É. James Joyce (P62) and L.É. WB Yeats (P63). Thank You Irish Naval Service For 75 Years of Outstanding Service
Wishing the Irish Defence Forces a happy 96 birthday. Under the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923 the Executive Council formally established Óglaigh na hÉireann – the Irish Defence Forces on 1 October 1924. Its predecessor – the National Forces 1922/1924 – had been a pillar in helping form the democratic institutions of the new Irish Free State. Since that time the Irish Defence Forces have remained steadfast to that mantra on land, sea, and air. No matter what the deployment, emergency, or task, the permanent and reserve men and women of the Defence Forces have stood fast to defend the people of Ireland and the democratic institutions of the State at home and overseas.
The annual Irish Defence Forces Veterans’ Day took place today in Collins Barracks, Dublin. The event was attended by the Minister of State with Responsibility for Defence, Paul Kehoe TD, and the General Staff. Veterans of the Irish Defence Forces attended from the Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen and Women (ONE), the Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA), the Association of Retired Officers (ARCO), and the battalion and regimental associations.
A wreath was laid in memory of those who had lost their lives in service to their country.