The siblings of Corporal Fintan Heneghan, who lost his life in Lebanon 30 years ago while part of a United Nations’ peace-keeping mission, have said they feel privileged that a memorial bench has been erected in the town in honour of their late brother.
Speaking at an official unveiling ceremony at Cornmarket in Ballinrobe last Friday week, Enda Heneghan, who is a brother of the late Corporal Heneghan, said it was only fitting that the bench should be unveiled on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the shocking tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of three Irish soldiers.
Private Mannix Armstrong and Private Thomas Walsh, both from Sligo, were also killed when a land-mine detonated on the outskirts of the village of Bra’shit in the ‘Green Rooms’ area of Lebanon on March 21, 1989.
“Thirty years ago, this tragedy occurred and at the time, people said Fintan would never be forgotten. This monument proves that at the time they were not just fickle words.
“In that respect, we want to particularly thank Fintan’s friends in Ballinrobe, especially Martin Feeney who approached us and asked was it okay to go ahead with a memorial. Naturally enough, we were delighted.
“The fact that this is coming from Fintan’s friends in the town is what means the most, really. It is proof he has not been forgotten.
“We no longer live in the town but visit regularly and it is a pleasure to come back. It will mean even more now that this memorial is here and future generations can come and hear of what he did.
“We feel very privileged and honoured that this has been done for us.”
The event was attended by Enda and his sisters, Grace and Ann, his wife, Mary along with many extended members of the Heneghan family who, incidentally, still live in the area. It was also attended by current and retired members of the Irish Defence Forces.
Cllr Blackie Gavin, cathaoirleach of Mayo County Council, commended the local councillors who had ensured the memory of Corporal Heneghan lived on.
Corporal Heneghan’s late father, Jack, was a member of Mayo Co Council for over 30 years and served as chairman on two occasions.
“We are delighted to be able to erect this memorial in the centre of the town, just 20 or 30 yards from where Corporal Heneghan was born and reared,” Cllr Gavin remarked.
Cllr Damien Ryan, who proposed the idea to council officials some months ago, said it was “right and proper” that a permanent monument and tribute be erected on the 30th anniversary of Corporal Heneghan’s death adjacent to the house where he had grown up.
“This is a tribute to a man who gave the ultimate sacrifice for peace,” said Cllr Ryan before thanking architect Matt Stephens and McDermott Memorials in Partry who worked together to design the bench.