Hidden heroes to be honoured

THE family members of firefighters from the Dundalk area who took part in a cross-border mission after the Belfast Blitz have been invited to attend an upcoming memorial service.

THE family members of firefighters from the Dundalk area who took part in a cross-border mission after the Belfast Blitz have been invited to attend an upcoming memorial service.

The Belfast Blitz memorial is to be held in Drogheda on Sunday, May 15. The service will include the blessing of new fire engines and the vintage fire engine from Dundalk that travelled to Belfast.

The event is being held to commemorate the crews who travelled from Dundalk, Dublin, Dun Laoghaire, and Drogheda to assist fire crews in the North after the Nazis bombed Belfast on Easter Tuesday, April 15, 1941.

Despite Taoiseach Eamonn De Valera’s neutral stance during World War II, he agreed to send firemen to help the devastated city, which endured a four-hour bombing raid.

Nearly 1,000 people were killed in the Blitz, and 100,000 people were left homeless. Patrick Rooney, drove the Dundalk fire engine that arrived first in Belfast.

It is thought that he was one of 21 men including firefighters from the regular brigade and a number of volunteers who travelled from Dundalk to Belfast.

“We don’t know the names of all of the men because there is no official list. We are asking people to let us know if their friend or family member was among those who went to Belfast,” said former Dundalk firefighter, Jim Kerley.

“These men would be in their 90s now. John Gray from the Avenue Road was one of the men. Dan Devenney, Bernard Devenney’s father was in charge of the mission, and Arthur Halliday, the owner of Halliday’s factory went too.

“We will be planting a tree on the Sunday to acknowledge the men and when we get the names of the crews, we hope to erect a permanent memorial.”

For more information telephone Jim Kerley on 086-0747707 or Dundalk Fire Station on 042-9334666.