Local Defence Forces in Ringsend Park

Local Defence Force Irishtown Sub Dist 1943 4 Sect

A lovely lady called Mrs. Smullen gave me this picture of the Local Defence Force Irishtown Sub Dist 1943 4 Sect.

From the picture she could only identify her father Thomas Smullen (bottom left) and John Clarke from Clarke and Sons pub in Irishtown (front row, third from the right). One of the men she recalled being called Russell but didn’t know which. The men in the photo were stationed down at the Poolbeg lighthouse and kept a lookout for German aircraft.

As it transpired an avid reader of NewsFour Mr. Oliver Doyle met with me to recount his memories of the AK AK guns which were in Ringsend Park during the Emergency (the official euphemism used by the Irish Government during the 1940s to refer to its position during World War II). He said that in 1940, after the fall of France, the Irish Government decided to build up the army and the Local Defence Force (LDF). Oliver was 19 at the time he joined the LDF and was, for a short while, in the Beggars Bush Barracks. A few months later he was transferred to the RDS for AK AK training.

The decision had been made to put AK AK guns in Ringsend Park, manned by the LDF, so Oliver and 40 other men from the LDF were trained to man the anti-air craft guns. There were three officers- John Moore from Ringsend, Dick Gallagher from Bath Avenue and a Mr. Flood from Sandymount plus a senior officer T.F O’Higgins. Years later O’Higgins went on to become a judge and ended up a Senior Justice in the Courts. Before he passed away he became a Fine Gael TD and contested a presidential election.

Another of the crew was George Warnock, whose brother was a diplomat in Berlin during the War years. He was later made ambassador to Germany and stayed there for the whole war as Ireland never broke off relations with the country, one of the five nations who still had diplomatic relations with Germany at the end of the war.

Most of the men from the LDF who manned the AK guns with Oliver have now passed on. He remembers some of them fondly; Bob Behan (Ringsend), Willie Byrne (Ringsend), Fitzharris (South Lott’s Road) Harry Hall (Bath Avenue) and Frank Tobin. One friend of Oliver’s from those days who is doing well is Jack Flood, he runs a tailor shop in Wicklow Town.

By Jason McDonnell