The group enjoying the reunion at Rockhill House.
Easter Monday saw a historic day at former army barracks at Rockhill House in Letterkenny, where 230 past and present members of the Irish Defence Forces returned to the landmark building for a special reunion.
The event was organised to give those who were formerly stationed at Rockhill a look at the renovation works that have been ongoing for the last two years.
The day was hosted by the estate owners, John Molloy and his family, and was coordinated by the former Commanding Officer at Rockhill, Col. Declan O’Carroll (Rtd).
The house will be re-opened in the coming months as an exclusive weddings a special events centre.
The day began with Mass celebrated by Army Chaplain Father Alan Ward CF, who travelled from Finner Camp in Bundoran as part of a significant delegation of serving Army staff in attendance at the event.
Music was provided by Amy Meehan and a team of army pipers.
Commandant John Martin of the 28th Battalion addressed the gathering and paid tribute to the camaraderie of the soldiers and former soldiers who endured good and bad times together in Letterkenny.
He stated: “The comradeship and teamwork that existed here is something we should not forget. Those are very important qualities and I pay tribute to you as soldiers and former soldiers of the 28th battalion, the 24th battalion, the 50th battalion and other units that are here today.”
He paid tribute to John Molloy and his family for the work they have done to restore the house to a very high standard.
“Rockhill is now a going concern, beautifully restored and beautifully brought back to life in a manner that will enhance not just Letterkenny, but also the entire North West of this country. That is a significant achievement; we are delighted that you have done it; and we pay tribute to you for doing it,” he added.
After the formalities, the serving and retired members enjoyed a trip down memory lane during a tour of the house. Many stories were shared of days in the barracks, tours of duty and the life-long friends that they made while serving in the defence forces.
Former soldiers John D Brennan, Raymond Edwards, Hugo Callaghan and Joe O'Brien pictured in the newly restored Rockhill House.
Reflecting on the day, Col. Declan O’Carroll, said it was a great initiative by the new owners to keep a connection with the defence forces because of the estate's military history.
“The invitation was really very appreciated by all who attended. It was so great to see the house not only being restored, but restored far beyond what it ever was in the past. I would just like to wish him well going forward as a business concern. He has done an unbelievable job,” he told the Donegal Democrat.
Former members of the Military Police stationed at Rockhill, enjoying the reunion on Easter Monday. Left to right:Tony Ramsey, Pat Price, Frank Coyle and Freddie Gillen.