Presentation of chain of office to the National President of the Irish Naval Association, Mr. Piaras O'Connor.

At a ceremony held at the Naval Base in Haulbowline, Cobh Co. Cork, the Flag Officer of the Irish Naval Service Commodore John Kavanagh presented a gold chain of office to the president of the Irish Naval Association Mr. Piaras O'Connor. Distinguished guests included the officer commanding the Naval Base Captain Frank Lynch, the Naval Chaplain Fr. Des. Campion and representatives of the Organisation of National ex-servicemen and women (O.N.E.) and representatives from the Royal Naval Association.

The Flag Officer Commodore John Kavanagh speaking to the Parade before he presented the chain recalled that 58 years ago Piaras joined the newly formed Marine Service, and was stationed at the Naval base in 1940 serving a period of time aboard the newly acquired Motor Torpedo Boats and the vessels that followed after. At the end of world war 2 Piaras stayed with the Marine Service transferring to The Naval Service when it was formed in 1946, holding his Leading seaman's Rank. Piaras was a keen sportsman and was drill instructor and boxing coach to the Naval Service. It is said that Piaras coached several boxing champions before leaving the Navy in 1952. Piaras comes from a Military Family. His Father was a schoolteacher who spoke fluent French. His Father was a Gaelic Scholar and active politically during the War of Independence 1916-1921. He was also elected a councillor to Dublin Corporation during this period. Piaras O'Connors Father joined the newly formed Free State Army in 1922 with the rank of Lieutenant but was to die suddenly in 1927 when Piaras was only 9 years of age.

Piaras had 4 Brothers and 3 Sisters. His eldest Brother Padraig was also active during the War of Independence. He serveded with the active Unit under Michael Collins. At this time he held the rank of Lieutenant but was promoted to a full Colonel in the Free State Army in 1923. He was one of the Officers who took over Beggars Bush Barracks from the British. In 1928 Padraig became Governor of Limerick Prison. He returned to active service at the outbreak of the second world war and was O/C command and training. He died suddenly at the young age of 52 years. Another Brother of Piaras, Sean, like his Father and Brother was active during the War of Independence. He was promoted to the rank of Commodant in the New Free State Army. Like his brother Padraig, Sean also participated in the hand over of Beggers Bush barracks from the British on the 4th February 1922. He was in charge of the first Irish speaking Battalion. At the outbreak of World War 2. Sean was also one of the Officers in the new Marine Service subsequently renamed The Naval Service in 1946. He was Officer in charge of records in the Western Command but unfortunately in 1956 collapsed and died while on parade at Renmore Barracks.He was 53 years of age.

Captain Frank Lynch (O/C Naval Base), Piaras O'Connor, Commodore Kavanagh, and Fr. Des Campion, (Naval Chaplain) following the ceremony at the Naval Base

Another Brother Michael spend a short period in the Army from 1922 to 1924. Unlike his older Brothers he left the Army after two years and took up work in civie street. He died in the1960's.
Turlough, another Brother also joined the Irish Army, being musically minded he joined the Army School of Music in 1925 at the tender age of 15. Turlough like Piaras was very active in sport and excelled in Atletics, Soccer and Boxing but tragically like his other three Brothers died at the young age of 40.
It is fortunate that Piaras was encouraged by his brother Sean to join the Marine Service in 1940. The sea air must have worked wonders because Piaras at 80 years of age is in perfect health and very agile as is his wife Rose who married Piaras in 1939. Piaras and Rose have seven children 6 boys and 1 girl none of them following in their Fathers, Grandfathers, or Uncle's footsteps.
It was a fitting tribute to Piaras O'Connor that so many traveled to Cork to be at the presentation of his chain of office on September 6th 1998. It was also unique in so far as it was the first time since the foundation of the State that Royal Naval Association Colours were paraded in any Irish Naval or Military Establishment. A representative party of Royal Naval Association including a colour party traveled from Britain to attend the ceremony.
Piaras has participated in all of the recent Naval Association events travelling to Boston, New York, San Diego, and the Normandy Beaches in May this year. On November 11th 1998 Piaras will head a 50 strong contingent of Irish Naval Association members who travel to Messines, Flanders to participate in the Inauguration Ceremony of the unveiling of a memorial and Peace Park dedicated to the thousands of Irishmen Protestant and Catholic as fellow soldiers died side by side at Messines during the first world war. President McAleese and Queen Elizebeth will be present at the dedication ceremony.

Mr Piaras and Rose O'Connor and Commodore John Kavanagh

The Irish and Royal Naval Association Colour Party.
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