Servicemen honour Barntown war hero
Former colleagues and servicemen turned out in force to honour Private Andy Wickham in Barntown last weekend. Private Wickham was part of a U.N. peacekeeping operation which came under fire while based in the Congo in 1961.
Having only rejoined the army a short time before his deployment, Private Wickham (25) was killed in the gun battle leaving behind a wife and five children.
Although buried in Glasnevin, Dublin, a special commemorative plaque was erected in his homeplace of Barntown at St. Alphonsus Church in 1992. And it was there that the 27th annual memorial service took place, one attended by dignitaries from a variety of organisations.
'It was a very good day, there was a large turnout, people from Carlow, Kilkenny, Cork, good representations from all over, they're very good like that,' said Private Wickham's brother, Richard.
Among those present were members of the Irish United Nations Veterans Association, the National Ex-Servicemen Association and members of A Company 36th Battalion who served with Private Wickham in the Congo.
Also in attendance were Minister of State at the Department of Defence Paul Kehoe and Mayor of Wexford Tony Dempsey. Private Wickham's widow Eleanor O'Grady laid a wreath at the memorial, as did Martin, Private Wickham's brother.
'You're not just honouring Andy, you're honouring all the people who died on peacekeeping duties,' said Richard. 'It's important to keep this going; people are still finding out, I received a call from someone who served with Andy in the Congo and they'd only found out.'