Carrick on Suir
I am a bit of an historian and am often found in ancient graveyards looking at old headstones. Which is what had me in Kilvenamon Cemetery last week where I chanced upon the grave of Charles Kickham, patriot and author. Having paid my respects I duly headed for home to be informed by my good husband, a soldier, that there were rumours that the closure of Kickham Barracks was imminent. This barracks is the current base of the 12th Battalion of the Irish Defence Forces. The town of Clonmel has a long history as a garrison town. It was the home of the Royal Irish Regiment prior to Irish independence in 1922. Needless to say, I was stunned.
I am proud to be a soldier’s wife and as every soldier’s wife knows, when you are married to a soldier, by default you are married to the army and are required to row in behind them when they are called to arms. We are the ones who wave them off at 5am, when there is a call out in a national emergency not knowing if we will see them again that day, or even the next day. We are the ones who rear the families when they serve overseas. We are the ones who sit at home and worry about them when they are out on cash escorts and when they act as aid to the civil power. We are happy to do that for we are proud of what they do, proud of the military tradition in the region. We know our husbands, know their capabilities, know that they are supermen in an ailing economy, who are utterly reliable and often taken for granted. I speak from the perspective of an army wife and recognise there are superwomen in the army also.
Nobody consults us though when they want to close a barracks, nobody asks us how it will be to leave our lives in this region, and relocate in another region. Nobody considers what effect it will have on us to leave our gainful employment here, those of us who are still lucky to have work, and find a similar job elsewhere. Nobody considers what it is like to uproot our children from their current schools where they are happy and settled and doing well, many are in exam years, and find another school. Does anybody care about the young family with a huge mortgage in negative equity who is forced to relocate? Does anyone care about the cost of my tyres and the wear and tear of my car if I decide not to relocate? I know families who have children with special needs, with relatives of whom they are primary carers and to ask them to relocate is akin to asking them to keel over and die.
What of the effect to the local economy and it isn’t just Clonmel, it is the entire South East region. I accept that there have to be cost cutting measures, hey we have all taken a paycut, pay more taxes, pay more for everything and I have no problem doing my bit, but you cannot get blood from a stone. I appeal to everyone to fight against the closure of Kickham Barracks. The historian in me is concerned about the fate of listed historical buildings of the military barracks. What is to become of them? Who is to fill the sandbags when the river floods, who will escort the stranded through these floods. Please rethink this decision. And I’m fairly sure that that all Army wives are available for consultation.