The people of Clonmel will have their opportunity to say farewell to the soldiers of Kickham Barracks next Monday afternoon when they will parade through the town to mark the end of 350 years of military presence in the town.
The spectacle of the barracks last 12th Infantry Battalion troops on their final march through the streets of Clonmel will be one of the most poignant ceremonies the town has ever witnessed.
Clonmel has been a military barracks town since the days of Cromwell. Many of the soldiers that have served in Kickham Barracks during its long history have came from Clonmel and other towns and rural communities throughout South Tipperary.
An estimated 150 soldiers from the 12th Infantry Battalion will march in the military parade that will be led by the Band of the First Southern Brigade.
The march out parade will take place two days before the last troops leave Kickham Barracks and the Defence Forces hands over the facility to the Department of Defence. Accompanying them will be a number of military vehicles and motorcycles driven by members of the 31st Reserve Cavalry Squadron.
A statement issued by Cmdt Robert Kiely, Officer Commanding at Kickham Barracks, outlined that the march out will commence at 1pm on Monday.
The troops will leave the barracks via the Davis Road exit at that time and march along the quays to Joyces Lane and will then proceed under the West Gate down the length of O’Connell Street to the Main Guard.
From the Main Guard, the soldiers will march down Gladstone Street, Emmet Street and onto Parnell Street where the Mayor of Clonmel Darren Ryan will receive a salute from the soldiers in front of the Town Hall.
After the salute the soldiers will march back to Kickham Barracks and re-enter the compound via Dillon Street.
They will then assemble in the Barracks main square for the final time where a flag lowering ceremony will take place followed by a reception. The newly appointed General Officer Commanding of the 1st Southern Brigade Brig. Gen. Derry Fitzgerald will be in attendance along with the Mayor of Clonmel and local dignitaries.
Catherine Kennedy of the Kickham Barracks Army Wives and Partners Group appealed to the people of the town to turn out in large numbers to watch the parade on Monday.
“We urge the people of Clonmel to come out and show their support for the soldiers at this very poignant event. It will be the last time we will ever see soldiers in Clonmel and they deserve to have a fitting send off,” she said.
Her appeal has been echoed by Independent TD Seamus Healy, who said the parade was an opportunity for the people of Clonmel to thank the members of the Defence Forces, both past and present for their work on behalf of the town over the years.
“Their tremendous work during flood situations and severe weather conditions providing assistance and transport particularly come to mind. Every good local cause of a charitable and a community nature was always fully supported by the members of the Defence Forces,” he said.
“This will, indeed, be the last opportunity for the people of Clonmel to witness the spectacle of a Military Parade through the town so please show your support on the day,” he appealed.
Deputy Healy paid tribute to the Army Wives and Partners Committee’s members’ tireless efforts over the past few months to prevent the closure of Kickham Barracks.