This memorial marks the achievements of Colonel Pat Quinlan who commanded the UN peace keeping force during the siege of Jadotville in the Congo in 1961. Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny unveiled this memorial by sculptor Holger C. Lönze on Saturday 28th October 2017.
In 1961, the newly established United Nations sent peace keeping troops to the Congo to protect the civilians of the young republic against rebel attacks launched by the Katangan break-away region and the Belgian uranium mining companies. The 155-strong Irish UN peace keeping troop ‘A’ Company of the 35 Infantry Battalion largely consisting of inexperienced soldiers and some as young as 17, held out against 3,500 soldiers of the Katanga Army under the command of battle-hardened French and German Mercenaries. Under-equipped with lighter and smaller weapons compared to the enemy and with limited ammunition and provisions, they faced four days of waves of overwhelming attacks, air assaults and shelling. Quinlan sensed trouble ahead and ordered his men to dig trenches, and to prepare an ingenious perimeter defensive position. While casualties on the aggressor side were heavy (as many as 300 dead and 700 wounded), there was not a single casualty amongst Quinlan’s men and only four injured. On the fifth day, with no water or ammunition left, Quinlan had no option but to agree a cease fire and surrender to save the lives of his men. The men spent six weeks as POWs before being released, spending another two months of action in Katanga before returning to Ireland when their tour of duty ended.
Although ‘A’ Company received civic receptions on their return to honour their action in Jadotville they were ignored by the Irish Government and Irish Army for many years. Abandoned and un-supported by the still inexperienced UN command in the Congo, their amazing achievement in Jadotville was ignored for the rest of their careers by many of their colleagues in the Irish Defence Forces and by Irish and UN politicians. Recommendations for medals were denied until the event was highlighted first by books (Michael Wheelan’s The Battle of Jadotville, 2009, Declan Power’s The Siege of Jadotville, 2005 and Rose Doyle with Leo Quinlan’s Heroes of Jadotville, 2016) and in 2016 by Richie Smyth’s Netflix movie with The Siege of Jadotville as well as the relentless campaigning for recognition by various veterans as well as Pat’s son Leo. In September 2016 ‘A‘ Company received a Unit Citation – the first of its kind in the Irish Army and on the 2nd December 2017, the veterans of the siege eventually received as specially created ‘Jadotville Medal’ that is linked to the Unit Citation to honour their courage at the Siege of Jadotville in 1961.