In 1922 partition occurred in Ireland and a number of regiments that had traditionally recruited from the south of the country were formally disbanded. Amongst these regiments was the Prince of Wale’s Leinster Regiment. This unit had been formed in 1881 by the combining of the 100th Regiment of Foot with the 109th Regiment of Foot and it had its home depot in Birr. The Regiment served gallantly during both the Boer and Great Wars. As with most regiments, in the aftermath of the Great War an Old Comrades Association was set up to foster the companionship soldiers had experienced in service into civilian life. Tonight we have a small lapel badge for the Old Comrades Association of the Leinster Regiment:This is a small silver plate badge, with a green centre containing the cap badge, The Prince of Wale’s feathers, and the numbers ‘100’ and ‘109’ representing the numbers of the original regiments that amalgamated to form the Leinster Regiment. Around the outside of this light green centre is a blue ring with the lettering ‘OCA PoW Leinster Rgt’. The rear of the badge has a lapel fastening:This badge appears to be silver plate and although I cannot read it on my copy, other examples are marked as having been manufactured by Phillips of Aldershot. The Leinster Regiment Old Comrades Association remained in existence for around seventy years until the early nineties. By that point, with few original members remaining alive, it was wound up and the remaining funds distributed to charity. Happily a new organisation has since been founded to keep alive the memory of this illustrious regiment. Their website indicates who is involved in the modern successor to the Old Comrades Association:
Membership was initially derived from ex-servicemen of the British and Irish armies as well as a few who had relatives serve with the regiment. Membership continues to grow with more members having family links with the Leinster Regiment, and as the Association continues its work we also encourage any person who has the interests of our Association at heart to join us. The Association is the sum of its members and together we will maintain the spiritus intus of the Prince Of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians).
The Association also describes some of the activities they have been involved with:
In October 2004 the association held a ceremony to rededicate the grave of Sgt John O’Neill VC MM, whose grave had become somewhat dilapidated over time. By September 2006 membership had exceeded 145, an excellent start for a new Association and the same year the Association was privileged to participate in the liberation commemoration ceremony held by the inhabitants of Guillemont and Ginchy in France. In March 2007 the Association held a parade in Ypres and members marched to the Menin Gate for the ceremony of the Last Post. Each November members of the Association parade at Horse Guards for the Remembrance March in Whitehall. The Association provides a presence at the annual Garden of Remembrance, held at Westminster Abbey in November, when all members are encouraged to support the planting of poppy crosses in the Leinster Regiment garden plot. Meetings are also held in London and Dublin.
As part of our objective of continuing the memory of the Regiment, the Association is working closely with the Council of Co. Offaly in Ireland, to develop a Leinster Regiment Collection to be housed in the County Library in the town of Birr. This collection currently houses copies of the WW1 War Diaries for the Regiment, as well as selected books, pamphlets and a photo collection on CD ROM. Our objective is to encourage descendents of Leinster soldiers to donate or loan memorabilia to the collection housed in Birr.