by ehistoryadmin on February 5, 2016

Irish Press 13 July 1946

South African Medal Award for Irishman

COMMANDANT TOM BYRNE, Captain of the Guard in Leinster House and last surviving officer of the Irish Brigade which fought with the Boers in the Boer War, has been honoured by the South African Government.

It has sent to Mr. de Valera, Minister for External Affairs, a medal for presentation to Captain Byrne for his Boer War service. The medal will be presented to Comdt. Byrne by the Taoiseach. It was brought to Dublin by Mr. J. W. Dulanty, Irish High Commissioner in London, who received it from the South African High Commissioner there.

Exactly fifty years ago, Tom Byrne, a native of Carrickmacross, went to work in South Africa as a miner. A few years later he had recruited an Irish Brigade to fight with the Boers against the British. The brigade carried a small green flag at its head and in its first engagement, against the Dublin Fusiliers, captured 150 of them.

Later captures witnessed by Comdt. Byrne included Winston Churchill, then a war correspondent for a British paper. After the Boer War, Comdt. Byrne went to America, and returned to Ireland in 1914. He joined the 1st Battalion of the Volunteers and fought in the 1916 Rising.

He was Commandant of the Battalion on its reorganisation following the rising. Medals to those who fought on the British side in the Boer War were awarded many years ago and the decision to award them also to those who fought with the Boers was made much later.

Comdt. Byrne, it is believed, is the only member of the Irish Brigade now resident in Ireland.


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