Saturday, November 02, 2013

Hairy Baluba

Click any image for a larger version

I was looking through some of my old photos when I came across these of the funeral of the Irish soldiers killed in the Niemba ambush on 8 November 1960. The troops were part of a UN mission to de-Belgianise the Congo and retain its integrity against secessionist province Katanga. As the 53rd anniversary of the massacre approaches I thought it appropriate to post them.

The photos show the funeral passing the General Post Office and Nelson's Pillar in Dublin's O'Connell St. on the way to Glasnevin cemetery. They are taken from the roof of the building which housed the Irish language newspaper, Inniu, which was directly across from the GPO.

The shot above shows the van which preceded the military vehicles bearing the coffins. Click on any image for a larger version.

This is the carriage bearing the coffin of the leader of the Irish troop, Lt. Kevin Gleeson from Carlow.

This is one of the army lorries bearing the coffins of the remainder of the dead soldiers, with the exception of Tpr. Anthony Browne from Rialto whose body was not recovered until two years later.

These soldiers were: Sgt. Hugh Gaynor from Leixlip, Cpl. Peter Kelly, Templeogue, Cpl. Liam Dougan, Cabra, Pt. Matthew Farrell, Jamestown, Dublin, Tpr. Thomas Fennell, Donnycarney, Pte. Michael McGuinn, Carlow, and Pte. Gerard Killeen, Rathmines.

These are some of the carriages bearing the wreaths.

Those who were alive at the time will remember that the killings convulsed the nation, which, as the photos show, turned out in great strength to honour its dead.

It was a time when a Baluba immigrant would not have come out alive from Collinstown or Dún Laoghaire and when the term Baluba became one of abuse among the youth of the day. Hence the title of this post. No offence intended.


  1. A wonderful and timely reminder, Póló, of the huge turnout of the citizenry of Dublin to salute the fallen Congo troops. One of whom, Sgt Hugh Gaynor, used regularly visit his mother in Blanchardstown near our house, where I would see him in Army uniform wearing the Cavalry Corp's distinctive ' Glengarry ' beret. That's probably what led me to join the 11th Motor Squadron (under age!!) in Mc Kee Barracks and finally to see UN Service myself. As to the Niemba heroes, ar dheis Dé go raibh a n-ainmeacha uile. An Ruisealach.

  2. Small world. The 11th Motor, subsequently 11th Cav. was my unit.

  3. The soldier at the front of Kevin Gleeson's coffin on the left was my Dad

  4. Hi Liz

    Small world, as I'm finding out from various comments on my blog.