First Firefighters of Ireland receive 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal

NRFA Medal

“A huge thank you to everyone in the NRFA for organising the presentation event on Saturday. From start to finish it was an emotional occasion for our family and to see our Father and Husband SS/O Brian Murray honoured in such a way beside his other fallen colleagues made us all very proud. It’s fantastic to see that our Firefighters, and their family members, will never be forgotten. We would also like to thank Wicklow TD John Brady for travelling to event to show his support during this time. Thank you all very much.”

The Murray Family.


December 1st, 2018 is a date that will be remembered, not only by the NRFA and its members, but to the Fire Service history in general. It marked the initiation of the 1916 Centenary Commemorative medal presentations to Fire Service personnel in Ireland. Although we are celebrating this date nearly 2 years late, the NRFA has fought tirelessly to try and achieve this momentous occasion for those who were, or would have been servicing the country in 2016….. and succeeded.

The commemorative medals were offered out to members of the Defense Forces by the Irish Government who served in 2016, to honour the legacy of continued service by the military since its foundation and in recognition for the role they played to commemorate 100 years since the 1916 Easter Rising*. Not only did the military have a major role during 1916, but the fire service did also and without the men on the ground during this time, we may not have much of the heritage and history left in our capital city today.

1916 Medal

Over the last number of months, the NRFA has been in negotiations with the government, especially Minister Damien English who is over the Fire Service in Government, about the acknowledgment of Fire Service personnel who served in 2016 nationally. It was eventually agreed that all members be awarded this medal. However, we could not forget about those who have passed away over the last number of years as had they not committed themselves to the roles of Firefighter, Sub Officer or Station Officer, they may be still here with us today. It was only right that the families of these firefighters be the first to receive these medals.

The Firefighters that were recognised at the event were as follows:

Neil McGhee

S/O Neil McGhee – Loughrea Fire Station 2002 – 2017

Patrick O Reilly

S/O Patrick O Reilly – Cavan Fire Station 1998 – 2018

F/F Joe Kelly – Falcarragh Fire Station 1981 – 2018

F/F Michael Liston – Foynes Fire Station 1987 – 2008





F/F Mark Shaughnessy 2005 – 2007
S/S/O Brian Murray
1997 – 2007
Bray Fire Station

The event was broken into 2 sections, those who were active in 2016 and to those lost their lives during their lines of duty and who would have been serving in 2016. Between the 6 being remembered, a combined service time of 105 years was achieved, a remarkable achievement for any group of firefighters. Next to their families, the Fire Service was considered their second home. The men you see before you regarded their colleagues as their second family as so much time was spent with them, day in, day out helping that of their communities and surrounding areas. Unfortunately, the family of the late Patrick O’Reilly could not make it on the day but we wish that he and his family be remembered through these presentations also.

Eamonn O’Shaughnessy receiving the medal from Minister Damien English on behalf of Mark O’Shaughnessy

Louise O’Sullivan receiving the medal from Minister Damien English on behalf of Neil McGhee

Bernadette Liston receiving the medal from Minister Damien English on behalf of Michael Liston

Kay Kelly receiving the medal from Minister Damien English on behalf of Joe Kelly

Kian and Sinéad Murray receiving the medal from Minister Damien English on behalf of Brian Murray Snr, pictured here with Wicklow TD John Brady. Kian was only 6 months old when his father passed away in the line of duty.

Chairmans Address:

We, the NRFA, would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who traveled from far and wide, from County Kerry to Donegal, from the west coast of Galway to the east of Wicklow, you traveled to show support and respect to the firefighters and the families of firefighters who passed while in service,and to those who tragically lost their lives on active duty protecting their communities. The large attendance at the event shows us that firefighters do care and can come together and achieve the respect firefighters only rightly deserve.

For far too long we have had a difficulty with our voices being heard,but by the turnout of firefighters past and present on Saturday this is changing. The families of firefighters who were honored on the day were shown and treated with the utmost respect and dignity which they all deserved by firefighters around the country. WE as a collective, need to maintain this momentum of progression and build on it in order to deliver what is only right, and what’s needed for the welfare of firefighters of today and into the future.

Our showing at the presentation evening on Saturday was delivered in a very professional and compassionate manner, and the solidarity shown by the firefighters in making the event the success was all the evidence needed.

If we, the firefighters, can communicate and work together as a collective, push politics aside and not fall into the colonial tactic of divide and conquer, we as a group can achieve the best for all firefighters and their families nationally. When we do unite, it’s then and only then, we are able to succeed in delivering for the needs of the modern day firefighter. While we are divided we do not stand a chance. Solidarity, Unity and Honesty are the 3 main ingredients needed to achieve our goals,and the only people that can stop us in making all of this happening is not your chiefs,it’s not the government,it is OURSELVES!

So we ask you as a firefighter, to please take time to read this,and ask yourself are your concerns being met,does the service deliver on your expectations,and if not what are you going to do about it. The firefighters of today and our families deserve better,and our future is in our own hands,it is now time to join up,stand up,and speak up,for the well being of every firefighter in Ireland, not just your own station,or county, but for every man or woman nationally who is part of the fire fighting community.

We the NRFA would like to thank you for taking the time to read this and we would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your family a very happy and safe Christmas and we are looking forward to next year to making our association the success it has the potential to be. Solidarity Unity and Honesty is the only way forward for the Irish firefighters.
Kind regards,
Stephen Mc Fadden,
National Retained Firefighters Association
*Wikipedia: 1916 Centenary Commemorative Medal
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