David Kelly, son of the late Pte Paddy Kelly, chats to the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Mr. Alan Shatter TD at Monday's event in Custume Barracks.
It was heartwarming, and indeed a proud occasion, this Monday to see Moate man Paddy Kelly honoured with a top military award after he gave his life in the name of peace and in the service of his country almost 29 years ago.
Pte Paddy Kelly was killed along alongside Garda recruit Gary Sheehan on December 16, 1983, while involved in the rescue of supermarket boss Don Tidey, who was being held by the Provisional IRA in Derrada Woods, Ballinamore, Co. Leitrim.
On Monday he was posthumously presented with a Military Star award by Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter at a ceremony in Kelly Square, which was named in his honour, in Custume Barracks.
His eldest son David accepted the citiation from the Minister, while his youngest son Andrew, now a serving corporal, accepted the Military Star. Paddy's sons Michael and Patrick were also in attendance at the ceremony.
Since he gave his life in the service of his country, Paddy Kelly was remembered in his home town of Moate and is held in the highest of esteem there.
Likewise, in Custume Barracks Paddy Kelly is never far from the thoughts of his comrades; those who served alongside him and remember him as a dedicacted soldier and a true gentleman, and now a younger generation, who serve alongside his son.
The fact that a square that lies within the army barracks is named in his honour speaks volumes of the respect and esteem in which Paddy Kelly is held among his military colleagues.
Every year they remember Paddy Kelly and the sacrifice he, and indeed his family, has made and hold an anniversary Mass to mark his death.
Likewise in Moate, Paddy Kelly is remembered in the community with the naming of the town park in his honour.
On the 25th anniversary of his death the town gathered together to officially name the park, during a poignant ceremony that was attended by Don Tidey. It was fitting to see that Mr Tidey was also in attendance at Monday's ceremony, where he paid tribute to the supreme sacrifice Paddy Kelly made, saying the Military Star was "a wonderful recognition for a man who did his duty bravely".
And the Military Star is certainly a wonderful recognition of the sacrifice Paddy Kelly made. It is one of the most prestigious medals among the Defence Forces' medals and the awarding of it to Paddy Kelly required a change to Defence Forces regulations as the it had previously only ever been presented to Defence Forces personnel who lost their lives in service overseas. The medal is posthumously awarded to personnel killed as a direct result of hostile action.
So prestigious is the medal that it falls into a category of Defence Forces medals of honour that are only awarded following rigorous investigation by a board of officers appointed by the Chief of Staff.
There is no doubt that Paddy Kelly was a deserving recipient of such an honour.
While he has long been remembered in his home town of Moate, by his military colleagues and indeed the wider community of Athlone, it was fitting to see him recognised nationally for his bravery. Paddy Kelly gave his life in the name of peace, a peace that, at the time of his death 29 years ago, many would never have believed would come to this country.