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Obituary : Dermot [Jock] Ring

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  • Obituary : Dermot [Jock] Ring

    Lifelong commitment to Defence Forces and Irish

    Dermot "Jock" Ring: tales of fighting in Spanish Civil War and in Arab war of independence
    Photograph: The Irish Times
    Dermot Ring: Dermot Ring, a soldier who had a lifelong commitment to the Defence Forces and oversaw a revival of the Irish language in the FCA, has died aged 84.

    Jock Ring, as he was known to his many friends, was born in 1923 at his home in Ballybough (where he died) into a family steeped in the republican tradition. His father Joseph and uncles Liam, Patrick, Christopher and Leo all fought for the Irish Volunteers in the GPO during the 1916 Easter Rising. All five brothers were interned in Stafford jail and later in Frongach camp in Wales. They were involved in the subsequent War of Independence.

    Liam, or Liam Ó Rinn as he was known, became chief translator in Dáil Éireann, turning Peadar Kearney's Soldier's Song into Amhrán na bhFiann.

    Jock went to St Vincent's national school, St Canice's and Coláiste Mhuire, an all-Irish secondary school. His first job was with a German folklore collector with whom he toured Ireland collecting stories and songs. Later, he worked for CIÉ until he took early retirement at 55.

    He had a great and good influence on young men and boys over many generations through his participation initially in the LDF (Local Defence Force) and later the FCA (Forsa Cosanta Áitiúil), now the Army Reserve.

    It was as company commander of Complacht na bhFiann that he had his greatest influence.

    Following the government endeavours to revive Irish in the early 1960s, the company was set up by the Army. It was totally Irish-speaking in its administration and training. Previously, the only Army Irish-speaking entity had been the Céad Cath, the 1st Battalion based in Renmore in Galway. At that time, Irish had ceased effectively to be the normal language of that battalion.

    Complacht na bhFiann was a great success, attracting huge numbers of recruits who later became prominent in the general legal profession, the medical profession, the accountancy profession, the Civil service and in business.

    It remained at high strength and became the premier company within the FCA. Jock Ring was central to its success, ably assisted by officers and senior NCOs assigned to the company from the regular Army. Such colleagues included Lieut Jim Sreenan, later to become Lieut Gen Sreenan, chief of staff, Lieut Peter Ryan, who became a senior Army officer and distinguished himself in overseas service, Capt Ciarán Fitzgerald, captain of the Irish rugby team, Comdt Cathal Ó Laoghaire, later captain of the guard at Leinster House and former Dublin footballer, Capt Noel O'Brien, Capt Dan Shanahan, Colm Deefy, Dinnie O'Leary and Johnny Bagge.

    He worked alongside senior officers and in his own impish way, manipulated them to ensure that Complacht na bhFiann was given all of the facilities it sought. He was aided and abetted in the earlier years by Col Dan Fitzgerald.

    Some of those who served with him were the victims of his roguish and impish manner. He had many believe that he had fought on the republican side in the Spanish Civil War and would regale all with stories of how he fought against Franco's forces and priests and nuns.

    He also claimed that he fought as part of the Arab independence movement in Algeria in their war of independence against the French. Of course not a word of this was true, but he had all totally convinced of his soldierly history.

    When addressing young men on the annual training camp of the company, there were always three elements as part of his advice. One was to send a card home even if it was just to say to one's parents "send me a pound", the second was if one was to start drinking, not to drink cider or "jungle juice" as he called it, but to start drinking Guinness.

    And finally, regarding meeting girls, his advice, if not order, was "fág iad mar a fuair sibh iad".

    He was the best of company, but had a healthy derogatory cynicism in relation to those in authority, notwithstanding his ability to charm those concerned. However, there was no badness in his make-up.

    Outside work, the FCA and family, Dermot also gave hugely to his local community. He was an ardent worker in his parish church, St Agatha's on North William Street. He was a founder member of the local credit union and served as auditor for many years as well as being a cashier. He was recommended as a peace commissioner by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and appointed in 1987.

    He married Pauline (nee Confrey) from Donnycarney in 1954. They had two children, Mairéad and Nial. Despite recent illness, he insisted on leaving hospital to vote for Bertie, and later to return home, from where he wanted to die.

    He is survived by Pauline, Nial and Mairéad, by seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

    Dermot Ring: born June 19th, 1923, died August 1st, 2007.

    © 2007 The Irish Times
    "Are they trying to shoot down the other drone? "

    "No, they're trying to fly the tank"

  • #2
    One of the great ones!