Gunner James Magee

Defender of Values – The Artillery Corps – Óglaigh na hÉireann


2018 is the 95th Anniversary of the establishment of the Irish Defence Forces Artillery Corps on 23 March, 1923. The year marks 60 years of continuous service by Óglaigh na hÉireann in peacekeeping duties with the United Nations. 2018 is also the 220th Anniversary of Gunner James Magee’s heroic action at the Battle of Ballinamuck, County Longford, the final military engagement of the 1798 Rebellion.

In addition to paying homage to Saint Barbara, patron saint of gunners worldwide, the Artillery Corps is unique within the Defence Forces, in that it has an historical figurehead, namely Gunner Magee, from who derives some of the Corps rich heritage and enduring values of respect, loyalty, selflessness, physical courage, moral courage and integrity. Since the establishment of the Artillery Corps on 23 May, 1923, Gunner Magee’s courage, heroism, and resourcefulness have inspired gunners of all ranks, and his heroic stand during the Battle of Ballinamuck has been commemorated and honoured by the Corps.

Under the auspices of the Artillery Club, the objective of this paper is to enhance the Artillery Community’s understanding of Gunner Magee. Accordingly, this paper presents a subjective narrative on the environment and events associated with Gunner Magee’s military service, based on historical sources, popular culture, folklore, and social memory.

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