A Past Chairman, Director and Founding Member of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust CLG, Major-General Patrick Francis Nowlan (Retd) RIP.
Speaking on the notification of the news, the Chairman of The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust (CLG), Brigadier-General Paul Pakenham (Retd), stated:
“The Directors and all members of the Military Heritage of Ireland Trust (CLG) are shocked and deeply saddened at the news of the passing of Major-General Paddy Nowlan (Retd) RIP on 06 November 2015. An honourable, courteous, dedicated professional, he will be greatly missed and fondly remembered by many, especially his family.
Major-General Nowlan was a highly respected founding member of the Trust, was elected its first Chairman (1999 – 2011) and remained as an active and highly respected member of its Board of Directors (1999 – 2015).
Major-General Nowlan’s experiences, service and expertise were instrumental in shaping the Trust’s ethos, vision, mission, objectives and membership. His enduring legacy ensures a cross border, non-denominational and non-political dimension that fully understands and appreciates the role of the Irish Soldier in Ireland’s distinctive and shared military heritage.
On behalf of the Trust, I convey our deepest sympathies to Major-General Nowlan’s family, colleagues and friends. A Family Man, Gentleman, Soldier, Peacekeeper, Diplomat, Bridge-Builder, Historian and Colleague, may Major-General Paddy Nowlan, Rest in Peace.”
The Story of the Irish Soldier
Major-General Paddy Nowlan had a lifelong interest in Irish military history. He was an active member of the Kildare Archaeological Society and was one of the Vice-Presidents of the Military History Society of Ireland. General Sir Bryan Joseph Mahon (Born in Galway, 10th Irish Division, Commander-in-Chief Ireland, and Senator, buried in Ballymore Eustace) was the subject of his MA thesis, which he was using as the basis of his Doctorate, and intended to publish.
With the transfer of Collins Barracks to the National Museum of Ireland in 1993, Major-General Nowlan played a significant role in identifying Collins Barracks as the optimum location for a Military Museum. He was primarily responsible for the elaboration of the “Defence Forces Policy for Military Museums”, which was promulgated in September 1998.
Promoting the widest understanding and appreciation of the story of the Irish Story, and acknowledging that military heritage is common to the different political and religious traditions on the island, Major-General Nowlan was the key instigator in masterminding the establishment of The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust.
In August 1999, through his many influential contacts, he personally brought together a group of like-minded individuals drawn from the different traditions in Ireland – North and South, with a variety of backgrounds including business, public service, military service and academia forming the Trust’s founding Officers and Directors, and concurrently enhancing the strategic peace dividend.
In parallel, Major-General Nowlan, played a key leadership role shaping the political, diplomatic, military, academic and resource environments which culminated with the opening in 2006 of the much acclaimed Soldiers’ and Chiefs’ Exhibition in Collins Barracks (“From 1550 to the Present Day”). Likewise, he championed the Trust’s close relationship with the National Museum of Ireland, and with military and regimental museums throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Under Major-General Nowlan’s Chairmanship, the Trust assisted in the publication of research that supported its core focus on military heritage, commissioned and launched publications. Instituting the “The Military Heritage Annual Award, in honour of Major Charlie Trainor MM, 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Major-General Nowlan encouraged the scholarly research of Ireland’s military heritage by the younger generation.
In essence, through his active involvement in The Military Heritage of Ireland Trust (CLG), Major-General Nowlan promoted the memory of the courage, valour and sacrifices of Irish men and women serving in the profession of arms, irrespective of the Theatre of Operations, National Flag, or Regimental Colour.
Soldier and Peacekeeper
A native of New Ross, prior to his Cadetship, Major-General P. F. Nowlan enlisted in the Defence Forces in June 1955. A member of the 30th Cadet Class, on commissioning in 1957, he was posted to the Artillery Corps. As a Gunner Officer, he served in the Depot and School, 1 Air Defence Regiment, 2 Field Artillery Regiment, 6 Field Artillery Regiment (FCA) and 2 AA Battery (FCA). In addition to Regimental Commander of the 1 Air Defence Regiment, Major-General Nowlan was Battery Commander on the establishment of the 3 Battery, (Demonstration Battery) Depot and School Artillery in May 1980.
During his service in the Defence Forces, Major-General P. F. Nowlan filled appointments in ‘A’ Administration Section, The Military College, Eastern Command and Curragh Command. Serving in the cause of peace, he had extensive tours of duty in the Congo with ONUC (37 Infantry Battalion), in Cyprus with UNFICYP (9 and 20 Infantry Groups), in Cairo and Bagdad with UNTSO (1984 – 1986), and in Lebanon with UNIFIL (46 and 49 Infantry Battalions). His last overseas appointment was with the Office of the [UN] Secretary-General in Afghanistan and Pakistan (OSGAP) from 1992 to 1993.
On promotion to the rank of Colonel, Major-General Nowlan was appointed Deputy Adjutant-General in September 1991. As a Brigadier-General, he held the appointment of Assistant Chief of Staff from February1994.
Promoted to the rank of Major-General, on the advice of Government, the President appointed him as Quartermaster-General in June 1997. Following the reorganisation of Defence Forces Headquarters on 01 October 1998, Major-General Nowlan became the first officer to hold the appointment of Deputy Chief of Staff (Support). He retired from the Defence Forces on 29 November 1998 after 43 years of loyal and dedicated service to the State and its Defence Forces.
Following Mass in the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Ballymore Eustace on Monday, 09 November, Major-General P. F. Nowlan was accorded full military honours and was interred in Saint Mary’s Cemetery, Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare.
“But if fate me should call
And in action I should fall
Keep those Limbers a Rolling Along.
Then in peace I’ll abide
When I take my final ride
On a Limber that’s Rolling Along.”
Rest in Peace.