“Gallant” Cavalry Corps peacekeeper with a strong sense of duty
Birth: January 8, 1944 Died: February 13, 2022
Pearse McCorley, who died at the age of 77, had a long and distinguished career in the cavalry corps, during which he served on several missions overseas, serving in the peacekeeping forces of the United Nations.
Later, he worked with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) as a peace monitor in Bosnia and Herzegovina and as an election observer in Uzbekistan and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, now officially recognized internationally as the Republic of the North. Fruit salad.
McCorley comes from a family that played an important role in the fight for independence and then in the national army, created after the creation of the Free State in 1922. This role continues today through the family service to Óglaigh na hÉireann, the official title of the Defense Forces of Ireland.
McCorley was driven by a deep sense of duty and service and was proud of his family’s association with the Defense Forces.
Shortly before his death and knowing that he had few days left, he said to his son, Lieutenant-Colonel Rory McCorley: “Don’t let them forget, from the fight for independence until today, we have always served.
Vincent Pearse McCorley was born in Dublin in January 1944 to Felix McCorley of Belfast and his wife, Casilda (née McCamphill), of Co Antrim.
Both parents fought in the Revolutionary War, with Casilda receiving a medal in recognition of her contribution and similar recognition for her subsequent lifelong service with the Red Cross.
Felix McCorley and his brother Roger McCorley joined the Irish Volunteers and served in the Belfast Brigade of the 3rd Division North. After independence, both moved south and joined the National Army – Felix serving as Director of Defense Force Training and later Officer Commanding Western Command during the emergency years of the second World War.
He reached the rank of colonel and died in 1946.
Roger McCorley became the first Provost Marshal of the Defense Forces, responsible for military police. However, he became somewhat disillusioned with partition and the Civil War and left the army in 1928, also with the rank of colonel.
He traveled to Spain and briefly returned to public view in Ireland with the ill-fated attempt in 1940 to create a new political party, Córas na Poblachta, a nationalist party with pronounced right-wing sympathies.
It was while stationed at Custume Barrcks in Athlone that Felix’s son, Pearse, was born. The father threw a party at the officers’ mess and consulted colleagues to find a name for the baby. They voted for Vincent but, regardless, he was known as Pearse throughout his life.
Pearse had a brother, also named Roger, who also joined the Defense Forces. He served in the Congo, where as a captain in September 1961 he was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal (with distinction) and in Lebanon.
Following the loss of his father when he was only two years old, the young Pearse McCorley was educated at the Dominican College in Cabra, at the O’Brien Institute School in Dublin and then at Terenure College in Dublin, where he was a boarder.
He played for Terenure’s senior rugby team and developed a lifelong love of the game. He played forward winger and later scrum half. School teammates included future Ireland international Mick Hipwell.
Upon graduation, McCorley enlisted in the Defense Forces in December 1961 as a member of the 36th Class of Cadets, which provided honor guard for U.S. President John F Kennedy during his visit to Ireland in 1963.
McCorley was appointed in July 1963 as a troop commander with the 4th Motorized Squadron and spent most of his military career with the cavalry – variously as an instructor and commander of the 1st Armored Car Squadron, workshops of cavalry and depot cavalry.
He also served on the operations staff at HQ Curragh Training Camp, in planning and research at Defense Force Headquarters, General Training Depot, 6th Brigade HQ, HQ 4th Brigade and at HQ Curragh Command FCA.
In 1975, while a captain, McCorley was involved in guarding a suburban home in Monasterevin, Co Kildare, where members of the Provisional IRA were holding businessman Dr Tiede Herrema hostage.
The kidnappers were surrounded and a standoff ensued in which McCorley spent eight days manning a listening post set up in a room in a house next door to where Dr Herrema was being held.
“I never saw him physically, but I heard him,” McCorley recalled in a 2020 interview. He said Herrema remained calm throughout his ordeal and “never got excited with his captors”.
He completed two tours of duty with the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus, in 1964 and 1968-69. He served three tours with UNIFIL in Lebanon – as a Military Information Officer in the 49th Infantry Battalion in 1980-81, as Company Commander of the 55th Infantry Battalion Reconnaissance Company infantry in 1984 and at Force HQ in Lebanon for a year in 1988. -89.
“He was absolute in his commitment as a peacekeeper,” said his friend Alyn Roberts, former spokesman for the UN forces in the former Yugoslavia. “What set him apart was the recognition of those he sought to help for being someone who demonstrated and lived the values to which we aspire.”
His actions have not gone unnoticed.
Lieutenant Colonel Rory McCorley, while on a tour of UN duties in southern Lebanon several years after his father had been there, was approached by a local community elder who recalled how Pearse, then that an information officer with Unifil, had warned them of an impending attack, thus saving lives. The eldest wanted to thank Lt. Col. McCorley for his father’s action.
UN Observer Group
In 1991-92, McCorley spent 14 months in Central America with the UN Observer Group there. In 1994-95 he served with the European Community Monitoring Mission in the former Yugoslavia (ECMMY) as Head of Office in Zagreb.
From 1999 to 2003, he was press attaché for the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, where he is still remembered.
After his death, Glas Srpske, a Serbian newspaper from the Republika Srpska enclave in Bosnia and Herzegovina, described McCorley as “a cheerful and gallant Irishman” who formed great friendships during his stay. Friends held a candlelight prayer vigil in his honor in Banja Luka, “because he deserved it”, the newspaper reported.
In the 1990s, McCorley was liaison officer with the directors of the film Braveheart, in which some 1,500 members of the Defense Force worked as extras, and again when soldiers worked as extras on the set of Saving Private Ryan.
In 2002, he retired from the army.
Pearse McCorley lived by the guidance he received as a young cavalry officer.
“Feed your horses first, then your men, then yourself. Listen to your NCOs and men, they’ll keep you on track.
He is survived by his five children: Rory, Dara, Shane, Niall and Ciara.