Memorial to Irish RAF hero unveiled in school

 

Seventy years after he was shot down and died off the French coast, RAF pilot Wing Commander Brendan “Paddy” Finucane was remembered by his old school this weekend.

A permanent memorial of his Spitfire plane with its distinctive shamrock livery was unveiled at O’Connell School on Dublin’s North Richmond Street on Saturday.

Finucane was 21 when his aircraft was strafed by enemy fire while on a raid in northern France on July 15th, 1942.

He ditched his plane in the English Channel.

At the time of his death, he had downed 32 enemy aircraft, in just two years, and was the youngest wing commander in the RAF.

Finucane’s achievements were all the more remarkable given his father Andy’s involvement in the Easter Rising, where he was stationed in Boland’s Mill.

Dr Tony Connellan, the president of O’Connell School past pupils union, said Irish people owed their freedom to people such as Brendan Finucane as much as they did those who had fought for Irish independence.

He told some 80 guests that the visit of Queen Elizabeth II had created the atmosphere to honour him and other Irishmen who had fought against fascism in the second World War.

Representatives from the Irish Air Corps, the RAF and the Australian embassy (Finucane commanded an Australian squadron) attended the unveiling ceremony.

The permanent memorial will be located in the school’s library.

The chief guest was the RAF air ace’s nephew Brendan Finucane QC, a judge in England. His father, Raymond, flew with bomber command during the second World War. Mr Finucane said his father had “quietly revered” his older brother who was a “most exceptional man” and he would have been proud of the commemoration. He described the memorial as a fitting tribute not only to his late uncle but all the Irishmen who gave their lives in the Second World War.