- a rose named after an Irish Battle of Britain pilot
Brendan 'Paddy' Finucane flew with 65 Squadron during the Battle of Britain and continued in action with the RAF until he was declared 'Missing' over the Channel on 15th July 1942. For a full account of his service click here
We are indebted to Maurice Byrne, a friend of the Finucane family, for this account of an imaginative project to commemorate Brendan at Baldonnel near Dublin, currently the HQ of the Irish Air Corps and the aerodrome from where Brendan first took to the air. Maurice writes:
Brendan Finucane has not been forgotten. His uniform and medals may be seen in the Battle of Britain Wing at the RAF Museum in Hendon, north London. In Ireland now, I'm glad to say we now recognise the sacrifice made by those brave Irishmen of both world wars from both sides of the border. At Baldonnel Aerodrome where a young Brendan Finucane first took to the air all those years ago there is a living memory to him in the form of a beautiful rose bush. The rose is 'Spitfire Paddy', grown by Sean McCann, my father-in-law, at my behest and planted with due ceremony by members of the Irish Air Corps and the Royal Air Forces Association. Brigadier-General Ralph James GOC of the Irish Air Corps deserves much praise for all his assistance and seeing, with pilots eyes, the bigger picture.
Sean McCann writes:
I would like to tell you about a wonderful reception today for my rose '
Spitfire Paddy'. It is in memory of a famous Irish Fighter ace and was given
an unprecedented planting today by the Irish Air Corps - the first time an
Irish airman who served with the British forces has been honoured. They had a
reception for officers of the Air Corps, a Pipe Band (Irish pipes are
much more preferable to the Scottish skirls), a big specially invited
audience and a General to plant the rose. I was thrilled. A rose of mine to
get a reception like this. I could not believe it.
Maurice Byrne has been dedicated to the memory of Spitfire Paddy and asked
me if I would name a rose for Brendan Finucane. He told me about him and
suddenly there was the rose. It was in a border of roses that I bred many
years ago but had never been propagated. As a matter of fact few ever
mentioned it. But it had all the colours that I would associate with a
fighter pilot. The brightness of dawn, the close of an evening - and the
terror or fire in a gun battle.
I never throw out a rose seedling. Nature may kill
it with wind or weather but I will never willingly throw out a rose. This
was a survivor, maybe 20 years sitting in that border. And now its moment had come. I had only one bush but with the help of David
Kenny it was propagated. And in November 2004 it was planted with all due
ceremony by the Irish Air Corps in an airfield outside Dublin. Other plants
have been passed on to his family. The memory of Spitfire Paddy lives on.
Above: the rose pictured on 1st June 2008
Below: the Air Corps memorial at Baldonnel