Earl of Roden


The Earls of Roden, from the Jocelyn family, dominated politics and property in Dundalk for over three centuries until 2006. In that year, the 10th earl of Roden ‘sold his freehold of the town, including ground rents, mineral rights, manorial rights, the reversion of leases and the freehold of highways, common land, and the fair green. Included in the sale were many documents, such as a large 18th century estate map. The buyer was undisclosed.’1

The first major landholder in Dundalk was the 3rd earl of Roden, Robert Jocelyn. Robert was born on 27 October 1788 at Brockley Park, Queen’s County (Laois).2 He was the son of Robert Jocelyn, the 2nd earl of Roden, and Frances Theodosia, daughter of the Very Reverend Robert Bligh, Dean of Elphin.3Educated at Harrow, he became a landowner and a politician. At the age of 18, he was returned as the MP for County Louth, holding the position between the years 1806 and 1807.4Still considered a minor by law, Jocelyn was ineligible for the position, so he had a regent appointed until he came of age, ‘this was to be his uncle, the Hon. John Jocelyn.’5


Jocelyn claimed the title of the earl of Roden on 29 June 1820. As an ardent conservative Jocelyn ‘sat in the Irish House of Commons for Dundalk after being returned for the first time in 1810’6 .He later ‘served as an Irish Representative Peer in the British House of Lords between 1800 and 1820,’ after he succeeded his father in the Earldom.7 During ‘March 1812 Spencer Perceval made him Treasurer of the Household after he was sworn into the Privy Council.’8 He maintained this position even after Perceval’s assassination in June 1812. Less than a month later he was promoted to Vice-Chamberlain of the Household and he was to hold this position until the fall of Liverpool’s administration in 1827.

While he was in parliament his father, had laid the ground work for his political career, and on at least one occasion he informed the viceroy, ‘his political conduct would always be guided by his father’s wishes.’9 He seldom spoke but what he did say usually had a lasting impact. He blamed the emerging health problems on the expanding Irish population and called for a more vested interest in Ireland from the government.

On the 17 July 1821, during the coronation of George IV, the old English Barony, which used to belong to Jocelyn’s maternal ancestors, was re-established and the title of the Baron of Clanbrassil was bestowed upon Jocelyn. ‘On the 20 August of the same year he was also appointed a Knight of the Order of St. Patrick.’10


A huge supporter of the British Administration, he blamed Ireland’s difficulty on the landlord class and voted against Catholic relief on a number of different occasions. Jocelyn was a deeply religious man, ‘serving as president of the Sunday School Society of Ireland and chaplain in his home seat of Tollymore Park, Co. Down.’11 He feared the threat that emancipation would have on Protestantism in Ireland. This was made worse during the 1830s tithe wars. He organised propaganda rallies all around Ireland in the hope of uniting Protestants, as Bowen noted, ‘regardless of class or denomination and to parade the might that Catholics would have to face if they pushed the tithe war too far.’12

‘These events climaxed in the monster rally at Hillsborough, Co. Down on 30 October 1834, were estimated crowds of between thirty and sixty thousand gathered.’13 This need to unite all the Protestants of Ireland led him to join the Orange Order. Soon after this the order fell into decline and during the following year ‘Jocelyn was elected grand master for Louth.’14 Jocelyn was an alarmist by nature, so he was appointed in March 1839 to a select committee of the House of Lords ‘to inquire into the state of crime in Ireland, which was supposed to demonstrate that the Whigs were incapable of keeping order.’15> The findings of the committee were rejected as government propaganda.

Jocelyn’s activities were curtailed after the incident which occurred at Dolly’s Brea on the 12 July 1849. This was considered the bloodiest encounter between Catholics and Orangemen in Ulster since the 1790’s. According to Clery ‘the Orangemen marched from Rathfriland, the earl of Roden’s estate at Tollymore Park, and they wanted to go through the almost Catholic Magheramayo, they were met by about a thousand Catholic Ribbonmen.’16 It is unclear as to how many Catholics were killed, as ‘some reports claim anywhere between three and thirty. One thing is clear though no Protestants were killed during the incident.’17 Roden was not directly involved in the incident, but when it came to taking statements about what occurred, the Castlewellan petty sessions refused to take any statements against the Orangemen. As noted by Bridget Hourican, ‘this was not the first occasion Roden had used his position to excuse Orangemen; on 28 February 1842 he was on the bench when four Orangemen were acquitted of the murder in atrocious circumstances of a 19-year-old Catholic.’18 However, the public were in such a state of uproar over the incident, that they demanded an inquiry in the event. According to Bridget Hourican ‘the Lord Lieutenant and Lord Clarendon, dismissed Roden and his colleagues from the magistracy and they conducted their own in depth investigation.’19 After this Roden became less prominent in public affairs, this was most likely due to his increasing age.


During his life Jocelyn was married twice, first to the Hon. Maria Frances Catherine, daughter of Thomas Stapleton, 16th Baron le Despencer, on 9 January 1813. Together they had four sons and four daughters. Maria died on 25 February 1861. After this he went on to marry Clementina Janet, daughter of Thomas Andrews, of Greenknowes, and widow of Captain Robert Lushington Reilly, of Scarva, Co. Down on 16 August 1862. Towards the end of his life Jocelyn spent most of his time in Edinburgh, Scotland to try and improve his health. He died in March 1870 at the age of 81. His eldest son was also called Robert Jocelyn and later became known as Viscount Jocelyn. Unfortunately he predeceased his father, so Jocelyn was succeeded by his grandson, Robert Jocelyn as the 4th Earl of Roden. The 3rd earl’s wife Clementina died on 9 July 1903.


  1. Fiona Gartland, ‘Freehold of Dundalk sold at auction' in The Irish Times, 22 July 2006
  2. The Dictionary of Irish Biography, ‘Jocelyn, Robert’ (http://0-dib.cambridge.org.dkitlibs.dkit.ie/viewReadPage.do?articleId=a4284&searchClicked=clicked&quickadvsearch=yes) (6 June 2015)
  3. Ibid
  4. Ibid
  5. Ibid
  6. D. Bowen, The protestant crusade in Ireland, 1800–70 (1978)
  7. The Dictionary of Irish Biography, ‘Jocelyn, Robert’ (http://0-dib.cambridge.org.dkitlibs.dkit.ie/viewReadPage.do?articleId=a4284&searchClicked=clicked&quickadvsearch=yes ) (6 June 2015)
  8. Ibid
  9. Ibid
  10. Ibid
  11. Ibid
  12. D. Bowen, The protestant crusade in Ireland, 1800–70 (1978)
  13. H.W. Clery, ‘The Orange Society’ in Dublin University Magazine, xv (Jan. 1840), pp 16–20
  14. Ibid
  15. The Dictionary of Irish Biography, ‘Jocelyn, Robert’ (http://0-dib.cambridge.org.dkitlibs.dkit.ie/viewReadPage.do?articleId=a4284&searchClicked=clicked&quickadvsearch=yes) (6 June, 2015)
  16. H.W. Clery, ‘The Orange Society’ in Dublin University Magazine, xv (Jan. 1840), pp 16–20
  17. Ibid
  18. The Dictionary of Irish Biography, ‘Jocelyn, Robert’ (http://0-dib.cambridge.org.dkitlibs.dkit.ie/viewReadPage.do?articleId=a4284&searchClicked=clicked&quickadvsearch=yes) (6 June, 2015)
  19. Ibid

Aiken Barracks

Aiken Barracks is an army base, located in Dundalk, County Louth, Ireland. ‘Currently it is the Headquarters of the 27 Infantry Battalion, of the Irish Army. The Barracks is part of the Irish Army’s 2nd Brigade.’1 This means that they consist of ‘combat, combat support and combat service support elements. These include Infantry, Artillery, Cavalry, Engineers, Communication and Transport. They are mainly responsible for military operations which would normally take place in the northern half of the country covering the counties, Dublin, Louth, Kildare, Longford, Meath, Westmeath, Roscommon, Cavan, Monaghan, Donegal, Sligo, Leitrim and Mayo. They would be responsible for the protection of Government Buildings such as, Uachtarán na hÉireann, Foreign Embassies, Dublin Airport, Dublin Dock and Knock Airport.’ 2

There has always been a military barracks present in Dundalk, according to Gavin, ‘since the British stationed their military here after the failed 1798 Rebellion.’3 Nowadays, the men and women of the ‘27th Infantry Battalion serve their country and travel overseas to assist the United Nations on peace keeping duties.’4 The Barracks was named after Frank Aiken a commander of the Irish Republican Army and a politician.


The Barracks sits on the site of what was formally the Parliament Square. According to Gavin, in the early 1820’s the Barracks was expanded to accommodate ‘a full cavalry regiment with infantry and reserve attachments.’5 In 1902 the Barracks was ‘converted to house a Royal Field Artillery Brigade.’6This began a new era of history. For the next year or so Dundalk was to play host to the 47th Brigade Division.

At the culmination of the events of the 1916 Rising, the Rebel leaders were executed by British Military forces. Soon after this British Rule in Ireland became untenable. During the 1918 Sinn Féin election campaign, Dundalk became one of the Headquarters for the South Armagh campaign. This kept the Garrison at Dundalk Barracks very busy, as they were constantly in the lookout for arms and conducting raids. After this the country became embroiled in the Treaty Debates.

According to the terms of the Anglo-Irish Treaty ‘the Crown’s forces had to withdraw from Free State territory,’ this left the 4th Northern Division of the IRA under the command of Frank Aiken free to occupy the Barracks.7 When the Irish Civil War began in June of 1922 Aiken and some of his men had been arrested and imprisoned by the British for treason. He was busted out not long after this and he prepared to free the remaining prisoners in Dundalk Barracks. According to Gavin, ‘Aiken organised boats to ferry his 300 strong force across the Castletown River into Dundalk and equipped two storming parties of ten men with submachine guns and explosives.’8 This scared many people and after the Barracks had fallen this caused many other posts in town to surrender, as they knew they had no hope once the barracks fell.

The mission had been a success as they had managed to get their hands on over 400 rifles and a large volume of ammunition. During the attack they were able to free over 300 republican prisoners. ‘However, Patrick McKenna, a member of Aiken’s Division, had captured a Lancia armoured car from pro-Treaty troops elsewhere in Dundalk. When he drove it through the main gate of the barracks after the fighting had ended, his comrades, mistaking it for a Free State counter attack, detonated a mine, killing McKenna and another man Rogers. Five pro-Treaty soldiers were dead or dying and 15 injured. Two republicans were killed, both by their own mine, and up to 30 wounded in the fighting. Reportedly one civilian also died.’ 9

The 27th Infantry Battalion

Aiken Barracks plays home to the men and women of the 27th Infantry Battalion. They are one of seven Infantry Battalions of the Irish Army. They have been a part of the town life since 1 September 1973 and they form part of the 2nd Brigade.10 Following the outbreak of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, the Government sent soldiers to operate along the border. After the Troubles began to escalate and with no in sight the Government thought it would be of more benefit to station a permanent infantry group in Dundalk and this led to the creation of the 27 and 28 Infantry Battalions. ‘The 27 Infantry Battalion celebrated 40 years since its establishment with a parade in Dundalk town on 31 August 2013.’11

Border and Aid To Civil Powers

One of the 27 Infantry’s main task is to provide support to An Garda Síochána, known as Aid to Civil Powers (ATCP). These task include escorting large sums of money, industrial explosives and high security prisoners as well as guarding Portlaoise Prison, Ireland only high security prison. During Pope John Paul II visit to Ireland in 1979 they were responsible for providing security at Killineer near Drogheda, securing Islandbridge in Dublin during Queen Elizabeth II state visit and securing Dublin Airport for the visit of the US president Barack Obama.12



The soldiers of the 27 Infantry Battalion regularly have served in numerous overseas peacekeeping missions. The most note-worthy would be in the Lebanon since 1978 ‘where two of the battalions members died in service of peace, Private Patrick Wright in 1988 and Private Michael McNeela who was killed in action in 1989.’13



  1. Aiken Barracks (http://aiken-army-barracks.dundalk.tel/) (14 July, 2015)
  2. Ólaigh na hÉireann ‘Defence Forces of Ireland’ (http://www.military.ie/en/army/organisation/2nd-brigade/) (14 July, 2015)
  3. J. Gavin and S. O’Donnell, Military Barracks Dundalk: A Brief History (Dundalk, 1999), p. 10
  4. Aiken Barracks (http://aiken-army-barracks.dundalk.tel/) (14 July, 2015)
  5. J. Gavin and S. O’Donnell, Military Barracks Dundalk: A Brief History (Dundalk, 1999), p. 11
  6. H. O’Sullivan, A. Simms, H.B. Clarke and Raymond Gillespie(ed.) Irish Historical Towns Atlas No. 16: Dundalk (Royal Irish Academy, 2006), p. 14
  7. University College Cork CELT: The Corpus of Electronic Texts ‘Debate on the Treaty between Great Britain and Ireland, signed in London on the 6th December 1921: Sessions 14 December 1921 to 10 January 1922’ (Session 5), p. 129 (http://www.ucc.ie/celt) (16 July, 2015)
  8. J. Gavin and S. O’Donnell, Military Barracks Dundalk: A Brief History (Dundalk, 1999), pp 39-44
  9. Ibid
  10. The Independent 28 August, 2003
  11. The Dundalk Democrat 03 September, 2013
  12. Aiken Barracks (http://aiken-army-barracks.dundalk.tel/) (14 July, 2015)
  13. J. Gavin and S. O’Donnell, Military Barracks Dundalk: A Brief History (Dundalk, 1999), pp 39-44

Frank Aiken (1898-1983)

Early Life

Francis Thomas (Frank) Aiken was born on ‘13 February 1898 at Carrickbracken, Camlough in County Armagh. His father, James Aiken, was a builder from Co. Tyrone, his mother a house wife from Co. Armagh.’1 Aiken was active in politics from a very young age, becoming a member of the IRB to help fight for the nationalist cause. He once told Queen Victoria upon a visit to Ireland in 1900, ‘that he would only welcome her “until Ireland became free.’2 According to Ronan Fanning, ‘in 1914 he joined the Irish Volunteers and the Gaelic League, becoming secretary of the local branch in 1917. He was committed to preserving Irish culture and learned Irish in the Donegal Gaeltacht and at Ormeath Irish College.’3


Activist and organiser

Aiken got his first taste of Irish politics when he helped out during Éamon de Valera’s election campaign in Clare of July 1917. According to Townshend, ‘in February 1918, Aiken was elected Captain of the Irish Volunteers. He was promoted quickly through the ranks rising to Commandant of Newry, and brigadier of the 4th Northern Division of the IRA.’4 He had control over the area extending all around North Louth, south and West Down, Tyrone Antrim and Armagh. Aiken was becoming well known among the radical political activists of the time, and according to Ronan Fanning, ‘he won grudging respect from his British adversaries as an honourable antagonist.’5 As a result, he went on the run during the autumn of 1919, to avoid arrest by the British troops who had burnt down his house. After this the Civil War broke out, devastating the Irish political landscape once again.

Irish Civil War

Originally a member of the Sinn Féin party, he rejected the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1922, following in the footsteps of the political icon De Valera. Aiken fell on the anti-treaty northern Sinn Fein side, after the outbreak of civil war. After a couple of months, he began to realise that the republicans were, politically, in a weaker position. According to Pat Coogan, ‘De Valera would only accept an independent republic, and Arthur Griffith pleaded for peace and tranquillity to return to a 'living Irish nation,' when the Treaty was signed on 22 December 1921.’6

The outcome of the Treaty caused the IRA to split into the anti-treaty and the pro-treaty factions. This left Aiken ultimately aligned with the anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War. Aiken tried to remain neutral, but, according to Coogan, after fighting broke out between pro and anti-Treaty units in Dublin, he wrote to Richard Mulcahy on 6 July 1922 ‘calling for a truce and the removal of the Oath of Allegiance from the Free State constitution.’7According to McDermott, ‘Aiken's ambivalent attitude was because the Catholic Church was strongly in favour of the treaty, denouncing de Valera's narrow-mindedness, and many of the IRA in the north who had once opposed it, finally agreed.’8 After this Aiken became one of the founding members of Fianna Fáil.

Involvement in the IRA

In May1922 Michael Collins organised a covert guerrilla operation against the newly created Northern Ireland Assembly. This began a policy of dual monarchism between the Collins and Griffith governments that, according to De Valera ‘was the end of the Republic and the republican ideal.’9 It is not clearly understood why Aiken’s Fourth Northern Division never took part in the operation although it was planned that they would. Their inaction during this time did not end the bloodshed and the carnage in South Armagh. According to Townshend, ‘during this time Aiken was accused of ethnic cleansing of Protestants from parts of South Armagh and Newry.’10 After this he returned to his own IRA division and as Hopkinson stated was ‘responsible for a reprisal sectarian massacre of six innocent Presbyterians in Altnaveigh, Co. Down, on 17 June 1922.’11 The Division’s refusal to recognise the provisional government caused Aiken and over 200 men to be arrested and imprisoned in Dundalk jail, spending just ten days in jail before being broken out. According to Hopkinson, Aiken wrote a letter to Mulcahy stating ‘Somebody wants to goad our division into resistance.’12 A few weeks later, on the 14 August, Aiken led a group of about 300-400 anti- treaty IRA in a surprise attack on the Barracks seizing control at the cost of only two men. They were able to free over 240 prisoners and gain over 400 rifles. Now in possession of the town he called for an end to the Civil War. When this did not happen, he remained at large with his unit seeking out and attacking the Free State forces.

Involvement in Dáil Éireann

During the early years of Dáil Éireann Aiken was elected as a Sinn Féin Candidate for Louth and was re-elected as a Fianna Fáil candidate every year until he decided to finally retire.13 Aiken had urged the Provisional Government to be cautious during the election held in 1923, as some members still believed it was possible to have a Republican Government under the terms of the treaty. He entered the first Fianna Fáil government as ‘Minister for Defence, later becoming Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures with responsibility for overseeing Ireland's national defence and neutral position during the Second World War.’14 According to McDermott, ‘he became chief of staff of the IRA in March 1923, and he was responsible for issuing the cease-fire and dump-arms orders on 24 May 1923 that effectively ended the Irish Civil War. He remained Chief of Staff of the IRA until 12 November 1925.’15

Minister for External Affairs

Following the end of the Second World War Aiken was elected as Minster for External Affairs. As such, according to Kelly, he was involved in ‘economic post–war development, in the industrial, agricultural, educational and other spheres.’16 It was during this time that Aiken was to fulfil his enormous political potential. As Foreign Minister he adopted where possible an independent stance for Ireland at the United Nations and other international forums such as the Council of Europe. Despite a great deal of opposition, both at home and abroad, according to Kelly, ‘he stubbornly asserted the right of smaller UN member countries to discuss the representation of communist China at the General Assembly.’17Aiken was also a champion of nuclear non-proliferation and ‘he received the honour of being the first minister to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1968 at Moscow. Aiken's impact as Minister for External Affairs was such that he is sometimes seen as the father of modern Irish foreign policy.’18

Quit politics over Charles Haughey

Aiken decided that it was time to retire from his ministerial position and as Tánaiste in 1969. He made the decision, according to Arnold, ‘due to the fact that Charles Haughey, whose style of politics Aiken strongly disliked, was allowed to run as a Fianna Fáil candidate in the 1973 general election.’19 Initially, According to Arnold, ‘he planned to announce the reason for his decision but under pressure finally agreed to announce that he was retiring on medical advice.’20 In 1966, Aiken was appalled by the candidature of Charles Haughey, who was an open anti-partitionist. According to Kelly, ‘Haughey was a shrewd, but corruptible campaigner: running a gang of 500 businessmen out of Gresham's Hotel, Dublin to raise funds for his cause. Haughey's support for the Provisional IRA's bombing war was eventually exposed as in defiance of Aiken's warnings and persistent advice.’21

Refused candidacy for the presidency of Ireland

After he had retired, Éamon de Valera sought him out and tried to convince him to run as the Fianna Fáil Presidential candidate in the 1973 general election. ‘However Aiken refused to run and the party ended up selecting Erskine H. Childers to run instead. Childers won the election.’22


‘Frank Aiken died on 18 May 1983 in Dublin from natural causes at the age of 85.’23 He was buried with full State honours in his native Camlough, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. ‘Aiken Barracks, in Dundalk, County Louth, is named after Aiken and is currently the headquarters of the 27 Infantry Battalion.’24 According to Kelly ‘throughout his life Aiken received many decorations and honours including honorary doctorates from the National University of Ireland and University College Dublin and his wife died in a road accident in 1978.’25


  1. The Dictionary of Irish Biography, ‘Aiken, Frank’ (http://0-dib.cambridge.org.dkitlibs.dkit.ie/quicksearch.do;jsessionid=3BC213612BBDF8DE11C386B0E4242C4B ) (07 July, 2015)
  2. C. Townshend, The Republic: The Fight For Irish Independence (London, 2014), p. 23
  3. The Dictionary of Irish Biography, ‘Aiken, Frank’ (http://0-dib.cambridge.org.dkitlibs.dkit.ie/quicksearch.do;jsessionid=3BC213612BBDF8DE11C386B0E4242C4B ) (07 July, 2015)
  4. C. Townshend, The Republic: The Fight For Irish Independence (London, 2014), p. 23
  5. The Dictionary of Irish Biography, ‘Aiken, Frank’ (http://0-dib.cambridge.org.dkitlibs.dkit.ie/quicksearch.do;jsessionid=3BC213612BBDF8DE11C386B0E4242C4B ) (07 July, 2015)
  6. P. Coogan De Valera: Long Fellow, Long Shadow (Hutchinson, 1993), p. 70
  7. Ibid
  8. J. McDermott, Northern Divisions: The Old IRA and the Belfast Pogroms 1910-22 (Belfast, 2001), p. 151.
  9. C. Townshend, The Republic: The Fight For Irish Independence (London, 2014), pp 380-431
  10. Ibid
  11. M. Hopkinson, Green against green: the Irish civil war (Dublin, 1988), p. 170
  12. Ibid
  13. Elections Ireland ‘Frank Aiken’ (http://electionsireland.org/candidate.cfm?ID=1374) (14 July, 2015)
  14. House of the Oireachtas: Thithe an Oireachtais ‘the Oireachtas members database’ (http://www.oireachtas.ie/members- hist/default.asp?housetype=0&HouseNum=19&MemberID=11&ConstID=139) (9 July, 2015)
  15. J. McDermott, Northern Divisions: The Old IRA and the Belfast Pogroms 1910-22 (Belfast, 2001), p. 151.
  16. S. Kelly, and B. Evans, (eds.) Frank Aiken: Nationalist and Internationalist (Irish Academic Press, 2014), p. 16
  17. Ibid
  18. Atom Bomb Archive ‘The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty’ (http://www.atomicarchive.com/Treaties/Treaty6.shtml) (15 July, 2015)
  19. B. Arnold, Jack Lynch: Hero in Crisis (Merlin Publishing, 2001) p.173-175.
  20. Ibid
  21. S. Kelly, and B. Evans, (eds.) Frank Aiken: Nationalist and Internationalist (Irish Academic Press, 2014), p. 16
  22. Elections Ireland ‘Presidential Elections 1938-2004’ (http://electionsireland.org/results/president/index.cfm ) (15 July, 2015)
  23. S. Kelly, and B. Evans, (eds.) Frank Aiken: Nationalist and Internationalist (Irish Academic Press, 2014), p. 78
  24. J. Gavin and S. O’Donnell, Military Barracks Dundalk: A Brief History (Dundalk, 1999), p. 10
  25. S. Kelly, and B. Evans, (eds.) Frank Aiken: Nationalist and Internationalist (Irish Academic Press, 2014), p. 80