Jahrgang O'Donell

Jahr = year
Gang = group or class
O'Donell = this spelling was adopted by the family in Austria after the surname was misspelt in a document granting them the title of Count.

In the town of Wiener Neustadt (50 miles south of Vienna) is the Maria Theresian Military Academy  which trains army cadets. Its a four year course and each class takes a patron - some well-remembered hero of the Austrian Army. The class or 'jahrgang' graduating in 2005 took as their patron Karl O'Donnell. Thus they became the 'Jahrgang O'Donell'.

During their course, among learning many skills, they also learned much about their patron and on finishing their course they travelled to Ireland for a week to see his homeland. They spent a day and a half here in Donegal. Though hosted by the Irish Army, we the O'Donnell Clan Association had some involvement. 

A very impressive ceremony was held in Donegal Castle where a plaque (commemorating their visit) was unveiled. This plaque is to find a permanent home somewhere in the castle building. Major Douglas O'Donell gave an oration and an army piper played a lament to all O'Donnells gone before us and we all remembered Major Douglas's father Gabriel, who died the previous week.

It was then off to the Rock of Doon where Vincent O'Donnell piped while the cadets made their way to the top of the rock. Vincent, then, gave a short account of the inauguration ceremony, photos were taken and all headed for Glenveagh National Park. Later that evening all met in Finner Military Camp for dinner.

A week later, Vincent O'Donnell and Willie Coffey piper in the Irish Army travelled to Weiner Neustadt in Eastern Austria for the passing-out ceremonies. Two full days of activity took place during which the two pipers did quite a lot of piping. The cadets wanted to give their passing-out an Irish flavour. And they did. The whiskey was Jameson with the Jahrgang insignia, a new Austrian stamp was issued with the O'Donnell Arms and everyone heard of Ireland, Donegal and O'Donnells. The O'Donnell flag was used everywhere, and for me, Vincent O'Donnell, I was proud to be part of it. The Austrian Army paid all costs for both of us. The cadets, two of which were females, left next day to take up their posts in various parts of Austria. It is unlikely they will all ever be together again.

Above: Jahrgang O'Donell with plaque at Donegal Castle; Major Douglas O'Donell and Major General Sinn (Commandant of the Academy) unveil the plaque; on Doon Rock.

Above: the Jahrgang O'Donell insignia; Major Douglas O'Donell Graf von Tyrconnell and Vincent O'Donnell; Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill making a presentation (on behalf of the O'Donnell Clan Association) to Klaus Kuss president of the Jahrgang O'Donnell after dinner in Finner Military Barracks.

Standing under the memorial to the Jahrgang O’Donell in the Maria Theresian Military Academy, Wiener Neustadt  -  army piper Willie Coffey from Lifford Barracks, Major Matthias Ritz who was responsible for the training of the Jahrgang O’Donell and Vincent O’Donnell, Inver piper and secretary of the O’Donnell Clan Association; the Jahrgang O'Donell put away their swords at the end of the parade in Wiener Neustadt,10th Sept. 2005; our standard bearer for the two days was Christian Tinnacher.