Ceremonies have taken place in Dublin to honour a group of Irish peacekeepers who served in the Congo 50 years ago.

The 36th Infantry Battalion, which took part in fierce fighting, is the most decorated unit of the Defence Forces.

Wreaths were laid at the United Nations Plot in Glasnevin Cemetery early this morning by survivors of the 150-strong battalion, which lost five colleagues in Africa half a century ago.

Relatives of the dead soldiers also laid wreaths.

Within two weeks of their arrival in Congo in December 1961, the battalion suffered four fatalities.

After only two days Cpl Mick Fallon was killed.

A few days later Sgt Paddy Mulcahy, Lt Paddy Riordan and Pte Andy Wickham died in the famous 'Battle of the Tunnel' in Elizabethville.

Cpl John Power died later from natural causes.

Memories are still fresh of the tough battle to seize the railway tunnel from mercenaries and Katanganese gendarmerie on 16 December 1961.

The tunnel was a crucial approach to Elizabethville and the battle to seize and hold it is described as ''sharp and bloody''.

The Irish troops, under a UN mandate, went on the offensive. Fatalities were both inflicted and suffered.

Following the hostilities of December 1961, 14 Irish peacekeepers were awarded Distinguished Service Medals, including two posthumously.

This morning, Congo veteran Colonel Sean Norton (retired) said a lot of bravery was displayed and many more peacekeepers should have been honoured.

The widow of Pte Andy Wickham, Mrs Eleanor Gray, said the commemoration was a sad occasion, and she recalled the sorrow of being widowed with five young children.

Company Quartermaster Sergeant (retired) Jim Clarke said veterans of the Battle of the Tunnel were pleased that their actions were now being fittingly recorded.

A serving Army officer, Commandant Dan Harvey, has recently published a book about The Battle of the Tunnel.

26 Irish peacekeepers lost their lives over four years in the Congo.