Statue for Tojo, the monkey who dropped in for a drink

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Media captionA statue of Tojo the monkey will be unveiled on Sunday

A flying monkey with a taste for rum is to have a permanent memorial in an Irish town.

Tojo dropped in to the County Cork seaside town of Clonakilty during the Second World War when a US bomber had to land nearby.

On board with Tojo were 10 crewmen and a supply of rum.

The plane, christened T'Ain't a Bird, landed on 7 April 1943 after running low on fuel after a misleading radio report threw them off course.

Local businessman Thomas Tupper has grown up with the story of Tojo and how he came to be in Clonakilty.

"An American Flying Fortress on its way to Britain from the southern states of America crossed the Atlantic from south America and on their way they picked up a monkey as a mascot," he said.

"They actually circled the town here in Clonakilty at midday when everyone was having their dinner and this enormous plane, it must have seemed like a space ship, was flying low around the town.

"People were terrified it might knock the spire off one of the churches. It headed out towards the sea and landed on a marsh."

The airmen who initially thought they had landed in German-occupied Norway were armed and preparing to take the cyanide tablets in their possession until they were reassured that they were on friendly soil.

A crowd gathered as they were taken into custody by local police.

"The custody consisted of them being in a local hotel where a party ensued for three days," he said.

Irish welcome

The visitors provided some welcome relief and excitement to the war-rationed residents of Clonakilty.

During their stay, the US airmen were able to reciprocate the warm Irish welcome they had received by sharing their 36 bottles of rum with their hosts and Tojo.

After several days, the crew were taken to Cork before they were driven from the neutral Irish Republic into Northern Ireland where they were handed over to the RAF.

But one very important primate was missing when the the airmen left the west Cork town.

Tojo had taken too much of a liking to the rum and other beverages.

"The efforts of local doctors, chemists, and vets failed to save the monkey and Tojo died of pneumonia," said Mr Tupper.

"It was a great tragedy and people lined up and queued to see the dead monkey laid out on a sheet in a bed upstairs in the hotel."

But Tojo had made a lasting impression during his short stay and was given a funeral, with full military honours.

On Sunday, a statue of the unusual visitor who became a local legend will be unveiled in Clonakilty.

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