Sergeant Matty Gardiner

Sergeant Matty Gardiner

Sergeant Matty Gardiner, 12th Infantry Battalion, Irish Defence Forces/Óglaigh na hÉireann

Born in 1943, Matty is a retired Sergeant from the 12th Infantry Battalion, Irish Defence Forces/Óglaigh na hÉireann in Limerick. He comes from a large military family whose service dates back to their grandfather, George, who served and died with the Royal Munster Fusiliers in World War 1. His father, Peter, served in the fledgling Irish National Army and Defence Forces. At one time eleven members of his family were serving in the 12th Infantry Battalion at the same time. Matt too has a distinguished service at home and on United Nations service. Matty completed several Untied Nations tours of duty: 38th Infantry Battalion, ONUC (Opération des Nations Unies au Congo in the Congo) (1962-63), the 40th Infantry Battalion, UNFICYP (United Nations Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus) (1964), and with the 24th Infantry Group, UNFICYP (1973). Thank you to the Patrick Sarsfield Branch, Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel Ireland for their support in this production.

Posted in: Irish Army, Irish Defence Forces, Irish Veteran, Irish Veterans, Óglaigh na hÉireann, Royal Munster Fusiliers, Uncategorized, Veteran's Welfare

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Project Update – A Strong Voice for Veterans

Project Update – A Strong Voice for Veterans

Project Update – A Strong Voice for Veterans

Photos by John O’Byrne

For many veterans’ life after leaving the armed forces is challenging. Ensuring that all veterans receive the support and care they deserve is also a challenge. On the island of Ireland there are an estimated 150,000 and 20,000 British Armed Forces (Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy) veterans in Northern Ireland and the Rep. of Ireland respectively. As one of the commitments made in the New Decade New Approach political agreement, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, appointed Danny Kinahan as Northern Ireland’s first Veterans’ Commissioner.

The appointment of a Veterans Commissioner ensures that there is representation and a safe voice for veterans who often feel they have been forgotten, and have been largely underrepresented as a community for years. Danny and his team have been engaging with veterans’ charities on the island of Ireland with a clear message that there is help for veterans who need it. Over the past three months we have been working on a multimedia project with the Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner’s Office (NIVCO). The purpose of this project is to highlight the NIVCO and the services they provide, while at the same time showcasing several of the veterans’ charities and the work they do on the island of Ireland. Some of these charities include: The Royal British Legion (Northern Ireland and Rep. of Ireland); The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA); The Not Forgotten Association; Decorum NI; and the UDR Regimental Association. As part of a North/South engagement the NIVCO team also met with the Irish Defence Forces veterans support charity The Organisation of National Ex-Personnel. The uniform may be different but the challenges are the same, collaboration and supporting one another is the solution. Each of these charities are unique and offer a variety of supports from welfare to outreach, drop-in centres and remembrance. SSAFA for example is the oldest veterans’ organisation. Founded in 1885, it provides lifelong support to serving men and women and veterans from the British Armed Forces and their families or dependents.

A new charity for our team is Decorum NI. It was a real pleasure to meet this group at their garden plots outside Bangor. Decorum NI helps combat isolation through a variety of ways including: alternative therapies, counselling, training, educational courses, sign posting to educational progression, and welfare advice. We are looking forward to meeting them again in the near future.

NI Veterans’ Commissioner Danny Kinahan with members of Decorum NI at their garden plots outside Bangor.

For a full list of supports and services available please visit: www.nivco.co.uk/where-to-get-help/

We will be updating you as this project develops.

Thank you to The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and the NI Veterans Commissioner’s Office. for their support.

Posted in: Irish Veterans, Northern Ireland, The Royal British Legioni, Veteran's Welfare

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Veterans’ Support Recommences

Veterans’ Support Recommences

Veterans’ Support Recommences

Photos by John O’Byrne

As Covid restrictions ease, veterans support has recommenced in person. Coinciding with the anniversary of the Defence Forces on 1 October, The Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel (ONE Ireland) invited veterans back to the much-loved coffee mornings in barracks and support centres throughout the country. The coffee mornings gives veterans a chance to meet, catch up and chat. They a very important part of support given by O.N.E. and the Defence Forces to veterans. We were delighted to attend the gathering in The Michael Collins Club, Cathal Brugha Barracks, where veterans honoured an old comrade.

Former 2nd Infantry Battalion Sergeant & Olympic Gold Medallist, Michael Carruth, was conferred as an Honorary Member of the Cathal Brugha Branch O.N.E. Also in attendance was Private Seán Mari from 7th Infantry Battalion & the Monkstown Boxing Club. Seán represented Óglaigh na hÉireann / Irish Defence Forces at the 58th CISM World Military Boxing Championship last week, reaching the quarter-finals and coming home with a Bronze Medal.

Presentations of donations for this year’s Fuchsia Appeal were made by the 2nd Infantry Battalion Association and veterans now working in ESB Networks.

Congratulations to all involved and please remember to support this year’s Fuchsia Appeal.

Posted in: Irish Defence Forces, Irish Veterans, Óglaigh na hÉireann, Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen and Women, Veteran's Welfare

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Appointment of Defence Forces Chief of Staff

Appointment of Defence Forces Chief of Staff

Appointment of Defence Forces Chief of Staff

Photos courtesy of Defence Forces Press Office

Yesterday the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Defence, Simon Coveney TD, appointed Lieutenant General Seán Clancy as the new Chief of Staff of the Irish Defence Forces. Lieutenant General Seán Clancy joined the Irish Defence Forces in 1984 as a cadet and commenced his flight training in 1986.

He has flown both fixed and rotary wing aircraft and has accumulated nearly 5,000 flight hours. He is a qualified type and instrument-rating examiner, a qualified flight simulator instructor and has most recently held type, instrument and NVG ratings on the AW139. He spent a considerable period of his career as a Search and Rescue pilot and was the commander of the crew who received the Marine Medal for Meritorious Service in 2002.Lieutenant General Clancy has been a driver of change and a champion for innovation within the Defence Forces. He played a central role in the development of the Ireland’s first Emergency Aeromedical Service established in 2012. He has been a strong advocate for Leadership and was the co-author of the Defence Forces Leadership Doctrine published in 2016. He subsequently led the team who developed the current vision and values-based strategy for the Defence Forces post the publication of the White Paper on Defence.

He has served in appointments including Squadron Commander, Wing Commander, Senior Staff Officer Operations, Senior Staff Officer Personnel, Chief of Air Staff Support in Air Corps Headquarters and Director of Strategic Planning Branch, Chief of Staff’s Branch, Defence Forces Headquarters. Prior to promotion he served as Deputy Chief of Staff (Support) as well as General Officer Commanding, Irish Air Corps and Director of Military Aviation. He has served for a year with the European Union Force in Bosnia as the military advisor to the Force Commander and spent two years as a non-permanent member of SHIRBRIG, the UN standby Brigade.

Lieutenant General Seán Clancy

Posted in: Irish Defence Forces, Óglaigh na hÉireann

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97 Years Defending Ireland

97 Years Defending Ireland

97 Years Defending Ireland – Irish Defence Forces 1924 – 2021

Photos courtesy of Defence Forces Press Office

Today the Irish Defence Forces(Óglaigh na hÉireann / Irish Defence Forces) celebrates its 97th anniversary. On 1 October 1924, the Executive Council formally established Óglaigh na hÉireann – the Irish Defence Forces under the Defence Forces (Temporary Provisions) Act, 1923. The Defence Forces evolved from the National Army which had helped establish the democratic institutions of the new Free State: Saorstát na hÉireann.The past year has been a busy one for the Irish Defence Forces. The three services – Army, Air Corps and Naval Service – played a pinnacle role in the State’s fight against Covid-19. Throughout this time units continued to deploy personnel on security duties at home and on overseas service. Deployments this year included continued commitments to international peace and security in South Lebanon, Syria, and Mali to name but a few, along with undertaking a ECAT (Emergency Civil Assistance Team) operation in support of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to return Irish civilians from Afghanistan. The 75th anniversary of the ending of the Emergency and the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Naval Service remined us of the commitment the men and women of the Defence Forces have played in defending and securing Ireland and its people.

Thank you for your service

Posted in: Irish Defence Forces, Óglaigh na hÉireann

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Royal British Legion Celebrates 100

Royal British Legion Celebrates 100

Royal British Legion Celebrates 100

Photos by Wesley Bourke

First published 20 September

Standards and veterans from the island of Ireland gathered at the Belfast War Memorial/City Hall today to celebrate 100 years of the Royal British Legion (RBL). An Act of Remembrance was observed at the War Memorial. The Pipes and Drums of the Royal Irish Regiment then led the parade through Belfast to Belfast Cathedral for a service to mark the RBL 100. The celebrations were due to be held earlier in the year, but due to Covid-19 restrictions this was postponed.

With the ending of the Great War some 6million had gone through the ranks of the British Armed Forces. Of those that returned 1.75 had some sort of disability, with half left with a permanent disability. The British Legion was formed on 15 May 1921, bringing together four national organisations of ex-Servicemen that had established themselves after the war: The National Association of Discharged Sailors and Soldiers. The British National Federation of Discharged and Demobilized Sailors and Soldiers.

Today the Royal British Legion is the UK’s leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces (Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy) past and present and their families. It is also the UK’s custodian of remembrance. On the island of Ireland there are some 150,000 and 20,000 ex-service personnel of the British Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, in Northern Ireland and the Rep. of Ireland respectively. The Royal British Legion supports veterans throughout the island through a network of branches and outreach programmes. You can find the RBL Norther Ireland in Craig Plaza, 51-53 Fountain St, Belfast. The RBL is also a registered charity in the Rep. of Ireland with headquarters in Molesworth Street, Dublin. Due to partition in 1922, the RBL in the Rep. of Ireland was formally established in 1925.

A service will be held in Belfast Cathedral to celebrate the centenary of the RBL. A live stream of the service will be provided on: www.facbook.com/BelfastCathedral

The livestream will commence at 15:00 for the arrival of the standards, with the Service starting at 15:30.

This project was supported by The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, the NI Veterans Commissioner’s Office, The Royal British Legion Northern Ireland and The Royal British Legion Rep. of Ireland.

Posted in: Irish Veterans, Northern Ireland, The Great War, The Royal British Legion, Veteran's Welfare

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Secretary General Opens Irish Peacekeeping Museum

Secretary General Opens Irish Peacekeeping Museum

Secretary General Opens Irish Peacekeeping Museum

Photos by John O’Byrne

Ireland has a proud history of United Nations (UN) peacekeeping since its first deployment of observers in 1958. Since that time members of the Irish Defence Forces and An Garda Síochána have worn the blue beret on missions throughout the world helping to bring peace and stability to conflict stricken regions. Today Ireland holds a seat on the UN Security Council and this month its presidency. Providing advocacy and support for peacekeepers and assisting in the transition from military to civilian life is The Irish United Nations Veterans Association (IUNVA). With its Headquarters at Arbour Hill, Dublin, the charity has a network of branches and support centres throughout the country. Open to those who have served on UN missions, its members are proud of their peacekeeping history and regularly give tours and talks to schools. Over time donations of kit and memorabilia were made. Very soon the need for a museum was realised and the members began the process of converting the old school house into a museum.

Today members of the Oireachtas, Defence Forces general staff, An Garda Síochána and UN veterans gathered to open a new museum dedicated to Irish peacekeeping. The Secretary General at the Department of Defence, Jacqui McCrum, and designate Chief of Staff, Major General Seán Clancy formally opened the museum.

Secretary General at the Department of Defence, Jacqui McCrum unveiling the plaque, officially opening the Irish Peacekeepers Museum.

The Secretary General congratulated IUNVA on their hard work on the museum and praised the organisation for their work in supporting veterans:

“I am proud of the history of the Defence Forces participation in UN peacekeeping which informs Ireland’s worth on this issue. Both serving and retired members of our Defence Forces have played a significant role in serving the State at home and overseas. All members of IUNVA whether they are serving or retired have successfully completed a tour of duty with the UN force or organisation, Our success in a obtaining seat on the UN Security Council is due in no small measure to the service given by you IUNVA members.”

Secretary General at the Department of Defence, Jacqui McCrum

The museum tells the story of Ireland’s contribution to world peace and the experience of soldiers and police. Artifacts from the Congo, photographs from Cyprus, uniforms from an array of missions are only the start of the IUNVA museum. Complementing the museum is a beautifully restored Royal Ordnance QF 25pdr and a replica of a checkpoint as used on service in Lebanon. The museum is a credit to the members of IUNVA. Guests were treated to informative talks on Irish UN service and museum exhibitions by Mick Dillion, Richard Armstrong, Fran O’Shea, and museum curator Ronnie Daly. The historical collections and stories are too vast to tell today and we will be brining you an in-depth feature in the coming weeks. 

Posted in: Irish United Nations Veterans Association, Irish Veterans, UN Peacekeeping, United Nations

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Carrickfergus Castle Hosts Massed Irish Bands

Carrickfergus Castle Hosts Massed Irish Bands

Carrickfergus Castle Hosts Massed Irish Bands

Photos by Patrick Hugh Lynch

First posted 9 September

For the first time in 35 years the massed bands of the four Irish regiments of the British Army joined together on Saturday last to perform at Carrickfergus Castle, Co. Antrim. The beautiful ancient Norman Castle on the northern shore of Belfast Lough provided the backdrop to the Irish Guards and The The Royal Irish Regiment, alongside the pipes and drums of The Royal Dragoon Guards and The Queen’s Royal Hussars. There was also a special performance from a choir of Fijian soldiers who serve in the Irish regiments. Belfast Lough was filled with the sound of military music and marches such as Killaloe and St. Patrick’s Day.

The oldest of the Irish regiments is the Irish Guards, fondly called ‘The Micks’; one of the Foot Guards regiments part of the Guards Division. It were formed on 1 April 1900 by order of Queen Victoria to commemorate the Irishmen who fought in the Second Boer War for the British Empire. The Royal Irish Regiment was formed in 1992 through the amalgamation of the Royal Irish Rangers and the Ulster Defence Regiment. The regiment has a lineage to the 27th Regiment of Foot, which was first raised in June 1689 to fight in the Williamite War in Ireland; the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, Royal Irish Rifles and the Royal Irish Fusiliers (Princess Victoria’s). The Royal Dragoon Guards was formed in 1992 by the amalgamation of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards. The Queen’s Royal Hussars was formed in 1993 from the amalgamation of the Queen’s Own Hussars and the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars.

The Massed Bands start playing from 1.09.30 into the video you can watch by clicking on the link below.

This project is supported by The Dept. of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media and the Northern Ireland Veterans’ Commissioner’s Office. A special thank you to the Royal Irish Regiment and the Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.

Posted in: British Army, Irish Guards, Northern Ireland, Royal Irish Regiment

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Veterans Charity Marks 70 Years

Veterans Charity Marks 70 Years

Veterans Charity Marks 70 years with Launch of 2021 Fuchsia Appeal

Photos by John O’Byrne

For 70 years Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann (Organisation of National Ex-Service Personnel: O.N.E.) has supported veterans of the Irish Defence Forces. To mark this anniversary it launched this year’s Fuchsia Appeal at Dublin’s Mansion House, the very spot the organisation was formed in 1951.

Since its inception O.N.E. has stood to its founding principles set out by General Costello. In a 1951 message to ex-servicemen he said:

‘It is important that we remember what brings us together – what interest we have in common. It is quite simply the common bond of past service in Ireland in her armed forces. We are old comrades in arms wishing to maintain and strengthen old associations and traditions’

General Costello 1951

The fundraising appeal is in aid of Defence Forces veterans who have experienced severe circumstances including homelessness, addictions, and mental health issues. The Fuchsia Appeal campaign will take place from 25 September until 1 October. Members and volunteers will sell fuchsia emblems to raise vital funds for veterans. O.N.E.’s current services cost in the region of €1 million annually and this will rise to €1.5M to adequately address the needs of veterans and to finance the associated services such as helping veterans obtaining permanent housing, access to mental health support and helping veterans re-integrate back into civilian life. O.N.E. assist Defence Forces Veterans with transitioning back into civilian life through the provision of accommodation and providing mental health resources, including help with addiction and peer support. The charity also aids veterans in their search for employment, sustaining permanent housing and has a 90% success rate of getting people who stay in O.N.E. homes back into mainstream living. O.N.E. operates four homes in Athlone, Dublin, Cobh (opening in October 2021), and Letterkenny providing for 54 veterans. A fifth home is planned for Cork City. The charity also runs 37 branches across Ireland, along with 15 support centres. O.N.E. provides 20,000 beds annually, has kept 1,000 veterans off the streets and 90% of veterans go on to have permanent housing.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin Cllr Alison Gilliland welcomed the veterans to the Mansion House Round Room. She applauded the charity for the work they do and the service of the veterans they support. Commenting on the launch of the Fuchsia Appeal, O.N.E. CEO Ollie O’ Connor, said: “We are delighted to launch our annual Fuchsia appeal which is particularly poignant as the charity was established 70 years ago here in the Mansion House. Since the charity’s inception in 1951, ONE has helped countless veterans get their lives back on track and without vital funds we would not be able to continue our efforts. “The aim of this fundraiser is to honour the many veterans who have served our country and now need our help to get back on their feet. The past 18 months have been profoundly difficult as the charity was forced to cancel the fundraiser last year due to the pandemic which had a significant effect on our income. The theme of this year’s Fuchsia Appeal is “Help O.N.E. make Ireland one of the best places to be a Veteran” and through our fundraising efforts, the goal is to continue expanding on the vital services of ONE and to generate more awareness and care for our veterans.”

Officially launching the appeal, DCOS Support, Major General Seán Clancy said:

“It is 70 years since ONE was formed, a wonderful organisation which provides support, comradeship and advocacy for our veterans. I am very honoured to launch the annual Fuchsia appeal and support this most worthwhile of charities. The past 18 months, in the midst of a global pandemic, has heightened the challenges faced by some of our former members. Óglaigh na hÉireann recognises the need to provide support to its retired servicemen and women who are part of our Defence Forces family. We are fully committed to helping ONE and their wonderful work in supporting our veterans”.

Posted in: Irish Defence Forces, Irish Veterans, Óglaigh na hÉireann, Organisation of National Ex-Servicemen and Women, Veteran's Welfare

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The QF 12-Pounder

The QF 12-Pounder

The QF 12-pounder and the Naval Gun Salute

Photos by John O’Byrne


We have been asked about the artillery pieces that took part in gun salute during the 75th anniversary of the Naval Service on 1 September. The guns are a QF 12-pounder 12-cwt. The Irish Defence Forces (Óglaigh na hÉireann) operate two saluting batteries: one on Dún Laoghaire East Pier and one on Spike Island in Cork Harbour.

Members of the 2nd Brigade Artillery Regiment manning the QF 12-pounder saluting batter on Dún Laoghaire East Pier.

The photograph by John O’Byrne shows 2nd Brigade Artillery Regiment firing a 21-gun salute to L.É. Samuel Beckett (P61) as she leaves Dún Laoghaire Harbour in honour of 75 years of the Irish Naval Service. The 3-inch QF 12-pounder 12-cwt were originally a naval gun produced by Armstrong Whitworth, Elswick in 1894. They served with several navies around the world on vessels and as part of coastal defence emplacements. The guns looked after by the gunners of the Defence Forces are in pristine condition for 100-year-old guns.

The photograph by John O’Byrne shows 2nd Brigade Artillery Regiment firing a 21-gun salute to L.É. Samuel Beckett (P61) as she leaves Dún Laoghaire Harbour in honour of 75 years of the Irish Naval Service. The Naval Gun Salute has a long tradition dating back centuries. The salute has evolved from when foreign naval vessels entered a foreign port or passed a foreign naval vessel and needed to demonstrate they were not hostile. Vessels would ‘clear their guns’ with blank charges to indicate they were empty and posed no threat. In return the saluted vessel or shore defence battery would do the same. By the 18th century a 21 round salute had become common with Royal Navy. The figure 21 comes from the ratio of 1:3 by 7. Naval vessels could only fire off one round compared to the 3 rounds a shore battery could. There are several citations for seven. Some state biblical reference while other state astronomical origins. Gun salutes consist of an odd number of rounds; the firing of an even number of rounds in the past was reserved for occasions of mourning. The 21-gun salute is the highest honour.

A famous incident involving a naval gun salute misunderstood is recorded during the Spanish-American War 1898. On 20 June, the USS Charleston and three transport vessels approached Guam with the intention of capturing the island. Officials and the people of Guam took no notice and went about their business. The Charleston fired 13 rounds at the Spanish fort. Officials on the island believed the U.S. Navy had just rendered honours and prepared to return the salute. Little did they know they the USS Charleston was actually firing on them with live rounds. They had no knowledge the Spanish-American War had started on 21 April; some two months prior. They and Guam were soon guests of the United States.

Posted in: Irish Army, Irish Defence Forces, Irish Naval Service, Óglaigh na hÉireann

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