Ireland's Military Story

The Irish Military Heritage Foundation

The Irish Military Heritage Foundation CLG is a registered charity in the Republic of Ireland.

Company Registration No: (CRN) 624838

Charity No: (RCN) 20203159

CHY No: (CHY) 22594

Our Why

to preserve, record, and tell the story of those who served throughout history from the island of Ireland and its diaspora, by generating programmes and projects to achieve that purpose. Shared-history, education, remembrance, and reconciliation are at the core of all our work.

Mission Statement

The Irish Military Heritage Foundation fosters the heritage and traditions of the Irish diaspora within armed forces around the world; educates, records, promotes, and preserves the accomplishments of the Irish diaspora within that tradition; unites, collects, and records the personal accounts of Irish men and women and those of Irish descent who have served and continue to serve worldwide. The information gathered is then made available in multimedia format on a free public access website.


The Irish Military Heritage Foundation has five core goals:

  • To preserve the contribution made by the Irish at home and abroad
  • To explore Ireland’s historical narrative in a non-biased manner
  • To develop a better understanding of Irish identity
  • To record and tell personal and family stories at local, national, and international levels
  • To generate appropriate dialogue and engagement on these and related issues on the Island of Ireland and within the wider diaspora

Activity Pillars:

The Irish Military Heritage Foundation operates within four activity pillars:


Defining Irish identity has never been straightforward due to the island’s long and turbulent history. Promoting a better understanding of culture, diversity, belonging, and competing historical narratives can facilitate a better understanding of what it is to be Irish in the 21st century.


Engagement with archives, communities, educators, government, historical groups, media, museums, people, and state agencies is a core activity of the Foundation. The work employs a wide variety of mediums including conversation, conferences, multimedia productions, research programmes and symposiums.

By employing multimedia formats – articles, digital media, live broadcasts, podcasts, and video -the story of Ireland’s past and present is communicated and brought to life on various platforms.

Our multimedia approach affords easy access for decision-makers, educators, students, tourists, and members of the public of all ages and demographics thereby enabling informed discussion and debate in a wider context.


In excess of 70 million people around the world identify as being Irish or of Irish lineage. Connecting with the diaspora and exploring their experience, recording their stories, and understanding their perspectives is a driver in modern Irish society. For posterity it is a priority activity. Their story is our story and impacts significantly on the evolution of our nation.


Recording the personal accounts and stories of individual people is at the heart of the Foundation. Personal accounts give individuals and communities a voice from the past and a window to the future. Given the competition between at least three macro historical narratives (Nationalist, Unionist and Republican) with corresponding definitions of Irishness, affording individuals the opportunity to state their case in order to correct the narrative has never been more important.

The Foundation therefore endeavours to introduce balance into historical debate and discussion in order to provide a more holistic understanding of our shared experience, shared history, and mutual inter-dependency going forward.


The Foundation conducts its activities through several programmes, which in turn carry out projects. The current programmes operating or in development are:

  • Ireland’s Military Story – The Foundation’s primary multimedia platform exploring Ireland’s global military tradition. It brings together Ireland’s rich military heritage and tradition in all its manifestations across the island and the Diaspora and help gain a better understanding of Ireland’s culture, heritage, and identity. Such exploration can help facilitate reconciliation.
  • The Speaker William Conolly Summer School – exploring Irish identity, diversity, and reconciliation
  • An Seanchaí/The Storyteller – the Foundation’s oral history programme
  • Ireland’s Great War – a joint programme with the Somme Association/Museum, exploring the shared history of the Great War 1914 – 1918 for a better future
  • Ireland’s Martello Trails – This programme aims to develop a heritage trail following the network of these Napoleonic sentinels around Ireland. The programme will take a 360° view of each tower, developing a trail(s) that takes in the local diverse story of art, commerce, culture, environment, history, people, sport, and wildlife.

Key Statement

Ireland’s history is complex and multi-dimensional. Understanding competing identities and traditions is central to building a better future for everyone on our island. The Irish Military Heritage Foundation, through its four activity pillars, seeks to explore these issues and promote a better understanding of where we came from in order that decision-makers and educators are informed and enabled to face the future.

Meet the Board

Chairman – John H. Shanahan

John Shanahan has recently completed service as commander of the American Legion’s Department of France – the European component of the United States largest veterans’ service organisation. A 23-year veteran, of the Legion, John is a Life (PUFL) member and has been active in a number of Post and Department levels. He is a charter member and “plank-owner” in the new Pride of Erin American Legion Post IR-01 in Dublin, Ireland.

John is a veteran of the Vietnam conflict and served in the U.S. Navy for a total of 12 years on active and reserve duty, including a Vietnam tour aboard the USS Taussig (DD-746) and later in CONUS aboard the USS Haynsworth (DD 700). His shore duty includes assignments as a Navy recruiter in Houston, Texas and as instructor in CIC operations and navigation at the Navy Reserve Training Center in Houston. He attained the grade of Petty Officer First Class (Radarman/Operations Specialist). His awards include the Naval Reserve Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), the National Defense Service Medal (two awards), the Armed Forces Reserve Medal and Vietnam Service and Campaign medals. He was Honorably Discharged from the Navy in 1971.

In addition to his Navy service, John spent 27 years in the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary where he was active in its recreational boating safety and marine safety programs. He qualified as a master instructor, vessel inspector, small boat operator and air crewman. He spent a number of years in the Coast Guard’s marine safety program, authored its training manual for emergency response planning and retired as Deputy Chief of Marine Safety for the Coast Guard Auxiliary. His Coast Guard awards include the Presidential Unit Citation, Coast Guard Unit Commendation, Coast Guard Meritorious Unit Commendation W/Operational Device and the Coast Guard Aircrew Badge.

John served as Assistant Commissioner and program manager for the City of New York’s corrections capital program, building 13 new correctional facilities, a hospital, an education center and related support facilities throughout the five boroughs of the City of New York. His achievements in these programs, all on time and on budget, resulted in the award of citations from the Mayor and the Corrections Commissioner of the City of New York,

He then went on to work as a senior project manager (GS-15) for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., where he managed its largest construction project — the development of the Inouye Pacific Region Center for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Ford Island, Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. As the government’s project manager/senior contracting executive, he managed the integrated NOAA-contractor team for this $330 million office and laboratory development on the Pearl Harbor waterfront. His work earned the Department of Commerce Bronze Medal for superior achievement.

John’s holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Economics from the University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas; Master of Architecture from Texas A&M University; and Master of Urban Planning, also from Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas.

A dual national, he holds citizenship in both Ireland and in the United States. He travels frequently to the United States and throughout Europe and resides on a permanent basis in Drogheda, County Louth, Ireland – the land of his ancestors.


Secretary – Dr. Joseph Quinn

Joseph Quinn completed his PhD thesis at the Centre for Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College Dublin, graduating in June 2016. His doctoral thesis examined recruitment in Ireland for the British forces during the Second World War. Joseph has been involved on oral history research projects concerning Ireland’s volunteers in the Second World War since 2011 and has worked on two documentary productions. He writes on Irish military history and political affairs for The Irish Times. He worked as an adjunct lecturer in modern Irish and British history for the UCD School of History and School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore, and as a Consultant Historian for Wexford County Library & Archives on their Decade of Commemorations project: ‘The Wexford Great War Dead’. He currently works for the National Archives in London. He has a forthcoming publication with War in History, and Liverpool University Press and is currently developing his PhD thesis for publication with Cambridge University Press.


Treasurer – Graham Buggy

Graham brings over 10 years of operational experience from several industries in the private sector. Graduating in 2006 from DIT Aungier Street, Graham’s career focus has been on creating and maintaining best business practice in the most efficient manner possible, specialising in SME’s and start-ups.


Corporate Governance

The Irish Military Heritage Foundation CLG is on the journey to becoming fully compliant with The Governance Code – a Code of Practice for Good Governance of Community, Voluntary and Charitable Organisations in Ireland.

Click here to find out more about the Governance Code