50th Anniversary of UN Membership – December 2005

An RTÉ News report by Joe O’Brien broadcast on 14 December 2005,  covered a military ceremony, in McKee Barracks, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Ireland joining the United Nations.


UNIFIL Parade – November 2001

In 2001, the Defence Forces completed its 23 missions with the United Nations in Lebanon. To mark the withdrawal from Lebanon, a military parade took place in Dublin on 25 November

The parade was led by the Army No 1 Band and parade commander was Brigadier-General Edmund Heskin, GOC 2 Eastern Brigade.  President Mary McAleese took the salute at the review stand at the General Post Office.

RTE broadcasted the parade


Withdrawal from UNIFIL – 2001

Lieutenant-General Colm Mangan Chief of Staff described the withdrawal from Camp Shamrock in Lebanon as the end of a glorious chapter in the history of the Defence Forces.

Between 1978 and 2001, over 20,000 Irish soldiers have served with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.  This RTE Report by Joe O’Brian, was transmitted on 13 November 2001.


Unveiling of Memorial Glen Imaal – September 1986

On 16 September 1941, fifteen personnel drawn from 12 pdr Battery, 1 Anti-Aircraft Battalion, (three Lieutenants, one Battery-Sergeant, two Sergeants, five Corporals and four Gunners), along with a Lieutenant Engineer Instructor, were accidentally killed when a training mine exploded.  May They Rest in Peace.

The 1941 accident remains the single tragedy with the greatest casualties in the history of Óglaigh na Éireann. 

In 1958, a stained glass window was dedicated in the Church of the Most Holy Rosary, McKee Barracks, and in 1986, the Minister for Environment Mr John Boland T.D., whose uncle survived the explosion, unveiled a Monument at Seskin Bridge, honouring and commemorating the sixteen Defence Forces personnel who died on 16 September, 1941.

An RTÉ News report by Charlie Bird broadcast on 14 September 1986 showed 4 survivors along with relatives, friends and members of the Defence Forces attending the unveiling ceremony. 



46 Infantry Battalion UNIFIL – April 1980

The 46 Infantry Battalion served in Lebanon from November 1979 to April 1980.

This RTE report shows the Minister for Defence, Mr Padraig Faulkner TD, accompanied by the Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Carl O’Sullivan,  welcoming home personnel of the Battalion at  at Dublin Airport.

Commandant Kevin Roberts, Medical Officer, talks to Tom McCaughren regarding the health of Private John O’Mahony who was one of three Irish soldiers abducted  in April 1980. Two other soldiers, Privates Derek Smallhorne and Thomas Barrett, were subsequently killed by the South Lebanese Army. 


1 Zambian Cadet Class  – October 1967

This episode of RTE’s  ‘Féach’ was broadcast on 22 October 1967 and shows six cadets from Zambia arriving at the Cadet School in the Curragh, County Kildare.

The cadets are Weston Mvula Chanda, Arikoti Michael Chikoti, Emmanuel Suma Chisha, Solomon Mumbi Mumbi, John Rogers Munthali and Michael Lamock Zulu. The Zambian casets arrived at the training camp on 17 October 1967 and spent two years in training.

This report shows the attestation of members of the 42 Cadet Class, which included Colonel Ray Quinn (Retd), Colonel Fergus Bushell, Commandant Paddy Keogh (Retd) RIP and Commandant Rory de Bruir (Retd).   The report shows the Zambian Cadets being welcomed to the Military College and subsequent activity

Between 1967 and 1973 and in 1995, five Zambian Cadet Classes were trained in the Curragh.

The RTE reporter is Breandán Ó hEithir.


Cyprus May 1964

In an RTE news report on 05 May, 1964, Kevin O’Kelly meets some of the  Irish soldiers on peackeeping duty with UNFICYP in Cyprus.


Sixty Five“: 11 March 1965

This RTE programme provides a breakdown of the numbers in the Irish Army. According to the report, there were 1,072 Commissioned Officers, 2,904 Non-Commissioned Officers, and 4,473 Privates and Cadets in the Permanent Defence Force.  The total number in the Reserve Defence Forces was 19,342.  The strength of the Air Corps has 500 personnel and 26 planes, while the Naval Service had 300 personnel. The Civil Defence Volunteer Service had 17,246 members.

The report includes vox pops with people of differing views talking about what they consider the role of the army in Ireland to be.

This report by John O’Donoghue for ‘Sixty Five’ was broadcast on 11 March 1965.


36 Infantry Battalion ONUC – July 1962

On 16 July 1962, RTE’s  ‘Broadsheet’ broadcast a report on Irish soldiers serving in the Congo.  In this clip members of ‘A’ Company 36 Infantry Battalion play an improvised piece of music. The accordion player was Private Joe O’Rourke.


33 Infantry Battalion ONUC – August 1960

This film shows the embarkation of personnel of the the 33 Irish Battalion on 18 August 1960, lifted by US Airforce Globmasters from Baldonnel.

The film from RTE archives, by Thomas Fewer, shows the arrival of a US Airforce Globemaster at Baldonnel aerodrome. The parting troops parade before the Taoiseach, Sean Lemass, the Minister for External Affairs, Frank Aiken and the Minister for Defence, Kevin Boland.  The soldiers are blessed by the Rev. P Duffy acting Head Chaplin.

Nine Irish soldiers of the 33 Infantry Battalion were killed at an ambush at Niemba on 8th of November 1960.


Crossing The Blackwater – September 1942

The Blackwater manoeuvres involving over 20,000 troops from the  Defence Forces took place from 17 August to 27 September 1942.

The 1st Division under Major-General Michael Joseph Costello and the 2nd ‘Spearhead’ Division under Major-General Hugo MacNeill were engaged in the largest training exercise undertaken by the Irish Army.

This film from RTEarchives, photographed by army personne,l shows living conditions in the field, troops carrying out training exercises, and marching.  Away from the serious business of the manoeuvres rest and recuperation involved music and dancing with the local population.