Centre for military veterans opens

Sat, Sep 15, 2012, 01:00

SOME 60 years after the idea was mooted, a visitor and advice centre for ex-service personnel of the Defence Forces has opened in Limerick.

The Patrick Sarsfield Branch of Óglaigh Náisiúnta na hÉireann, the Organisation of National Ex-serviceman and Women (One) – has opened the centre on Lord Edward Street in Limerick city.

The Limerick branch of One is the first branch in Ireland to provide such a service.

Sixty years ago the then Limerick branch president, senator Ted Russell, called on Limerick corporation to furnish the local branch with facilities to house their standards.

Earlier this year the branch was finally presented with the keys of the property.

“It’s hard to believe there was over 60 years of negotiations for such a simple request, but it’s wonderful to finally have our centre opening,” said Joe O’Mahoney, branch secretary and president in Limerick.

The premises will house the branch standards and will be used to display a wealth of photographic memorabilia. It will also act as an advice centre for ex-service personnel. Internet facilities will be provided.

“The centre will be a meeting place, first and foremost, but we will also have a computer system which people will be able to use to help track down lost relatives. All they need to bring is the Army number and their date and place of birth and we will be able to give them the information,” Mr O’Mahoney added.

UN Congo veteran John Collopy from Patrickswell in Co Limerick performed the official opening of the premises in Limerick last night. The 85-year-old who, after his service in the Army, went on to become the chief driving tester in the State, said he was delighted to finally see the opening of a facility for ex-servicemen.

“The centre will provide a wonderful opportunity for people to meet up. We have so many old soldiers in the area and they have no place to meet up and swap old stories about their times in the Army and meet old comrades. There are so many photos here also that will bring back a lot of memories,” Mr Collopy said.

It is anticipated the centre will be open from 10am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.