Limerick centre to help ex-servicemen track lost family

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

IT was 60 years in the making, but finally a centre for national ex-servicesmen and women has opened in Limerick.

IT was 60 years in the making, but finally a centre for national ex-servicesmen and women has opened in Limerick.

The opening of the new visitor and advice centre on Lord Edward Street was a cause for further celebration for the Patrick Sarsfield branch of Oglaigh Naisiunta na hEireann, the Organisation of National ex-Servicemen & Women. The branch is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.

This is the first centre of its kind in the country for ex-service personnel of the Defence Forces. It will be used to display a wealth of photographic memorabilia, and act as an advice centre for ex-service personnel. Internet facilities will be provided.

Life-long branch member, John Collopy, a UN Congo veteran, addressed the opening, while the army chaplain provided a blessing for the new office. Members from the 16 branches of the ONE southern area were in attendance.

In the mid 1940s thousands of service personnel were demobilised and a number of organisations and associations were formed to conserve and enhance the comradeship and companionship that had begun during national service. In the 1950s these associations came together under the title of Oglaigh Naisiunta na hEireann – The Organisation Of National Ex-servicemen & Women.

To date there are 50 branches throughout Ireland. Membership of the ONE is open to those who served with The Permanent Defence Forces, The Reserve Defence Forces, The Irish Red Cross, The Civil Defence and An Garda Siochana.

“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 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.”