FIFTEEN troops from Kildare spent this Christmas abroad as part of the Irish peacekeeping mission in the Lebanon, writes Paula Campbell.
Those on duty as part of the IrishFinn Battalion spent the day monitoring the Blue Line, supporting the Lebanon Armed Forces and assisting the people of Lebanon in civilian and humanitarian support.
Those off duty started the festive season with Christmas Eve Mass at 9pm, celebrated by chaplain Fr David Tyndall. Christmas Day mass was due to be celebrated the following morning in the outposts located close to the Israeli Border for the Irish soldiers serving with the United Nations in the name of peace.
“Afterwards Christmas dinner will continue in the tradition of the commanding officer and the commissioned officers serving the Christmas dinner to the soldiers,” defence forces spokesperson Captain G.Casey said last week.
“The operational patrolling and duties will continue, combined with plenty of calls between Ireland and Lebanon where messages will be exchanged between loved ones. There will also be a commemoration to remember the sacrifices of our fallen comrades who died in the area of operations here in Lebanon.”
In total, there are 332 Irish troops currently deployed with the 107 IrishFinn Brigade of whom 15 are from Kildare.”
Each year the Leinster Leader prints Christmas messages from our troops who are away from home for the big day to their loved ones back at home in Kildare and below are this year’s special deliveries:
“To my wife Jacinta, sons Jake, Denis, John (jnr) daughter Carol Ann. Wishing you all a very Happy Christmas. Love you and miss you lots. See you all in March.”
From Sgt John Collins, Monasterevin Co. Kildare
“This is my fifth trip overseas, and the third where I will spend Christmas away from home. I found the first time a strange and unusual experience but also enjoyable.
“There is a lot of camaraderie amongst troops who are overseas during Christmas which makes it easier.
This time however, it’s my first time away having a son, Alex who is 3 ¼, so their will be a tinge of sadness, but with modern technology we will be “Face timing” all through the Christmas period and I will get to see what Santa will bring him.
Christmas Greetings to my family, scattered between Kildare, Newbridge and Edenderry.”
From Comdt Philip Grant, Kildare
“Happy Christmas and a very happy New Year to all in Nurney.
“Special greetings to my mother Margaret, my brothers Patrick and Shea and my sisters Sandra, Aine and Helen, my nieces and nephews Katlyn, Faye, Gavin and Daniel.
“To my two in-laws Martin and Sue, to my fighting fit grandmother Mrs Annie Sexton, happy Christmas Nanny.
“To Mary, happy Christmas Moll and I’ll see you all soon. Love Caroline Sexton.”
From Cpl Caroline Sexton, Kildare
“I’d like to say hello and a happy Xmas to all my family and friends back home.”
Capt Owen Carton, Kildare town
“Just to wish a very happy Xmas to my wife Orla and two daughters Celine and Heather.
“I hope you really enjoy the festive season and I look forward to seeing you all in the New Year. Love Dave.”
From Lt Col David Dignam. Commanding Officer of 107 IRISHFINN BATT. KILDARE
- Compiled by Paula Campbell