The extended Monaghan and Delaney families from Clara welcome home Pte Jamie Monaghan and his cousin Pte Ben Delaney in Dublin Airport. Photo: Gareth Chaney.

Scenes of joy at homecoming of Offaly soldiers

The last Irish troops to be deployed in the Golan Heights area of Syria returned home to Dublin Airport on Friday. They were greeted by their friends and families in what were very emotional and joyful scenes.

The majority of returning troops from the 68th Infantry Group, United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) are from the 6th Infantry Battalion based in Custume Barracks, Athlone. They were under the command of Lt Col Oliver Clear.

Ireland is withdrawing its troops from the area, where they monitored the border between Syria and Israel, after a ten year peacekeeping presence there. The UNDOF mission was established in 1974 with the aim of maintaining the ceasefire between Israel and Syria.

A total of 133 personnel of all ranks returned on Friday after a six-month deployment. The arrivals area of Dublin Airport was teeming with people, as families waited for their loved ones to return.

Among those waiting was the the extended Monaghan and Delaney families, from Clara in Co Offaly, but based in Athlone. Pte Jamie Monaghan and his cousin Pte Ben Delaney were both returning from their first deployments abroad.

Jamie’s mother Margaret Monaghan said of her son’s homecoming: “the whole family is extremely proud.” As parents, uncles, aunts, kids, and cousins all gathered to take a huge family photograph, the two young soldiers beamed with pride.

On serving with his cousin, Pte Ben Delaney said it was “very good… it’s great! Jamie’s brother is in the army as well. We’re very proud, but of course it’s also great to come home.”

In the arrivals area, members of the Defence Forces were handing out these flags to the waiting families. The Irish troops have always been very proud of their peacekeeping relationship with the United Nations, and there were also many signs being held up that said, “We’re proud of our peacekeepers”.

As well as overwhelming feelings of pride, there was also a lot of relief amongst the families who were welcoming their loved ones home. This division had been deployed in October, the same month as the violence broke out again in Israel.