The Sixties 1960 - 1969

The United Nations mission in the Congo, which lasted from July 1960 to May 1964, opened up new horizons for the Defence Forces. Overseas service highlighted many shortcomings. As a result pay and conditions improved and equipment was modernised. The 7.62mm FN rifle replaced the .303 Lee-Enfield, Panhard armoured cars replaced the Swedish Landverks and Irish-built Fords.

Overseas service also came at a price at places such as Niemba where nine soldiers died on 11 November 1960. Cyprus was the next area of operations. In April 1964 the first Irish unit was sent there to keep the peace between the Turkish and Greek communities. It turned out to be our longest overseas mission by far and participation lasted until May 2005.

In June 1963 the President of the United States, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, visited Ireland. During his visit he laid a wreath on the graves of the 1916 leaders at Arbour Hill. He declared afterwards that this had been one of the most impressive experiences of his life. Before the year was out, our Cadets rendered military honours at his graveside in Arlington following his assassination.

In 1966 the fiftieth anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 was commemorated in military ceremonies involving all elements of the Defence Forces.


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The Badge Design

The Badge design (common to all Corps and Services and all orders of dress) is derived from the badge of the Irish Volunteers and was designed by Professor Eoin MacNeill, Chairman of the National Executive of the Irish Volunteers. This badge was originally adopted by the Irish Volunteers in October 1914. [Read more]