History of the Army Reserve

1946 — 1984

In 1946 the LDF was reorganised again, under a new title, An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil (An FCÁ — the Local Defence Forces)

An FCÁ integrated with the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF) in 1959. This move revitalised An FCÁ, as the Local Defence Force was restructured to mirror the PDF. Rifle Battalions were reformed as Infantry Battalions, their training and weapons were upgraded. From 1969 onwards FCÁ personnel supported the PDF by the provision of security duties in barracks and posts throughout the country.

1984 — 1996

In 1984, shortly after the 25th anniversary of integration, An FCÁ was de-integrated and re-established as an independent Reserve Force. The structure set in place at the time has continued the same and An FCÁ has continued with its normal training.

FCÁ units were the most visible part of the Defence Forces in many localities throughout the country. Regularly carrying out ceremonial duties, Presidential Guards, and guards of honour, as well as participating in local and national St. Patrick’s Day Parades, FCÁ personnel made themselves available during local emergencies providing help to the needy and assistance to the PDF for security duties, military exercises and in support for major operations.

1996 — 2004

In 1996 a military board was established under Colonel Des Travers to look at the possibilities of restructuring the FCÁ and re-integrating the organisation into the PDF. Arising from the report of this board a Steering Group was set up consisting of members of the Department of Defence, PDF and FCÁ personnel, including Brigadier General Edmund Heskin, then General Officer Commanding the 2 Eastern Brigade,  and Colonel Mick Dunne, then Director of Reserve Forces. The Steering Board’s final report was used as a basis for the recommendations contained in the Government’s White Paper on Defence 2000. The White Paper stated, “Ireland provides for its core defence requirements through the Permanent Defence Forces (PDF). The availability of supplementary forces, in the form of reserves, offers a cost effective means of achieving an overall strength target through a judicious combination of standing and Reserve Forces, the Reserves should be organised and equipped on a similar basis to regular forces in order to develop the interoperability necessary to train and conduct joint operations.”

To achieve this, and arising from the Steering Board report, the Reserve Defence Forces Review Implementation Board (RDFRIB) was established. Chaired by Brigadier General Frederic Swords, the RDFRIB reported in 2002. It recommended the establishment of a Reserve containing integrated and non-integrated elements.

2004 — 2012

On July 26th 2004, all of the hard work carried out by the RDFRIB culminated with Mr Michael Smith, TD, and then the Minister for Defence approving the RDF Review Implementation Plan, based on the RDFRIB report. The new organisation which came into effect on the 1st October 2005 will update and change the face of the Reserve, making it a more modern and integratable force. The new non-integrated reserve organisation mirrors that of the present PDF structure with three Reserve Infantry Brigades.


The formation of an integrated reserve will be fully immersed with their PDF parent units. These integrated personnel will have a much more dedicated training regime, training alongside their PDF comrades, under the command and control of their PDF unit commander. This integration is currently in the process of being formed. The scheduled timeline will be constantly monitored by the Monitoring Group, to ensure the plan maintains momentum and this initiative is known as the “One Force” concept.

The Reserve Force must now focus on training to a standard that will enable them to rapidly attain interoperability with the PDF, should the need arise.

The new integrated Army Reserve is a vastly different organisation to that of, An FCÁ. While building on the strengths of the old organisation, the Army Reserve will have a more meaningful and challenging role. Equipment has been improved and increased resources have been made available. The commitment and enthusiasm of the volunteer reservists has been the foundation on which the old FCÁ was built and these traits allied to the enhanced training and a clearer focus will continue to ensure the success of the Army Reserve. 

History of the Naval Service Reserve

Following the Treaty in 1922 the United Kingdom retained control over Irish waters. The Irish Government had responsibility to police fisheries and customs. To this end the Coastal and Marine Service was set up in 1923. Although the Service was disbanded in 1924 the unarmed MURICHU (EX HELGA) continued fishery protection duties for the Department of Fisheries patrolling the three miles of Irish territorial waters. In 1936 the MURICHU was armed to make her more effective on patrols. In 1938, when the waters and ports (Bere Haven, Lough Swilly and Cork Harbour) were handed over to the Irish Government, she was joined by the FORT RANNOCH. The British Royal Navy withdrew from Cork Harbour on 11 July 1938. The waters of Ireland were now the full responsibility of the Irish Government.

In May 1939 an order was placed with Vospers UK for two Motor Torpedo Boats (MTB's). The outbreak of war in September that year spurred the Government to set up the Marine and Coastwatching Service. Ireland's neutral stance further highlighted the necessity for Ireland to have its own Navy to uphold its neutrality. Following the outbreak of war, the order for MTBs was increased from two to six. By 1941 the Service consisted of a force of 6 MTBs and 4 assorted craft and manned by about 300 all ranks. The task during the war years focused on port control duties such as mine laying (Cork and Waterford), regulation of merchant shipping, upkeep of navigational aids and fishery protection. At the end of the war in 1945, the Coastwatching Service was disbanded and the Marine side was wound down. In Sept 1946 the Marine Service became a component of the Defence Forces, thus was born the modern day Irish Naval Service.

On 20 September 1940, the Second Line Naval Volunteer Reserve, known as the Maritime Inscription was formed. Under the command of Colonel A. T. Lawlor, from an office in Portobello Barracks (now Cathal Brugha Barracks) the Maritime Inscription developed and exercised its roles of Port Control and Seaward Defence. By 1943 it had 14 Officers, 137 NCOs and 992 men.

The Maritime Inscription holds the distinction of displaying the first Irish Naval Uniform to the people of Ireland at the Easter Parade 1941.

In 1947, in recognition of their outstanding service to the country during the 'Emergency', the Government decided that the Marine and Coastwatching Service would be adopted as part of the Defence Forces and given its own command, proper naval titles and ranks. On 10 June 1947 the Maritime Inscription was reorganised as the Second Line Reserve to the Naval Service and renamed An Slua MuirÁ. In 1954 the command of the Slua MuirÁ Units was transferred from different Army Command areas to the Naval Service, which is now responsible for the administration and operation of the force.

Following a review of the Defence Forces in recent years, An Slua Muiri changed name to the Naval Service Reserve, or Cúltaca Na SeirbhÁse Cabhlaigh.  At present there is a 400 plus establishment for the Naval Service Reserve.

Read more about the Defence Forces History