UN Peacekeepers are used to the distance it takes them from home, but that doesn’t make Christmas any easier – and yet there are the little things that make it seem a little more normal, even when living life in a metaphorical powder keg.
Galway – and Dún Uí Mhaoilíosa, home to An Chead Chath in Renmore – has long played a proud part in keeping the peace in far flung war zones, but events in Gaza this year have brought home the reality of what they so regularly encounter.
Three of them – Comdt Sarah O’Regan from Athenry and Cpl Cathy Jennings from Riverside who are both based in South Lebanon, and Lieutenant Tadhg Campbell from Oughterard who is serving with the Quick Reaction Force in the Golan Heights – offered an insight into their daily lives, and how their UN colleagues try to make Christmas a little more like home.
Comdt Sarah O’Regan has been deployed in South Lebanon since November 2023.
“This is my fourth tour of duty overseas and third to Lebanon. My appointment is Officer Commanding Battalion Support Group and Camp Commandant. Both very diverse appointments,” she says.
The Battalion Support Group is divided into Company HQ and Seven Combat Service Support Sections which includes Welfare/Logistics, Engineering, Communications, Transport, Ordnance, Medical and Policing.
“BSG provides real life support to our main camp UNP2-45 and our outposts UNP6-50 and UNP6-52. The role of the Camp commandant is responsible for security and welfare of the personnel within the camp. Both roles are intertwined and are very reactional. Every day is very different within the combat services sphere,” she adds.
This is her second Christmas overseas; her first tour with the 47 Inf Gp led by 1 Cn Cois was back in 2014 where they formed up in Dun Ui Mhaoiliosa.
“Over the Christmas myself and the BSG will continue to work and support the Battalion. Real life support is 24/7 and continues over the holidays even on Christmas Day. I work with a great group of people and we will all support one another over the holidays,” she says.
“While it is tough being away from our families and friends during the holidays, it worthwhile knowing we are playing a vital role here in South Lebanon, making a difference to the local population.
“The Battalion has planned a festive day for personnel on Christmas day, trying to make it feel like home somewhat. Festivities on Christmas day include a Christmas morning run, Mass and Christmas dinner with all the trimmings,” she says.
Caption: Comdt Sarah O’Regan from Athenry and Cpl Cathy Jennings from Riverside.
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