Irish Veterans Project

Cork based photographer and Documentarian Damian Drohan has been collating a series of portraits and interviews of  Irish veterans of WWII.

The portraits are simply lit, pared back and devoid of any background to distract. It’s about the veterans and their stories. Combined with audio recordings it’s surprising to think that this aspect of Irish history has not been covered in such a way before.

Drohan took 5 months to conduct the interviews compiling an invaluable but by no means exhaustive series of portraits.

Set aside some time and go visit

Photograph of Brian Smith copyright of Damien Drohan

A more indepth interview/overview on the BBC


As a courtesy i contacted Damian to let him know i’d blogged about the project. He has informed me that he has been working on the project for a year and to date has documented 25 veterans. He can be contacted by email at if you know of any veterans that might wish to be involved.

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  • Mainland Ulsterman

    It’s just great that these blokes are finally being recognised. A huge number served with the Allies, to their great credit. We all owe them a huge debt.

  • 50,000 or thereabouts but we may never know the exact numbers.
    And yes we do owe them, thats why this is an important project

  • Greenflag

    ‘ we do owe them, ‘

    We meaning the UK , Ireland and the world . Just as well Lord Halifax did’nt become Prime Minister in which case Britain’s military and aristocratic establishment would probably have opted for ‘peace’ along the lines of a Greater Germany in exchange for Britain holding on to it’s colonies . To Churchill’s great credit he did’nt waver from what had to be done .And nobody wanted a rerun of WW1 but by the end the carnage was even greater .

    And yes it’s good that these volunteers are finally getting some recognition.Hopefully many will get to tell their story before they pass on . For one of my great uncles buried under north african sand there’ll be no story- like many thousands of others of all nationalities .

  • pippakin

    Something like this is long overdue. It is time Ireland recognised her heroes from both world wars.

    The first WW saw men prepared to go to the Somme on a promise of a UI, they were lied to but that does not diminish their sacrifice.

    The second saw men giving their lives to end a tyranny that would have engulfed us all.


  • JAH

    And remember everyone, North and South volunteered. To have fought against fascism is probably one of the few times one could say there was a just war.

  • joeCanuck

    Unassuming vets can be found everywhere. The many times mayor of our small town I found out my chance was one of the founding members of the Devil’s Brigade.

  • It’s all so arbitrary really.
    I thought that this might have generated a discussion around the issue of joining the British army and the reasons these men have been ignored by and large.
    Evidently not.

  • Greenflag

    ‘I thought that this might have generated a discussion around the issue of joining the British army’

    It’s a non issue or is in the process of becoming one . People from Ireland have always volunteered , joined , been press ganged , been advised to join the Army to escape from ‘circumstances ‘.etc . But it’s not a subject that the ‘powers’ that were or are in the Republic by which I mean the established politicians , the churches etc ever dwelt on at any length -at least until quite recently.

    I recall once attending an official function in the Dublin ‘region’ after which a number of people were invited for afters to the home of a Northern Ireland ‘businessman ‘ who was resident in the Republic, and from a Unionist background . At one point he was asked by some ‘guest’ about ‘war medals ‘ which were displayed in a glass fixture attached to the wall . They were ‘medals ‘ for service in WW1 and WW2 and probably earlier wars , won by his father , grandfather and other relatives . As he mentioned the ‘battles ‘ he was a bit surprised to hear that probably more than half of those present and none of them of a unionist background, could say that they had grandfathers , grand uncles etc who fought in the same battle , one even had a son in the British Army at that time serving overseas .

    In harsh economic times the army provided a support that the private sector economy could’nt and for some of our ‘population ‘ life on civvy street’ just had no appeal .

    But while I support the recognition of those who gave their lives for a ‘just war’ I can’t help but think that many hundreds of thousands in the British and other armies down through the centuries gave their lives for Kings and Queens and Generals and Popes and Ayatollahs and Tsars and Kaisers -who frankly were not worth the sacrifice.

    Armies are a necessary part of any modern state even if in most cases they are only to protect a state’s institutions from ‘anarchy’ and to protect people form the consequences of civil disorder . Theres a fine line to be drawn between the role of ‘protector ‘ of the people and ‘private security force for the protection of a powerful oligarchy ‘ as we see being displayed in events in Egypt and elsewhere .

    Another young man was buried with full military honours out of Bangor yesterday .Condolences to the family . Another casualty in a war which most people in these islands believe was foisted on the people by politicians who should have known better .

    Will we ever learn? Probably not .And not in our lifetimes anyway.