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Saturday 3 December 2016

Christmas at home for 189 peacekeepers in historic tour of duty

Published 18/11/2015 | 02:30

Lt Clodagh McConnell from Clontarf with her nephew and niece Feargal (5) and Aisling (2) Browne and their UN teddy bears at Dublin Airport. Photo: Frank McGrath
Lt Clodagh McConnell from Clontarf with her nephew and niece Feargal (5) and Aisling (2) Browne and their UN teddy bears at Dublin Airport. Photo: Frank McGrath
Cpl Gerard Hanna with daughter Lily and his fiancée Amelia Holmes. Photo: Frank McGrath

Ireland's returning troops were given a jubilant homecoming as they touched down in Dublin Airport following a six-month tour of duty in the Lebanon.

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The mission by the 189 members of the 49th Infantry Group had the distinction of having the largest ever proportion of women in an overseas unit with 24 female soldiers among the ranks.

Among them was Lt Clodagh McConnell who was welcomed home by her nephew and niece.

Commanding Officer, Lt Col Ian Byrne, said the increased presence of female soldiers gave "a magnificent dimension" to the unit.

Three-month-old Lily Hanna from Cork was reacquainted with her dad, Cpl Gerard Hanna. He was at home on leave when Lily was born. He admitted that saying goodbye to his new family was "the hardest thing ever".

Irish Independent

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