Lt Colonel to be first woman to lead overseas
A Roscommon officer is set to make history as the first woman to lead a group of soldiers on an overseas mission.
Lt Colonel Mary Carroll is commanding officer of the 54th infantry group, consisting of 130 troops.
Soldiers were put through their paces yesterday in the rugged Glen of Imaal ahead of their deployment to the Golan Heights in Syria, where they will serve with the United Nations Disengagement Observation Force in the troubled region.
The army officer, who is a mother of two, said she was looking forward to leading the mission.
"I'm very privileged to be in command," said Lt Col Carroll. "I'm delighted to see the Defence Forces is recruiting women. Our new recruitment drive has been very positive. More women can see this is a viable career."
Tipperary man Patrick 'Bonnar' Maher (26) will be switching his hurley for a gun when he jets off overseas.
The hurler, who was a key player in the Tipp All-Ireland winning team, says he is looking forward to his first mission.
Maher joined the army in 2012 and says all the training has been building up to this moment.
"The training is going very well. Everybody has confidence in each other and it makes things a lot easier," said Maher. "It will be challenging, but I'm looking forward to that challenge."
He said he hoped there would be time to play hurling in the Golan Heights.
"The GAA is touching an awful lot of places around the world, you never know," he said.