Tuesday 17 January 2017

Lise Hand: Poignant final visit to overseas troops for a wistful McAleese

Published 17/10/2011 | 05:00

In a hushed grove shaded by tall trees on a hillside in south Lebanon, the President stood motionless before a black marble monolith commemorating the Irish peacekeepers who had died in the service of UNIFIL.

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Minutes earlier, the names of the 47 soldiers who had lost their lives had been read out in a poignant roll-call as a bagpiper played a quiet lament. Then President McAleese stepped forward, placed a wreath in front of the monument which was flanked by a guard of honour and then stood stock-still for a minute's silence.

It was a quietly moving interlude -- despite her stillness, there was an expression of intense concentration on the face of Mary McAleese, a sense that she was committing to memory the sights and sounds of the last time, which as commander-in-chief of the Defence Forces, she would honour our war dead.

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