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From Bray to Basra and beyond

Ranger Michael Farrell from Bray, Co Wicklow joined the British army simply by taking the train from Dublin to Belfast in 2003.

"I always wanted to be a soldier, but there was a one-and-a-half year's waiting list for the Irish army.''

Ranger Farrell is now a member of the Royal Irish Regiment, based in Shropshire. He has served in Iraq and Afghanistan as an infantry man and rifleman.

"In Ireland people thought I was crazy when I joined, but on the whole they have been supportive.

"Being from the South has never been a problem. The Catholics and the Protestants get on well together. There would be a lot of friendly banter between us.

"I believe there is good future in this career. It is good to have secure employment, particularly in the current climate.''

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