In a past life, Coláiste Íosagáin in the Múscraí Gaeltacht village of Baile Mhúirne was a secondary school and preparatory college for aspiring teachers. It has since been the film set for a hit movie starring Aidan Quinn, Song For A Raggy Boy. In the not so distant future, it’s to be a regional digital hub being operated by Údarás na Gaeltachta.
But for the past week it’s been the target of a military exercise being conducted by the Defence Forces to train young officers in combat techniques in urban scenarios.
Operation or Exercise Break-in was was an exercise being implemented by the Infantry School in the Defence Forces Training Centre in the Curragh, Co. Kildare for the 41st Infantry Young Officers Course.
A Defence Forces spokesman told The Corkman that this course was aimed at young officers of Lieutenant rank as part of their continuous professional development.
"This course develops skills they have learned in the Cadet School during their Cadetship and they are tested in various scenarios in command of troops delivering and executing a plan based on that given scenario. On successful completion of this Course, Lieutenants are qualified to serve overseas as an Infantry Platoon Commanders.
“The exercise which was taking place in Baile Mhúirne was called Exercise Break-In which is a Platoon level Military Operations in Urban Terrain (MOUT) exercise designed to test students and exercise troops in a demanding urban scenario and featured sniper detachments and recce detachments providing overwatch, a heli insertion and use of infantry supported by armour to accomplish the mission.”
The week-long exercise intrigued locals in the surrounding vicinity to the extent that local TD, Aindrias Moynihan, contacted the Defence Forces to be assured that while shots would be heard in the neighbour-hood of the former secondary school, there should be no need for concern as live rounds would not be used.
Military vehicles such as personnel carriers were seen on local roads during the week, as far away as Ireland’s highest pub, the Top of Coom, where the Creedon family took photos of the convoy driving past.