It was a glorious day of sunshine and chatter at the Third Infantry Battalion Family Open Day at the James Stephens Barracks.
The grounds were littered with people of all ages celebrating the everyday life of a soldier. From veterans who had dedicated 33 years of their lives serving Ireland to young children looking at the uniformed fighters in fascination, all were present to support their army.
The event was free of charge and was seen as a chance for the soldiers to thank their families and loved ones.
“It’s hard for us to give back to the families of the serving soldiers,” said Second Lieutenant Aaron Davis. “We don’t have many opportunities to do that due to the nature of our jobs so today is an opportunity for them to bring in their families have a look around the weapons and the different vehicles we have, have a go on the bouncy castle, face paint. It was a fun day out for them.”
Live music was played while families curiously peered at various pieces of equipment. With the supervision of Ireland’s finest, many used unloaded weapons for the first time. The public was allowed access to military mortars and machine guns. These weapons, usually manned by up to four people, were enjoyed by numerous children who were eager to lay down on the ground and take aim.
Some went for a less chaotic approach and were drawn to the helmets and body armour. Camera flashes went off as boys and girls lined up to have their picture taken by their parents.
The strength of the Irish army was showcased with a small display of miltary vehicles. These vehicles included Armoured Personnel Carriers and Mowags which have been in action both domestically and abroad.
The majority of the troops in James Stephens Barracks stationed abroad have served in Syria and Lebanon on peace keeping missions.
Alongside face painting and a bouncy castle there were also stalls set up by various organisations such as Irish Guide Dogs.
All photographs by Michael Brophy