I was privileged to be invited to accompany Major General Cotter, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Defence Forces on a recent trip out to Lebanon, from 17-21 December. The trip also included Commandant Peter Norton and Father Seamus Madigan.
As well as spending time at the main UN camp in the hills of South Lebanon we were able to visit two observation posts and the regional and national UN headquarters. The main purpose of the trip was to meet personnel currently serving out there and it was a huge honour to spend time with them and learn more about their day to day tasks.
I have two particular highlights. Firstly, being asked to co-lead an act of remembrance at the monument to Irish personnel who have lost their lives whilst serving in Lebanon over the last 60 years. This is in the grounds of a church in one of the neighbouring villages.
The second was leading a Carol Service in the small chapel of the main camp. To be hearing the nativity story unfold and sing carols with the men and women who are currently working to maintain peace so close to the region where this story first unfolded was indeed special.
By Rev Fran Grasham (Church of Ireland Chaplain to the Irish Defence Forces)