A national appeal was launched this afternoon for people with historical military items to donate them to a major new exhibition that opens next year.

Construction work is due to begin soon at the National Museum on a €9m exhibition that will be known as ‘The Irish at War.’

Collins Barracks in Dublin has three centuries of military tradition behind it. The exhibition will tell the stories of Irish soldiers, their families, and how Irish civilians were affected by war over the past 500 years - from the Elizabethan era to UN service in Lebanon.

The museum says it already has an outstanding collection of Irish martial heritage but they are seeking donations to make it even better.

A Guide to Irish Military Heritage was published this afternoon to help people research the military service of family members. It will help people to locate records, buildings and memorials throughout the country.

The Minister for Arts, Sport and Tourism, John O'Donoghue, said the two announcements involve the Military Heritage of Irish Trust, an all-Ireland body, whose work encompasses all communities regardless of political or religious beliefs.