A new project is aiming to systematically collect the first-hand testimonies and personal experiences of retired Defence Forces personnel.

The Military Archives Oral History Project is the first such initiative since The Bureau of Military History (1913-1921) in the 1940s and 1950s.

So far, 16 interviews have been recorded and digitised.

Interviewees include 98-year-old Commandant Art Magennis, from Co Down, who served in the Defence Forces for 39 years until he retired in September 1979.

Corporal Seamus McDermott discusses in detail his involvement in attempts to reach Jadotville in the Congo in 1961, where a company of Irish soldiers were under siege. 

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Commandant Michael Walsh recalls his experience of the Rwandan crisis, while he was on secondment with the charity Goal in 1994.

"One of the main things that comes across very clearly in an oral history interview is the emotions associated with what the person is telling you," said project archivist Noelle Grothier.

Project archivist Noelle Grothier.

"When you hear the soldier or former soldier talking about what it was like to jump out of a bus and run for cover thinking you're about to be hit by whatever it is that's firing at you, you get a whole different strength of emotion or understanding of what it is that they're talking about," Ms Grothier said.

The MAOHP team is particularly keen to hear from people who served with the Defence Forces during the 1940s or 1950s, or overseas in the 1960s.

You can hear excerpts of interviews and find out further details here.