A Longford woman serving as an officer in the Defence Forces has spoken of her experiences during her deployment to the Golan Heights as part of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) along the Israel-Syria border.
Lieutenant Marie Carrigy was part of the 46th Infantry Group, which served as UNDOF’s rapid reaction force between September of 2014 and April this year.
“I joined the army in 2007 and was commissioned in 2009. This was my first time overseas, but it was something I’d been training for ever since I joined,” she admitted. “The training programme is rigorous and prepares us for the worst case scenarios.”
Lt Carrigy, who serves with the 1st Armoured Cavalry Squadron at The Curragh, was one of 14 officers assigned to the 46th Infantry Group.
“There was a total of 130 personnel deployed,” she explained. “I served as a recce (reconnaissance) section commander as part of the rapid reaction force, and our main task was to assist other UN personnel if they found themselves in trouble.
“Ours was the third Irish deployment to the region and although we were called out to assist a couple of times, there were no major incidents,” she continued before adding, “I’d go out again in the morning.”
Asked about the numbers of women applying to join the army, Lt Carrigy said the Defence Forces are actively trying to recruit more.
“There’s nothing to hinder females from joining,” she asserted. “They perform exactly the same roles as men, whether at home or overseas, and they are there because they deserve to be.”
Lt Carrigy is a native of Aughaward near Ballinalee, where her parents Sean and Maureen still live along with her brother James. She still turns out for the Emmet Óg ladies team and trained as a physiotherapist at University College Dublin before joining the army as a cadet.
“I enjoy it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done,” she said of her career to date, before concluding by posing the question: “Sure, where else would I get to drive a tank?”