Traces in other regions
Operation Shamrock: post-war relief for German children

An Irish Red Cross promotion for “Operation Shamrock”
An Irish Red Cross promotion for “Operation Shamrock” | Photo: Courtesy of Glencree archives

After the Second World War, Ireland not only provided £12 million in aid to Germany but also took in 500 traumatised children.

The first German children arrived in Ireland on 27 July 1946 and by the end of June 1947, almost 500 children between the ages of 3 and 15 had been hosted in Ireland. Most of them returned to their families two or three years later, but 50 of them stayed on. The “Operation Shamrock” children were first taken to a hostel in Glencree, in the Wicklow Mountains, until a host family was found.

The impetus for “Operation Shamrock” came from the “Save the German Children Society”, which had been founded in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin on 16 October 1945. The society aroused the suspicion of the British and Irish authories, however, because some of its members admitted that they were motived as much by anti-British and pro-German sentiment as by altruism.

And so the transport operation was ultimately taken on by the Irish Red Cross, who had already brought some Polish and French children to Ireland. Most of those who came to Ireland via “Operation Shamrock” were from North Rhine-Westphalia, in the British zone of post-war Germany. They were almost all Catholic.

Visitor Information:
Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation
Glencree Enniskerry
County Wicklow

+353 (0)1 282 9711

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