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Operation Shamrock

Publication of “The Children from Operation Shamrock” by Monica Brandis

The Goethe-Institut Irland is delighted to support the publication of “The Children from Operation Shamrock – Historical Context, Testimonies and Fictionalized Memory Fragments” by Monica Brandis. The book has been published in November 2020 as part of the series ‘Irish-German Studies’ (Volume 14) with the Centre for Irish-German Studies, University of Limerick by Wissenschaftsverlag Trier.

The Children from Operation Shamrock (C) Wissenschaftsverlag Trier Operation Shamrock was part of a wider humanitarian project set up by the Red Cross for children from war-torn Europe. It placed more than 400 German children in the care of Irish families in the aftermath of the Second World War. The children were aged between four and ten years old and many of them came from the Rhein-Ruhr area of Germany, a British occupied zone and area with a high Catholic population. The first group of participants arrived in Ireland on 27 July 1946 and for most of them, the roughly three-year stay, dotted in rural homes and cities throughout the country was a positive, in some cases even life-saving experience. Some children, however, suffered strongly from the separation from their families or were mistreated by their foster parents. Although some of the children had lost their parents during the war, many returned in 1949 to German families who were still dealing with the socio-economic impacts of the war. In such cases where the German family was unable to care for the returning child or the child wished to stay with their foster family, exceptions were made and around fifty children remained in Ireland permanently.
Based on the author’s exhibition The Children from Operation Shamrock, which has travelled extensively across Germany and Ireland since 2015, this book consists of interviews with eighteen participants as well as an historical analysis of the origins, circumstances and participants of Operation Shamrock. In addition, short stories based on real incidents yet creatively transformed add an emotional dimension to the participants’ early childhood experiences of separation and loss but also affection and healing. In-depth research, interviews and short stories combined facilitate a deeper understanding of an important part of Irish-German relations and the European war and postwar experience.
Whilst the scheduled book launch in November 2020 has had to be postponed due to current Covid measures, a series of events by the Goethe-Institut Irland to celebrate the launch of the book have been planned for 2021 to mark the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the first Operation Shamrock children in Ireland. Further details will be published on our website in due course. In the meantime, the book is available via Wissenschaftsverlag Trier and bookshops across Germany (ISBN 978-3-86821-876-3, 18 images, 166 pp, €25,00).