Operation Shamrock


The Goethe-Institut is pleased to support and host the book launch and exhibition opening of Monica Brandis' "The Children from Operation Shamrock - Historical Context, Testimonies and Fictionalized Memory Fragments". The book has been published by Wissenschaftsverlag Trier as part of the series 'Irish-German Studies' (Volume 14) together with the Centre for German-Irish Studies at the University of Limerick. The event takes place in cooperation with the German Embassy Dublin.

The Children from Operation Shamrock © © Goethe-Institut Irland The Children from Operation Shamrock © Goethe-Institut Irland
The book launch and exhibition opening will take place at the Goethe-Institut Irland on 11th of May 2023 at 6pm.
37 Merrion Square
D02 XK52


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.
Following the book and her exhibition, Monica Brandis interviewed nine Irish children, siblings and school friends of the "Children of Operation Shamrock" in 2022, accompanied by photographer Boris Albert, for inviting a closer look at the Irish perspective on Operation Shamrock.
The book is available on Amazon, Wissenschaftsverlag Trier and in bookstores in Germany (ISBN 978-3-86821-876-3, 18 pictures, 166 p., € 25,-).