Many years ago I worked with an Electronics Engineer who was one of the five hundred refugee children from Germany. According to him he lived on a farm with his foster parents and decided that he much preferred living on a farm than in a city and decided that he did not wish to return to his family in Germany. Both families agreed that it was best for him to remain in Ireland.

If you visit St Stephen's Green in Dublin and enter via the Leeson Street gate the first thing that you will see is a fountain representing the Three Fates inside the Leeson Street gate. The statue was designed by Joseph Wackerle in bronze in 1956. It was a gift from the German people in thanks for Irish help to refugee children following World War II. Up to five hundred children found foster-homes in Ireland in a project named Operation Shamrock.

Operation Shamrock was a scheme bringing refugee children from mainland Europe to Ireland in the aftermath of the Second World War. It was organised by the Irish Red Cross, and involved about 500 children, mostly from Germany, who stayed for three years before returning home.

In 1949, when the time came to return to Germany, many children did not wish to do so. Where host and German families were both willing, the SGCS applied to the government to allow the children to stay in Ireland. Against the wishes of the Red Cross, about fifty did so.

Irish assistance to Germany reinforced in Britain the perception, fostered by wartime neutrality, that Ireland was pro-Nazi. Conversely, West Germany in the 1950s had gratitude for Ireland's postwar relief aid, and ties grew between the countries. In January 1956 a memorial fountain sculpted by Joseph Wackerle and commissioned by the German Gratitude Fund was unveiled in St Stephen's Green, Dublin, by the West German ambassador.

In 1961, the German war cemetery was opened near St Kevin's Hostel, Glencree, for graves of German aviators killed in Ireland during the war. In 1974, the hostel became the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, which played a role in the Northern Ireland peace process in the 1990s.

German-language courses provided for refugees in Dublin led to the foundation of St Kilian's German School.

In March 1997, a reunion of over 300 foster-children and families was held at the German embassy in Dublin, attended by Presidents Mary Robinson of Ireland and Roman Herzog of Germany.



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