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Meet the Defence Forces' first female colonel

Maureen O’Brien joined the Defence Forces in 1981 and previously served in the Lebanon, Western Sahara and East Timor

Defence Forces chief of staff Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Colonel O’Brien and Minister of State Paul Kehoe
Defence Forces chief of staff Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Colonel O’Brien and Minister of State Paul Kehoe
Image: Department of Defence

IRELAND HAS APPOINTED its first-ever female colonel to the Defence Forces.

A native of Galway City, Maureen O’Brien became the first female operational Lieutenant Colonel, when she was promoted to the rank in 2011. 

In 2012 she became the first female Infantry Battalion Commander in the Irish Army.

For the last two years she worked in the operations branch of Defence Forces HQ, responsible for engagement with the EU and the NATO-linked Partnership for Peace (PfP).

Today, Taoiseach Enda Kenny joined Minister Paul Kehoe and Defence Forces chief of staff Vice-Admiral Mark Mellett in congratulating Colonel O’Brien on becoming the first female to be promoted to that rank.

Western Sahara

Colonel O’Brien graduated from University College Galway with a BSc before being awarded a Cadetship in the Defence Forces in 1981.

At home she has served in Cork, Defence Forces Headquarters, Eastern Brigade HQ, Dundalk and the Military College.

She has also been deployed to Lebanon, Western Sahara and East Timor.

Her most recent deployment was as Chief of Operations Planning in a multi-national sector HQ in Lebanon.

She has also completed a diploma in IT from UCC and holds a first-class Masters degree in leadership, management and defence studies from NUIM.

Colonel O’Brien takes up the appointment of Director of Communications and Information Services.

Read: Irish naval ship rescues over 100 people from the Mediterranean

Read: There are very, very few women in the Irish Army…

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