James Oliver Breen (b.1944)

James Oliver Breen (b.1944)


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The Breen ancestral Catholic background is initially explored. James explains that he was born in the Enniskillen Army Barracks, and that his family has a deeply rooted tradition of service in the army. His love of soldiering had always been part of his life and he joined the UDR in the 1960s. He explains the reasons why he joined, and he recalls the discrimination he and his wife Marie and family suffered during his early days of service. He explains that some Catholic colleagues were forced out of the UDR at that time. His senior officer, Col. Bowen, Royal Engineers asked him to resign and he agreed, on condition that he could transfer directly to the Royal Irish Rangers. With the regiment, he was promoted through the ranks to Colour Sergeant, and finally was placed in charge of the Territorial Army Unit in Enniskillen, a position he held for eleven years. He describes his duties on the day of the Enniskillen bombing on 8 November 1987 when he was in charge at The Cenotaph, and he recounts in detail the aftermath of the atrocity on that terrible day. He also discusses his work in fundraising, involving cross-Border Funding, for National Ex-Servicemen and Women, the Irish equivalent of the British Legion, and his involvement in the organisation of reciprocal visits to the Republic and to the North. In conclusion, he talks of his passion for the collection of military badges and medals and his prowess in marksmanship.

This collection, carried out by Irish Life and Lore on behalf of Cavan County Library Service, is funded by the EU Special EU Programmes Body Peace IV fund under the objective to build positive relations with people from different backgrounds and communities to support peace and reconciliation.

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Additional information



Audio series:

Voices of the Troubles

Download time limit:

48 hours

Number of files:


Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore

Date Recorded



45 mins

Location of Recording

Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

Product ID: