The Cork-based Irish Veterans organization is raising funds to establish a memorial and research center in Kinsale to honor the millions of Irish men and women who served in armed forces of other countries.

The mission of Irish Veterans is to unite all Irish military veterans and honor those who have lost their lives in foreign conflicts, namely in the US, Canada, Australia and Britain.

“Irish people and those of Irish descent have served in every significant conflict for at least the last 1,000 years and many continue to serve in overseas armies today,” a recent press release said.

“Sadly, their stories and contributions have largely gone unrecognized or ignored, and nowhere on the island of Ireland is their input collectively acknowledged.”

The organization is now raising funds to establish a permanent memorial and research exhibition center and are actively seeking members – the first 5,000 will be considered founding members, and their names will be engraved on a plaque in the research exhibition center.

“We are appealing to people across the world with Irish connections to be part of this unique project as a way to connect with their peers and to honor those who have gone before them,” said James Sikora, co-executive director of Irish Veterans.

“This is Irish Veterans’ first fundraising drive, and all support is hugely important and greatly appreciated,” he added.

Sikora is an Irishman from West Cork with American citizenship who served in the US army for eight years, including the Gulf war.

“It is incredible that the service and sacrifice of so many thousands of Irish people has gone unrecognized for so long. We need to ensure their sacrifices are never forgotten,” he said.

Sikora is now living back in Cork and is committed to ensuring his colleagues, deceased and living, are recognized in Ireland.

Among the Irish Veterans’ US ambassadors is Dan Murphy, a combat-wounded Veteran of Vietnam and is the father of US Navy SEAL LT Michael P. Murphy, Medal of Honor, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005, and whose story was depicted in the film ‘Lone Survivor.’

“We are delighted to support Irish Veterans in this worthwhile endeavor. In the Navy SEAL special operations community, our son Michael was known as the ‘fiery Irishman from New York’ and his Irish heritage had a very large impact on his persona and strong character,” Murphy said.

“I am very proud to be named an ambassador for this important organization and look forward to honoring my son’s memory and the memory of other Irish veterans by telling their story and commemorating them.”

Irish Veterans is a registered not-for-profit founded by Irish veterans (including veterans of Irish heritage), academics and veterans’ family members. It is funded entirely through membership fees and donations.

Click here to donate or join Irish Veterans.

NY Irish Brigade at a church service - Fort Corcoran, American Civil War, 1861.Wikimedia Commons