Thursday 29th July 2021 – Vol 001 Edition 00003
by Jim Campbell
Pte Owen Morrissey
On a beautiful Thursday afternoon in early July, I made the journey to the Curragh Camp to interview Private Owen Morrissey for the ‘Day in the Life of’ series. Within a few miles from the camp, sheep were wandering unsupervised along the country roads and in open grassland. A beautiful sight; none of the fields with ditches or fences, just the hill-like landscape with no boundaries—a real pleasant view to see. This is a beautiful part of Ireland.
The Irish Army, known simply as the Army (Irish: an tArm), is the land component of the Defence Forces of Ireland. Over 7,000 people served in the army permanently. As well as maintaining its primary roles of defending the State and internal security within the State, since 1958 the Army has had a continuous presence in peacekeeping missions worldwide.
The army was always part of Owen’s Life
Owen had a keen interest in military life from a young age. A Newbridge man residing just a short distance from the army base recalled how his parents brought him to the military shows in the nearby racecourse, unrelated to the Army. Living close to the camp, Owen grew up watching the soldiers train every day. Observing the movement of military vehicles, planes, and helicopters hovering above became part of daily life for the young man.
When Owen completed his school years, the country was already in a recession which meant that the army was closed to applications for recruits. At this stage, he found work in Carlow in a discount store. After six to nine months, when the army reopened applications, he jumped at the chance and applied for his dream career. In 2012, at the age of 19, he enlisted in the army.
TTS enrolment opportunity
On joining the defence forces, Owen completed seven months of the initial military training. His first posting was in the James Stephens Army Barracks in Kilkenny. After nine months in Kilkenny, the opportunity to enrol in the Training Technician Scheme (TTS) came his way. On completing a three-year Level 7 Bachelor of Engineering in Carlow IT. Pte Morrissey spent an additional year of ‘hands on’ training in the Curragh Camp.
Due to the TTS scheme he is required to commit to three years in the army for the time attending Carlow IT, after which he can choose to remain in the army and complete his contract potentially serving up to twenty-one years
Repairing all combat support weapons
Pte Owen Morrissey is an Armament Artificer Instrument Technician in the Army and is responsible for inspecting, maintaining, and repairing all combat support weapon systems. This includes the electronics, vehicle weapon stations, ground-to-air missiles, robots (repairing and maintaining the robots), and optics (night vision equipment, compasses, etc.).
Owen explains that in the Army there is no typical working day. Once he arrives at the base in the morning, he reports to his workshop. Here, he receives the list of maintenance jobs that need to be assessed. With only three working in this department, “it can become hectic.” The day can change in a second if he is required to work on a more urgent task. He also pointed out that they work ‘hand in hand’ with the mechanical engineers, and between them, carry out the repairs to the equipment.
“It made me the person that I am“
Owen is currently working on the Factory Acceptance Test (FACT). During the FACT the AAI Technician is ensuring that the new equipment is working according to the manufacturer’s specifications and is operationally ready. A huge responsibility rests on the shoulders of Owen and his colleagues ensuring that the military equipment remains in top condition.
The Private was quick to point out that he loves the challenge that the AAI has to offer. “You never know when you come into the workshop in the morning what you are going to be doing. We have our scheduled maintenance; after a certain period, every piece of equipment must be checked and passed. You could be in the middle of a scheduled check when you get called to an urgent job. That is what I love about the army. It made me the person that I am today.” He also enjoys working on the electronics of the weaponry, “It is excellent; you get to see how it works.”
“We are soldiers first, tradesmen second“
Owen offered some advice to a young person wishing to join the Army. He described what a great life it is with great comradeship among the soldiers. “You might have trained with a guy and not seen him for a few years; you pick up the phone if you need advice and the person is there. You also have the option of learning a trade.”
You don’t need to have any technical background to apply for the Training Technician Scheme. When you complete your initial military training, you subsequently apply for the courses or schemes like Owen did, including Carlow IT. That is one option you have, but it is not something that you need to join the Army.
Like a true soldier, once the call for combat sounds, it doesn’t make any difference which trade you are working in. “We are always soldier first, tradesman second.” AAI Technicians will still be required to serve overseas.
There are so many trades within the army that a recruit can apply for, if he or she wishes to do so.
Acknowledgements: My sincere thanks to Defence Forces Press Officer Commandant Gemma Fagan, Captain John O'Donnell, Lt Des Murray, Pte Owen Morrissey and Ms Breda O'Sullivan (DDLETB) for their help and contribution to this blog.
For further information on joining the army
For more information on joining the army, click on the link below
All Images and Original Text © All Rights Reserved-Jim Campbell 2021
About the author
Jim Campbell is an Irish photographer, freelancer and photojournalist. Campbell has being contemporary photographer for more than two decades.
A native of Wexford town in the south-east of Ireland, Campbell studied photography in the Dublin Institute of Technology before going to work with a newspaper.
Since 1998 he has been working with local and national papers in Ireland and the UK. His work has appeared in publications globally including newspapers, magazines and online publications.
In 2013 Campbell made his first of what would become many trips to the conflict areas of the world. To observe more on Jim’s work vist the link to his website below.