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Instituted by the Defence Forces in 1987 with the first medal presentations in 1988. The medal is ranked after the Distinguished Service Medal and before the Service Medal of the Permanent Defence Forces. The medal is awarded to an individual NCO or private soldier in recognition of meritorious service characterized by exemplary conduct. The medals were only awarded to individuals with ten years continuous service and only 60 medals were awarded each year. The General Officer Commanding presented medals at special presentation parades.

The medal was supposed to be awarded inscribed with the individual recipients name and service number but as with all Irish Defence Forces medals un-named examples do exists. The Good Conduct medal caused considerable controversy with allegations of favouritism and due to the requirement of an issue of 60 a year allegations that some recipients only received the medal to make up the required numbers and it was decided by the Department of Defence to stop awarding the medal.


Medals were issued for 1988 and 1989 making a total of 120 medals issued, medals awarded in 1988 were presented in 1989 and medals awarded in 1989 were presented in 1990, no medals were awarded after 1989. The medal could be forfeit if a recipient was convicted of one or more of the following:

  • Misconduct
  • Conviction by a civil court
  • Sentence resulting in discharge from the Defence Forces
  • Discharge with ignominy
  • Conviction in the Special Criminal Court
When a medal was forfeit it was taken from the recipient and placed with their official record.

I have been told the medal was issued engraved with the recipient’s name rank and service number but as yet I have not seen a named medal.

The medal was only awarded to Private Soldiers and Non-Commissioned Officers in all branches of the defence forces including reserves, should a recipient of the medal gain a commission after being awarded the medal they were not permitted to wear the medal or ribbon on their uniform but were allowed to retain the medal for private use.

Recipients of the medal also receive a certificate. Nominations were submitted annually to a board of officers. A list of successful candidates was published at the end of May and medals were presented at ceremonial parades by General Officers Commanding. Recipients were entitled to use the initials BDI (Bonn Dea Iompair) after their name.


Medals Awarded in 1988
SPOBradley E L.E. Eithne (Navy)
RSMBrennan JMil Detention Bks
Coy SgtBrogan P29th Inf Bn
Coy SgtByrne L4th Grn AOC
Coy SgtCallinan J4th Grn MPC
RSMCass WGen Trg Depot
CQMSChapman M19th Inf Bn
RSMConroy PDepot COE
BQMSConroy S27th Inf Bn
CQMSConroy S25th Inf Bn
RQMSCostelloe C1st Fd Arty Regt
WOCousins JNaval Base/Docks
SgtCremin PHQ 1 Inf Bde
SgtCrosby P5th Inf Bn
BSMCurtin M6th Inf Bn
Bty SgtDevereux PDepot Arty Corps
SgtDillon M2nd Fd Arty Regt
F/SgtDooley AHQ Air Corps
SgtDoyle PCCVW
CQMSFoley J14th Inf Bn
RSMFortune JHQ Air Corps
SQMSFreeman E1st GRN AOC
SgtGallagher B 28th Inf Bn
RSMHayden DDepot MP Coy
SgtHealey C1st FD Sig Coy
Coy SgtHughes JGCVW
Coy SgtKelly J4th GRN MPC
Coy SgtKelly P12th Inf Bn
Coy SgtKing J1st Fd Sig Coy
SgtKinsella J2nd Inf Bn
Coy SgtLanders TDepot MP CORP
SgtLanders TDepot Cav Corps
Sqn SgtLoughman M1 Tank Sqn
Coy SgtMcElroy WDepot MP CORP
Coy SgtMcGrath L2nd Inf Bn
Coy SgtManning JMcKee Bk Coy
CQMSMoss P11th Inf Bn
WOMurphy J Naval Depot
RQMS Murphy T Admin Wing
BSM Neilan P 28th Inf Bn
BQMS Noonan D 30th Inf Bn
Coy Sgt O'Carroll E 1st Fd Engr Coy
Coy Sgt O'Neill P 1st GRN MP COY
BQMS O'Mahony J 1st CN COIS
Coy Sgt O'Shea W 3rd GRN MP COY
Sgt O'Sullivan T 1st Fd Arty Regt
BSM O'Sullivan W BSD 4th Inf Bn
BSM O'Sullivan J 29th Inf Bn
BQMS Quigley T 6th Inf Bn
Sgt Rhatigan E 4th Cav Sqn
Coy Sgt Ronan J 1st Cav Sqn
RSM Ryan J Depot Arty Corp
BSM Sludds P AAS
Coy Sgt Smith M BSD 27th Inf Bn
Coy Sgt Taylor T 27th Inf Bn
SgtWickham JMcKee Bk Coy
Medals Awarded in 1989
CQMSJim (Nobby) Clarke2 Grn S&T Coy, McKee Barracks
RSM Barry W. 1st Field Artillery Regiment
RSM Byrne W BSD Air Corps
BSM Guerin P 2nd Infantry Battalion
ESM Lennon W CTD South
RSM McCarthy R CTD West
WO Reville J Naval Depot
BQMS Daly T 29 Infantry Battalion
RQMS Morgan T ACOS Air Corps
BQMS McNamara J 3 Garrison Ordinance Coy
BQMS Naughton J HQ S Command
BQMS O'Connor T HQ E Command
SCPO O'Sullivan P Naval Depot
BQMS Scott E 4th Infantry Battalion
RQMS Sweeney P Depot Cavalry
Coy Sgt Balwin J Depot S&T Coy
Coy Sgt Folger J 1 Garrison Ordinance Coy
Battery Sgt Fortune J 1 Air Defence Regt
Coy Sgt Frain T 1 CN Cois
- - Gavin P 2 Garrison S&T Coy
- - Keneghan J 4 Field S&T Coy
- - Lafferty M HQ W Command FCA
- - Lynch J Mil College
- - Mortell T 29th Infantry Battalion
- - Murphy G HQ C Command
- - McClean C 5 Infantry Battalion
CQMS McManus R 4 Field Engineer Coy
Coy Sgt O'Connor J 1 Hospital Coy
Coy Sgt O'Connor R 30th Infantry Battalion
F/Sgt O'Leary G Air Corps
CPO Quirke B Naval Depot
Coy Sgt Scully J School of Music
- - Skehan M 27th Infantry Battalion
- - Staunton J 28th Infantry Battalion
- - Waters J HQ C Command FCA
- - Whelan E Depot MP Co
CQMS O'Carroll J HQ W Command
- - Flynn W 1st Field Military Police Company
- - Foylan C 2nd Field Military Police Company
- - Keogh S 2nd Field Military Police Company
- - Moore E 23rd Infantry Battalion
- - O'Keeffe T 1st Cavalry Company
Sgt Butler P 13th Infantry Battalion
- - Coy S4 Cavalry Company
- - Duffy T 5th Infantry Battalion
- - Egerton A 4th Field Military Police Company
- - Foster J 5th Infantry Battalion
- - Griffin J 27th Infantry Battalion
- - Holloway H 4th Field Military Police Company
- - O'Connor P 2nd Field Artillery Regiment
- - Smullen G5th Field Signal Company
Cpl McCrossman M 28th Infantry Ban
Cpl Moore L 5th Infantry Battalion
Trooper Breen D 2 Cavalry Squadron
Pte Farrell J 3rd Infantry Battalion
Gunner Flanagan J 4th Field Arty Regt
Pte Frawley D 6th Infantry Battalion
- - Geraghty L C Command Supply &Transport Company
- - Hawkins D 6th Infantry Battalion
- - Lee J 27th Infantry Battalion
- - Stamp P 2nd Infantry Battalion
Recipients with BSD after their name are holders of the Distinguished Service Medal (An Bonn Seirbhise Dearscna).

Service Medals
The ribbon on the 10 year service medal is Saint Patrick's blue. The 10 year service medal is awarded to all Privates and NCOs for 10 years service. Commissioned Officers receive the medal for 15 years service

15 Year Service Medal, for completion of a further 5 years service the ribbon colour is changed to include a yellow/gold stripe and a bar is added to the ribbon.

Commissioned Officers receive the change of ribbon and bar after 20 years service.

A 21 year service bar has recently been introduced for the Permanent Defence Force (PDF) service medal, details on how to obtain it are above.

No member of the Irish PDF will receive 2 service medals, on completion of the time period required for the service bar to be added the soldier must return their 10 year service medal to have the plain Saint Patrick's blue ribbon replaced with the service bar and gold strip ribbon.

All Irish PDF (Permanent Defence Forces) medals are issued Named and with the soldiers service number. You will see un-named examples but these are what is referred to as Stores Issue meaning they were carried out of the Army Barracks under rather than pinned to the tunic.

The service medal was instituted on the 13th of December 1944 and the design has remained the same since. The only notable change is where the medal is attached to the ribbon, the ribbon ring passes through a loop on the top of the medal, on more recent issues of the medal this loop is manufactured as part of the medal where as the older issue of the medal this loop was constructed as a separate piece and then joined to the medal. The loop on the medal that the ribbon ring passes through is also flatter than the older version.

Numbering System for Irish Defence Forces
At the time the Provisional Government was formed on the 14th of January the strength of the Irish Volunteers, now known as the Irish Republican Army or IRA, stood at approximately 114,500 all ranks organised into sixteen divisions. With the prospect of peace it was envisaged that the Army would have a strength of about 4000 but due to the Civil War this number rose rapidly to about 55,000 all ranks in what became known as the National Army.

Serial numbers for privates and other ranks began on the night on the 13th/14th of November 1922 when a complete census of the force was taken, numbers were allocated alphabetically so the first number was not the first man to join the army.

Enlisted and Other Ranks Two set of numbers were issued the first having the prefix R and contained the numbers R1 to R577, these numbers were issued to members who enlisted under the Reserve Levy of 1922. The second set of numbers had the prefix VR and these numbers were issued to those who had enlisted under the Volunteer Reserve Levy of 1922, these numbers contained VR1 to VR9000, the VR prefix was discontinued after VR9000, enlisted and other ranks numbers continued from 9000 to five and six digit numbers. Female Other Ranks were issued with the number block beginning with 300,000. The Maritime Inscription became the Sluagh Muiri in 1947 and was reorganised in 1949 with new enlistments numbering beginning with 254677. In 2005 after reorganization the Sluagh Muiri became The Naval Services Reserve (NSR) known in Irish as Cúltaca na Seirbhíse Cabhlaigh. An Sluagh Muiri was issued with the following blocks of numbers.

  • 254677 to 255000
  • 256619 to 257000
  • 257892 to 261833

Officers A numbering system for commissioned officers was not introduced until the 12th of September 1942 but numbers were issued retrospectively back to 1922, this retrospective numbering was done alphabetically so the first number was not issued to the first officer. Officer numbers had the prefix O denoting Officer and when used on medals the O is followed by a full stop and then a four figure number between 0001 and 9999, although the block 0001 to 9999 is still in use it is envisaged that when these numbers are used the four digit number will change to a five digit number. Female officers are issued with numbers with the prefix OF. Over the years various other prefixes were used when different circumstances arose. During the Emergency the following numbers were issued with different prefixes:

  • Those who joined the Army for the duration of the Emergency were allocated the numbers 40,000 to 438,410, these numbers had the prefix E to denote the soldier had enlisted for the Duration of the Emergency, these soldiers were referred to as Durationists or E men.

The following E numbers were not allocated to anyone:

  • 418040 - 418060
  • 418199 - 420000
  • 425625 - 429500
  • 429717 - 430000
  • 436650 - 437500
  • 438411 – 499999
The numbers 600,000 to 799,999 were issued to members of Local Security Force A Group, A Group was under the control of the army. This number block was also used by the Local Defence Force from 1941 to 1946 and then by the F.C.A. (Forsa Cosanta Aitiul) up to the 5th of March 1970.

Since the foundation of the Defence Forces several sections have used different prefixes and numbers blocks, these include:

  • The B reserve which was formed in 1928 and was in existence until 1934 used the number block 500 to 5520 with the prefix B.
  • The City of Dublin Reserve Battalion 1929 – 1935 used the number block V100 to V958.
  • City of Cork Artillery 1929 – 1935 Battery used the number block V1001 to 1127.
  • Officer Training Corps (OTC) 1929 – 1935 used the number block 1 to 1641with the prefix OTC.
  • Volunteer Reserve Cadet Unit 1929 – 1935 Used the block 1 to 45 with the prefix V

Uniter Nations Service Medal

Awarded to all Irish Defence Forces personnel who served on a United Nations mission. First awarded in 1989, issued un-named.

When first muted the medal was described as Service (Overseas) or Overseas Service medal but as it has United Nations embossed on the reverse it became known as the United Nations Service Medal.

It is usual for this medal to be accompained by one or more United Nations medals. This pair were awarded to the same soldier.

Both medal are engraved with the soldiers name and service number, the recipient would have had this done himself as all UN medals issued to IDF forces are issued un-named.
The UN medal was awarded for service with the UN mission UNMIL which took place in Liberia, the mission started in 2003 and is ongoing to date.

The miniature medal came with no pin bar as did most IDF UN miniature medals.

The image above shows the medal as it was presented to the recipient. The green box is made of cardboard with a card incert with velvet type lining. With the medal the receipient received two ribbon bars.

Military Medal for Gallantry MMG

The MMG was introduced in 1944 and is awarded for acts above and beyond the call of duty. The medal is awarded in three classes, 1st With Honour, 2nd Class with Distinction, and 3rd Class with Merit. Image above and below shows front and back of the medal with 1st class on the left, 2nd class in the middle and 3rd on the right. 1st Class is made of silver and hallmarked as such. There have been no 1st Class MMG issued as yet and very few of the other classes so are a very rare medal. Although no 1st class MMG’s have been issued it is possible to get this medal, could be under the tunic issue or privately made copies.

The Distinguished Service Medal

Instituted on the 18th of February 1964 An Bonn Seirbhise Dearscan The Distinguished Service medal can be awarded to Non-Commissioned Officers and privates of the Irish Defence Forces in recognition of acts of Bravery, Courage, Leadership Resource or Devotion to Duty.

The medal is awarded in three classes as pictured above from left to right:

  1. With Honour.
  2. With Distinction.
  3. With Merit.

Only one medal in each class could be received by an individual but for subsequent acts meriting a second award in any one class a bar would be added to the Ribbon of the medal received.

The design on the front of the medal depicts Cuchulainn with upraised sword standing in a chariot pulled by two horses, another figure is shown driving the chariot.

The design on the back of the medal depicts in raised lettering An Bonn Seirbhise Dearscna

The Military Star

An Réalt Mileata in English The Military Star is awarded to members of the Permanent Defence Forces killed or fatally wounded in the course of duty outside the Republic of Ireland on approved military duties. Members of the Permanent Defence Forces who died in the qualifying circumstances on or after the 28th of June 1958 are eligible for consideration for this award.

The design on the from of the medal is that of the Death of Cuchulainn similar to that on the 1916 medal.

The reverse of the medal is plain apart from being engraved with the name, service number date of death and the country serving in when the death took place.

Certificate of Service

An official Certificate of Service similar to the one issued to the Reserve Force was issued to full time Soldiers. This certificate was only issued to the Soldier or Sailor once. In the event of loss of the official Certificate of Service or if a relative of a deceased service man required a certificate of service a one page, printed on one side only, certificate similar to this one was issued. These varied in design depending over the years. These certificates give a brief history of the service person and are rubber stamped by the issuing authority and are clearly dated for the year they were issued.

You should be cautious if buying medals with these types of Certificates as they were often created unofficially to give the impression of lengthy service or would accompany medal groups for service men that did not exists.