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World War 11 refugee seeks her Mayo family

A former World War 11 child refugee, Marianne (Maria) Cremer from Germany hopes to reunite with the Mayo family that fostered her more than 60 years ago.

Marianne was one of nearly 1,000 children that came to Ireland in 1946 as part of a Red Cross initiative, which later became known as “Operation Shamrock”.

Marianne spent three years in Swinford, with her Irish foster family, the Dolans.

However, in the years following her return to Germany, Marianne lost touch with the Dolan family.

Never forgot her Mayo family

Speaking about her time in Mayo, Marianne’s son Stavros Antoniadis, said: “She never forgot Ireland and the wonderful family, she has been telling my sister and me about her years in Ireland.

“She has been dreaming of visiting Ireland again and maybe to meet members of the Dolan family again.”

On behalf of his mother, Mr. Antoniadis is appealing for information on the family who fostered Marianne.

“We know that their names were Kath and Peter and their children were called Mary, Joan, and Dorrie. They all lived in Swinford, in County Mayo”.

Marianne married in 1961, becoming Marianne Antoniadis, and lived with her husband and family in Greece before moving back to Germany.

Operation Shamrock was run by Irish Red Cross

Operation Shamrock was a relief operation organised by the Irish Red Cross that saw refugee children, many of whom were orphans, evacuated to Ireland because of the difficult situation in their own countries following World War II.

Many of the children, aged from 5 to 15 years old, were taken to St. Kevin’s Hostel in Wicklow, now the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation, before being fostered by families throughout Ireland.

Most of the children were ultimately reunited with their families after a period of 3 years, some remained with their foster families and continued their lives in Ireland.

Anyone with information about the family can contact Jennifer or Rebecca at the Irish Red Cross – 01-6424600 or Sue Paterson at the Glencree Centre for Peace and Reconciliation 01-2829711

By Anthony Hickey

Follow writer and photographer, Anthony Hickey, as he travels around his native Co. Mayo, Ireland.

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