Goodbye Dublin: The War of Independence in the City

A new Free exhibition telling the story of the War of Independence in Dublin will officially be opened by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Paul Mc Auliffe on Tuesday, 10th September at 2.30 pm in the Reading Room of the Dublin City Library & Archive, 138 -144 Pearse Street, Dublin 2. 

Using contemporary photographs, ephemera, and film from the collections of Dublin City Library & Archive, the National Library of Ireland, RTÉ, the GAA Museum, the British Film Institute, and Trinity College Dublin, the exhibition will be on display in Pearse Street Library & Archive during the months of September and October.

Dublin played a key role in the War of Independence (1919-1921). The city was the seat of the British administration in Ireland and had a heavy police and military presence. It was vital that the Irish Volunteers contested control of the city and demonstrated that British control over Ireland was weakening. It was a dark time in Dublin’s history with ambushes, reprisals, attacks on civilians, culminating in the ‘Bloody Sunday’ massacre in Croke Park in 1920.

This new FREE exhibition, funded by Dublin City Council with the support of the Commemorations Unit, Department of Culture, Heritage & the Gaeltacht, tells the history of this conflict, describing how the war affected all aspects of life in Dublin including the civilian casualties that resulted from fighting between Republicans and the Crown Forces. The Black and Tans and the Auxiliaries gained a reputation for indiscriminate brutality among Dubliners.

Remarkable period newsreel footage from British Pathé shows Black and Tans in training, the aftermath of a gunfight on Talbot Street, IRA prisoners being arrested, and the final withdrawal of British forces from Dublin Castle in 1921. The exhibition also includes a Black and Tan uniform from the Dublin Brigade & Irish Volunteer History & Recreational Group. 

A contemporary map delineates the key sites of the conflict in the city including safe houses, barracks, and raids.

Speaking at the opening of the exhibition, the Lord Mayor Paul Mc Auliffe said “I am delighted to open this wonderful exhibition which features photographs and film from a pivotal time in our history, some of which has never been seen in the one place before by the public. I would like to congratulate Dublin City libraries for curating this exhibition and I encourage Dubliners and visitors to our city to visit this free exhibition to get a glimpse of what life was like during this period in the Capital’s history.” 

Also speaking at the launch, City Librarian Mairead Owens invited people to sign up for a free guided tour of the exhibition, given by the Council’s historians in residence, remarking “this exhibition is part of the City Council’s Decade of Commemorations programme, in which we aim to make history engaging and accessible to Dubliners and visitors alike.”

Admission to the exhibition is FREE and during library opening hours - 10am-8pm (Mon- Thurs) and 10am-5pm (Fri/Sat).

To book a Free guided tour visit