Dublin at War

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UniformsThe period 1914 to 1918 was the last time Ireland was involved as a combatant in war on an international scale. Though we cannot say that Ireland has been a country at peace, during the past hundred years it has not suffered from the fear of invasion, the loss of thousands of young lives and the hardship of full-scale war.

At the time of the outbreak of World War I, nationalist Ireland was eagerly awaiting the introduction of Home Rule, while unionists were preparing to use all means within their power to prevent it. When the war began, Irishmen were called on to join the fight against the German Empire, placing national politics to one side for the duration of the war, with the promise of Home Rule at the end of it. At local level, Dublin, a city suffering great poverty, rife with disease and almost uninhabitable slums, had these major civic issues pushed into the background by the outbreak of war. Dublin was also a city with a tradition of having a strong military presence, and during the war years Dubliners bore witness to thousands of soldiers passing through their streets to embark for England for training or to return to the Front.  In terms of everyday life, the coming of war also resulted in food and fuel shortages and more restricted movement in terms of social life and entertainment.

View 'Dublin at War' Image Gallery.

This image gallery will use items from the Special Collections of Dublin City Libraries to look at how the capital city was affected by the war. It presents the views of those both for and against the war, but it also showcases aspects of the social as well the political history of the time. What it shows us is that despite the privations of war life went on: Dubliners continued to shop, sing and play sports, and retain their native sense of humour through some very dark days.

See also: Dublin City Archives' Monica Roberts Collection.

Further Resources

The following online resources can be accessed free of charge at your local library (access links via our NetVibes portal). Ask library staff for information and assistance.

  • Libraries and Archives Digital Repository: Digital records relating to Dublin, including photographs, postcards, letters, maps and ephemeral material. Highlights of the collection include the Fáilte Ireland Photographic Collection, Wide Street Commission Map Collection (1757-1851), the Irish Theatre Archive and the Birth of the Republic Collection, which comprises material from the period of the foundation of the Irish state.
  • Irish Times Digital Archive: This online archive service gives access to contemporary editions of the Irish Times from the mid-nineteenth century until the present.
  • Irish Newspaper Archive: This online archive service gives access to contemporary editions of the Irish Independent and a range of other newspapers.
  • The Ireland-JSTOR Collection: This online archive of academic articles can also be accessed free of charge at your local library.

For further reading, consult the Library Catalogue.

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