Soldiering in the 20th & 21st Centuries

From the World Wars to the Irish Defence Forces’ peacekeeping role with the United Nations.


Soldiering in the 20th & 21st Centuries

In the first half of the twentieth century,1914 - 23, the Irish people endured ten years of intense military activity, including participation in a world War, an urban insurrection, a guerrilla War and finally a bitter Civil War. Ireland changed from a country that was a source of foot soldiers for the British Army to an Independent nation with its own armed forces.

The result was a new nation bearing both the hopes of many of its citizens, and the pain left by the wars that had brought it into being. The experience of individual Irish men, women and children during these years are described in galleries 5-8 in Soldiers & Chiefs.

World War I

World War I

When Europe went to war in 1914, Ireland was part of the British Empire and became automatically involved.

The Easter Rising

The Easter Rising

Explore the 1916 Rising, one of the most crucial events in Ireland’s battle for independence.

The Irish War of Independence

The Irish War of Independence

Read how an Irish campaign of harassment and guerrilla activity against Britain led to independence.

The Irish Civil War

The Irish Civil War

The signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921 triggered a short but bitter Civil War, during which more than a thousand Irish people died, including Michael Collins.

The Emergency

The Emergency

Find out how and why, in neutral Ireland, the Second World War became known as ‘The Emergency’.

World War II

World War II

Explore the different roles that Irishmen and women played as soldiers and staff in foreign armies during the Second World War.

United Nations

United Nations

In the second half of the 20th century, Ireland provided troops and equipment for UN missions to troublespots such as Lebanon and the Congo.