After gaining Independence, the small Irish Army trained throughout the 1920s and 1930s to defend Ireland against possible threats. In 1939 the Irish Free State decided to stay out of the new European war unless attacked by one of the combatants, and so kept the country neutral, a period called ‘The Emergency’. During this time the Irish Army was expanded and re-equipped to defend Ireland from attack. The Beehive Shelter pictured here is an air-raid shelter designed to protect up to six people from the blast of a 500 lb bomb.
Between 1939 and 1945 (‘the Emergency’), the Defence Forces expanded to several times their pre-war size, and trained to repel any attack. Most Irish people supported the recruiting of additional soldiers to improve the country’s defence. In addition to preparing for a potential invader, the Army carried out important internal security duties such as monitoring and controlling German espionage activities in this country. The suitcase radio (above right) of a German spy was apprehended by the Irish military intelligence unit, known as the G2, during the war.
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