The Enemy Within

The Spanish Flu in Ireland 1918-19

12 September 2018 - End of April 2019

The Spanish Flu outbreak from 1918 to 1919 claimed 23,000 lives and infected some 800,000 people in Ireland over a 12-month period[see footnote 1]. No group, location or aspect of life was spared. However, it was a somewhat hidden history in Ireland until significant research published in 2006 by historians of the pandemic, Dr Patricia Marsh, Dr Ida Milne and Dr Caitriona Foley, laid the foundation for a greater public understanding of its impact on Irish society.  Until then, experiences of the Great War and the revolutionary period completely excluded the influenza pandemic.  Now, families can use this new narrative, along with death certificates for their loved ones and other sources, to research their own traumas of this awesome disease.

The National Museum marks the centenary of the massive impact this event had on Irish society with a  three-stranded programme, The Enemy Within - The Spanish Flu in Ireland 1918-19.   A temporary exhibition in the Museum of Country life explores the folk medicines and cures used by people to combat the devastating illness. The exhibition is based on the collection within the National Museum of Ireland.

The NMI  programme will also include an important online public participation programme where people can contribute their own experiences of the pandemic, and in this way make a major contribution to its emerging history. 



1. - Milne, Ida. (2018), Stacking the Coffins. Influenza, War and Revolution in Ireland, 1918-19, Manchester University Press