Ireland and the ‘Greater War’ 1912-1923

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences

Few countries were more decisively affected by the Great War than Ireland. Irishmen from all backgrounds (210,000 of them) fought in greater numbers than in any other conflict in the country’s history while Ireland’s modern political shape to a large extent derives from the war.

Yet despite the current rediscovery of nationalist Ireland’s involvement in the First World War, historical scholarship on the subject lags behind that on the Irish Revolution and partition. This lecture, by contrast, adopts a comparative and international perspective. It discusses in what ways Irish involvement in the Great War was distinctive by establishing comparisons with other countries, including Australia. It also argues that the war of independence, partition and the civil war were part of a ‘Greater War’ which in Europe and the wider world spanned the decade of 1912 to 1923. The lecture concludes by suggesting that a ‘partitioning’ of history was one legacy of that same decade in Ireland, and that ‘de-partitioning’ our historical understanding is an important foundation for its commemoration a century later.

John Horne is Professor of Modern European History and Director of the Centre for War Studies, at Trinity College Dublin. Australian on his father’s side, he grew up in Adelaide where he first went to university. He has written extensively on modern France and the trans-national history of the Great War, including most recently (ed.) A Companion to World War One (Oxford, Blackwell-Wiley, 2010); (ed.) Vers la guerre totale: le tournant de 1914- 1915 (Paris, Tallandier, 2010); and with Robert Gerwarth, War in Peace: Paramilitary Violence in Europe after the Great War (Oxford University Press, 2012). In the last decade he has also worked on Ireland and the Great War including Our War: Ireland and the Great War (Royal Irish Academy, 2008), and together with Edward Madigan edited, Towards Commemoration: Ireland in War and Revolution, 1912-1923 (Royal Irish Academy, 2013). This event will be chaired by ANU Professor, Joan Beaumont.

This event is co-hosted with the Embassy of Ireland.