University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History > Ireland and the Great War of 1914-1918: the case for Irish unity

Ireland and the Great War of 1914-1918: the case for Irish unity

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Sectarianism is believed to be part and parcel of modern Irish life. The Great War, in which numerous Irish Protestants and Catholics enlisted, is thought to have further polarised both groups leading to partition, the sectarian violence of the 1920s, and arguably the more recent “troubles” in N. Ireland. Yet a history of ordinary Irish people during the Great War can tell a different story. At home and at the front, Irish people of both religious persuasions involved themselves in the war effort, helping to diminish the sectarianism of the day and forge new kinds of social and political relationships. This paper examines Irish unity during the Great War and discusses the implications of a political middle ground for revising our understanding of the Easter Rising of 1916; the event which is thought to have turned Irish Catholics against the British war effort and propelled them to fight for independence. It will suggest that Irish unity and Catholic commitment to the British war effort were both possible after the Rising, raising new questions for our understanding of Nationalism, Unionism and the Irish identity in wartime Ireland.

This talk is part of the Violence and Conflict Graduate Workshop, Faculty of History series.

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