More Irishmen fought in the First World War, and more died, than in any war in Irish history. Yet for many years, it was seldom talked about or widely commemorated in Ireland.
The Forgotten War? Ireland and World War 1 explores the central role which Ireland’s men and women played in the Great War, and examines the continuing legacy of a War which changed the course of Irish history.
Hosted by John Bowman and set in Dublin Castle, this one hour discussion programme asks what made tens of thousands of Irishmen –some barely out of their teens- sign up to fight in the British army during World War 1.
Featuring moving interviews with veterans of the war interspersed with rarely-seen archive material, John Bowman and his guests examine what life was really like for these men both in the trenches – and in the years after they returned to Ireland.
What became of the hope that Ulster Unionists and Irish nationalists would from the common experience of fighting side-by-side in the trenches, embrace a Home Rule settlement throughout Ireland?
The programme also examines how the Irishmen at the Great War reacted to news of the 1916 Rising and how that event altered the Ireland to which they returned after the war.
The Forgotten War? Ireland and World War 1 – which forms a key part of RTE’s overall programme of events to mark the centenary of World War 1 – considers Ireland’s changing attitudes to the Great War. How should it now be commemorated? And 100 years on, have we have finally come to terms with its legacy?
John Bowman says:
“Because of the role which the 1916 Rising played in the foundation of the state, it was inevitable that the 1914-18 war has tended to be marginalised. Yet the more one studies that extraordinary second decade of the 20th century, the more it becomes clear that these two events are interconnected.
“The debate will ask how so many Irish nationalists managed to forget the Great War for so long and even allowed the Irish National War Memorial in Islandbridge to fall into such disrepair in the 1970s. The programme includes photographs taken of it at that time by one of the panel, the artist Robert Ballagh. He will be joined in the debate by Paul Bew, Edward Madigan and Catriona Pennell who has recently published her research on why the Irish joined up in 1914 in such numbers.
“Dublin Castle provides an historic setting for this debate: in 1914 it was the centre of British power in Ireland yet within eight years it would be surrendered to Michael Collins and the Irish Free State. It was a Red Cross hospital for those injured in the war and James Connolly was incarcerated in the Castle in the week before his execution for his role in 1916.”
List of panellists
•Dr Catriona Pennell, of the University of Exeter and author of “A Kingdom United: popular responses to the outbreak of the First World War in Britain and Ireland”
•Robert Ballagh, artist and commentator.
•Dr Paul Bew, Professor of Irish politics at Queen’s University Belfast
•Dr Edward Madigan, lecturer in First World War Studies at the University of London and co-editor of “Towards Commemoration: Ireland in War and Revolution, 1912-1923”