Activities per year
The period 1914–1918 was tumultuous in Ireland when conflict wrought by international tensions was exacerbated by a fractious domestic political scene that ultimately resulted in partition of the island into two jurisdictions: Northern Ireland, comprised of six of the nine Ulster counties, and the Free State, encompassing the remaining twenty-six counties. Both were dominions within the British Commonwealth with domestic parliaments controlling internal affairs. Neither were the desired political outcome of the various factions who had protested, taken up arms, and eventually negotiated. Women were pivotal on both sides of the political divide. For those who wished to stay in the union with Great Britain, the First World War was a chance to demonstrate loyalty and to showcase the particular contributions of women, from hosting Belgian refugees to the encouragement of enlistment of husbands, sons and friends. For those who wished to see the enactment of independence for Ireland, as promised in the 1912 Home Rule Bill and the suspended Act of 1914, the First World War provided an opportunity to enact long-held ambitions for a violent revolution, with women participating in active combat and non-combatant roles. Thus while the First World War was a pivotal moment for women globally, in Ireland it had an additional layer of complexity given the national political context. This article seeks to explore these intersections and tensions, providing an introduction to this special issue in which many facets of the war period in Ireland are explored.