Wednesday 11 January 2012

What goodies might the Military Archives hold?

Last week, announced that its second online database will be from the Bureau of Military History 1913-1921 Collection and will be live
by March.

Because I was preoccupied with family responsibilities at the time, I wasn't able to delve much further into the announcement other than to learn that the collection includes over 36,000 pages of witness statements relating to key military events between the stated dates. It was also clear that the release will not include any personnel or service records.

I've now had a chance to dig about in the website and, while we obviously have to wait some weeks for the actual statements to become available, I found an index to the collection, which consists of 1773 witness statements. Here are a few pickings from the list of witnesses:

  • James Doyle, Manager of the Gresham Hotel. 1920. Witness to the Execution of British Agents on 21 November 1920.
  • Mrs Nellie Donnelly, nee Gifford, sister of Grace, the widow of Joseph Plunkett, executed in 1916.
  • Albert Desborough, a Lewis Gun instructor in the British Army, Dublin 1916.
  • Timothy Tierney, Captain IRA Tipperary 1921.

Reading the personal accounts of people involved in this turbulent period of Ireland's history is sure to be fascinating. This collection will also be of huge interest to genealogists and others whose family lore tells of involvement in battles and skirmishes and other acts of daring-do (no matter what the uniform). is the website of the State's Defence Forces. The archives are held in Cathal Brugha Barracks in Rathmines and include the personnel records of those who served in the military of the Irish state from 1922 to the late 1970s, as well as material relating to the Irish Volunteers and the Independence movement 1913-1921. It does not hold records of Irish people who served in other armed forces ie the British Army. The Reading Room is open by appointment only.

There are no plans to upload personnel files to the website either now or in the future. These can be viewed in person by next of kin only.

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