Stories of Ireland's World War I soldiers told in new Dublin exhibition

Up to recently, they were the forgotten Irish – those people who went to fight in The Great War. Now, though, there has been a major shift in opinion about those soldiers and a new exhibition in Dublin highlights the tales of 21 Irish men and women whose stories became part of the First World War.

Actors (from right) John Cronin, Liam Heslin, Thomas Reilly, and Kevin Olohan who as part of the exhibition performs in Pals - The Irish at Gallipoli at the launch of Recovered Voices - The Stories of the Irish at War 1914-1915, at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks.

Actors (from right) John Cronin, Liam Heslin, Thomas Reilly, and Kevin Olohan who as part of the exhibition perform in Pals - The Irish at Gallipoli at the launch of Recovered Voices - The Stories of the Irish at War 1914-1915, at the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. Image by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The exhibition, which opened in Dublin at the National Museum of Ireland this week, is titled ‘Recovered Voices – Stories of the Irish at War 1914 – 1915’.

The exhibition seeks to probe the background to the soldiers’ reasons for joining up the British Army and how they fared when they enlisted. TheJournal.ie reports that over half of them were killed by Christmas 1914.

Actors Laura Murray (right) and Liam Heslin also perform in - Recovered Voices - The Stories of the Irish at War 1914-1915, at the National Museum in Dublin

Actors Laura Murray (right) and Liam Heslin also perform in - Recovered Voices - The Stories of the Irish at War 1914-1915, at the National Museum in Dublin Image by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Given that England ruled Ireland at the time, the exhibition highlights some of the propaganda used to get young Irish people to enlist.

The Irish became involved at a number of levels – in the medical end where doctors and nurses were conscripted as well as general recruits. Numerous locals, particularly women also worked in shell factories that were set up in Ireland.

The Director of the National Museum, Raghnall Ó Floinn, explained that the idea behind the exhibition was to give people a fresh outlook on the contribution of Irish men and women “in the early years of the war effort”.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys (right) with actors Thomas Reilly (left) and John Cronin at the launch of Recovered Voices in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys (right) with actors Thomas Reilly (left) and John Cronin at the launch of Recovered Voices in the National Museum of Ireland at Collins Barracks. Image by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

The wide-ranging exhibition displays letters written to families giving them the tragic news of their sons’ deaths in battle.

An interesting feature includes the display of clothes belonging to several well-known Irish men. Arguably the most notable are a coat on display belonging to General Michael Collins and a blood-stained shirt belonging to 1916 rebel, James Connolly.

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