The Irish Defence Forces, 1922–2022
Tracing their history to the foundation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913, the Irish Defence Forces have undergone significant transformation in the century since the foundation of the Free State. Plunged immediately into a civil war, the path to a modern professional force during the 1920s and 1930s was rarely smooth, with progression hampered by internal dissent, political manoeuvrings and limited financial investment. The difficulties of creating and maintaining a force capable of defending the neutrality of a small island nation, with a geopolitical and strategic importance that belied its size, were brought home during the Second World War/Emergency. The state's adherance to its policy of neutrality created new opportunities following accession to the United Nations in 1955, with the Defence Forces emerging as a vital element of Ireland’s international relations. Beginning in 1958 and in every year since, members of the Forces have served overseas on UN peacekeeping missions, and later with EEC/EU military operations. At home, the Forces’ duties in aid of the civil power became ever more vital with the outbreak of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland in 1969, inaugurating a new era of security operations along the border, while in recent decades the Defence Forces have been confronted with a number of challenges, both internal and external.
This richly illustrated book explores the landmark successes and achievements, struggles and missteps of the Defence Forces over the past century. Highlighting the men and women of all components of the Forces – Army, Air Corps, Naval Service and Reserve – and their operational roles both in Ireland and internationally, it offers the first complete overview of the development of the Forces from the Civil War to the present day.
Eoin Kinsella is the founder and director of historyworks, providing historical consultancy and research services in the fields of heritage and public history. He holds a PhD in Irish history from UCD and is the author of Dublin City University, 1980–2020: designed to be different (Dublin, 2020), Catholic survival in Protestant Ireland, 1660–1711 (Martlesham, Suffolk, 2018) and Leopardstown Park Hospital, 1917–2017: a home for wounded soldiers (Dublin, 2017).