The Irish Defence Forces, 1922–2022

Eoin Kinsella

Hardback €27.00
Catalogue Price: €30.00
ISBN: 978-1-80151-036-3
March 2023. 360pp. Full Colour Ills. Large Format Hardback

"The role and tasks assigned to the Defence Forces have changed over the last century. The book gives the reader an excellent overview of a complex history that starts with the Civil War and ends with the current challenges of defining and preparing for the eventualities of the next century. Kinsella has documented the history of all branches of the Defence Forces, Army, Air Corps and Naval Service, Permanent and Reserve. He has also given the reader an insight into units that are no longer extant. He blends 'home' and 'overseas' service, and deals with the issues of the day in a clear manner, defining the problems. He uses the sources to support each argument, and quotes amply from them in the body of the text, a technique that demonstrates the huge amount of material that is now available to the public. The narrative he has written, and the records he has assembled, will be invaluable to those who desire to learn about the Defence Forces and what they achieved in the first century of their existence." Victor Laing, The Irish Sword, vol. 34, no. 135.  


“This book was published to mark the centenary of the foundation of the Irish Defence Forces and such a history was long overdue ... As an overview of a century of military service and development, this is a commendable volume … For serving and former members of the Defence Forces, and anyone interested in Irish military history in general, this book is highly recommended. It charts the history of the men and women of the Defence Forces from its earliest days and discusses the formation of the first army in the difficult years after the Irish Civil War. It also charts the rapid expansion of the forces during the Emergency period and the impact of the Troubles on the organisation and operations on the island … This volume underscores the professionalism and dedication shown by Irish service men and women on these missions while the inherent dangers of these operations are discussed in the context of Irish casualties on UN service … This is a beautifully produced volume with lavish illustrations, including colour images, throughout. There are ample appendices and the information on UN missions shows the extent of the commitment of Irish service men and women to international peacekeeping missions. In that sense, it can be seen that Ireland consistently punches above its weight in international terms and the personnel of the Irish Defence Forces have been in the vanguard of these efforts. This is a fitting tribute to their service at home and abroad, and hopefully this volume will renew interest in this aspect of Ireland’s history.” David Murphy, Journal of Military History and Defence Studies, September 2023

“A fascinating book … written fluidly and well … it is a ‘warts and all’ account of those 100 years of service ... there is hardly a page without an illustration (many in colour) and these, as historical artefacts, merit attention in themselves. If you have any interest in Ireland’s armed forces or their role in the development of the Irish state, this book is a ‘must read’”. Thomas O’Loughlin, History Ireland

" An impressive new book by Eoin Kinsella.[...] Kinsella's book is beautifully produced and is enjoyable to read. [It] is comprehensive and will appeal to any reader who wants to think in more depth about Ireland's military history and where we go from here." Peter Malone, Irish Mail on Sunday, June 2023.

The Irish Defence Forces 1922-2022 by Eoin Kinsella [is an] extensively researched work [with an] extraordinary treasure trove of historical records contained within ... A comprehensively researched and richly illustrated work. To paraphrase Othello, Kinsella has done the Defence Forces some service in bringing to the uninitiated reader the noble and steadfast role that the men and women of Óglaigh na hÉireann has performed in the service of our republic of whom its citizens can be justifiably proud". Dr Rory Finegan, An Cosantóir (The Defence Forces Magazine), Mar/Apr 2023.

"A tribute to our brave soldiers — born in the cauldron of the War of Independence and the Civil War, beset by internal struggles and mutiny, the most surprising thing about the Irish Army is that it survived these calamities and went on to become the valued military arm of the state, leaving politics to the politicians. Eoin Kinsella chronicles these turbulent times in the comprehensive tome. [...] It's a well-written, delightfully illustrated history of an institution which has done the State much service and won the respect of people at home and international admiration for their various peace-keeping missions and the bravery of the Army along the Border during the Troubles. [...] This definitive history sets the record straight in a detailed narrative that's invaluable to those with an interest in our past." Liam Collins, Sunday Independent, 30 April 2023.

"[An] excellent history of the Irish Defence Forces. Eoin Kinsella has taken a large and complex subject and succeeded wonderfully in presenting a comprehensive and accessible publication. In doing this, Eoin has drawn on a remarkably diverse range of sources. [...]This mixture of clear narrative, historical analysis and a large number of reproductions makes it both comprehensive and accessible." Mícheál Martin TD, An Tánaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defence, April 2022. 

“This is a ground breaking, timely and extremely well presented history published to coincide with the centenary of the foundation of the Irish Defence Forces (IDF). A glance at the bibliographical note and bibliography shows that there is no shortage of source material relating to the Irish Defence Forces but this is the first comprehensive up to date published history. The author traces the history of the IDF from the early Volunteers of 1913, and the uprising against British rule at Easter 1916, through the Irish War of Independence from 1919 to 1921, to the complex global security and resource challenges of today … A fascinating table in the book reveals that since 1955 over 70,000 personnel from the Irish Defence Forces have deployed on 80 various UN, EU, NATO, Peace Support and Humanitarian missions. These missions have not been without risk and, to date, in the Lebanon alone the IDF have lost 48 soldiers killed. The author also provides valuable insights into the involvement of the IDF during the period 1970 to 1999, known as “the Troubles”, when they conducted internal security and counter-terrorist operations … The book is lavishly illustrated and an entire chapter is devoted to the memories of those who served at various times between 1922 and the present day which add a most valuable human  feel to the narrative. The author has produced a comprehensive and compelling centenary history which makes easy reading … What is particularly refreshing is the honest, candid way in which the author tackles the various internal and external challenges faced by the Irish Defence Forces since the foundation of the Irish Free State, none more so than those they face today. I am confident that The Irish Defence Forces 1922–2022 by Eoin Kinsella will become recognised as the standard work on the subject. It must be on the shelves of all military, political and other good general libraries and should be mandatory reading for all officers in the Irish Defence Forces and for all with an interest in, or involvement with them. It is most highly recommended.” Clive Elderton, The Military Historical Society Bulletin

"Comprehensive, well-researched and lavishly illustrated [...] Dr Eoin Kinsella has done the Defence Services proud with this book, packed with fascinating photographs, documents and images of memorabilia which [...] highlight the importance of the Army, Naval Service and Air Corps to the State[...]. This superb book shows that there is much to be proud of in the history of the Irish Defence Forces over the past century." David McCullagh, RTÉ, April 2022

"Kinsella has produced an assiduously researched, meaty volume and its restrained academic cover belies the treasure trove of images and archival gems that await inside. Kinsella also gives the Irish Navy and Aer Corps their due and even finds space and time for the tangential. A chapter on the personal memories of veterans, who served both home and abroad is among the most engaging." Frank Coughlan, Irish Independent, April 2023

"Eoin Kinsella’s history of the Irish Defence Forces is sumptuous. It is richly illustrated – extraordinarily so – with military photographs, archival documents, recruitment posters, all sorts of militaria and works of art on almost every page. This book is clearly a labour of love on Kinsella’s part. It will be very popular among serving and retired members of Óglaigh na hÉireann along with all military enthusiasts[...] In the first chapters of the book, Kinsella charts the evolution of the Defence Forces from the Irish Volunteers and Citizens Army of 1913-1916, to the IRA of the War of Independence 1919-1922, to the National Army of the Civil War [...] The latter chapters of Kinsella’s work address the “coming of age” of the contemporary Defence Forces in participation in UN peacekeeping and peace enforcement missions worldwide since 1958. [An] excellent and accomplished history." Dr Tom Clonan The Irish Times, March 2023

"[An] impeccably researched and soberly written history of the Defence Forces[...] Kinsella enjoyed full access to their archives. As a result, it's beautifully illustrated with photographs, documents and maps that bring this story alive. Kinsella has recorded several gripping personal testimonies to show why the Defence Forces deserve our gratitude." Andrew Lynch, Sunday Business Post, March 2023.