ACIS Logo Future directions in rural history: Ireland, the First World War and the search for historical evidence

Drawing on secret witness reports from Intelligence Officers of the Royal Irish Constabulary, and diplomatic correspondence from France’s representatives to Dublin and London, this article seeks to complement recent historiography and qualify our understanding of the period 1914–18 by engaging fully with the issue of compulsory military service from the outbreak of the conflict. It contemplates how fears of conscription contributed to the radicalisation of rural communities and demonstrates that opposition to conscription formed a solid political foundation for Sinn Féin. Britain’s determination to implement conscription to Ireland frightened civilian populations, gave rise to nationwide discontent, and attracted towards Sinn Féin populations likely to be drafted into the British Army. That study seeks to be a re-examination of the dynamics between the Irish revolution and the conscription scares and maintains that fears of compulsory service in Ireland significantly contributed to the victory of Sinn Féin candidates during the four electoral contests in 1917.

Published on: February 21, 2023