Belfast Telegraph

Veteran records in digital archive

Details on 3,200 men and women who signed up to fight for Irish freedom have been recorded in a new digital archive as part of centenary commemorations of the foundation of the State.

The first tranche includes more than 10,000 files on members of the Irish Volunteers, Citizen Army, Hibernian Rifles, the Irish Republican Army, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Eireann or National Army between 1916 and 1923.

It is part of a wider programme by the Depa rtment of Defence to catalogue Military Service Pensions files which include 300,000 files.

The records contain service pensions from veterans involved in the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War and those awarded the 1916 Medal and The Service (1917-1921) Medal.

It also includes detail on allowances from the dependants of those killed on active service or from those wounded or incapacitated while on duty during the period.

The first phase of the digital archive was launched at the GPO by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan, and Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence Alan Shatter.

"I would like to thank all those who have put so much work into bringing this project to fruition," the Taoiseach said.

"As well as bringing the era to life for a new generation, this online archive will provide a great resource for those already interested in the period.

"It is an important part of the Government's Centenary Commemoration Programme and honours the memory of those who lived and served their country during this defining period in Irish history."

A phased release of material into the public domain is planned but not all of it will be complete by the 1916 anniversary.

The release of records also includes a range of files featuring the membership rolls of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizens' Army, Cumann na mBan and Na Fianna Eireann on July 11 1921, when a truce was agreed to end the War of Independence and July 1 1922, a key moment in the Battle of Dublin in the Civil War

The material is available at www.militaryarchives.ie and funding is also being made available for a Military Archive facility at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Dublin, as part of the Government's Decade of Commemorations programme.

Mr Shatter said: "The collection records the personal commitment and sacrifice by those men and women who shouldered the task of gaining independence for this country."

Mr Deenihan said: "I would emphasise the opportunity this archive presents members of the public to see the records of their ancestors, members of a remarkable generation.

"Also, in this the year when we will commemorate the centenary of the foundation of Cumann na mBan, these archives will shine a light on the significant - but often overlooked - contribution that women made to the struggle for Irish independence."

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