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The British Army in Ireland 1961-1921 : a social and cultural history

Butler, Benjamin Laurence


Benjamin Laurence Butler


Douglas A. Reid

David E. Omissi


The primary aim of this work is to provide a social and a cultural history of British soldiers who served in Ireland during the revolutionary period stretching from the Easter Rising of 1916 to the Anglo-Irish Treaty of December 1921. As such, it represents the first concerted attempt to view the period though the eyes of the soldiery and both challenge and corroborate 'received' views of the military's role in the conflict. Previous accounts have tended to cast the military in a peripheral role; this study restores troops to the centre ground. In so doing, it will demonstrate that soldiers had a crucial role to play in shaping both military policy and (by reaction) the nature of the rebel campaign. It will also reveal the military's part in influencing Anglo-Irish relations for the worse by contributing to a culture of vigilantism in the Crown forces.

By tapping into a wealth of previously unexploited sources including soldiers' memoirs, letters, war diaries and regimental journals, the study will explore soldiers' quotidian service life and bring fresh perspectives to the military history of the period. It will explore central themes such as isolation, endurance, recrimination and revenge. A further chapter (incorporating post-conflict analyses) will uncover how these experiences formed the soldiers' assessments of the political and military aspects of the period, as well as their opinion of the Irish nation and people.

Above all, this study will build on approaches which move away from the paradigm of (narrative based) military-political studies of the period which have tended to obscure the role both of individuals and of non-elites. In so doing, it will restore the importance of 'fighting' and 'front-line' experience as a major determinant of the conflict and the period.


Butler, B. L. (2007). The British Army in Ireland 1961-1921 : a social and cultural history. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 2, 2012
Publicly Available Date Feb 22, 2023
Keywords History
Public URL
Additional Information Department of History, The University of Hull
Award Date Feb 1, 2007


Thesis (23.5 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2007 Butler, Benjamin Laurence. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

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