Ireland in the War

Why did Ireland insist on strict neutrality during the war? If the UK fell surely Ireland too. Were there any Irish Volunteers during the war to fight for the Allies? What was the Irish Opinion about the War? And how did the country change during the duration?


The Ira while certainly being anti British, were against the Nazis and were either supported the war effort or refused to aid the Nazis, even executing IRA members who were pro German.


As I understand it, there was an issue with Ireland rejecting neutrality - which side do they pick?

There was certainly no love for the Nazis or Fascism for the majority of the population of Ireland, however on the otherside of it, England. Ireland is not likely to declare for the country that they’d a few years previously, been engaged in a bloody and vicious war against.

That didn’t stop quite a few Irishmen crossing the border and volunteering, however they faced, at best the cold shoulder, and at worst, prosecution and imprisonment on their return, (although that was usually reserved for former Irish Servicemen who deserted the Irish Army during the Emergency to serve with the British forces).

While Ireland was neutral, their neutrality was similar in some ways to American neutrality. Men of the belligerent forces who found themselves in Ireland would be interned in The Curragh Camp in County Kildare. Members of both the Allied and Axis forces were held nearby, along with around 2000 members of the IRA who were interned at the outbreak of The Emergency, (as the Irish referred to WWII). Conditions for the non-Irish internees was somewhat lax, the men were allowed to come and go as they pleased often going to dances, to restaurants, going fishing or partaking in sporting events, (one England Vs Germany football match was recorded as an 8-6 German win according to the BBC). This wasn’t just open to the Allied prisoners though, Axis prisoners were allowed to do exactly the same. In fact there is a story where a number of RAF personnel were quite annoyed that some Luftwaffe personnel turned up to a venue where they had arranged a dance evening. Mostly though, aside from sporting events, they didn’t mix and drank and socialised in different pubs, (I suspect no one wanted to spoil a good thing).

A brief illustration of life in The Curragh for non-Irish internees, along with a short story about Roland “Bud” Wolfe’s experiences escaping, (sort of), from Irish Internment can be found here:

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