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Irish Servicewomen in the Great War (Paperback)

From Western Front to the Roaring Twenties

Military P&S History > Social History WWI Women of History World History > UK & Ireland > Ireland

By Barbara Walsh
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781399021487
Published: 30th May 2024


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When the call went out in 1917 for volunteers willing to serve both at home and on the Western Front in a newly founded Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps, young women from every province of Ireland responded just as eagerly as those from homes in Scotland, England and Wales.

Drawn from every class, creed, family background and ability, the girls who came forward to join the WAAC from Ireland had often suffered equal heartbreak over the loss of husbands, brothers and friends killed or wounded in France. Yet, their willingness to help bring about an end to the slaughter was a narrative that became ignored in popularised versions of that politically volatile era and it is hoped that this study will now go some way to restore a rightful recognition of their army service days within the historiography of twentieth-century Irishwomen.

Their work as office workers, cooks and caterers, motor transport drivers, cryptanalysis and hi-tech telecommunication personnel are examined. Close investigation is made of the Irishwomen seconded to the Royal Engineers from branches of the General Post Office in Ireland and elsewhere. Attached to Signal units, they became key players in ensuring the Western Front’s crucial, high-security army Lines of Communication remained viable.

The story of these Irish servicewomen in the Great War winds up within the interwar period that followed. Had often dangerous war experiences affected these women’s postwar life-changing decisions and aspirations? Compare/contrast experiences in the postwar era are cited. There were new careers, migration, home and family life. How many had foreseen that twenty years hence, Irish women ‘veterans’ of the Great War would once more rally at a time of fresh crisis?

Featured in

Newsletter of the 'Federation of Local History Society', Republic of Ireland - May 15th 2021

This is a truly remarkable and fascinating book, clear, precise, superbly illustrated, and with an easy to follow narrative.

In-Touch magazine, published by Christ Church of Ireland, Bray - Feb 2021.

An interesting non fiction about women who served in the Great War. It nice learning about women who served in first World War even if it was for another country.

NetGalley, Carissa Miller

A well-deserved tribute to an unrecognized collective whose performance was key during the course of the war.

Read the full Spanish review here

Miniaturas JM

Review by James Scannell

All in all, a truly remarkable and fascinating book and highlighting a little known and overlooked essential role played by Irish women in the First World War.

Dalkey Community Council Newsletter, Dec 2020/Jan 2021

As featured by

History Ireland, September/October 2020

This important and seminal study is to be warmly welcomed. It will encourage people to learn about their relatives who served in the WAAC and it will light the pathway into further historical and sociological analyses of different aspect of this neglected topic.

The Irish Catholic - review article by J. Anthony Gaughan

A new book that is a very welcome addition to military history on several levels. The story of Irish volunteers serving in the British forces during WWI is a much under-told story. Of Irish Servicewomen it is virtually untold – Most Highly Recommended

Read the full review here


This is an absolute gem of a book. It covers a much neglected aspect of the Great War, and is researched and written by the very talented Barbara Walsh.

As an Irishman with a strong interest in the role of the Irish in the Great War, I obviously found it a fascinating book. But, it’s a very human story, very well-written, and one that deserves the widest possible audience.

I could see this book forming the basis for a very fine documentary. An enthralling and important book.

Read the full review here


Article: ‘Local author tells story of Irish women in the First World War’ as featured by

Kildare Nationalist, 19th May 2020 – words by Finian Coghlan

This book is an excellent book written by the author Barbara Walsh and her research and depth of knowledge shines through to present a really good read... There is an excellent collection of notes and reference points throughout the book which further adds to the quality of the book, and especially for a book about women where information can be so hard to find. I recommend this book as a good quality read which I am happy to give 4 out of 5 stars.

Read the full review here

UK Historian

Just when you though that there could not possibly be another book on an aspect of the Great War that had not already been covered, along comes 'Irish servicewomen in the Great War'. And what a great read it is.

The role of women in the Great War has always, inevitably, been overshadowed by the role of the men, and yet women played an important part. Just as Ireland send many men to fight with British Army regiments, so too did the women in Ireland also volunteer to serve, and this scholarly account examines their contribution to the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps from 1917.

The research for this book must have taken a long while, and there may have been - I am guessing here - a temptation to try and get this published whilst the First World War anniversaries were still happening. If that was the case, I am glad the author waited. Each chapter is accompanied by notes and the research resources have been well documented and cited. Appendices present additional useful material about specific individuals and locations and there are also some great photos.

This book owns a well-deserved place amongst the other regimental and unit histories that Pen & Sword publish so well.

Read the full review here

Paul Nixon

Listed in the ‘First Flush’ feature

Books Ireland, April 2020

As the title suggests this is a nonfiction glance at Irishwomen and their involvement during World War I and into the 1920s. It's well researched and is accompanied by archival images and actual quotations from many people of the time period.

NetGalley, Erin Ross

A wonderful book full of intrigue and sadness of what took place, this is an ideal book to catch up on what actually took place can highly recommend this book.

NetGalley, Jeanie Mckinlay

About Barbara Walsh

When Irish author and historian Barbara Walsh gained a doctorate in history from Lancaster University in 1999, she had already enjoyed a long and productive career which had encompassed a number of creative outlets as a writer, artist, broadcaster and multi-media producer.
Barbara went on to develop a particular interest in researching neglected early twentieth century historical topics which she presents as ground-breaking building blocks to introduce new themes and fields of research. Each subsequently well- received publication of her work has allowed these topics to be successfully developed and expanded by international scholars.

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