World War One and Irish Identity

Image via // Irish soldiers in the Battle of Somme

For my final paper I am planning to focus on the cultural impact of World War One on Irish consciousness and identity through the poetry of W.B. Yeats, focusing on the poem “An Irish Airman Foresees His Death.” The violence of World War One shook the European consciousness, transforming the intellectual imagination of the continent. But the impact of World War One on Ireland is particularly fascinating, in that Ireland participated in the war as an imperial subject, fighting violently and fomenting rebellion. To some extent, the cynicism towards involvement in World War One might be seen as a vehicle of Irish nationalism, evident in Yeats’s poetry. Furthermore, given the large degree of domestic and foreign upheaval during the war, the formation of a free Irish national identity was likely impacted by this conflict. Yeats himself seemed very impacted by the dual conflicts occuring in this period — both the domestic Easter Uprising and the scars of World War One — as his poetry reflects on the violence of the war as a break from the old world order, politically and intellectually. His war poetry serves as one example of the cultural impact of the conflict on the Irish consciousness. 


  1. I think this is a great topic to write about. Needless to say, the drive for Irish independence likely would be extremely different if not for the Irish’s involvement in WWI. For an poet like Yeats to write so bluntly about a topic really shows how important WWI was to the Irish.

  2. Your topic seems very interesting regarding Ireland’s history for independence. I also chose to focus o a war time of Ireland and from what I have researched there is a lot to lear from that. Events like these allow for authors to develop stories to state things through their writing and it shows how they it also shaped them as authors.

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