It is now widely admitted that the Great War was also Ireland’s war, with profound consequences for every element of Irish life after 1914. Its impact may be discerned in aberrant aspects of Ireland’s demographic, economic and social history, as well as in the more familiar political and military convulsions of the war years. This article surveys recent scholarship, assesses statistical evidence of the war’s social and economic impact (both positive and negative), and explores its far-reaching political repercussions. These include the postponement of expected civil conflict, the unexpected occurrence of an unpopular rebellion in 1916, and public response to the consequent coercion. The speculative final section outlines a number of plausible outcomes for Irish history in the absence of war, concluding that no single counterfactual history of a warless Ireland is defensible.
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