Today I am going to my bookshelf in order to suggest books which you may find useful in learning about the history of this time, and your family's connection to it. There is an ever increasing body of work about this period in Irish history. If you want to find the books in a library near you, then go to World Cat (i.e. World Catalogue), fill in the details of your location, and it will tell you which libraries closest to you have copies of these books. All of these books are also available for purchase online. If your local library doesn't own a copy, consider donating one of the books in your family's name.
You will find many texts which focus on the significant figures of the period; however, texts which focus on leaders such as Eamon DeValera and Michael Collins often do not pay much attention to less well known individuals, those we might call the 'rank and file' members, those whom we might find on our own family trees.
As we near the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, we are beginning to see the appearance of many more books focussed on the experiences of the lesser known individuals. Here are three of my favourites which may be helpful to you.
The 1916 Easter Rebellion Handbook
This book is an essential part of any library of modern Irish history. First published in 1916 by the Irish Times newspaper, and now offered in a new edition, this book contains eyewitness reports about the revolt and its aftermath, as well as lots of information about the Irish rebels and the British forces who took part in the action.
For family history research purposes some of the best parts of this book are as follows:
1] The official lists of prisoners deported and released, including address details and dates of release.
2] Official lists of casualties including members of the British military, Royal Irish Constabulary, Dublin Metropolitan Police, and Irish Volunteers.
3] A full list of the premises that were damaged during the Rebellion.
Dublin in Rebellion: A Directory 1913-1923
Author Joseph E.A. Connell Jr. consulted a wide variety of sources to create this comprehensive directory of a decade of upheaval in Dublin. The book lists historic locations in Dublin on a street by street basis, describing events beginning with the 1913 Lockout through to the end of the Irish Civil War, and including details about who was there and what they did. It also includes details about important sites outside of Dublin. Some of the information in the appendices of this book overlap what appears in The 1916 Rebellion Handbook, but overall it is well worth consulting.
This extraordinary text, by author Sinéad McCoole, goes beyond the mainstream histories of Irish women activists such as Maud Gonne and Countess Markievicz. It uncovers hidden stories of many women from all over Ireland, who participated in the fight to free the land they loved.
In addition to the inclusion of the biographies of seventy-three activists, this book is filled with images of personal possessions, as well as photographs from family albums, and illustrations from autograph books the women kept while they were interned.
For family history research purposes you may find female family members in the prisoner lists:
1] The listing of those women imprisoned after the 1916 Easter Rising.
2] A previously unpublished listing of over 500 women who were arrested during the Irish Civil War, including address details.
I hope you find these books useful in your search for the history of Irish ancestors who may have played a part in freeing Ireland from British rule.
As always, good luck with your research!