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Heroes or Traitors?Experiences of Southern Irish Soldiers Returning from the Great War 1919-1939$
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Paul Taylor

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381618

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381618.001.0001

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date: 20 July 2018

Heroes or Traitors?

Heroes or Traitors?

(p.243) Conclusion Heroes or Traitors?
Heroes or Traitors?

Paul Taylor

Liverpool University Press

Loyalist lobbying groups found it politically convenient to emphasize the victimisation of ex-servicemen, and later a republican historiography excluded them from the nation’s narrative; both factors distorting perceptions of the actual experiences of the ex-servicemen. Neither war service nor loyalty to Britain defined them. The only occasion when ex-servicemen could be considered as a class was when remembering fallen comrades but in reality this was only one small part of their lives. Only a minority were members of ex-servicemen’s societies; the British Legion with its imperial connotations struggled to survive. Many had fought in the IRA, more in the National army. The majority became republican supporters. They reflected all classes of Irish society; attempts to form a political party to represent their interests failed. They may have lacked the emotional and practical support from within their own communities that war service might otherwise have brought, but they were not persecuted in the time of conflict for service in the British Army, and in the period thereafter they did not suffer marginalisation in Irish society. They were neither heroes nor traitors. Some suffered the economic hardship inherent within their class, many as individual citizens prospered in society and public life.

Keywords:   loyalist lobbying groups, republican historiography, ex servicemen, British Legion, IRA, Marginalisation, economic hardship

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