Family archive captures daily impact of Great War

The day-to-day impact of the First World War on the lives of a Co Tipperary family is captured in an unique archive project opened at the University of Limerick.

‘It’s a Long Way to Tipperary — An Irish Story of the Great War’, launched yesterday by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, involves an active online collection following the lives of the Armstrong family of Moyaliffe Castle, in weekly bulletins throughout the Great War.

The diaries, correspondence, photographs and memorabilia, provide an insight on the social, physical and emotional impact of the conflict on individuals, families and society.

This virtual First World War Exhibition (www.longwaytotipperary.ul.ie) runs in ‘real time’ from July 2014 until November 2018, with a new exhibition uploaded every week, allowing visitors and subscribers to the site to relive the events of the war as they unfolded exactly 100 years previously.

The weekly exhibitions comprise of updates of the current stage of the war, photographs taken by Captain Pat Armstrong, press cuttings, and extracts from diaries and correspondence to give both the soldier’s and the civilian’s experience of the war.

The exhibition is supported by social media, including Facebook and Twitter, with weekly tweets to subscribers using Jess Armstrong (Pat Armstrong’s sister) as the narrator.

Mis Humphreys said: “Exploring the website feels like being taken back in time as we read about the experiences of those on the frontline.

“We can also share in the everyday happenings of the family at home.”

Gobnait O’Riordan, director of the UL Glucksman Library, who led the project, said: “the exhibition is a unique innovation accessible to a worldwide audience”.

She said: “It has great currency and is much more penetrating than a once-off physical exhibition of archival items or books which commemorate the First World War.

The exhibition provides the University of Limerick with an international platform to tell the story of the Irish contribution to the First World War.”

The exhibition is based on the Armstrong family archive held at the Special Collections and Archives Department of the Glucksman Library in UL.

This archive contains more than 100,000 items dating from 1662 to 1999.

This material maps out the progress of the Great War in graphic detail with first-hand accounts of the first Battle of Ypres, the Gallipoli campaign, the campaign in Palestine, and many other key events, and illuminates the war’s impact on the Armstrong family.

More in this section