The Largest Remaining Reserve of Manpower: Historical Myopia, Irish Women Workers and World War Two

Redmond, Jennifer (2011) The Largest Remaining Reserve of Manpower: Historical Myopia, Irish Women Workers and World War Two. Saothar, 36. pp. 61-70. ISSN 0332-1169

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On the outbreak of war Ireland declared a 'national emergency' and announced its neutrality in the impending global conflict. Neutrality was seen as a vital test of Ireland's newly established independence, an expression of self-determination and national identity, yet it was viewed with scepticism by some. The sceptics included John W. Dulanty, the Irish High Commissioner in London, who supported the policy but was reported to have commented to the Secretary of State for the Dominions, Sir Thomas Inskip, that Irish neutrality would not last more than a week as a result of attacks on shipping. Neutrality is viewed in hindsight in a more nuanced way because the assistance given to the Allies, including the supply of necessary labour to the British war effort, can be viewed as compromising the ideal of neutrality as representing total impartiality and non-involvement Irish citizens were to experience the heavy impact of war despite Ireland's neutral status, and the many thousands of Irish people in Britain also experienced the deprivations and hardships of 'total war.' As Sir Llewellyn Woodward, official historian of the war, observed: in the autumn of 1940, the 'Germans had turned to indiscriminate night bombing in order to break British morale and to destroy British factories and communications'. The women factory workers discussed in this article were among the civilians working in such British factories and were therefore directly affected by the exigencies of war.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Special Issue: Women
Keywords: Manpower; Historical Myopia; Irish Women Workers; World War Two;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Arts,Celtic Studies and Philosophy > History
Item ID: 4809
Depositing User: Jennifer Redmond
Date Deposited: 11 Mar 2014 11:54
Journal or Publication Title: Saothar
Publisher: Irish Labour History Society
Refereed: Yes

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