Returning Home: Irish Ex-Servicemen After the Second World War


Bernard Kelly

Based on interviews with surviving veterans and  a wide array of archival sources, Returning Home tells the story of the estimated 12,000 Irish veterans who returned home after the Second World War.



Returning Home investigates one of the least known periods in Irish history – the story of the estimated 12,000 Irish veterans who returned to Ireland after the end of the Second World War.

They came back to a country where jobs were scarce, commemoration was a divisive issue, and the public had little understanding of the veteran’s experiences. Even worse, an estimated 5,000 deserters from the Irish army faced potentially severe punishment when they returned home.

Based on interviews with surviving veterans and drawing on a wide array of archival sources, Returning Home explores how Irish ex-servicemen coped with the difficult task of re-integration into Irish civilian society.

The book details their impact on government policy, their economic difficulties, struggles with psychological problems, the vexed issue of Remembrance, and the treatment of deserters from the Irish forces.

Returning Home makes an important contribution to how we view Ireland’s connection to the Second World War. In June of 2012 Irish Minister for Justice Alan Shatter confirmed that 5,000 troops will be officially pardoned by the State for fighting with the Allies. Campaigners are hopeful that the Irish parliament will issue an apology to the men as well, many of whom were blacklisted and denied state jobs when they returned home.

Table of Contents


List of Illustrations


  1. Irish Ex-Servicemen, 1793-1945
  2. Joining Up: Life in Uniform
  3. Diplomacy
  4. Health
  5. Money
  6. Remembrance
  7. Uniforms
  8. Deserters






About the Author

Bernard Kelly is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Born in Dublin, he went to college at NUI Galway and the University of Edinburgh. He is working on a project with the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies.


Additional information

Weight 0.5 kg




Release schedule


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