By Niall Murray, Irish Examiner
More than 250,000 relatives and researchers have read military pensions and other files of participants in the Irish revolution since they were placed online.
The latest tranche of files for almost 900 men and women who took part from 1916 through to the Civil War are released late last year.
Among the Military Service Pensions Collection (MSPC) files online are those of the father, aunt, and uncles of President Michael D Higgins, who took part in the War of Independence in Clare and Cork. Like many other Irish families, they were split politically over the December 1921 Treaty with Britain that led to Civil War in 1922 and 1923.
The verification processes involved mean the files offer a wealth of information on actions of those from the highest to the lowest ranks of Cumann na mBan, Irish Volunteers/IRA and other organisations in the fight for independence and the internal strife that followed.
In nearly two years since MSPC files began to go online, the Military Archives site has been visited 411,000 times by 250,000 users in 185 countries, including 11,000 logging on in the past month alone, mostly from Ireland, the UK, US, Canada, and Australia. The site also includes searchable copies of 1,773 statements given in the 1940s and 1950s to the Bureau of Military History by participants and witnesses to the events of 1916 to 1923.
“We can say we are the first country in the world to put the story of all those who took part in our own revolution on the internet,” said MSPC archivist and project manager Pat Brennan.
New light is also shed today on 42 more veterans of the 1916 Rising, and on some of the most controversial Civil War incidents, like the 1922 execution of anti-Treaty propagandist Erskine Childers, and retaliatory killings in Kerry and Wexford.