When war broke out on 3rd September 1939 the island of Ireland was to present the ultimate contradiction in typical wartime experience. With the 26 counties of Ireland remaining neutral as a result of propitious negotiations between de Valera and the English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain prior to the outbreak of war, and the 6 occupied counties of Ulster being swept along in the British current of anti-fascism.
Although Ireland had no physical or natural borders, the social and psychological barriers between North and South served to provide diverse experiences for the inhabitants of the island separated only by a matter of miles. The consequence of war was to affect both societies economically, culturally and politically and the effects were to be lasting. This essay will examine these effects and how Eire and Northern Ireland reacted to the ensuing instability of the world’s largest powers. Also, how the decisions made by Britain regarding conscription and export limitations had a knock on affect in the two Irelands both favourably and negatively. What Eire’s neutrality really meant for both sides and the extent to which it was implemented?
The emergence of war meant that the North’s economy boomed. The population of the six counties was increased by more than 300, 000 in the years spanning 1939-44. This increase was due to the military invasion of men and women from Britain and later, America. This increase meant a major boost to spending and local economy as troops bought essential supplies and entertained themselves in cinemas, pubs and theatres. However this was not the case throughout the province, although the economy was being boosted and disposable income increased, unemployment was still high, rising from 64,622 to 71,633 between September 1939 and November 1940 . Opportunities for industrial expansion failed to be acknowledged by the government despite... [continues]
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